A One Man Economic Daily Newspaper about the Second Depression in near real-time...
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I have to get in a couple of "I told you so's". One is on the nation's which predictably (and rather theatrically) reached an "11th hour deal". Did I, or did I not, tell you "Relax, this is a distraction"? Sho 'nuff...
Then there's the ugly little matter of earthquakes with a 4.1 in Baja this morning and a 2.5 over on Hawaii...seems the Pacific Plate is still shaking and the question is What's next?
More for subscriber, Monday, or whenever you drop by again. Cheers!
Breakout Day for Metals
With the price of silver already over $40 today and gold pressing on towards $1,500, a serious question could be asked "What's driving all this?"
The answer is hidden in plain sight: The consumer is taking on debt. This fact shows up in the Federal Reserve's Consumer Credit (really debt) figures out on Thursday and if there is one set of data that argues deflation is not here yet, this could be the one.
To be sure, there are two flavors of debt, one being the revolving debt (credit cards and such) and nonrevolving which includes school loans and auto loans.
I would love to be able to report to you that the report means everything is peachy in the economy, but it does not.
A large number of people are looking at going back to school in order to get some additional education with the (possibly mistaken) belief that getting a bit more education will improve their chance of getting a job. Yes, it might, but it won't guarantee a job - it just means that the jobs which are had will be accompanied by typically first (and maybe second) year salary being the cost of the education.
To be a little more specific, we've got two of our kids (40's) who are out of work now and are looking at retaining - but what's this? They are looking at spending $2-10K in training expense for a job that pays typically $10 an hour? Bet you can't guess what my suggestion is on this one, can you?
The other thing that's going on is that the Fed is pumping like crazy on M1. The annualized rate of increase in M1 is 11.6 percent if you look at the last three months while the 6-month rate annualized pushes out to 13.9 percent.
All of which means the consumer is put in a box, since if they need something (education and cars come to mind) they could easily figure 'better get it now while rates are still low'...
Around here, we do a wink-wink, nudge, nudge and knowlingly smile, knowing that inflation is coming - and at a 10 percent or so rate, which is going to show up in the price of things like prcious metals which makes it simple as pie for us to forecast 10% higher gold and silver from here this year: $1617 and $45 respectively.
Of course, when the markets figure out how much paper is really piling up, this could rise to 20%...but we'll just be uncharacteristically conservative. It's Friday after all, and no point in really working too hard. Need to rest up for the weekend.
Consumer spending at the malls is not picking up very fast, despite the numbers from the FRB. So much so that the WSJ Online has an article about "Malls face surge in vacancies" which, frankly, I'd expect to see continue climbing on through summertime.
NarcoMoney and the Crash
Since we tend to watch a lot of non-US media around here, I have to recommend you watch the Russia Today Max Keiser (with Stacy Herbert) Report which aired this week which is all about how NarcoMoney caused the financial collapse of 2008 and is largely responsible for the aftermath we're in now...but you already know the world runs on drug money mostly, right?
Long and short of it? (besides the pies in the logo - cute!) Plot line: When the gov't started to move against the narcobollar's owners in mid 2008, they crashed the system as a kind of warning - don't mess with us. Oh what fun, huh?
If you've got an even dozen brain cells, you'll quickly figure out why there's no serious fence on the US-Mexico border otherwise they'd crash the system again. Oh, the discussion with Jim Kunstler on economic feudalism is good, too. Now, get back to work, serf, or we'll have you flogged. OK, audited, then...and if you speak, I'[m calling the HR police...
Floating Islands of Tsunami Crap
Clif happens to have a friend of his who is on sailboat northwest of Hawaii and he reported in my satellite email this week that their shallow draft multihull sailboat had passed a disabled containership which was damaged (by this eye witness report) by trying to travel though the tsunami debris field east of Japan. For a while, the sailboat report was that it was 'horizon to horizon'...
Having grown up in Washington state (and doing clam digging out on the coast) the only thing I've ever found worth anything on the beach was a decent Accutron watch left behind by some clam digger who took off the nice watch and wandered off without remembering to pick it up. I saved it from the surf.
Now I'm thinking 2 bedroom beachfront home, maybe?
But fast forward 6 months to a year (maybe longer, depends on currents and storms) and beachcombers next year might find all kinds of things washing up on the west coast. Just be sure and bring a Geiger counter along, too,. and send us a glowing report.
Government or no government...the president and family are off to Williamsburg for the weekend. Must be nice.
Of course, the debate is going on over what kind of harm a shutdown of the government could do. Some are saying no impact, while others are suggesting it will be a terrible thing.
We've got mixed feelings about it, since we're not clear if the post office would shut down. Some people might enjoy that since no bills would be nice for a change.
We're back to popcorn in the bleachers watching as both political parties try to explain why they aren't the cause of the shutdown. Obviously we need space aliens to enter this poorly choreographed disaster from stage right and take the attention of political incompetence which is the only thing we seem to be able to grow faster than the money supply.
1PP (one possible pisser): Could slow down IRS refunds if I have this right. I'll send the missing interest bill to our local congressman...tell him its his fault to pay up. Like that'll work...
Justice Delayed Is....
...justice denied, but in this case, post conviction DNA study has resulted in a wrongful conviction being overturned...
While it's a popular 'cause' among the 'disappearing constitution' - which is largely (99%) right, obviously, the story underscores the potentially important roll that solid pretrial DNA can play.
But while the pro DNA database people will no doubt point to this as a reason to move forward with more intrusive - mass - government data collection, there's a bigger question that remains: Should everyone - not just suspects be subjected to DNA? Like gun registration, only the legally-oriented bother. the criminals could give a rip because they're what? Criminals for crying out loud. Disdain for law...yada yada.
Think of it this way: It'd be like the local cop pulling everyone over for speeding, even if they weren't, just to see if they might be doing something else illegal. This whole presumption of guilt thing pisses me off no end.
So national DNA database? No...but since there's a whole industry waiting to be built in the wings waiting to be built out, I think economic optimization will trump rights to privacy, as TSA has been busily showing.
Hardest thing to do is solve the right problem. We've become the world's leading nation when it comes to solving the wrong problems here lately. World's leading dope-mocracy.
Marketing Has All the Answers, Dept.
Oh...the government is planning send tweets out on terror level alerts. Fine way for ME terrorists to get the results of their marketing plans on the go. And with tax dollars. Sweet.
Shaken But Not Stirred
A reader sends this:
Could be that FEMA's National Level Exercise on New Madrid is heading toward a massively synchronistic dénouement.
Meantime, if you live in El Centro California, pay attention to the 2.7, 3.4, and 2.5 quakes in Baja this morning. You wouldn't find me in the Imperial Valley these days without visiting this website first...or at least towing a trailerable sailboat...
On Today's Schedule:
I'm planning to call the University of Alaska's PR Department later on today. Want to find out why the HAARP website has been unavailable all week and whether it's moved or just WTF is going on...
(More after this)
Been doing what someone in the sciences would call a 'big longitudinal experiment' with some low-level nutrients since I decided that I would do my major weight-loss project in stages, and thought you might find it interesting.
First on the staged weight loss: As I wrote a good while back, I decided that to reduce blood pressure and to generally improve health, I had decided to lose weight. What I decided since (and after losing the first 8% of initial body weight, was to stop and 'get stable' for a little while (a week and a half) at a new and healthier weight (205 lbs) since in everything I've read, the problem people have with weight loss many times is the 'spring-back effect': they lose a bunch of weight and then pop right back toward their old weight.
What to do? After losing a good bit of weight, stop at a plateau for a whilke and come off the diet regimen a bit, but work consciously on adjusting the lifestyle - both eating habits and exercise - so as to actually get the mental embedding of something healthy done incrementally.
Along the way (or is this along the weigh?) I've been doing a fair bit of study on 'exercise', especially since a reader was kind enough to send me a copy of Arthur De Vany's The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging ($17 at Amazon). I think the most important part of that book is the explanation of how humans are basically "'eat lots, rest a whole bunch, and then get on with another burst of high-output.' (my paraphrasing)
Which is very interesting - and one of those diet areas that demands more reading for the simple reason that I've never looked at jogging as a particularly enjoyable thing to do. Sure, there's some endorphin rush, but I can do the same thing with 10-minutes on a treadmill on a decent setting and "road work" while it was powerful stuff in "Rocky" just ain't my bag, Adrian....
All in all, the Tim Ferris book The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman ($14, Amazon) was what got me started on this because there was a fair bit of self-science involved in Ferris' approach.
After taking a single statin pill, and not 'getting along well' with it, and after reading about how people sometimes get transitory general amnesia (and in my case a not-so-crisp level of mental acuity) I decided that I need to work on my own approach to health which will be a 'very few white carbbies' on the one hand after Ferris, a reasonable approach to exercise (burst as De Vany explains is what we're optimized for) along with lots of just sitting around, which I'm already one of the world's experts at by virtue of being computer-bound for 12-14 hours per day.
So much for the background. Now on to the latest round of experiments which I label under P.H.O.'s or Personal Health Optimizations.
I'm blessed - thanks to my heritage - with a couple of really easy-to-use markers of how well diet and lifestyle are working together in that I have eczema, gout, and asthma. If I do something really out of whack (food-wise) I get markers that are easy to spot.
But more importantly, since I spend so much time 'inside my head' I'm pretty acutely aware of 'mental states' and realize that there is a relationship between mental acuity, on the one hand, and general health on the other.
The most interesting personal optimization - and the one I am starting with - is the one involving the gout because I have noticed something that takes place a day or three in front of the onset of a gout attack: incredible mental clarity. I mean most time's I'm a sharp enough fellow, but right before the onset of gout I am able to drop into what's sometimes called "SuperLearning" mode.
I met some of the authors who were doing the early work on Super Learning - they used a combination of diet along with (among other things) baroque music. The basic concept was that you can 'synch up' how your brainwaves work with slow level noise which can lull the brain into a particular mind-state (too long a topic for this morning). Music is one of those ways that you can 'push the brain' to operate the way you want, rather than the brain so of 'free-running' like an over clocked computer that skips to new topics without operator intervention/control.
There are a number of books on topic such as Superlearning 2000: New Triple Fast Ways You Can Learn, Earn, and Succeed in the 21st Century which will set you back a whopping $8 at Amazon...
On the same topic (brain optimization/user controls) another one you might want to get would be Quantum Learning: Unleashing the Genius in You ($12) and my some-day-gonna-finish "Victims of Process: How unwritten recipes run your life." I did a first draft of it in 2002/2003 but never issued it as a book since I still had a lot more to learn before it would really be "complete".
The point of all three of these books might be boiled down to the following major concepts:
Getting the picture? People lead (many times) boring lives without spectacular success because they just 'get in the car and drive' without learning where the air conditioner controls, cruise control, the drop down for passing controls are, and so forth.
Ever wonder why there were so many "average people" in the world?
But once you've been practicing good brain control for a while - you will notice that there are times when you get really interesting super-peak mental performance. First time I ran into this was at age 20 when a (then) girlfriend suggested I take a half a barbiturate pill (she was a drug co. rep, lol) and wow! What a change of mental state. Prior to that I had been pretty ignorant of such things, but needless to say, that got me to study of ADHD and that another book-length discussion.
Point is, though, that I have - from time to time - experienced this 'super-state' of mental acuity now and then, but it seems mostly to accompany gout.
Which is why I am on this new (slow motion) study of personal helath optimization.
The way I figure it is this:
What I noticed here is that Ferris' book got me rethinking my carbohydrate relationship and as it turns out, not only do carbbies slow down my thinking, but worse, they add fat.
Then I set about noticing...
Sure as hell didn't accompany the statins my Doc suggested (we'll be talking about that in a couple of weeks) but this got me into starting the reading on low-level vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Two interesting candidates for further research have popped up on my radar.
The first - and it turns out to be linked to gout, curiously enough - is a low-level deficiency of lithium. Not the high dosage stuff used to treat various mental conditions from massive depletion, just the low-level 'could be tweaked' stuff.
Lithium, which used in carbonate form is a very serious med and close doctor supervision is required along with periodic blood tests....not to be trifled with.
The incredibly weaker (but still slightly bioavailable form of lithium may be lithium oronate. Since my Doc still has me on diuretics, I'm not messing with the stuff at all without his input/being in the loop. The reason is that serum lithium levels seem to be a 'moderator' or 'contributor' to the body's natural sodium and potassium levels.
Since my son's an EMT and has drilled all kinds of info into my head about the dangers of electrolyte imbalances, and even convinced me to keep a couple of jugs of Pedialyte on hand, I got the idea that even though lithium oronate is cheap, since it can influence electrolytes seems like it would be a good thing to talk with the doctor about first.
But here's the punchline to this: The reason to even explore this optimization is that lithium levels are linked to? GOUT.
That seems worth a look, at least to me. But I can't emphasize this enough, when you start messing about with self-medication, the patients doctor is the fool, so talking to a real doctor is the only sane thing to do.
Now, the second thing I'm pondering in terms of weight loss is I've started to study up on TMG, better known as trimethylglycine, which is a glycine betaine.
Why would I care about this one? Well, this part of the Wikipedia entry caught my eye:
No, I'm not suffering depression...SAMe is also on my list of things to try, too. I've tried a fair number over the years, including proanthocyanidins (nada) and low levels of zinc (nada, but on an empty stomach that made Elaine quite sick...) and so go my unauthorized human experiments.
I'm just (slowly) going through the supplements and micronutrients to see if any of them have a noticeable impact of brain function.
The analogy I would use is this: I know that under certain conditions, I can achieve higher than average mental performance. I therefore read some of the claims about lithium oronate, for example, as a potential Alzheimer's moderation and I think "Should I ask my doctor about this?"
Television bombards us every day with "Tell your doctor" - but I look at my doctor as a 'research partner". Since there's a 100% chance of me being dead within 60 years (122 is a nice age to aim for) getting on a regimen now that might improve quality of life in the second half seems like a rational thing to do.
If I wasn't such a 'do it yourselfer' I'd go to a nutritionist or homeopathic doctor....
Why, if money got to be sound, if Japan stops leaking, government stays in business, and I don't get run over by a bus, living to 120 could be a lot of fun.
My son (ADD type) reports Adderall (prescription, of course, closely supervised and low dose) turns on something akin to nearly eidetic (photographic) memory in him. He can read an incredibly complex book (medical) and recall complex data and diagnostic trees perfectly.
This optimization of brain stuff is a most interesting field and can have huge benefits.
Speaking of Dieting and Such
This press release caught my eye:
Hmmm...win 10-large? And the nice thing: Wouldn't be spent taking people out to lunch or dinner would it, lol...
Next Bot Run?
Got this from a reader:
Answer: "Yes but I am sworn to the time monk oath of secrecy – all things in time..."
Send Ure comments to email@example.com
Reader Action Department:
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A Starfaring University?
"If we're ever going to be a starfaring world, we need a university that will teach people a different way of being....that's what we want you to consider." A heady challenge if there was one, rebuilding higher ed with an avowed 'get off Earth bent', but that was the gauntlet thrown down by a prospective consulting client I spoke with this week. "Let me mull it around in a Peoplenomics report, because it's a big topic and I don't want to see your business plan details," I told the caller. As the week wore on, the topic came clearly into focus as one that humans could be working on, but because of our preoccupation with the ruling money paradigm, we aren't pursuing. Nor is it likely we're about to. The good news? Our old paradigms die, or we do...and that watershed event might be a good time to reinvent how humans purpose themselves and learn.
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.
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Thursday April 7, 2011
Making the Earthquake Case
10:20 AM downgraded to 7.1
What's a major earthquake has just happened off Japan - this one a 7.4:
Meantime, there was a 6.5 off Veracruz, Mexico and small shares in Calfiornia including a 2.7 in the LA area.
Meantime, I haven't been able to load up the HAARP website - seems to be unavailable....hmmm...sure would like to see those magnetometer readings, you know?
News Rotation: People
Most times as a dyed-in-the-wool 'old school' news guy - who's just looking to put world developments into a reasonable 'context' for mental processing - it's easy enough to use an analogy like The Machine (as explained in Wednesday's column).
The Machine is having troubles with its supply lines of raw materials coming from foreign places and while being somewhat stymied about what to do (since the people at the controls of The Machine really have very poor contexting about how complex system work, they over-react on all fronts. Which, near as I can tell, is how society catches low level mental disorders and rolls them out for all to conform with.
A convenient example appears in the NY Daily News about the "Atlanta man arrested after blowing his nose leads to scuffle with cop" which shows how senseless escalation is today's new 'normal".
See a problem? Like with, oh, radiation for example? Just change the basis of how the numbers are calculated and "Poof!" No more problem. Ditto cost of living and how much else? Of course, everyone knows the EPA monitoring system is not designed for power plant meltdown monitoring and is more oriented toward sniffing out remains after nuclear war, but that's behind the headlines if you want to read more.
Still, too many facts, over too short a time, makes reading the headlines somewhat boring and repetitive...almost like we're cramming for a radiological physics class and, golly, that's no fun, is it?
So the rating-sensitive news directors ( was one, so I know of which I speak on this) are looking first at where we are "in the book" in order to make sure there is plenty of material around when the next part of "sweeps" arrives and in TV-Land that's April 28 to May 25th.
One way to make sure there's no shortage of events to talk about is push a lot of people onto the front page and let the American fascination with other people (and our own kind of egalitarian aristocracy (if that's not too contradictory) come to the fore. In short, people are rolled out like product. This is test marketing time in media.
So it's within this context that we consider the following kinds of news in lump-sum form:
I won't bother you with going through the whole phone book here, just making the point that between sweeps is when a lot of 'turnover" in people making headlines seems to occur.
Obviously, The Don might make an interesting president, but the same could be said about anyone else on the list: Beck, Charlie Sheen, and all the others (except maybe John Edwards, though he's been near it previously).
If you didn't have a life, you could even track these stories into the netosphere to see which ones are getting traction and put together a kind of generic "people rater" survey, which is essentially what high power media consultants do. Once they get past the "health, heart, and pocketbook" story rankings.
Those with good 'draw" (Trump) are likely to get a big boost simply on name familiarity over lesser-know guys like Mitt Romney who - near as I can tell - failed to host a TV show or have enough connected friends in Chicago to get launched onto Pennsylvania Ave.
Silly? No more so than the Electoral College, which [technically] can elect someone other than the direct popular vote winner.
But that's how America really works (after a fashion). We do what should be very simple things in a way that is often excessively complex in order to serve a corporate, or political agenda..
In a country where people get locked up for sneezing, or smoking a doobie, yet skate on stock manipulations and investment fraud, or for that matter, promoting policies which essentially have stolen a large fraction of America's planned retirement money, why am I not surprised?
ECB Hikes a Quarter
The most interesting footwork financially is what the ECB raising rates by a quarter this morning will do.
Historically, the ECB (or any other central bank) would raise rates to cut back
on the amount of "cheap money" being borrowed. The idea is that by raising
or lower rates charged, the central bank can more (or less) throttle where the
economy goes in the future.
When you think about it, it's obvious. If borrowing money is free (as in zero percent interest to borrow) there's little penalty for going out and loading up on real estate (or gold & silver), since long term money creation would be assumed to still increase the value of those assets over time. And free money? As you kidding? Outta my way...let me at it!
On the other hand, if interest rates are high (100 percent per year, for example) only a crack-head would borrow and the rest of us would sit back and not borrow anything since we'd be afraid that Luigi and Guido would be along with a baseball bat if we didn't pay the loan shark (a role also played by the central bankers, but wearing better than Mafioso suits..).
Somewhere in between is where we are now. And my suspicion as to what's going on? Simple enough: When Japan pulled a ton of its money back in country to buy yen to pay off insurance and clean up and fund the radiation clean up, that meant there was likely some opportunity for 'hot money' there, too.
Now, when hot money is drawn in one direction (by the prospect of a higher return) then the outfits that are also in the running to borrow 'hot money' will have to pay higher rates. And that is why China is now paying more and as of today, the ECB, too.
Oh, and where does that put the Fed? Big pressure is building for the Fed to raise although what's this? Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker (showing common sense, which is anything but) is hinting that the Fed "...must l;et big firms fail..." Since the mass printing of bailout dough can only go on just so long.
As he's outlining it, the 'safety net' becomes unsafe when everyone (2/3'rds now) can fall into it.
Tough talk...but if the Fed grows some goanies, maybe there's hope.
A Lammert Note
I asked Gary Lammert if we're in a [fractal] blow off top...
Second Bill of Rights? Don't remember any votes on that one...good point!
What's the old saying? History is written by the winners and can't always be trusted...
Not enough time to do up proper links on other stories to so keep it short:
...but just remember, its changes in trajectory that interest us...otherwise, these will all work to their logical targets...
Coping: With "Commanding Zero"
a most interesting email from a frequency contributor (who is working on our page notification software which soon be out soon - promise!) I share it because it's full of very interesting ideas that hint at how live control we have over ourt long-term outcomes in many ways:
Suppose for a minute that we really in "commanding zero" - a nice term for having mostly an illusion of control as we are swept along on down the Great River of Life - tossed about by its currents and eddies...I like that.
We have hints that there's a waterfall ahead. You're Mrs. get's it as a "be ready by" date. It shows up in Clif's work as "the data gap" - and we saw the beginning of that more on less on schedule when various MENA countries started closing down the internet in order to deny its residents a means of communication.
What IF there is a waterfall ahead for us leaves going down the river and we were all going over that 'falls'? When would that little tidbit be "best" communicated to the people?
While the picture of what's ahead in the Earthquake charts shown earlier this week is a little depressing, it's less so if a) we get a strong reversal of trend and b) remember those trend lines I showed were worst case 5th order polynomials...nasty little buggers that overstate things often but which are loved by marketing guys (moi) to make points.
Still, there are pretty clearly a number of potential "waterfalls" ahead which could be "end of the line" for a wide majority (if not all) humans. From our disaster shopping list this includes:
The question is a little foggy (it will be clearer in this weekend's Peoplenomics report) but it resolves down to something that may actually be within our technical capability to comprehend. At the broadest level the question might be stated as "Solve for best time to tell leaves about the waterfall to achieve maximum number of leaves surviving downstream."
Since the problem is much, much bigger than I can possibly articulate here, we'll devote the entire Peoplenomics report to it since even asking such questions is complicated.
So we'll "leaf" that alone for now with the Post-It note on screen #3 reading "Develop curriculum for Global Forensic Macroeconomics 635 course and pimp it forensic economics teachers..."
That oughta soak up any possibility of 'free time' around here...
Curious reader asks this:
Curious minds always start with a trip to Google Trend Labs, put in the keyword like "plume" and run it out, remembering to scroll the chart to the right to get out to the current data.
But, if my eyes are working anywhere near normal (ha,ha, "normal", get it? Can I tell 'em of what?) Yes, the world "plume" has fallen off dramatically in the Trend Lab hits.
Say, you don't think it went over that waterfall we were just talking about, do you?
Around the Ranch: Pyroclastic/3-Mile Cookies
A month or three back, Elaine got distracted by something-or-other and left the oven on while she wandered up to the garden with a batch of oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies baking.
By the time she got back, they had cooked, and cooked, and cooked yet they hadn't particularly burned. But the little guys were hard as rocks. And we're not talking shale or sandstone. We're talking hardness of marble and testure of a good dense basalt.
I'm not a big cookie fan - since they are made out of things I am trying to avoid on my diet: butter, molasses, sugar, chocolate (anything I like, basically) so Panama ate them.
All. In just a couple of sittings but not after first issuing the name pyroclastic cookies.
Over the past little while, we've come up with a rating system for them. A few batches were "mailbox cookies" - you could walk about from the house out to the mailbox and back - about 500 feet while eating one cookie.
A little cooler temp and longer in the oven and we seem to have gotten up to "1/2 mile cookies" - which is from the front door of the house, walking down to where our property ends, and then back again. All the while munching on what starts off as a rock-hard cookie (and 1st cousin of hard candy).
Here lately, we've been mulling over the idea of "3-Mile Cookies" First because of the radiation tie-in and secondly because for longer hikes, pyroclastic cookies are a nice pick-me-up on the trail and not as messy as a handful of granola.
I've also (secretly!) been experimenting with using them as dessicants to put in put in toolboxes, and so forth to keep out moisture and to keep local packrats busy long enough for them to give up on the idea of running off with another 9/16th's socket.
With all due respect for my friend Clif, these cookies may be able to give pies a good run for the money. A pie - particularly of the fold-over variety more suitable to walk'n & munching - doesn't have as much versatility.
Consider what happens if you're confronted by a Beast on the trail. If you throw a pie at it, the damage will be minimal. Only a Beast with a highly developed sense of smell (and a taste for huckleberries or cherries) would be deferred by a pie of either flabor thrown at them.
Thus, in order to defend yourself against a wide spectrum of threats, you'd need a large number of throwing pies. For carnivores, you'd need meat pies, and for omnivores (possums are pissy little guys not to be trifled with) you need a different kind of pie for throwing.
Pyroclastic cookies, on the other hand, with their basaltic nature, can be thrown at anything, and with good aim, injured or killed on the spot. The cookie may then be picked up and depending on which animal was hit, it might still be eaten.
All of which has me sneaking into the kitchen whenever Elaine's in town, working on my three course pyroclastic trail meal. This would be a cookie made of meat and nuts for the first third of it, using beef jerky and pistachios is what's in the current attempt. Then a center section of berries, although yams and pumpkin filling is on the lab list, and of course finishing the final third of the cookie with chocolate/oatmeal.
You might be able to do the same thing with a walk'n pie assortment, but that's be best with a Caribbean-style " beef patty" (or chicken knock-off) for the main course, a pumpkin or yam pie for the veggies and then a peach or cherry. Too damn many pies and far too complicated since walking and chewing loads up my brain pretty well.
As always, development continues. But keeping ahead of the market is what we do around here. And near as I can figure, we'll all be eating "Three-Mile Cookies" sooner than later, anyway. No reason not to recklessly profiteer on the concept, which is what the world's about, isn't it?
The Helpful Ham
A reader sent in this in an email...
Two notes, one on the Kenwood: Still a great radio BUT I got a note from an official observer about intermittent audio problems. Traced it to the (optional) M60 desk mic, since the handheld mic worked fine.
A visit to Mods.dk (a must visit site if you're into radio tweaking) revealed that the M60 can be a little sensitive to high RF levels. Only happened with the linear on and only on 20-meters. So, working on that is one of my next - when I get time - projects.
But now, about that G5RV? Not my favorite antenna. Might I recommend a double-sized Off-Center-Fed Windom? In either case, neither can be used effectively as an inverted vee, since when you model it, the pattern and gain figures look much better as a flat-top. Now we're talking more tree work...
Might I put in another pimp note for the CCD antenna? www.ccdantennas.com and I swear this is the BEST antenna I've ever owned on the low bands, 40/80 using the dual-band version. A little long (243' feet, roughly) but the performance and noise level is better than a double bazooka and it 'plays' great without a tuner.
If I were going to the woods, I'd take a CCD for 20 meters (about 66 feet long) and call it good....don't need to pack the weight of the tuner when that could be more pyroclastic three-course cookies...
Wednesday April 6, 2011
Fukushima: Some Good, Mostly Bad and Worse
Fighting off my cynical and curmudgeonly instincts, I'm going to star with a bit of good news, for a change. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, one source of leaking radioactive water has been plugged at Fukushima #2:
Still, that's not much good news to cling to, since the reports that radiation levels in the ocean surrounding are up to 7.5 million times normal. And the NY Times this morning has a 'must-read' about what the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is telling in a confidential assessment.
Meantime, another website you might want to keep an eye on is the House of Japan site which is reporting that it could be September before radiation-stopping sheeting is placed at Fukushima.
Worse still: Rumors are starting to float around the 'net that Japan may have had a secret nuclear lab (weapons project???) at (or under) Fukushima #3 - but no confirmation yet...certainly something to keep an ear open for. Like this hot Jeff Rense interview on FB. From 13:10 to 14:24 on is key... (You need to be logged into FB first...)
While the www.radiationnetwork.com site looks OK today, a medical professional called me yesterday and explained that the alpha and beta particles are his big concern - as well as long term food supplies. To the point he's buying more storable foods.
Martin Robbins in "the Lay Scientist" column in the UK Guardian has a compilation of reader ideas on how to fix Fukushima. I'm still skeptical of the "healing energy" emails that keep coming in, preferring my N100 full face canister masks. I think we had our prayer versus falling piano discussion last week. This is a piano.
Meantime, we have been watching the USGS earthquake monitor sites pretty closely for two reasons. One is a huge quake swarm in the area of Puerto Rico yesterday - 35 quakes at 2.5 and above.
Then, there's the shift over to the West Coast where we've seen nine quakes from Guatemala to Alaska, including a three more down in the Baja area.
I was going to look at the HAARP magnetometer chain and to see what's going on there, if anything, but couldn't get access....I'll keep trying, of course.
Pointed Fingers, Missing Budget
A very sage reader of ours has a simple answer why the government won't shut down for very long - if it does at all. "How we gonna keep three illegal wars going without paying the soldiers?" he asks. Bingo! We have a winner...
Still, there are a couple of days to the brink, so nothing like a good round of finger pointing to keep up audience participation levels. Why, without such theatrics (on both sides) talk radio might as well sign off...
Well-connected Debka.com is reporting a couple of Syrian policemen and fifteen demonstrators killed in suburban Damascus.
Then we have the Saudi invasion of Bahrain (sold in the US as 'assistance') which now has 200 Iranian members of parliament accusing the Saudis of crimes there.... and then we have a report of two journalists being deported for not getting the facts in the government sort of way... And the Jerusalem Post is reporting that Bahraini companies are firing people who take part in protests.
Being doing a fair bit of backgrounding on this conflict and the new State Department/WH lingo for what's going on is not GlobalRev. Instead, they are calling it MENA - short for Middle East/North Africa. Toss in Libya and the Taliban and I'm sure we could make MENTAL out of it.
Mexico is gearing up for a round of protest, too...so arguably GlobalRev is not confined to MENA but I don't make up DC buzz-words.
At a kind of uber/macro level, think of the West as a large machine that requires resources from locations hither and yon around the world. The reason the machine must go to war instantly is that in the event of a breakdown of any major supply chain, the whole of the machine is endangered.
It's almost like the world has taken specialization of labor and rehashed it as specialization of supply so that areas once capable of being independent are no longer capable of being such; The Machine has been dollar-optimized which (as long as supplies aren't disrupted) is a fine thing.
But what happens in GlobalRev - obvious to you and me maybe) is that as indigenous peoples start to reassert their local ownership/control over resource use and compensation, The Machine must spring into action to preserve its 'least cost' feedstock channels because without those, the whole Machine fails.
Not all commodities are equal. Oil and food right now are paramount. Thus our long-term conceptual model of a 30-years (or longer) Manufacturer's Resource Wars is really playing out at the historical level. All started with the occupation of banana republics and the sugar colonies, the tea and spice trades, and so forth.
Once The Machine began down the historical-level revenue optimization path, which necessarily relegates regions and countries to specific commodity provisioning roles, the die was cast. Those countries which fed The Machine in a conforming way (the oil states, for example) were rewarded with Machine provided protection and money, whereas those areas which were not immediately exploitable were cast aside.
All of which explains why countries like Belize are mainly of interest to The Machine insofar as they can provide another tax haven for corporate entities. The rest of the population is treated as relatively disposable. And countries like Jamaica, too, find themselves competing in things like sugar with least cost operators who do things like sugar beat, Florida cane, or the chemical analogs (artificial sweeteners).
The danger of GlobalRev is that The Machine really could be broken and it wouldn't take too many countries to do it. And since Russia has been building its own version of The Machine, and China, too, it stands to reason that integrating all three machines into a unified whole would serve The Machine's owners. But, it wouldn't necessarily serve the people best.
An odd way of looking at world events. Inexorably, The Machine must further expand its reach. Whether it's controlling how many Happy Meals, or cracking down on barter, The Machine demands regularity of supply and predictability of profits. A compliance in thought.
The only small problem is it's not human optimized. It's revenue and profit-optimized. GlobalRev is the footrace between the corporate owners of The Machine versus indigenous peoples who question the paradigm and would like to cobble on their own...
Speaking of Revenue
A press release from the SEC out:
Our question: How many more CDO's among all market participants might be reconsidered?
RE Aps Down
From the Mortgage Bankers Association:
Still, seems like the market is going to head higher still...sure it may feel like a blow-off top, but with silver knocking on $40 and gold working toward $1500, n o point in selling as I've been pondering lately. I keep repeating "the trend is your friend..." but how far is up? Especially when other hard assets like real estate are down almost 17 percent compared with a year ago?
Coping: Copyrights and Complexity
Some mornings we get into nitty-gritty stuff here, other days are like this one. Just a more or less constant parade of housekeeping items; some of which are interesting, perhaps others not.
First up is the small tweak of the UrbanSurvival logo (top some reports) which, if you'll notice, is now against a black background. Reason? A freind of mine got a nastygram - signed by a bunch of lawyers who wanted a LOT of money for using part of an image on his website.
I'm not sure what constitutes 'fair use' of graphics, especially if they are seriously modified by an artist through stretch, tilt, color, and so on, but around here, we like to err on the side of prudence and as a result, since I couldn't find which image was in the background (to confirm it as unlicensed - which I'm pretty sure it was) I decided an untraceable plain old black background was the right way to go.
A little research, and come to find out that the policy of finding even snips of pieces of something and sending a bill is becoming widely practiced. While we could go on all day about whether an image licensing outfit should be allowed to do such things is not worth debate. I always liken such things to a sea captain and the first mate arguing over the existance of a dangerous rock in the middle of the ocean.
"Shouldn't be there..." pleads the first mate.
"Whether you think so, or no, my job as Captain is not to hit it, even if it isn't there, argghhhh..."
A word with our staff counsel here reveals not only are this image infringement systems seemingly doing automated scans of the net for graphics, but it may be led by some museums.
"How so?" I wondered...
Turns out that if a museum owns a piece of art, and it's on display, taking a picture of it and placing it on your own website to the pleasure of a few friends, is about where the legal quicksand may begin.
If it's a piece in a museum which has "No Photography" signs posted, and youu snap off a few with your cell phone...you edge even deeper into perilous straights and those big rocks we were talking about.
I've had years of learning about fair use and so on from my news gathering days but the matter of copyright and infringing is equally (if not more so) complex with written words.
My consigliore told me about a case he heard of where a local businessman (out West somewhere) issued a press release about his company. The local newspaper then picked up the story, printed the press release more or less verbatim including a quote from the businessman.
Fast-forward a bit and the businessman quotes himself as quoted in the paper. Even though the guts of what he used in some kind of customer communication was something he'd sent out in a press release, seems as though the newspaper went ahead and claimed copyright infringement.
He didn't recall all the particulars - I'd rather expect that he said "As I was quoted in the XYZ lately..." But, logically, a person might ask "How can the guy get sued for using his own quote just because it was covered by a local media firm?" Well, if the source is cited and he used it in correctly....again, we're down to where the quicksand begins.
Since I don't have a high-end intellectual property firm checking daily, I haven't been able to recover a dime so far, but the copyright/ IP battles on the net are bound to increase, especially when it seems that museums and other owners of large image collections may be running software to check for offending use and then then sending out demand letters.
Oh, and those sites which repost whole articles without prior approval and argue it's "fair use"? Quicksand.
If you really want to have some fun in your next staff meeting at work, you might suggest a graphics review to ensure that any images your company website uses are from a sources which is either "open" or you have a copy not only of the license to use the image, but also a model release form signe3d by any of the humans who were in the picture.
Sometimes, even reworking the image into a cartoon might not be considered sufficient IF the underlying image claims protection for any cartoonized use.
Odd as this may sound, even when people drop by to occasionally make instrument noises with our little home studio, we discuss and sign a release document.
Even more difficult? I hear things are tightening up on musicians as well so that let's you you're a piano player/vocalist doing a single at a local lounge...you know, a little piano and some covers, right? Even here, there are potential copyright issues depending on whether the artist who created the song and lyrics has retained rights, which in effect puts them in line for compensation for public performance.
PublicKnowledge.org has a very good introductory "Copyright Tutotial for Musicians" where you can find out more about this copyright for public performance issue. And while it's true that doing a 2-night gig with the band in Peoria, Prescott, or Podunk is a low risk proposition, the flip side is that low risk, or not, there is some risk and most musicians don't put a lot of thought into it.
All of which gets us around the interesting problem of enforcement since it's not out of the realm of possibility that relatives of one-time copyright holders may still have rights which - if bundled up by an aggressive law firm, could be "monetized."
And that's where things get dicey. The world is going down a path of continuously evolving complexity, and whether you're talking government (the most obvious, since it seems infinitely extensible into all parts of life) or whether it's the rock quintet doing songs at a class reunion...or the DJ who is playing records to which someone owns rights, copyright is not something to be trifled with.
Even for the small amount of voiceover work I do from time to time, I've got two licensed commercial libraries (you can buy these on eBay cheap enough) which grants use rights generally for film, radio, television, and the Internet.
Even music on hold has copyright trip wires, some of which are described in this Wikipedia article. A gray area: Playing a radio station on hold, since they are designed for public reception and all you'd be doing is extending that onto your phone. But putting your favorite Beatles CD on? Might want to talk to a copyright-savvy lawyer about that one.
As the world becomes more and more complex the one thing that a bright student of such intricacies might notes is that the surest way to avoid copyright issues is to use locally made and locally created works and get yourself the ownership of copyright material.
Whether it's a local artist, a local street band, or an original writer, local craftspersons who will provide original works are one solution, but even so, one needs to ensure that their works are not based on the works of others to an identifiable degree and that they will so certify in writing. That doesn't end liability should they infringe, but it at least demonstrates that there was no intention of infringing.
This is a long way of explaining why when I write up the morning columns here, I only cite a headline (as is distributed by RSS and so forth) and then I write the surrounding copy as a perspective (original work on my part) and links provided are there for convenience. Very occasionally I'll cite something out of an open/public source, or rarely use a single paragraph (under "fair use"). Mostly, it's from reading multiple sources, selecting a good representative link and placing the discussion in either an economic or humorous context.
When we produce charts, they are either self-created, OR they are from a "news release" which is intended for public distribution.
Where things get interesting is looking out 5-years and wondering how massive and interactive this whole 'rights topic' could become. Depending on who you ask, it's either going to ensure original creators get some long term benefit. Or, if all sand in the Vaseline which will topple the who system in upon itself in a writhing heap of litigation.
Crazy as it sounds, government owns copyright, too...so before you go downloading a NASA image, might want to look at the fine print. Intuitively, you might think "If taxpayer money paid for it, it's in the public domain...." But, no, that doesn't work necessarily, 100% of the time, either.
This sure took off down a serious track, and for that I apologize. Important stuff to be aware of, though, especially if you make content or business decisions like these.....So, want a baked potato with melted cheese on it for breakfast?
Tuesday April 5, 2011
Let's Play Brinksmanship & Budgets
Always good theater to watch as the republicorps and the democorps are once again playing the time-honored game of government budget brinksmanship. It's all dandy theater and it provides a nice break from the still-leaking nuke plants and still evolving war in Libya and the ROW (rest of World).
Part of the problem is that according to the Secretary of the Treasury, the US will be at its 'legal' borrowing limit about May 16th. This comes at a time when the daily US Treasury Statement is showing the US had about $194.077 billion of tax deposits in March and about $1.046 trillion in total deposits, while on the expense side withdrawals (excluding transfers) were $1.118 trillion, which netted a further increase of about $72-billion more in deficit.
Now we fast-forward to this morning: A group of republicorps types have proposed a $5.8 trillion reduction over the coming 10-years as their idea, but the Obama administration ain't buying it, and they're moving ahead with plans to shut down the government this Friday.
This should be a lot of fun to watch. As a newsman/reporter for years, I've always enjoyed the theater of periodic "shutdown government" stories. The last big one was in 1995 and the Wikipedia entry is worth reviewing. Similar conditions, too: democorp in the White House, republicorps in Congress.
There are others listed, too: 1990, 1984, 1981...so you'll have to forgive me for taking a kind of ho-hum on this, but we've seen it before, everyone is still doing the testosterone-pumped posturing, but eventually, everyone knows compromise will have to arrive.
Of course, if I were a government worker and facing the possibility, I'd be making plans for a trip to Pennsylvania where trout fishing season opened in 16 counties last weekend and if the shutdown can last until April 16th, the rest of the state will be open...and if you don't like fishing, the Nationals have a home stand next week which begins with Philly Tuesday night.
In the end, brinksmanship is a game, since neither side can afford not to keep the game going lest we all get pissed and refuse to play in utter disgust. So the brink is an illusion to maintain.....what? Audience involvement in their paradigm, maybe?
Blue Flu, 2
As if the Gulf of Mexico disaster wasn't a big enough affront to the environment, along comes the LA Times this morning to mention that radiation levels off Japan are "...7.5 million times legal limit..."
Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that "Japan sets radiation standards for fish" But, since I've running somewhat caffeine-deprived this morning, I couldn't see what the levels were, which is why I recommended Pennsylvania trout in the previous article.
Death by JIT, Redux
Something covered in our Peoplenomics site a couple of weeks back is the notion that the seriousness of the Japan quake - and its potential to ripple into the US economy in a bigger than expected way is arriving as Forbes reported Monday that Toyota shutdown potential is rising and could impact 25,000 workers.
This is interesting because Toyota had already reported, according to a company press release, "...March sales results of 176,222 units, a decrease of 9.2 percent compared to the same period last year, on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis. On a raw volume basis, unadjusted for 27 selling days in March 2011 compared to 26 selling days in March 2010, TMS sales were down 5.7 from the year-ago month."
Not that Toyota is alone. Previous reports have mentioned companies like Sony, and others which have tough situations to deal with.
Meantime, I received this email from a reader that has set me thinking...
Yeah - curious, but odds are, the company you work for is just trying to have a real backup/contingency plan. The domestic terrorism card hasn't been played yet.
Meantime At the Other Brink
While we waste the morning waiting for the Fed Minutes to come out this afternoon (I'll be watching some off-white latex paint dry, in the meantime) there is something of a shocker going around as the central bank of China has raised rates a quarter percent which is going to be good for metals and bad for markets. Pressure's up on Ben and Tim with this one, as hot money flows to high returns...
My Gold & Silver Remark
Been flooded with email from readers who seem confused by my even considering selling gold and silver. Let me clarify, just so as to be clear on what I'm thinking.
First: No asset of any class goes straight up forever. People who did not recognize the bubble in gold & silver in the 1980's - people who fell in love with that particular holding - had their butts handed to them by 1982 when the prices collapsed down. At some point, every asset should be sold, which leaves only the matter of timing and what you get next.
Two: If I get a sense that anything could develop - however unexpectedly - that would caught a global deflationary scenario to break out, then yes, I would sell in a NY second.
Three: I have not sold anything yet, but periodically I do think about it because we've had a fine ride up from $7 silver and $275 gold. One of the axioms of investing is "Buy low!" But the harder one has always been picking the precise moment at which to "Sell High!"
Either an odor of deflation - or something like confiscation - since both gold and silver were subject to confiscations in the last Depression, might change my mind. But, only if I find a more attractive asset to hold.
I'm reading a wonder (1895, collectable) book at the moment on the Panic of 1873, which the more I'm reading on it seems more analogous to present day than much more studied 1933-1941 Depression since the 1873 Panic was a long (20+ year) period of grand suckiness. More on that this coming weekend...
One of our sharp news tipsters sent us a link to the Department of Numbers website which takes apart unemployment numbers on this page.
The home page of the site has a dandy re-tab of Household Savings, too.
NC To Lose Extended UI
Here's a head-scratcher: The state of North Carolina Employment Security Commission website says that because of recent declines in the NC unemployment rate, they won't be paying extended benefits for weeks later than April 16, 2011.
So, that sent me searching for answers. Turns out that a fair number of states are going down the road of creating "99'ers" (weeks total benefits) in 93 weeks by lopping 26 weeks down to 20. Saves states money which can then be given away in more corporate tax breaks which lines up election support for the next...this getting too cynical yet?
Coping: With Wars of Convenience
Nice to see that people who read this site maintain their level-headedness despite the daily barrage of bummers (and partial truths) that spew forth from the mainstream media.
For example, when I noted that Sweden was sending some jet fighter to the Libya war (nation-sponsored killing of humans is war, despite the sugar-coating proffered by the MSM) a reader opined this:
Well, like we've said previously, no point letting a perfectly good war go to waste.
Which gets me onto my favorite subject: Being a humorist/economist. I figure I own the niche (at least for now) since most economists consider their take on financial and world affairs to be incredibly serious, made even more so with an assortment of alphabet letters strung after their names.
Although it's not a qualifying question, there seems to be an unwritten code of honor among economists that they will not make fun of the subject which is strange considering it's all about 'funny money' for the last 25-years of so.
With once-cherished Constitutional Rights evaporating, legislation in Washington being, for all intents an auction process, and with wars of convenience following revenue optimized evolutions, the keen sense of humor and ability to read headlines as though they're being delivered by a comedic "straight man" is perhaps one of the free substance abuse alternatives left to us.
My friend Howard Hill (yes, we're still chipping away on our book) heard the joke presently making the rounds and sent it along -
We expect that joke will soon be illegal in Wisconsin and Michigan, so tell it while you can...smiling is evidence of thought crime in the Neu Amerika.
Over time - and the vicious onset of political correctness disease - we note that use of any racial, sexual, religious, of biological subtype as the setting for humor, has become taboo. People's sense of humor is gone, withdrawn into their own tribes, though, in a strange way such that members of a tribe/group can still make jokes about one-another, but people outside may not.
Gotta say, this doesn't leave humor much of anywhere to go - except reading the paper looking for straight lines in the headlines.
Still, numbers and a few words matter. "Normal" is a good one, but not too many people appreciate the Zen koan-like qualities of it. A kind of one word haiku.
Numbers hold some promise like this morning's stories about $5.8 trillion, but they'll likely never catch on because of more serious numbers like 911, 33⅓, 1040 and I'm sure you've got your own. Law enforcement types seem enthralled with 55,65, 70 and in a few places, 75, which they revere and demand you respect as well, or you'll be charged a fee.
Clearly, this is crazy.
But no, serious number adherents would point out that traffic deaths in the US have now fallen to the lowest level since 1949 and that some might argue has something to do with numbers.
To my way of thinking, though, it's not the lockstep 55, 65, 70 numbers that have so much to do with it, so much as fewer people blowing 0.15's.
What scares me is that there seems to be an inverse function in society: As we've giving up bar-hopping (common in the 1970's) and taken on more adult roles (reducing the traffic death toll), at the same time we seem to be losing our sense of humor in general.
Laughter, spontaneous dancing, off-key singing just because it's fun, have disappeared. Fewer people are seen cheerfully singing in the cars next to us on the highway - been a few years since I saw my last one. Everyone else is either on the phone or listening (quite uncritically) to rabble rousers of the tal-show stripe. Radio's becoming boring and narrowly focused to an extreme.
Television's gone down that road, too. Losing it's once fine sense of humor. Here lately, Elaine & I have been watching almost nothing but documentaries since comedy on most of television is childish and dumbed down to room-temperature levels.
Other times, other times we read financial stories since they still occasionally offer great set-up lines to a blossoming humorist (which I'd like to become some day). CNNMoney (in a story that moved on Yahoo Finance) begins with the headline "Retirement: How Long Will Your Money Last?"
All kinds of clever quips come to mind, enough that a whole humor-writing contest might be constructed around the set-up line. Some possible answer?
...and the list of suitable punchlines could go on for a good long while. Sure, some of them aren't especially funny, but most of those at least hold some ugly grains of wry truth to them. Rye's good.
So it goes, on a morning like this when there's nothing earthshaking to report on, I read headlines (often times grim) and try to couch them in the best possible light. Sometimes it cheers me up just a bit...and in times like these, even just a bit is a good thing, since so many other sites are doing surveys of contemporary affairs and simply asking "WTF?"
Monday April 4, 2011
GlobalRev Heats Up, Again
I suppose its only right to begin our Monday morning adventure with a look over the shoulder at this weekend. We have the US military none too happy about the Quran burning in the US which touched off a wave of violence against the Western presence in Afghanistan and it's become the hot marketing campaign by the Taliban.
Bext we have hundreds of Yemeni protesters being injured in anti government demonstrations over the weekend...and Al Jazeera put the 1,600 injured number on the table this morning.
Down in Ivory Coast, 1,000 bodies have been found as mass murder/genocide rears it ugliness. The French have sent in forces to help stabilize the situation, which we can only infer means Ivory Coast has economic resources desired by the West. Ooops! CIA World Fact Book lists "....petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower..."
Not that I'm saying resource is the motivator for Western involvement, since oil development has been difficult there over time. Still, the oil-rich area has been disputed with Ghana over the past year and presumably, the countries which gain favor with any government might be first in line to mineral rights. All that's missing now is the Italian involvement which would complete the total picture. An interesting nickel side bet on things to come...
Then there's Libya (another oil prize) which is moving predictably slowly, since Gaddafi won't give up and neither will the oil-hungry West. And that remembers me about....
The Flying Swedes
I don't suppose you caught the headline at DefenseNews recently about how the "Swedish Parliament OKs 8 Jets for Libya Operation."
This is apparently the first time in 48-years that the Swede have turned out for a conflict of this nature and there are several ways to view it.
One view would be that the Swedes are lined up on the side of oppressed peoples of the world be they Muslim or not. Or, maybe some of that Nobel stuff has rubbed off on them. Or (and this is my favorite) the whole world is sinking into a global war over long-term resources and the Swedes have figured out that if Europe falls much, their economy will be flushed along with it. And without plentiful oil, what'cha gonna make ink with to print up all that fresh "money" that'll be needed?
Not being overly cynical, we'll assume the Swedes are motivated by humanitarian instincts.
Mexico Woes Grow
We've been writing for a long time about the slow-motion narco-lution in Mexico...and the article out this weekend describing how "Mexico City streets gangs mimic cartel violence" doesn't exactly make one wish to head for the land of mariachis, old friends, and fine cuisine.
What makes Mexico deserving of special attention is that just as oil is an economic prize being fought over in Libya, so too is drug traffic into the USA and in both cases armed conflict results.
Is legalization (and taxation) of marijuana an easy way to cut off the financial resources of the drug cartels? No, that would be too simple. Instead, more and more 'average folks' will get drawn into the drama until it spins up to a bloody crescendo, like wars have a nasty way of doing so long as economics trumps humanity.
Then there's a dandy little gem in the NY Times and picked up on at Irish Central about Irish-born Samantha Power being in line to be the next US SecState.
What's even more interesting is that she credits "...President Obama with Libyan uprising..."
No doubt such a move would play well with the Irish-American voters. Which gets us to...
O: Running Again
No surprise that BarackObama.com is online now working on the presidential rerun.
The Economics Ahead - Lammert
This isn't much of a week, statistics-wise. Oh, sure, there's the Thursday consumer debt (called 'credit') report, but other than that, it's pretty boring stuff. Fed minutes tomorrow - that might be interesting...NOT.
What's more to my liking is a kind of convergence that beings to happen over the next couple of week among technical analysts I know. One I told you about previously (a month or two back) thought the market would hit a secondary high "around April 23 and from there, financial life would be trashed.
Some number of readers also wondered about Gary Lammert's recent note about the 'albino black swan' he was expecting. As becomes clear in his most recent note, it's coming...
Hmmm...this got me to scratching my head a bit, especially the mention of gold and silver going a "plummet". The ghost of an outline appears out of the fog of 2-cups of coffee and maybe I'll put something together for Peoplenomics.com next week on it. There is a mechanism which could lead me to scaling out of our precious metals position. What could drive that? What Jas Jain has been talking about - deflation of historic proportions.
That's one reason by the consumer debt report will be key. Many numbers to push out this week, so I'll be busy.
Planning Our Die-off
The story out of the Epoch Times last week bears some thought ahead. If you missed it, the story is about a mysterious "Highly Contagious AIDS-like Disease Spreading in China."
Hasn't popped onto the World Health Organization site, at least that I've been able to find so far, but still, makes one wonder if AIDs has morphed into something new and even more terrifying. First question: how real is this? Second question: artificial or is someone planning our dieoff?
Springing into Spring
Mess this weekend in Denver: Record heat one day, storm with snow the next.
You might want to keep an eye on the National Drought Monitor, too. Already most of Texas is in a drought and the few sprinkles here this morning are not going to be enough to do anything other than raise hope.
Normal precip around here is 11.39 inches YTD. This year it's about half that - 6.01". Which means what? At a time when the world's food is increasingly at risk, herd sizes are likely to be down just on the availability of feed.
Six months out, protein prices could be up significantly....gee, like that'd come as a surprise, huh?
Already this morning, oil is over $108 and that feeds into food prices, too. Still time to get a garden in.
Coping: With The Horrible Global Quake Trend
Every month, spreadsheet job/reader/contributor Tony Ring generously sends us the monthly crunch of long-term earthquake data. What he does is log into the USGS database and then slices and dices by month, subtotals and figures. Even he was amazed at what's coming out:
Not only did I look but since we have monthly data going back to 1973, an extension out 26-months which would get us to May 2013 (our high risk area for big CME's off the sun, since those usually peak on the backside of a solar cycle) makes human future look pretty shaky if trends continue...
Not clear enough? Well, until 2006, the world was bumping along with a 7.0 quake in the range of 3˝ to 4˝ times per month. If the 5th order polynomial extension is anywhere near right, it suggests that by December of 2012 that we'll be in the 7 major quakes per month range and heading for 9 major quakes per month.
Around 30-months out, the world would be having a 6.0 or larger on a daily basis, too...
Fifth order polynomials are just monkey mind pushing things way out there. BUT if you remember your historical writings, there's a rich history of earthquake impacts in ancient India, for example, and the story of The Flood as reported in various religious writings might well be a rough analogy to a continental subsidence event which would be otherwise hard to describe within then prevailing thought parameters.
Just for the heck of it, we then push out one more chart to ponder: How long before all this shaking comes right up to the surface? Answer: Looks like 48-months out.
Let's see: Worst case, the data could be pushed to where surface quakes - which would be indescribably damaging would be popping off 38 times per month globally. Of course, civilization would pretty much be in ruin long before then, since such a rise in frequency would presumably be accompanied by a huge increase in Japan-sized super quakes and that would leave a seriously leveled world with leaking nuke plants all over the place.
Still, like I said, the 5th order polynomial doesn't make the future, it's only one possibility among many mathematical models. The best case would be a regression to the mean and evidence emerging that the recent significant change in the data is only the result of the moon making its recent close passage to Earth. With Super Moon gone, maybe we'll get back to normal.
Still, a 9+ this month or next would not look good for the data set, because it could be a sign the data is not going to neatly regress as any rational person would wish it to.
Yet Another OS
Despite some initial bumps (to be expected) Microsoft is getting ready, so reports have it, to launch Windows 8 in beta. Some sneak looks are out there, but as a W7 and Office2010 user, I sure vote for interface stability. Ribbons might be nice but I figure most folks want the OS-related stuff to take up as little real estate on screen as possible and give it all to the aps.
As for being more tablet-friendly? I use my tablet a couple of times a week to check market quotes. If I have real computing chores, there's no substitute for multiple monitors and speed. Nice for .PDF books, sure. Computing? No thanks. Real work goes on a real box or a serious laptop.
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 9˝ 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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