A One Man Economic Daily Newspaper about the Second Depression in near real-time...
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April 1, 2011 07:55 AM AM CST
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Causes of Hard Times
America has fallen and she can't get up. And what myself and a lot of economists are trying to figure out these days is "Why so?"
Part of the reason, I'm pretty sure, will be found in the Federal Reserve data dump of two CD's worth of .PDF's of key bailout data won by Bloomberg which argued that when it's public money being spent, even the bankers have to tell where goes the dough.
And how good was the quality of paper behind the Fed's generosity? A San Francisco Chronicle headline that the "Fed Program Accepted more Defaulted Debt than Treasuries" could be a hint.
As of this morning, I couldn't find a link on the Fed website to the data, which rightfully seems to have been disclosed to Bloomberg first - fair enough, they did the work and we owe them a debt of gratitude, at least, for going to the mat on behalf of disclosure.
Still, for an organization that espouses "transparency" (a word not much spoken these days in Washington, lol) it'll be telling whether the Fed puts up a large public notice pointing to the data.
Maybe not too anxious to be reported as bailing out a Libyan bank, perhaps? That was started on the Bush clock...
Still, in our ongoing coverage of the Greater/Second Depression, the bailouts were themselves not causative. Reagan, Clinton, Bush...were.
There are plenty of underlying reasons why the bailouts were necessary - and why QE 3 will almost certainly have to come. Not that quantitative easing is the cure-all, but it's about all that's left in the way of options.
America has been savaged and pillaged by a great rush of outsourcing (jobjacking) and despite the rabid right's complaints about the lack of a border fence with Mexico, the corporatist stooges don't seem to understand that perhaps 30-million jobs a day come and go seamlessly via the internet to places like call centers and software development outfits from India to Ukraine and from northern Russia to South Africa.
Red herrings of the right - like union teacher, firefighter, and police officer salaries, are a poor substitute for this weekend's studies around here.
Those will begin with review of what my friend Gonzalo Lira has come up with as "The Causes of the Mess We're In."
But my own studies - which will land on the Peoplenomics side in a week, or two, will revolve around commonalities with the Great Depression and Robert T. Ely's classic, when he was econ chair at Northwestern "Hard Times: The Way In, The Way Out."
As Ely portrays the last Depression, it was a clusterf*ck - although no such modern slang was used - consisting of overdevelopment of new technology and resulting malinvestment, but coupled, too, with bad spending plans, poor tax policy, and agricultural change at some fundamental levels.
Since economic depressions aren't exactly new, I just this week finally found a copy of David Ames Wells 1895 book "Recent Economic Changes" which chronicles the Depression before the Depression...better known in history books as the Panic of 1873 which had a twenty-year ripple.
If you know the character Julius Perlmutter, who was a collector of nautical books, charts, and what have you in Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels, I sometimes picture myself having the junior economic equivalent to that. Not a lot of books, but some damn fine ones from the experts of the times written.
Talk that the Fed will be inching up interest rates this year is absolutely no surprise. That should help the cause of gold and silver, which seems backed by people who understand that the more ink is splashed about printing money, the more the relative value of precious metals will increase.
The Jobs Report
8.8% seems like a great headline, but caveat emptor. Realizing that employment is key, our first real 'news' item is the new National Unemployment Report:
Anticipating today's report, a reader who read the fine print behind the weekly data, offer this penetrating insight into how the job report game is played:
Necessarily, therefore, we notice that the Labor Force from the data out this morning is actually lower than it was a year ago by almost half a million people....489,000 fewer people in the workforce in a country with a growing population is irrational to my way of thinking, but that's why I don't get government job offers - ever.
After the annual drop of 339,000 jobs last month, the CME Birth/Death model, where jobs are estimated into existence, showed a gain of 112,000 jobs for the month. But when 28,000 new jobs were created in leisure and hospitality - in stark contrast to airline traffic reports and empty restaurants, I found myself reaching for the ViseGrips to administer another painful pinch.
The market is bound to rally on this, at least in the early going.
Oil and Talk
In Britain, the talks with representatives of the Gaddafi government are continuing amid speculation that runs both ways on oil.
The WSJ online is reporting that oil has hit another 2½ year high, so we can assume the talks aren't bearing much fruit yet.
Reports that SecDef Gates has as a goal for Libya having no American troops on the ground sounds strangely reminiscent of previous wars from Korea to Vietnam to the Sandbox.
The road to hell being paved with the best of intentions, the fact is war is good for the economy, and brother can you spare a cruise missile.
Other Disclosure Notes
The Washington Times gets our Friday morning 'candor in headlines' award for "Barack Obama: Losing $84 billion big success." If he needs help spending, Elaine & I will volunteer.
The troubles of the nuke plants in Japan are being forced off the front page of many media, looking for something cheerful to talk about, like an 8.8% unemployment rate solves the world's woes, statistical oddities aside.
More to the point, the story that "TEPCO confirms that groundwater radiation so bad, everyone thought it had to be an error" certainly makes me NOT want to visit the Ginza for a while.
Mark Your Calendar
National "Pay It Forward" day is April 28th.
The idea is to create at least 3-million acts of kindness that day.
My first act of kindness will be to stop writing right here....but no worries, Peoplenomics on schedule in the morning...
(more after this)
Friday at the WuJo
Coping: With Very Lucid Dreams
Seems like a strange thing to be reporting on - a vivid dream - but since I have them once in a while and they are interesting down at the archetype level, why not?
Such dreams can occasional hold perhaps just the barest traces of predictive value, such as the dream reported here a mere 18-20 hours before the Gulf of Mexico disaster almost a year ago. In fact, if you click over (and scroll down) you'll find this interesting part of that dream from almost a year ago:
All of which would have been a blow-off, except for a follow-on email from a reader reported later during that April week of 2010 (post spill) reporting this:
Well, that made it kinda interesting. Not conclusive, but it was a near-enough dream to an event which followed that I figured this morning's dream might be worth mentioning.
But before I do, a couple of comments on the importance of being really 'de-stressed" before getting in to this kind of dream. I made a short inventory of all the stresses I could find in my life, and as of yesterday afternoon, I had smacked down a goodly number of day-to-day stresses.
For one, I got our 2010 taxes completed after a couple of hours of sorting oiut options trades and discovered in the process that our quarterly filing this year would be smaller, not larger...a major stress reduction.
Another was that with company gone, I'm back on the small stir-fry of veggies and meat with no carbbies and healthy eating may be a factor. Plus, been reading a lot about the role of micronutrients in the anti-aging process including some like cobalt and lithium oronate...the latter having some claims being made about its gray matter restorative properties, but I'll let you Google that on your own.
Our next ranch visitors will be one Elaine's sons and his wife - who will arrive in a couple of weeks, so that should be fun. Too early to stress, though, although I will have to get my golf game tuned up....
My son's new ham antenna arrived and we made a very solid contact on 20-meters...he worked Ukraine from Seattle, so that seems to be working...
Another thing making progress is the book with Howard which continues to evolve... So, in a nutshell, everything in life is going well because I've killed most major stress points at their source and that's fine.
In rereading the "Irwin Allen's Dream" piece from last year, I noticed I'd made this comment in passing: "I wish I could figure out what it is in either my diet, exercise, daily activities, or general state of restfulness that sets off what I call my "Irwin Allen Dreams"..." Still on that quest today but the correlation seems to be high that the vividness of the dreams has a lot to do with getting de-stressed to the point where the subconscious mind can do more than worry itself about daily stressors. When the stressors get beaten back, the mind seems to have an amazing ability to 'tell stories' that can be vastly instructive and at the same time entertaining. Which is a long lead-in to the dream from last night, but necessary groundwork to be laid.
There were just a few 'main characters' in the dream from this morning; one was a plain clothes policeman who had his boat in a marina, and the other characters were the male & female story leads.
The story begins with the three characters coming back from a day of boating, and I got the sense it was late afternoon, perhaps four or 5 PM and that it was a weekend, but not summer as temperatures were mild and the female in the story was wearing a light sweat, jeans, and ankle-high shoes - like desert boots of Chuka boots, but a 'lite' version of them suitable for boating. She was shorter than Elaine - somewhere in the 4'11" to 5'2 range, and long straight medium brown hair.
The presence of the woman wasn't bothersome or unusual, since at this point I had realized that I (the male character was seeing this stuff) wasn't George either...I was experiencing this event through the eyes of someone not me.
After a bit of chit-chat at the marina, the young couple headed west in their car, back toward 'the city'. I know that trusting directions in dreams is dangerous, but it seems as though the marina was on the south side of a lake or canal, and that a drive west would get to a bridge where they'd be able to cross a fairly narrow body of water and be back in the city somewhere near a historical district.
As they approached the bridge to turn right, however, there was something of a line of cars, perhaps a half dozen.
Suddenly, two uniformed police appeared, both carrying what seemed like black riffle cases and curiously, one of them had a holder for a pistol sewn or attached to it. The other officer was on a radio or telephone and was being urgently informed that something bad was about to happen.
Just a second later, there was a dull explosion, ahead and to the left where it was like a pipeline or expansion tank for lack of a better descriptor had exploded and very thick (and obviously poisonous) black smoke began spewing into the area.
The man, being at the wheel made a snap decision to move left into the lane which was vacant of oncoming traffic and he sped to the bridge. Behind him, thick, black, poisonous smoke was really starting to boil into the sky.
As soon as they approached the business center/historical district, they had to leave their car because people were abandoning them, so the couple took to fleeing on foot.
I remember the man looked to the south-southeast and the cloud of poisonous smoke was really boiling now - up thousands of feet and headed right toward them. There was a sense of panic and choking as the first waves of smoke (which had turned to a medium gray) began wafting through the city streets.
As it happened, there was a lot of reconstruction going on in the historical district, which was perhaps 8-10 blocks deep in old brick buildings which were being rehabbed. The couple entered the first one they came to, thinking they would get cleaner air inside and made their way north through a series of buildings, some with shops in antique mall fashion, while others were filled with building materials. They were followed by a local businessman who was thinking the same thing...and at one point, he passed them as they had become tangled up in material of some kind which slowed their progress.
Eventually, they ran out of buildings and were walking up a a gentle incline which was not as dense as the historical district - it was one of those mixed residential, apartments, and light medical kinds of areas.
The man paused again, looked to the south, and knew that they'd have to start walking east because the plume of smoke had changed a bit and was now coming directly toward them.
The young woman was complaining about her feet being sore - so the man took off his socks and gave them to her, so they could get moving faster.
The man then looked south and saw a series of either five, or six, fireballs rising into the air - almost in Roman candle fashion. To the side, a radio had been turned up and authorities were were warning residents to get out of the downtown area.
Very clearly, the size of the evacuated area was given as either 800 square blocked or 880 square blocks, so it was clear that this was a very large city, on a gentle rising hill to one side the historical / business district, and there was substantial industrial/chemical processing south of town.
Somehow, it came to the man's knowledge that people were dying from the smoke, but he then knew they would be OK if they could just keep moving eat in order to get out of the plume. What registered was that it was some kind of chemical "like styrene gas" which I found a bit odd, not realizing until I awoke and read up on it that styrene is initially a liquid that evaporates easily.
Those who were dying in the downtown area had been totally overcome, but the radio was explaining that before death came convulsions, and there would be nausea, vomiting, and the very first indications of illness would be a massive headache. The man seemed cheered by this because he and the woman had only mild headaches so far...and he seemed confident they would be able to make their way through one last denser part of the drifting plume and they'd then be in free air and able to travel toward friends further east and well out of harms way.
I awoke and noted the time: 4:41 AM. Almost normal waking and coffee time, 20 minutes early. I was a bit disoriented by the dream, but checking, there wasn't even a trace of a headache, and no problems with the occasional asthma, either. The 'sticky parts' were the Roman candle like fireballs coming up and the 800/880 blocks evacuated...that seemed important.
There was something about the urgent question about what it was that would be "like styrene gas" that bothered me, so that had to be investigated straightway, too.
It's little specifics like that detail which bothers me about these vivid dreams, and drive me to Wikipedia to look up details. What I found seemed to confirm the 'dream" knowledge.
As I said at the beginning, more than likely just a well-rested brain deciding to entertain itself by telling an amazingly detailed, panoramic dream-story.
Logically, perhaps my mind was just dredging up some long-forgotten fact gleaned from reading the whole advanced firefighting course from the Delehanty Institute that my late father studied for his lieutenants civil service exam in the mid 1950's and chemical fires and dangers were detailed in depth. Amazingly, I can still remember many parts of that course, which was in about a dozen to 18 black, three-ring binders with gold Delehanty markings on their front.
You can still find old Delehanty civil service course material from time to time at places like the Open Library. Wish we'd kept the set. Tons of info in old study guides.
Not sure why this particular dream came along, but it was totally engaging of all the senses - taste, smell, tactiles, audibles...- and I suppose a reminder to move across any plume as quickly as possible would be the security-state message to it. But damn it was vivid and it'd make a great movie or short story; the well-rested mind is an amazing storyteller/entertainer.
I wonder if my writing about 'tickets' in yesterday's column helped me get into this theater of the mind. Further, who was the Director?
Friday at the WuJo, 2
I'm not the only one with oddness to share...try this one one for size:
One of my motivations for NOT taking statins, despite my doctor's advice that I do so, is that there seems to be some developing evidence that statin use may be linked to TGA - medicalese for transient global amnesia.
This kind of stuff can happen as a side effect of things like anesthetics, or other medications, and if you're taking statins, perhaps the regular motion of walking down stairs was enough to drop you into a TGA state.
OR - and here's where we step onto the mat where reality meets "other" - we really are in the process of colliding with another universe, orthogonal to our own, and as the intersection occurs, we get back into a world where "magic" comes back to earth.
Not completely out of the realm of possibility, especially if you read about colliding universes a bit in Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos which will set you back about $11-bucks at Amazon, and which coupled with Dean Radin's grand
Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality ($12) is a weekend or two of possibility-expanding study I'd recommend to anyone who's trying to work their mind out of being hemmed in my socially imposed paradigms which are (Big Secret here) in place to keep the real PowersThatBe ensconced.
TGA or string theory at work? Let us know if you're on cholesterol meds?
Prayer and Pianos Department
I got flooded with emails about my "limits of prayer" discussion earlier this week wherein we questions which one rules: gravity or positive thinking when a piano is dropped on you.
A sampling of reader input for your morning munches:
Moody, indeed had it right...pray for the best but run from the piano, too.
Being Gentle on Ben
Here's a nice thoughtful read:
I'm not exactly a screaming "Ben Basher" as any Peoplenomics reader knows, since I often remark on the possible wisdom of trying to gain the economic stimulative effects of war, which bailed the US out of the Great Depression in late 1941 when we engaged Japan. That World War II drove GDP out of its 10-year slump is indisputable.
Where I have my issue is with candor. I expect somewhere in the research departments of the various Fed branches, there is some damn fine research which outlines the strategy necessary to muddle through the present mess.
What bothers me immensely is that from about 2008, or so, the rules of investing have been changed by the various actions of the Fed and Treasury without due notice to those of us who are regular players in the Casino, if you will.
Thus, an honest interpretation of economic fundamentals of America, such as noting that there are no more jobs today than there were in the summer of 2001 would normally cause a rational person to be on deflationary decline (if not collapse) but that since the Fed mandate is not just monetary and extends to the whole of "economic stability", it's as though Congress while outsourcing the creation and management of money has also abdicated its role as responsible for economic affairs to what's essentially a banker-owned cabal.
As a result, the Fed has made a certain class of assets too big to fail and since the list was not disclosed well in advance, this screwed over the players who placed honest bets (sans insider information) on companies like Chrysler, GM, and AIG.
Far from Ben Bashing, I'd simple picture myself as looking for someone currently in government to stand up and "tell it like it is" rather than keeping up appearances so much. Is David Stockman the only one who's able to articulate the truth?
Why is it that government has concluded that "We can't handle the truth"?
An admission by government that they've overspent, are ass-deep in compound debt, and are deliberately watering down the currency's purchasing power to keep the rich hip-deep in concentrated wealth while the middle class is bent over in BOHICA fashion, would be a dandy starting point for meaningful dialog on how to fix America and capitalism in general now that the Age of Infinite Growth has eaten the nutrients out to the edge of the Petri dish.
I would hope Bernanke could speak that, but there doesn't seem to be any rush toward candor in Washington these days. However, to question why that might be (answer: accretion of wealth to those already wealthy) just underscores who's side various players are on.
That's not a bash. That's one American's opinion based on what seem to be facts....
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Death By JIT Collapse and Wars
Assessing the impact of the Japanese earthquake and melting nuke stew is, admittedly, not the happiest of tasks to undertake. But gaining some kind of sense of eventual impact on the global economy could be worthwhile, since the Japanese economy is so closely tied to the West in everything from autos to air conditioners to semiconductors and beyond. So it behooves us to apply a few brain cells on task in order to set some reasonable expectations. Plus: a preview of new Greater Depression confirmation studies by Jas Jain..
If your computer runs slowly, you may have a problem with cookies. These little code snippets are how some websites (and spyware) recognize you, track your movement on the web and so forth. Here lately, as new class of super cookies has been evolved by the admen (and worse) that are resistant to normal cookie deletions through your browser's interface. Flash cookies, persistent cookies, and super cookies...all easily managed with the Maxa Research Cookie Manager.
Take it for a test drive by clicking here - and it you like it, activation is easily done. If you're a heavy web user (who ain't?) you may find like I do that you've accumulating a hundred or more cookies per day. Only a handful need to be white-listed, like your brokerage account or your bank. The rest? Software designed to spy on you that robs you of computer performance. Been using it for several years and pleased as the Dickens with it.
The "Do Drop Inn"
Amazing gardens in about 2 square feet of floor space: www.mygroponics.com
Post your weird dreams to help our research along:
"Live on $10,000" A Year
Having a hard time making ends meet? (Like who isn't, right?) A good starting point to better match up income with outgo is our $10 e-book "How to Live on $10,000 a Year...or less!"
It's an automatic download. It's written in an information dense style: The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the cheap, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you have a little hustle left. A bonus section called "How to Build Anything" should instill confidence if you've never taken on a home improvement/home creation project before, too..... Click here for the index and details.
Pass It On
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Thursday March 31, 2011
Meltdowns, Meltups, and the Mogambo
I had a wonderful day yesterday. Why, between watching the market melt up to cover short positions which is not why I'm in a massive short position now - and add that to the fun of sorting out the annual income tax confessional and, gosh, what a wonderful Wednesday it was.
I was making money disappear faster than a bonfire, although in the end, it won't matter, since Ben Bernanke, et al, are able to make fresh money appear on command.
All of which gets me around to awarding the first gold star this week, to my old friend the Mogambo Guru, who has penned another mighty analysis in a brief moment of economic lucidity under the title "Fractional Reserve Banking Gone Amok." The flavor of this piece can be discerned here:
About here, you may be asking "Why start my morning with this highly cynical although admittedly humorous take on the economy?"
Because the rest of the day's news is very dreary if not downright oppressive, and I keep thinking if I cheer you up on Thursday so the PowersThatBe can get one more day of sweat out of you, before you take off for the weekend of substance abuse, they'll somehow show me mercy when my turn at the wall comes up. OK, self-serving, but WTF?
On the other hand, that is a far-fetched notion, so fire up the Geiger counter and let's go count meltups and meltdowns.
Markets Melting Up
Sure at hell a bit short-covering festival going on in markets. What happens in a meltup like this is a bunch bear (decline side) players like me, place bets that the markets are rational, will react to the massive decline in personal savings implicit in the (further) collapse of housing prices this week and will do the only possible thing: Drop like a free-falling piano.
The Dow popped up almost 72 points yesterday, despite more warring over Libya and oil pushing back up to the $105 level as the Bush glorified [Time: "Why Gaddafi's Now a Good Guy" from 2006] and Obama/Clintonista demonized Gaddafi has taken back a key oil port,
As someone committed to accurate sports play-by-play, I just cringe and duly report "OK War fans, we've still got the republicorp out front, three wars to one, but look out, Hillary's got time and weasel-words galore, so let's see if we can get interventions going in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen too, while the democorps are still at bat.
The press, which know if you follow any politician around long enough, they will say everything and express every possible position as long as no one has any Super Glue handy to make them stick to their words, had managed to drag out an Obama 2002 speech where he says toppling a dictator is a "dumb war."
Which, or course, we all knowingly nod, around here and nudge one another nervously, knowing full well that without plenty of resource-wasting war and cheap oil to keep us greased into happiness, the whole world of PTB-globalistas falls apart and humans get back to the tribal level of existence, which, sorry, seems unfortunately to be accompanied by a higher-than-used-to-be background level of radiation.
Of course, it's only Thursday, so if you would please just keep being hoodwinked for two more days and going to work like a good little corporate serf, maybe the sky will open and manna will fall on us around 4 PM tomorrow. And if not manna, would you accept a couple of brewskis and a hotdog with the Mariners down at Oakland tomorrow night? Something poetic about Seattle's opener being away on April Fool's Day.
That reminds me to make a speed run to Lowes to pick up a couple of quarts of paint for Elaine & me. Next time she says baseball is like watching paint dry I've promised to make a more fair comparison.
Yankees and versus Detroit this afternoon and cold enough to keep the beer chilled throughout.
One thing we don't have to worry about - at least as of press time - is the major West Coast earthquake which didn't appear as expected. A reader has an interesting thought on this:
More than likely a big tune up on the lexicon is in order, since language drifts around horribly. Not that we won't get a quake, at some point, but since time is all event/correlated with no handy clocks or calendars, the system's gonna miss sometimes. And missing on a 10 magnitude kind of West Coast quake is just fine.
The story in PCWorld this morning about "Debris prevents robots from entering stricken nuclear plant" gives me one of my best-ever marketing ideas for a niche product.
We simply scale up the iRobot 560 Roomba Vacuuming Robot, Black and Silver with a three cylinder 18 HP Yanmar diesel and tack weld a Bush Hog on the front of it, then.....
But, seriously, as my pal the reactor operator a few states north pointed out, one of the reasons we see stories like "Radiation traces found in U.S. milk" is that instrumentation has gotten sooo much better since the old days.
Contrary to popular belief, the apparent genetic disposition of Midwesterners to blindly believe whatever comes from the rabid tight is not a result of the fall out of US nuclear tests in Nevada early on. Fluoride's a more likely suspect.
Point being that if the whole science of instrumentation can detect you smoking a joint (doodie or leg, depending on age & location) 100-days ago, and you're not still stoned from that, odds are your glow-in the-dark watch is as big a health risk...
But seriously serious: The Japan Times reports that" high radiation has been found outside the no-go zone" but in their fine tradition of nuclear whitewashing, the Japanese authorities are not expanding the evacuation zone.
Gotta wonder if the Japanese studied emergency management in, oh, New Orleans, for cryin' out loud...
Medicine has a commandment it lives by "First do no harm." You're welcome to submit your take on what government's motto should be, although my favorite so far is "First, leave no money or evidence..."
Weekly unemployment number improved again:
Damn, being a bear is expensive here lately.
Self Fulfilling Forecast Department
"Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon expects inflation" headlines USA Today this morning.
He apparently hasn't shopped his stores around here....that stuff's already peeking out of most aisles...
Coping: With Tax Time & Stress
I imagine a lot of people will be spending the coming weekend snuggled with TurboTax or the various other software tax packages getting theirs returns done. It's a topic that once broached always gets a lot of reader comment, usually from people who opine that the federal government - since it's now a corporation, is not longer government and therefore they have not tax liability. This is often accompanied by arguments about 'straw men', issuance of Social Security numbers and a lot of other.
On the other hand, as anyone can plainly see, the one with the most guns 'wins' and no doubt about who's got the most guns (with runs the gamut of the threat of audit, right up to paying for the goodies at Pantex) and mas I've often said, Pappy didn't raise no fool.
Unlike some folks, I decline getting involved in whether paying this tax or that is legal (it's probably not) of moral (again, probably not and demonstrably more so) but what paying taxes comes down to is practical.
As much as I might admire those who stand their tax ground, I'm pragmatic enough to figure out that people create their own stresses in Life and that's one reason (more than likely) why Elaine and I look 10-15 younger than most other folks our age: We've both led approximately stress avoiding lives.
Not that a little stress isn't bound to creep into everyone's life, but stress arrives in folk's lives and then hides in plain sight.
Not that we don't all exercise what my little sister calls her "traffic finger" a lot; someone climbing up the rear bumper deserves that and worse.
But it's how we deal with stress that largely determines whether we depart this world early or late, since stress is a well documented underlying precursor to the big C, heart attacks, diabetes, and so forth.
I began keeping track of stress early in life. Once, I noticed (while piloting one of the succession of Porsches) that I was feeling as much stress as pleasure from the event. "How could this be?" I wondered.
Well, turns out that when I occasionally exceeded the speed limit by some low multiple (1.3 to 2.2 times posted) I wasn't stressing about the driving conditions so much as about the potential for an unpleasant encounter with law enforcements. Once I figured that out (about age 61) it was easy enough to give up the red whale tail and drive around a used Lexus or farm truck where the only use of the rear view mirror is occasionally...and only very occasionally at that.
Income taxes works the same way. When I was in my 30's, I remember going to the mailbox one day and looking at a letter from IRS. "Oh my God! Audit time!" was my first thought. Actually, they sent me a $12 correction in my favor.
That was it! I decided then and there that I'd have meticulous tax records and so as of today I will finish up this year's package which includes a spreadsheet with more than a dozen tabs, justifying everything from business travel to software and computing costs, to matched up CUSIP's for all my option trading.
Not that I have become less rebellious or free-spirited as I've gotten older; I've just come to recognize stress and where it comes from a little better. Some stress if good (like the pressure of getting up at 5 AM and writing a column every morning, or doing maneuvers in an airplane...all good/positive stress).
But the bad stresses that come from habitual lateness for meetings, watching the rearview mirror more than traffic ahead, or over the next few weeks - the annual tax festival - all these can be eliminated or reduced by simply changing one's attitude toward life.
I've often described life as getting on one of the "E" rides at Disney Land, back when rides were differentiated by price with "E" rides being the most expensive.
Everyone gets up and 'hands in a ticket' for another day on the ride. If some people are compelled to 'ride the Space Mountain' scary ride - which is what challenging income taxes (or speeding) is akin to - then fine for them. My tastes run more to the Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion.
Another way of saying Life oughta be somewhat an adventure, but moving along like a slow boat looking at stuff - being scared on cue, but just a bit.
This is only a ride, after all.
Whenever I read about how this group of scientists, or that, is putting implants in monkey brains, or how tracking devices are being put on animals in the wild, I get to wondering what the scaled-up version of that would be like it we humans were the animals tagged and tracked?
So it that what's behind all the stuff about human abductions and experiences of the other-worldly (and in some cases spiritual encounters with things like demons)? Perhaps.
One of the beast questions occupying my thinking time lately (both minutes) is whether the whole of Earth isn't something like a cosmic E ride where what goes on inside our head has something of a video recorder to it, and when each of us dies, we get to leave the game only with what we video'ed turning this lifetime of game play.
Yes, I've done the Tower of Terror, but at heart, I'm really more the stand at the cliff at Machu Picchu kind of tourist, preferring sailing and taking it all in to Unnecessary stress like lateness, speeding or chiseling on taxes. Don't need the stress taking up valuable mental VCR space as we've got plans for many more videos to take before getting off this ride.
Elaine and I are spending some time over the next couple of weeks planning those.
With time freed up from stress, and understanding a lot about process and how to wield that tool, there's time left over to star in our own videos to store between the ears.
Limitations to Prayer Dept.
Oh, a comment on how this here E ride works - since I just got another email requesting my urgent prayers to stop the nuclear meltdown in Japan.
Not saying that prayer doesn't alter outcomes, but it's a low-level influencer in most cases I've studied.
Like standing under a piano falling off a tall building: There's a time to pray, but there's also a time to move/be in motion.
Let me turn this into a simple statistics problem: which one would I trust: prayer or acceleration at roughly 32 ft. per second per second applying itself to 600 pounds of falling piano?
Not sure your views, but to me, this one is not too difficult as I have no confirmable reports of pianos stopping in mid-air. Of course, maybe I just missed it....
Email of the Day
"Become a Multi-lingual Master: Learn a new language in 10-days -- 100% Guaranteed!"
Decline. Still trying to gain basic English/Weblish/Txtlsh skills. But thanks for offering to take my money...got that one covered already: married with kids...
Ham Radio & Notes
Chatting with my son on 20-meters last night and guess what? Had a call from an old friend - late 1980's - who retired from the phone company (when there weren't as many of them around).
Invited him to meet up with us on 14.225 usb this morning at 8:30 but he declined. Explained that retired people don't have to get up so early.
Noticed that when I called my sister about noon (Seattle time) to see how her flight was. "Oh, I was going to call you, but I'm just getting up...") same kind of reply...why people sleep in is a mystery - life's already too short.
Speaking of radioy things: Got this here email:
Radio answer man 'spains: The GPS system comes in a number of "accuracy flavors". From the top they run something like this:
Oh, and about those keys: Civilian level will get you to the right house most of the time but seems you actually dropped your keys in California somewhere, .0000000000000002% of the time. Dither (location offset) may be moved around pretty much at will by DoD but the airlines tend to get pissy when they find their approaches are too far off, but then again, that's was glideslopes and VOR approaches are for...call the backcourse localizer and check the HSI against the IFR certified glass panel.......oh, my head hurts...can I just finish my taxes and call it good for the day?
This is called dithered and dipped by some, but more broadly: California is lost, you're not, at least based on your sense of good reading material.
Now be a good little corporate serf and wait for the ball game this afternoon...
Wednesday March 30, 2011
Read 'Em & Seep: The Petkau Effect
Before we get into our daily dose of reactors trying to melt, I thought (prompted by a reader) to discuss something called the Petkau Effect. That what? Well seems in 1972 this paper was published based on the research of Dr. Abram Petkau up in Canada (at Whiteshell) and it discovered that oops! Ionizing radiation behaves in a nonlinear way when you're looking at cell damage...Wikipedia's entry picks it up from there...
Petkau's findings are a critical part of understanding the recent seeding of pretty much the whole earth with radioactive this-n-thats, everything from the Chinese, Russian, US, etc nuke tests, to the use of depleted uranium in various projectiles all over the sandbox (I'm waiting on DU (depleted uranium) shells to make their way in the Libya conquest).
Not to be too blunt, let's also look up common sources (besides microwaves) ionizing radiation:
All of which is useful information to have in mind when reading stories coming out of Japan this morning - and judging by the lack Petkau effect references in various news operations, we have to assume that the level of general competence when it comes to understanding the nonlinear effects of long term, lower level ionizing radiations is pretty dismal. But, as we are continually reminded around here, just because a critical bit of information is not in the news doesn't mean it isn't critically important in evolving news going forward.
Unless, of course, the media covering 'news' is not covering pure news at all (which is a contexting effort) rather than just throwing facts around in a willy-nilly disconnected, non-contextualized way --- which if you haven't noticed --- is what media empires are made of lately.
"Toxic plutonium seeking from Japan's nuclear plant" headlines a Bloomberg piece. Not that we're surprised, mind you. That is ionizing stuff, ain't it? Read 'em and seep.
The Radioactive Volcano Problem
File under Lingo-Lango, Wednesday, damn-oh: The one other thing we're watching closely is the evolution of the predictive linguistics language expectations around "radioactive volcano". Linguistic fill for short.
Here, the problem is not so much one of grasping non-linear systems as it is trying to sort out whether we're talking two disconnected contexts which just happen to be temporally adjacent within a single country/region, whether we're talking a cojoined (interrelated) semi-discrete events with a cojoined outcome, or whether we're talking a pure aspect or attribute which would be either radioactive something becoming "volcano" or a volcano becoming radioactive.
For the discrete events argument, we notice the two Korea's have held face-to-face talks over the the possibility of (pure/discrete) volcanism issues.
At the other side of 'discrete events' we are pondering this note from a reader:
And there in a nutshell is the problem of using language to look into the future: We have two (nuclear equipped) powers - the Koreas) talking about volcanism and we have a present-day meltdown trying to happen with volcanism terminology cropping up. See the use of the term "...radioactive lava is leaking into...." here.
When seen 9-month ahead of any of the actual events taking place, I assume you can discern he difficulties of a rickety time machine use.
Attention Math Students
If you want something really fun to do, go look at the NOAA Space Weather alerts for the month and see if you can cobble us up a correlative framework to expanding plasma core (of earth) and frequency/magnitude of earthquakes.
Meantime, I'm on the edge of my chair waiting to see what Tony Ring's earthquake data for the month looks like when he gets time to compile it late this week...we'll pass it on when it comes out...or is that in...hmmm...more coffee...
Meanwhile, back at the Meltdown
First the breaking news out of Japan, which is the Japanese trade ministry has ordered new safety requirements for N-plant operators. Better late than never?
Again, somewhat oddly, the MainStreamMedia seems curiously reluctant to use the world 'meltdown'. Yet, in this morning's briefing from the International Atomic Energy Agency, we see that meltdown is in fact what's going on (see highlight):
Now, to the average nutjob, molten fuel rods are a meltdown, although a little checking finds of 21,402 hits on the single word "meltdown" which is applied much more widely to things like the antics of humans, narrowing in to the search subset "partial meltdown" hit 3,622 references which indicated to Mr. Cynical that the mass media is still looking at this in terms of a little bit pregnant.
Against this background, the NY Times report that the "Japanese operator says it will scrap four reactors at plant" simply fills what around here has been a foregone conclusion.
Death by JIT, Revisited
In last weekend's Peoplenomics report, we were way ahead of the curve, but we can now see how the just in time (JIT) manufacturing process is about to 'bite world'.
What's interesting from a longwave economics perspective is that the markets globally are still in denial about the emerging massive impacts from the quake and meltdowns.
The reason may be the bullish bias of analysts. Take for example thre story that Texas Instruments sees a 6 month disruption from its chip plant in Japan.
On the other side, a press release reassures investors that "TI's Japan factories on track for full recovery..."
A look at a 3-month chart of TXN shows the stock already above general prices levels of January, and while the stock dropped a good bit after the quake, it seems to have bounced right back.
Meantime, we have reports that industrial production in Japan was up in February, and it's almost a foregone conclusion that the impact of the quake and shutdowns on things like auto and electronic production will not impact the US market until the April reporting period (May June for us by the time backward-looking statistics are written).
Only marginal impact should be evident in the March numbers, since as the supply chain goes, the shipments from Japan for March were largely always aboard ships or aircraft. No doubt there was finished product on the docks at either end, not to mention what was already in the supply chain.
Prediction: The impacts will be seen fully by June which ought to give the distribution channels time to empty out a good bit. and when it does, prices will go up and that will add to inflation.
Fortunately the wisdom of government will protect us from seeing any upward adjustments in Social Security or military pay, though since BluRay players and a new Accord or Camry is probably not part of the number-fundging core rate which also excludes luxuries like food and energy...and just never-you-mind about the headlines like "Tsunami halts Japanese Car Production..."
Irrational Markets to Continue
Just for the hell of it, let's think about the world right now in a cold way:
Why, toss in Japoan's meltdowns and what does it sound like?
Irrational Markets 101. The Dow seems headed for another higher open this morning.
How the Magic Works
As I was applying my ViseGrips (Pinch me!) this morning, it occurred to me that as long as the government can keep up the waste & tax program, there's no way for rational markets to exist.
Super Ben and Treasury Tim apparently have a list of "too big to fail" and frankly, as an investor, I would appreciate a copy of that list so we can all line up - like the insiders - and put our money into these can't lose propositions.
Meantime, we're still waiting for the Fed to come clean after the US Supreme Court said to hand over TARP specifics, but nope, haven't seen that stuff yet.
What I do see is the Hype Machine doing what us old-line marketers would call 'seeding the market' with positive press reports so that when the data comes out, it won't be such a fart-in-church with its impact.
Why look! Here's a story in the Washington Post about "Why TARP has been a success story."
Meantime, I'm still trying to figure out what yesterday's "New York Fed purchases $2.180 billion in tri-party reverse repo as part of the operational readiness program announced on March 23, 2011...." was all about.
The NY Fed reassures us that "These operations do not represent a change in the stance of monetary policy, and no inference should be drawn about the timing of any change in the stance of monetary policy in the future."
The more I study the complexities of this, the more I feel like I've wandered into a dark alley where there's a game of Three Card Monte going on that only the Big Players are able to follow. Mysteriously the Big Players seem to be making money hand over fist while markets that ought to be figuring out the mess America is in, seem to Blythe ly ignore reality.
Jobs: The Most Horrible Facts
When I was talking with my deflationist pal Jas Jain this past weekend, he made a remarkable assertion: "There's been no job growth in the US in 10-years!"
Made a note to follow up on that and sure enough, here's - fresh from the BLS database - it the unadjusted employment data for 10-years:
Close enough to right? Lemme see total employment in July of 2001 was 138.239 million which is actually higher than last month's 138.093 million!
Holy frigging smokes! Total jobs held is down 6.26% from the peak of the Housing Bubble Madness in 2007, too.
Let me put on my best Clint Eastwood voice for this: "Your know what this is punk? It's an i7 920-series with 12 gigs of ram, four monitors, and 4 MB of bandwidth 3-hops from fiber. Now, do you think I won't pull this data, punk? Do you?"
Except, of course, the lick of my wireless mouse and keyboard is not as imposing as a .44 magnum, but we have to work with what we have around here...but I go ahead, it makes my day...
Not All Bad
Still, there's some reason for optimism in the ADP jobs report for March just out today:
Also out: The Challenger job cuts report - also moderating:
You just know this is gonna make the rabid right nuts, of course, since it just
might mean the financial world won't end under Obama and gosh, not like the GOP
are the only guys who can spell muddle-through...
Fine Ad Campaign
I don't usually pimp ad campaigns, but the Independent Community bankers of America seem ready to ride the rising wave of public opinion with this one:
The GlobalRev is not about killing...it's about change at the top...and corpgov bankstering is a fine starting point, which goes along with shunning nicely.
Speaking of Guns
..and gums...I see Clinton meets in Paris with a Libyan Rebel Leader...wonder if she can talk them to death?
Elsewhere in the GlobalRev Syria's cabinet resigned yesterday and the president says he's going to make sure the country survives foreign-hatched plots.
Not that things are peaceful on the home front with "11 hurt as Chicago shooting spurs bush crash."
Coping: Adult Supervision
After dropping my sister off at the local airport for her trip back to Seattle, I managed to strike a reasonable deal with Elaine. Been meaning to get into the Northern Tool outlet in Tyler, Texas for a good long while and finally got 'er done.
I remarked to one of the clerks on the way in "I'm not allpowed to enter stores like this without adult supervision and that's her job..." as I could feel the sweat on my palms from the amazing array of...of....evertyhing I need to have for the shop.
My first stop was to find nutdrivers for the electronics workbench. My previous set has been scattered to the winds...only the never-used-sizes seem to be readily available.
Sadly, they didn't have a set with all the odd sizes from a 1/2" down, but that didn't stop me from asking "Hey...this 205 piece rotary tool set...will it fit my Dremel?" "Oh yessir..."
Another tough call: I have a Dremel set of 100-odd that isn't open yet...should I pop the $25 just to make sure I don't run out? Nope....self restraint kicked in.
But, no worries, since there was plenty we really needed - like a backup to the diesel manual diesel pump ($40 for a barrel pump) a jug of chainsaw bar oil and various other farmerly-rancherly stuff.
Amazingly, I got out only $88 and change lighter...which as any sworn member of the Home Handy-Bastards Club knows is almost as big a feat as quitting smoking or giving up booze.
Then it was on to dinner.
Elaine and the sister unit had sized up The Sonoma Grill and given it a thumbs up...and darned if it wasn't great.
Menu is varied, but the three main features of the visit were, in no particular order:
Dinner was less costly than the tool shopping.... So not only did I get my sister safely off to Seattle, but I somehow managed to negotiate a fine meal and a trip to Northern Tool.
I'm still trying to figure out how I worked this out, but if I can distill it down to a repeatable formula, I think I could sell it for millions. Perhaps it really is, as Clif often reminds me: Universe favors George.
Damned if I can figure why, but let's not look the Gifter of chicken piccata in the eye, shall we?
Tuesday March 29, 2011
Bummer: Case Shiller/S&P Housing Data
As promised, hot off the press release is the monthly Case/S&P Housing report, which to my way of thinking is the best overview of how things are really going in the beleaguered housing industry such as we've got...
Here's the summary:
Gee, seems that Mr. Ure's outlook for a continuation of the housing decline (and lack of jobs recovery) is moving along just as predicted. Oh, and did I mention this does serve to underscore Jas Jain's great (nearly unshakeable faith) in deflation? We'll see how the metals and markets react today and tomorrow - should be instructive...
file: Housing Recover under Eastern Bunny.
"It could be argued..."
As depressing as some of the stories in the headlines might be this morning, let's get one thing clear at the outset: News is only bad if you have the wrong context.
We can already see how the MainStreamMedia is starting to turn on itself (an interesting gyration to watch) with headlines asking things like "Is Media Matters break the law in its 'war' on Fox News?" while another site claims that "Mexico's largest media corporation behind plan to censor drug war coverage."
Of course technology change is certainly a driver - and when I noticed the report "Phuket media coverage takes a leap forward with iApps" I thought to myself, "Gee, how could I become part of the Phuket media?"
I especially think Phuket when I review the media circus overs the coming month's-long war in Libya. I seem, to have a little different perspective on things that Fearless Leader who was nattering on about how we have a responsibility as a great world leader (yada, yada) to intervene in Libya which anyone in their right might would notice has everything to do with oil and little to do with anything else.
The Pentagon has put a price tag on the first week of the war - $600 million, but don't be disappointed, we've got another open-ended war and although it was perhaps buried in too muchy economic fact to suit some in yesterday's column, here we are seeing if corpgov and the Fed can jointly print and spend enough to gain the economic stimulus of war which is why WW II was so critical to ending the first Great Depression. If we can just collapse the Debtberg and fight enough wars on whatever pretext.
What most people aren't asking - and it's the hardest question of all because it tends to sift the wheat from the bullshit (to put it directly) is "How come it's OK for the republicorps to go off starting unending wars and the democorps can't?"
Say, did I mention that city in Thailand?
When I checked earlier this morning, the national radiation map was not up in the 100-range which they've pegged as their 'alert level'.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency briefing for Monday night notes that "Japan confirms plutonium in soil sample at Fukushima Daiichi" and then goes into more detail:
Part of the problem with radiation is most Americans are extremely ignorant of what it is - and what it is not. What I'd suggest is that somewhere on your bookshelf should be a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills: Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition which will set you back about $20-bucks at Amazon.
We've been flooded with questions like "How much dirt should we have over us?" but instead of me trying to answer an overflowing email inbox, please read the book and realize that there are just some parts of modern technology, which - while they may appear as magic - are noting more than application of some very solid rules of chemistry and physics.
If you haven't read the rules, and I don't care if it's how machine code works on the 8088 chip, or how radio wave propagate differently depending on frequency, there generally is not magic and once you 'get it' with the rules, the world really is a somewhat orderly place.
Orderly Nukes, Too
Of course, having a well-informed public may not work out for the PTB, and it's with this thought in mind that we pass on the story that "Germany, Austria, Switzerland pull Simpsons episodes that Make Fun of Nuclear Meltdowns."
What was it my PTB minion source told me? Ah yes..."...the movies are the messages..."
About things like this:
Absolutely! All seriousness aside: Self-warming salmon entrées - and they'll keep for 25,000 years without refrigeration! Go with us on this...
Tomorrow Under the Big Top
While most of the world gets sucked into debate over Libya (that ship done sailed) the second ring of the circus oughta be worth watching tomorrow as the Subcommittee on TARP and Financial Services holds a hearing on the notion of "too big to fail."
Adding Insult to Injury
Eh, wot? Like the anti-union diatribes of the right aren't bad enough for teachers, here comes Fearless Leader saying too much testing makes education boring...
I thought the word was accountable...
2012: No Worries
I can say that with confidence now, know why? Because the Federal Reserve has schedule a rate meeting for January 29-30 of 2013 now...lol.
Working for FREE
Don't know if you saw it, but a watchful reader spied the story on the Fortune/CNN website this week "Unpaid Jobs: The new normal?"
Having heard my numerous reminders about the undocumented alien invasion via offshore internet workers, this insightful reader puts it this way:
Peachy plan. Let's call it the "Freebulous job creation plan!" Makes me proud too...Why, I'd even offer a toast to the boardroom geniuses behind this one, except that'd involve a trip to the local Chevron for something to properly toast with....
(For cold Bud? Uh...er...sure....whatever...) How soon the PTB forget their Dylan...
This ought to be great fun to watch. You see, in order for the New World Order types to pull this off, they have to figure out what to do with all those industries that are car-related. Repair shops, battery makers, tires and reapirs, collision repair...hell, we could list them for days.
Like so much else out of crack-addled \supergovernment types, there's no explanation of where people are going to be employed in this brave newer world vision. We do know that millions of additional people will become necessarily unemployed, however.
Which means - if I wrap my head around this stuff correctly - is that people are going to lose a substantial bit of their freedom to travel about, and that more than ever, there will be a ratcheting up of government intrusion into people's lives.
What's laughable is that leadership of the EU doesn't seem bright enough to read their own financial statements (they're broke) while at the same time coming up with these Utopian dreamscapes which I can only attribute to bad meds.
If you're wondering why common folk are demonstrating in the streets of places like London and Greece here lately, it's pretty simple that thinking people all over the world are figuring out that just wrapping up a vision of the future in this flag or that, and back it with a hype program like global warming is not what's going on, especially when the numbers don't add up. The Association of British Drivers has at least figured that part out.
On the other hand, I suppose it doesn't matter: I'll be 101 by then. What city was that in Thailand, again?
Coping: With Names and Naming
You may not be a regular reader of HipHopDX, but there's an interesting story there - as well of plenty of other places (Like BusinessWeek) - about a new Zack Greenburg book about rapper Jay-Z's rise to business success described in an "Empire State of Mind" (Didn't see it on Amazon yet...)
What was interesting about the stories is how Jay-Z had some great success through simply naming products.
It seems to have started by getting a great list of artists to sign with Roc-a-fella Records (list) if I follow the story of Jay-Z's rise from the stories. And from there goes to a fashion label, Rocawear with a catchy - and no, this ain't your daddy's penguin gold shirt - logo and 'tude.
Not everything Jay-Z has touched has turned to gold, but enough that the book may be worthy some study, but more by marketing students than business majors.
You see, that's the whole game, anymore: commanding revenue with brands and positioning. Admittedly a bit of a strange topic for mulling with pancakes, but hugely important because it's the stuff that binds diverse personalities like Karl Rove on the (rabid) right to successful hipsters on the...er...whatever side that is...to the militant left.
Even if you never read a book on saales and marketing, the Jack Trout and Al Reis classic is under $12 bucks at Amazon under the title Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
Written (hardback) in the 1970's, I think it was, the book explains that when people make a purchasing decision (they can spent money or time, by the way) they are not just buying a 'thing' - they are buying a whole McGillah, a concept package and to do that, you need an all-encompassing message which either a) builds up your product or infers a competing product is not as good.
One of the classics was United Airlines early adoption of the "Fly the freindly skies" positioning statement. Not that they came right out and said the other airlines weren't friendly, but theirs sure was.
People also don't buy point-to-point automobiles. They buy cars which represent some expression of self-image and the Walter Mitty in all of us. So, to some group of buyers, Ford's appealed to the 'horse' mindset with Mustangs, Pintos, and the Country Squires that owned such thing. And brand confusion likely kept Dodge-Chrysler from scoring big with their Colt. Ford, you see, owns the 'horse branding'.
What did work for Dodge-Chrysler was other highly aggressive archetype trigger words like Charger, Challenger, Barracuda, Imperial, and so on. Say, did I mention our Farm truck is a Ram 1500?
Presumably, as people outgrow their need to buy expressions of archetype, they come back to buying comfort and convenience as well as status. Which is why Lexi (the presumed plural of Lexus) have numbers like Elaine's old ES-330, and why Infiniti's are similarly numbered, while class among the German driving machine class comes in either a 3, 5, or 7-series on the one hand, or something in the 900 series, like 914, 928, 924, 944, 911, 956 and so on. Yeah, the 930 was fun for a while, but I didn't need that 'number' anymore.
Under it all, cars continue to compete with their faster two and four-place competition - the airplane. Hence the fascination with 'aerodynamics" and the continual referencing to 'cockpits' and 'instrument clusters'. Which, in an odd way seems to fit, as watching a free-revving 930 tach is a lot more fun than keeping airspeed, horizontal situation indicator, GPS, and so on, lined up correctly down to decision height. If the 930 breaks, its usually survivable being one key difference.
The fun part of business (at least to me) has always been in this "How to take a company to market" problem. Our "We go the extra mile for you" at Cayman Airways in the early 1980's was a precursor to the PSA "We go the extra smile for you" campaign which put silly (but highly memorable) grins on the front of their jets. Great positioning.
Eventually, I need to get to a point here - if you'll bear with me for one more sec. Just as there is a lot of archetype stuff that goes on with mass marketing of concepts, so too is the cult of personality a 'biggie.'
I heard one of the rabid right bloviators refer a while back to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan as being something like the "Reaganus Rex", which was a very clever way of building up a republicorp icon, for people that don't recall that Reagan's presidency was arguably one that seriously started America's descent into financial irresponsibility. To the degree, in fact, that Reagunus Rex's budget director David Stockman has been writing "Ooops, sorry about getting the trick-down stuff wrong' books and now advocates raising taxes to keep the country from going over the edge.
Reaganomic, a pretty well disproven fraud now, is still touted as a grand time in America by those who can't admit that laissez-faire means you now compete with internet workers in the third world who will work for far less than you.
Instead, the corporate-backed right is trying desperately to hold the job-jack and outsourcing paradigm together, in the sadly Depression-inducing belief that as long as corporations are unfettered with social responsibility (in the form of massive tax cuts, extension of eminent domain, and so forth) they will be able to run a hit and run campaign against any group that holds onto a plug nickel's worth of value that could be monetized in some manner and shoved onto a corporate balance sheet.
Which is why union-busting is so favored at the moment. I see in Texas that people do very poorly at connecting the dots when a Texas prison operator brings in low-paid workers from Africa on work visas in order not to pay a prevailing wage, while at the same time cheering the anti-union diatribes from corporate-stooge governors up north.
Perhaps they don't realize that the corporate agenda will come calling for public sector workers in Texas and every other state where a republicorp bagman can create a budget crisis de jour by by simply handing the phat cats sweet deals only dreamt of by working people and then declaring the it's someone else's fault that there's no money. Sorry, seem to have digressed a bit.
So in addition to Regan the aircraft carrier, the Bush and the George Washington, we also notice that there are a bazillion schools in America that have been named after President Kennedy, try this little Google search for proof.
Another "What's in a name?" is the amazing number of Dr. Martin Luther King streets. Google pops 526,000 hits on "Martin Luther King Avenue" along with a further 649,000 for "Martin Luther King Way", another 3.69 million for "Martin Luther King Street", and a whopping 7.35 million for "Martin Luther King Blvd."
Is there a point to this discussion? You bet!
Feast your eyes on this here new Kubota tractor delivered to a reader this week:
The picture came with the following note:
Hmmm... how to handle this. I'm sending him back a note this morning:
No, it's not an aircraft carrier with a corporate-backed cheering section, but WTF, it's a start.
Ham Radio Adventures
My son (KF7OCD) (which we're still debating whether Universe meant that as over (the) counter drugs or obsessive-compulsive disorder) finally got his ham station dialed in to the point we can not talk from there to here - about 1700 miles.
Had a nice chat with a 2-by-1 up in Flagstaff who dropped by...seems he and his dad kept a schedule on the air for years and it brought back memories.
Nothing more reassuring than having a unique and somewhat resilient way to keep in touch with family in other parts of the country that's independent of power, the Internet and the PSTN.
Monday March 28, 2011
Nasty Week, Depression 2 Proven
Odds are better than even that I will begin this week by going back to the short side of markets for a number of reasons, which can be enumerated simply this way:
Proof of the Greater Depression
A bit of change this morning for an in-depth discussion.
My deflationist pal Jas Jain (a PhD in digital signal processing and whose work laid the foundation for current video compression algorithms) has been looking long and hard at economic data and believes he's got "smoking gun" evidence that we're now in the Second - or as he calls it - Greater - Depression. In case you haven't figured this out for yourself, here's his report:
Now, to be sure, the argument is still open, since Jas research depends on a broad look at timeframes. The approach could be debated, but he's a DSP whiz and it's his stock in trade to look at noisy data in sliding temporal windows.
As I explained in Sunday's Peoplenomics report, what becomes apparent is that successive Administrations in Washington have attempted to 'pull forward' the massive war boost provided by World War II in today's economy for launching a new war on the whatever pretext is convenient.
Without such stimuli, the economy would already be (more obviously) in the Greater Depression.
Not exactly mainstream stuff economists like to admit to. But, given that this is likely to be a particularly nasty week on a number of fronts, seemed to me like the first thing to do with a cup of coffee would be to get a hard look at how the papering over efforts stack up compared to the last/previous great depression, since upon the very instant of mass public awareness, the global economic system could go into arrest mode.
We shall see, but this could be a particularly nasty week.
Did I mention gold has been down $18 already?
Now for some Humor
From the Bureau of Economic Analysis:
But here's the knee-slapper:
Yeah, sure, you bet'cha... Wanna light me up one of those?
Coping: Futility of Retirement
Oh, sure, it sounded good - Americans would put money into an inviolable Social Security Trust Fund and that money would ensure that every working American would get access to a decent retirement back-up plan.
But, a number of things have run Social Security into the ground, not the least of which is crooked politicians who are more interested in maintaining elective office than ensuring a high-integrity retirement plan.
A couple of nasty reminders popped up in the overnight emails here. One from a reader who was incensed with the story that the pending "Medicare rise could mean no Social Security COLA" which he characterized this way:
Admittedly, it was a typical "Slick Willie" kind of move, but it wasn't like he was alone in helping to hollow out Social Security.
And that fine tradition continues to this day, with the government reneging on its commitment to fully funding the Social Security system by simply changing methodologies over time.
While it would be peachy if the problem could be laid solely on democorps, as many of the rabid right's radio ranters would misrepresent, the republicorps have does at least as much - and arguably more damage to the Social Security system with their own hijinks.
As luck often has it, multiple emails seem to pop up on a single topic, like our discussion of Social Security about the same time. Here's an email that arrived shortly after the first...and relating the author's concern that inflation wasn't being measured right....
Well, yes, that's another problem, but that one has a lot more to do with the basic lack of mass technology change, a consequent lack of new employment opportunities, and the the daily invasion of millions of illegal workers who arrive (and leave) untaxed and not contributing to America - just taking from us - via the internet.
That we are in the Second/Greater Depression is pretty well characterized by one-time Reagan budget director David Stockman, who did a lecture this month for the Ludwig von Mises Institute with the predictive title "The end of sound money and the triumph of crony capitalism."
One quote in particular sums up where we are now:
When someone like Stockman hangs such a label on GWB, I consider it meaningful in an extensible way. To me, it's just one more reason that despite the leanings of the radio ranters, the fact is that a Reagan budget fellow has all but admitted that they 'eff'ed up' and he's trying to get things right now - by doing the very thing the rabid right seems determined to defend: raising taxes on freeloading corporations.
We made a decision recently to join AARP - since I'm 62 and eligible for Social Security, not that I'm a huge fan of AARP, but they seem to be the only organization with enough size & momentum to have even a prayer of returning Social Security to a workable system. I'm not much of a "joiner" but I have enough sense to see crooked government for what it is: Making promises and their turning into back-sliding chiselers.
I'm on the verge of becoming a single-issue voter, because of it. But my point of confusion is "Which issue?"
One of them might be integrity of Social Security and adjusting it for the real world, which it is not. But, if I do that, then military retirement pay, too, would need to be similarly reformed.
But, if that happens, what about all the other taxpayer swindles - like building highways out of the Highways trust fund, or federal and state gasoline taxes and then handing them over to private corporations many of which are offshore and provide no benefit to America other than a few low-paid minions while foreign royalty profits at America's expense.
But, if I do that, where does my outrage end?
Probably the biggest story out of Europe this morning is the one about the half-million people showing up to demonstrate against social spending cuts in the UK and the 200 people arrested after rioting which followed.
America is getting close to this kind of crescendo event, since the economic displacements are now at the level where tearing up the social contract is now required to keep the ownership class whole.
Recent events in Michigan and Wisconsin were not (as portrayed by the rabid corporate shills) about corporate advantage. In Wisconsin, we see plenty of evidence of willingness to quick jump to the corporate tune, but when it comes to the earned income trax credit for working poor, that somehow takes a lot longer.
One read opined in an email from - I forget it it was Michigan or Wisconsin - that "...we might as well have a King up here..."
Which brings me to this other email:
Now a bad plan, except that's what we effectively already have, which is why coming up with a single focus for my rage against the machine is proving so difficult.
Normally, I'm just a lazy guy who would like to sit around and read all day. running for office might be serious work, but the fellow who wrote the The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book has already volunteered to be my campaign chairman if I run for office.
My proposed campaign chairman also sent me a copy of a book he'd written a good while back called The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K. I'm pleased to report to you - as a possible constituent in the future when I run for King - that I'm at last almost ready for Y2K.
While it may seem crazy to even consider voting for someone who is already running 10 years and four months behind the curve, consider the alternative.
Corporatism is really feudalism 2.0 and I figure the other guys are running on a program which traces its roots back more than 400-years earlier.
Better to be led by an honest man who's 10-years behind the curve than to follow more dishonest types who are 400-odd years late.
Love some of the ads that pop up. Here's one asking "Is cloud computing right decision for you?"
Hmmm...remind me to send them a note that I'm already in a cloud most of the time already.
Oh...and this is peachy: An invitation to give money to the Kujawy Narrow Gauge Railways which is the longest still-existing narrow gauge railroad network in Poland.
Helpful though I'd like to be, I'm going to decline in order to send a ferw bucks to the local food bank. But I will send then am email to suggest they put Warren Buffett on their emailing list. A narrow gauge might be a nice add-on to his quickly expanding train layout which includes Burlington Northern and whatever...
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 PowersThatBe, 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.
So one of our charts for Peoplenomics subscribers oughta be widely circulated - it shows that if you line up the peak of the Dow in January 2000 with the peak in early September of 1929, we're on a very very close replay track. Much closer than even the chart shows if you were to back out inflation, and put in the effects of 1929 deflation, but that'd be real work, and I'm sort of lazy if the truth be told.
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:
"George, that's only a coincidence!" your monkey-mind will protest.
Why sure it is...you bet. A 9½ year long coincidence...yessir....just a coincidence, we're like SO sure... (Shhh...don't tell anyone that major Depressions are two-part coupled affairs like the linkage between 1920-21 and 1929, OK? Damn, dude...don't spoil it for the sheep...)
Oh...don't forget to "Write when you get rich!"
George Ure, The People's Economist
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