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Nervously Waiting & Watching
With Libya arguably taken down for that rabble-rouser talk of backing an African gold-back currency, several readers have noted that leave only a couple of countries not hooked up to the corporate life support system: Central banks. Since those two countries are Syria and Iran, goes water cooler talk here, neither country has much prospect of peace any time soon. Since today we enter the "game-changer" window over the coming couple of weeks (plus or minus 3-days) things could get interesting really quick so if warranted, we will post weekend updates as events dictate.
As of Thursday, we had Israel's prime minister demanding the US step up to military action should economic/oil sanctions against Iran fail to bring desired results, which near as we can figure would mean regime change.
What's pretty obvious is that Israel has been holding back while political (and sizeable lobbying efforts) have been aimed at getting US backing while running the clock: Iran's elections are wrapping up today and it's the hard religious types on one side and the nationalista/hardliners on the other, although reports (such as this one) are hoping that the fervent nationalistas led by president Ahmadinejad are better held in check by more reasonable mullahs.
Unfortunately, that may not be the case: Ahmadinejad has being front and center positioning his backers as simultaneously defending the faith, facing down the West, and building for the future with nuclear power. His recent trip to Venezuela to visit Hugo Chavez was as much about form as substance, though we'd note testosterone does well in desert/dry climates.
A thoughtful story off Kashmir Watch mentions while discussing "Dangerous consequences of Attacking Iran" the idea that a combination of likely reprisal attacks around the Gulf, Russian and Chinese backing of Tehran, and setting up another "Crusaders versus us" program for Muslim extremist marketing, is not in the world's best interests.
During all this, we wonder if the voting is being done with machines, and if so, is there backdoor code like there was....oh, we don't need to go there, I suppose. Results should be in later today, or over the weekend, and as goes the outcome, so too will go Israel's timing, more'n likely.
A sideshow, which has the potential to flare up around the Suez, and possibly drive Egyptians into the open arms of the Muslim Brotherhood is the pickle the US finds itself in over the recent crackdown by Egypt on US "activists" (on Western payrolls) now awaiting trial on various charges. 43-people is a decent sized bargaining chip.
The move - analogous to "Check!" in chess, is that the US spends about $1.3 billion a year in military aid (a lot of FMS/foreign military sales we'd reckon) to Egypt as an annual down payment on friendship. If we cut off military sales over this arrest business, that would cut off a few noses to spite face in the military-industrial complex here. A sort of "Damned if you do, broke if you don't" arrangement. Check.
While we contemplate how many SS-N-22 Sunburn missiles it would take to close the Strait of Hormuz, or to use Western shipping to block the entrances to the Suez Canal, we have just scant attention left to focus on Syria.
Israel is about to test the advanced Arrow 3 system. Designed to counter Iranian missiles, the story notes.
And over in that part of the world, just a bit north of the massive Leviathan gas field find off Israel but which presumably extends into waters off Lebanon and possibly Syria, we have the Brit's prime minister doing a Blair-clone immitation of a "day of reckoning" for the Syrian regime.
The West is up again the clock on this one as we go into the weekend: As president Assad's forces mop up in Homs, and despite the Russians pulling some of their support, once the fighting simmers down - no doubt at a high body count - the West will lose its excuse to push NATO into an international intervention, which without key support of China and Russia at the UN, would be obviously a Western/corporate move.
I'm scratching that emerging solar panel on the top of my head wondering "What's in it for the US and West?" Obviously, there would be fat resupply contracts to replace flow-off armaments, but what else?
My bet is that the Leviathan gas field may be only the first of several mega-finds of natural gas in the region. My spider-sense is that satellite work may have identified similar formations more to the north and east of Cypress. Although that's highly speculative, the West doesn't deploy billions in hardware and military might on a whim. So it all this to pressure Turkey back into Western arms (sorry for the pun) or is there something more to it? Clock's running and we should know soon enough.
Oh yes, the US Navy has only 30% of the fleet underway and only three carriers plus five assault ships out as of this morning. Looks like if the ME blows up, the administration really has been trying not to be sucked into the maelstrom.
Market players won't admit to outright cowardice while smoking in the powder locker. Instead we will see headlines like "US Stock future lower as Spain will miss targets."
We all know Spain will miss and Israel won't, but Spain makes a better scapegoat talk than the Middle East among bulls.
New Revelations on 9/11
Remember how linguistically we're supposed to be seeing a lot of secrets revealed in here? Well, this morning's dose comes from "CIA Asset Susan Lindauer, who on this video here - 10-years after - explains what she knows about 9/11. Interesting hour and a half, but the short version is her view is that there was both controlled demolition and hijackings... She was held without trial five-years without trial which would make even Allende types envious. And yes the Iraq War as about money....
Naturally, when tensions are up in the Middle East, so are energy prices, even if there are millions of barrels parked in oil tankers. This chart from the Energy Information Administration sums up the move nicely:
A reported explosion on a Saudi oil pipeline is being denied, so oil chilled to (just) $108 and change.
Triple A's fuel gauge report shows average national premium prices are up to $4.02 - notice how Thursday on to Monday, prices go up a few cents? That's why we top off on Tuesdays...
Good CNBC report here on how "For
shippers, 2012 is a Year of Crisis: Dry Bulk Operator."
But seriously, the Dow is bound to break one way, or the other, sooner or later. The market has been trading around these levels (12,942 in the premarket) for almost a month now and sometime or other, it's gotta let loose and move.
We'll pay particular attention to the last couple of hours today...and we might run up to Oklahoma to compare chart notes with Robin Landry this weekend. If I do, we may have a rare Sunday update for Peoplenomics subscribers...
Oil and Money Mix
Maybe water and money don't, especially in the Persian Gulf, but when it comes down to what will mix with oil, our Canadian news analyst friend has certain ideas about things:
In the meantime, we're willing to buy "coincidence" on two Costa ships (the Allegra and Concordia) but a third time would be the charm which would push us into conspiratorial realms.
Most of the leaders of Europe are signing onto a pledge to work together to solve the New World Order prototype, the EU, from financial meltdown. Two countries, England and the Czech Republic, have not drunk the Kool-Aid on this one.
Requiem for a....
There seem to be two classes of readers of this site: One side is conspiracy theory types who wonder if the death of Andrew Breitbart a day before the rumored release date of Obama college videos isn't a little suspicious.
The rest figuring it was the Wheel of Karma rolling.
O: Speaking of Which
As we told you to expect in Thursday's column, Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Cold Case Posse came back with an expected report: Yep, reason to suspect the Obama birth certificate is a forgery.
But seems like nothing is simple: There's a federal grand jury supposedly looking into Joe's alleged abuse of power and racial profiling and charges that sex crimes weren't adequately investigated. Why, what a coinkydink.
So we'll have readers to form up in two lines here: Birthers on the right, Obamacutors on the left. We won't be counting noses...that just wouldn't be PC would it?
More after this:
Coping: Riding the Digidollar Juggernaut
Got an interesting email overnight, from a dude in the bankstering biz who is not pleased with how things are going in his field...
As much as this will rile the conspiracy crowd, there really is a massive global change underway from paper and gold into digital currencies and, since that takes place on the electric railroad (internet) the ownership of stations and routes is being worked out even now.
The new FINCEN regs are nothing more than the moral equivalent of strip-searching your bank account and on flimsy grounds. Reason? Like I've told you before, fighting terrorism is an industry. We'll save the deeper contemplations as to whether a fear-based recovery is better than no recovery for the cocktail hour.
As the rollover into DigiDollar World continues its juggernaut move, everyone wants a piece of the action. Government wants to know what's going on for control and taxation reasons - terrorism is down the list somewhere but it's come up since people comply based on fear and like Catherine Austin Fitts has hinted, when the rest of the world gives up on paper dollars at some point, there's got to be users of last resort and that's US.
Private enterprise - and Bank of America - seem to be leading the way into this brave and more expensive new world. In fact, BofA has successfully sold some young journalists on the idea that it costs banks something to keep digital money on computer hard drives.
On one site Thursday where one of these gonzo young bucks was championing (I could almost hear the bank the PR department) spouting the idea that "There are costs and that's why they need to put in new fees..."
I posted a rather acerbic note in the comments section to the effect that banks launched free checking because they were well-compensated already since they are able to borrow at the Fed window for next to nothing, while at the same time their posted rate for auto loans are 2.99% for up to 60-months and 3.24 beyond that.
Since BofA (and I use them as a representative example) is only paying 5-100th's of one percent interest on savings, we might wonder if making (hand me a dart?) 2½ percent on deposits $4.1 trillion for somewhere around $100-billion a year isn't enough to pay the bills. But, the company isn't reporting that much revenue. Only $80-billion.
To be sure, they do have 282,000 employees, which means gross per employee is probably in the $283,687 per employee kind of range. Most manufacturing businesses I have work with would be thrilled to the point of wetting with $250,000 per employee...delirious dream for a small business guy....but then again, they ain't bankers.
I suppose I need to drag this out and say it again: I don't mind a low return on my money in checking (roughly zero) but if BofA adds fee on top of their interest spread, then I can imagine them losing market share like there's no tomorrow.
From the consumer standpoint, it comes down to something simple no matter how many loaded focus groups the consultants put together to bias the marketing data to the outcome to what management wants to hear:
The war on cash is on. I'm betting on free checking if your funds are linked to a brokerage/casino account or something like that.
But look around: Fees for putting money in a bank? Drug goon squads in Tennessee freeways? Why, the move to make possession of anything over $10,000 in cash illegal is now picking up steam - after all, there's gotta be a drug deal or terrorism in there to have that much money, in this sucko economy right?
So rolls the Juggernaut over the one-time Land of the what? Home of the who?
That Personal Savings Rate
In Thursday's column, I was driven to ViseGrips and crack pipe by the personal savings figures which work out to savings alleged at north of $3,800 per month in January. My friendly consulting PhD, CPA, CFP, QRP, Etc was kind enough to double-check my work:
But wait! That would mean 27-billion people at $20 each. Got a concrete wall I can borrow? I need to smash my head on something...
Fifth Order Thinking Dept.
Want something to noodle on while our fifth order house project is on the backburner for a while?
How about reading up on the Cesidian Root - the fifth root of the internet?
Obviously this may seem confusing, especially if you aren't following this 5th world discussion and you skipped learning interlingua and haven't followed our hints at the emergent digital tribalism...self-organizing networks....but that's OK, we'll be back....
WuJo - And Then We Get Strange...
We need to make one quick stop down at the WuJo before hanging up the [enter] key for the weekend.
""There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the weekend...."
Write when you break even: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Let's Make Some Money on War!
Park those pesky morals and ethics at the door, kiddies and let's see if we can't make a few bucks on NuWar. Seeing as we're getting really close now to the predictive linguistics window when all kinds of things begin to happen all at once, a lot of readers looking at the tea leaves are figuring it probably means war in the Middle East. Judging by Friday's oil prices, that seems like what the oil traders are shooting for, too (and yes, bad pun intended). Before we completely sell our souls for paper and ink, however, a tromp through a couple of the morning's headlines...keep flash goggles ready, OK?
Safer Computing: Swearing Off Cookies
It has been a while since I roared the praises of the Maxa Cookie Manager which you can download and install for a free test drive by clicking here.
To upgrade from the demo to full working is still less than $50 and one heck of a bargain at that, if I do say so.
I am a high-reliability computing kind of guy - and near as I have it figured, the road to a hassle-free computing experience is (like flying an airplane) a matter of going through a proper checklist before popping onto the web:
Like anything in computers, updates are critical so before work every morning, the computer does its update ritual - Check of Maxa (5.3.02 is current) Avira, and Malware bytes.
Toss in a good bit of common sense (example: Don't open email purporting to be from UPS, IRS, the US Post Office, or anything else that even has a hint of fishy odor to it) and first thing you know, the internet's actually a useful tool.
"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.
Please pass along word of this site to your friends by simply clicking here to send 'em a short email. - Thanks!
Thursday March 1, 2012
Cold Case Posse Report Due
Is this economics? Well, sort of, if the president has anything to do with the economy, since later on today unconventional Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Maricopa Country, Arizona) will hold a press conference to report on what his "cold case posse" has come up with on the questions about president Obama's eligibility for office.
Although the issue has been largely played down in the MainStreamMedia, the reports on the amount of money keeping key Obama personal historical information private has raised a few eyebrows.
A reasonably even-handed review of things was on a post from the Western Center for Journalism which said, bottom line, that "more research needs to be done on this issue" but there will no doubt be resistance to whatever a republicorp sheriff in Arizona says, regardless of how good the street theater turns out.
Big question this morning? Will this kick off a new flurry of the "secrets revealed" meme?
Release Period Ahoy
It's Greek to Us
Might want to keep an eye out for friends in Greece...as explained in the latest from my friend Clif here...
Bernanke Mentions Cliff!
Not our Clif, but the cliff that the nation's economy is in danger of going over. The one we spelled out in Wednesday's Peoplenomics report...
Got to hand it to Ron Paul, a fine roasting of the Fed boss...although it may be a moot point since, as Paul noted: "The Fed's going to self-destruct eventually anyways.." Now playing in a country near us.
Most mornings I'd be jumping up and be applauding The Honorable Congressman. (he's one of three, or so) But wait! If you can't trust banksters to run the money, can you trust congress, either? I may have to put this on the "be careful what you wish for" pile...
Personal Income, and Other Humor
Yes, it's out...Personal Income and expenditures...
And about the personal savings part?
Dear God, where do they come up with this stuff? Time for me to get out my personal BS detector and fire it up as we do every so often.
Since the Labor department publishes the number of people working in America (140.8 million working presently) that means we should be able to take this report $540.6 billion in purported savings and divide by the number of employed folks to come up with an average of savings per worker, right?
That's personal savings for the month of $3,839.49 per worker! Isn't that more than the average worker makes?
Hand me my crack pipe and the ViseGrips...I feel insanity coming on! Or, take your $3,839 that you saved and send some of it along. I've obviously misplaced mine! With that kind of savings, you ought to be buying a new Porsche Panamera to schlep the kids around in every couple of years...
Seriously: Does anyone ever look at this shit for reasonableness? No one I know is saving this kind dough, those admitted most of our friends are married...say, you don't think....hmmm....
Should mention the weekly unemployment numbers just out, too:
With all this, the market futures are up a tad...I mean what's to fear? Falling earnings, runaway government, debt collapse, civil disorder, bank runs...yup, that and fear itself... Speaking of which next week we get unemployment for the month and consumer debt figures from the "fed."
Can't Trust Us with Money
The Treasury's financial crimes enforcement group (which didn't impact MF Global or Madoff, or....but that's an aside) has now come up with this lil jewel:
Not that comments have anything to do with policy (we learned that in the bailout festival, didn't we?) but here we have another agency jumping on the bandwagon supposing there's a terrorist under every bed just waiting to make a big deposit...
Tell me again how many 80 year olds we've strip-searched to bring how many (non-agent provocateur inspired) terrorism cases? And who was that guy in the tan suit who helped the underwear bomber get on the plane in Amsterdammit? Deafening silence? You bet...because terrorism fighting is a new industry.
Now we're worried that terrorists might open bank accounts? Say WTF? Isn't going to do jack for druggie dough...the well-connected ones already own government...know what I'm saying?
Getting Away With It, II
The NY Times DealBook column had an interesting story this week, in case you missed it, about how the feds are struggling to come up with a "smoking gun" pointing to wrongdoing in the MF Global collapse. Quick look surprised.
Put gently, the perps in this heist seem increasingly likely to have gotten away with it. Predictable, no make that damnably so.
Money was moving around fast and furious in the days leading up to collapse, reports the Wall Street Journal. Will a grand jury, which MSNBC reports is looking into this, be a little more aggressive than sometimes self-interested regulators and lawyers in getting the goods on someone? Yo Grand Jury! Ask your own questions! Put the Grand back in it...
March to War
Meantime, Debka reports the US and Israel are drifting apart on strike tripwire events.
US Navy is down to just 31% of the fleet underway...definitely signaling that the US has taken a chill pill.
Good discussion in the WaPo this morning about whether US bunker busters could take out the assumed weapons work being done by the Iranians under a mountain at Fordow.
With tomorrow getting us into the release language window, you might want to keep your flash goggles handy - we may not be able to post a report in time to tell you when to put them on...
I've been thinking it through this morning: While the Google move may result in a violation of EU rules, that could be a very short-term worry off in Giant G land, since there'd have to be an EU to make the rules stick.....and near as I can figure it, that's a fool's bet at best the way the economy over there is going.
Besides, where's common law related to electronic privacy?...it's all wrapped up bundled in "regulation" by corporate-lackey "administrators" of the NWO stripe...but that backslides into a discussion of whether courts are self-interested arms of central corporations enforcing their will for their own gain (they do have a biased interest in the outcomes)...and you know that to even mention such heresy doesn't play well with the bureaucrats of the world. I try to avoid them and the coral snakes out back as much as possible.
Future of Social Media
Will there be a "social media" in the future? You may not have thought to ask something like that since ever since the web was invented, some things, like membership websites (remember .htpasswd?) could be argued as obvious.
But now we're seeing that the real future of social media could be the courthouse, since Yahoo is reportedly making noises in the direction of Facebook over underlying intellectual property.
There are a number of conditions driving this; Facebook plans to go public and
the fact that with earnings for many companies going flat line, turning loose lawyers to see if they can juice the bottom line does make sense to some.
But count me as a skeptic. Near as I can figure, any time the lawyers come out, everyone loses. Except the lawyers, 'natch.
Bad Week for Tourism
This will teach me to try and plan things in advance: We were tentatively planning to head for Branson, Missouri this weekend, but now that a twister has gone through the theater district, we might put that one on hold for a week or so and head for an alternate, leaving Panama in charge of the ranch. Not everything was damaged, though: Baldknobbers plans to be back in operation next week and little damage was reported at Presley's Country Jubilee.
We'll head up there in a week or two (depending on weather) and check things out.
Halfway around the world, in the Seychelles Islands, a disabled cruise ship was towed into power...the Costa Allegra. The ship has been without electricity since Monday when a generator room fire shut down power.
And speaking of Costa, Concordia survivors were telling Congress Wednesday about their misadventures on the Concordia. Even more interesting to me was that senator Jay Rockefeller got to wondering why an industry that makes billions pays next to nothing in corporate income taxes.
Might want to ask that about a whole bunch of other industries, too, senator....
Oh, and was there an Italian anti-terrorism unit on the Allegra? How do I sign up my bro-in-law for such duty? Retired SF, single, dead-eye...seems like better than leave in Honolulu, know what I mean?
A British PR firm has been fired and a tourism commissioner in Kentucky is out all because of a flap over the PR firm's positioning of the state: "You will never see so much road kill in your life..." That's road kill for one percenters, dinner for some of the 99...
North Carolina is rolling out a "heavily digital" Deep Connections campaign.
With the exception of the cruise lines, we'd expect a lot of domestic tourism to depend on the price of gasoline. $4.01 for premium and rising now...
How Many Times Do We Pay?
You may have thought that people in Missouri had paid for Interstate 70 already, what with billions of federal fuel taxes and state monies? Well, folks up that way are getting ticked, seems, over plans to turn I-70 into a toll operation.
Government, unfortunately has figured out the answer to Oklahoma's "How many times to we pay?" question with a simple "How much you got?" or is it "How much can we get?"
Never enough for that crowd...
Coping: Wok On Buy
Sometimes it's revealing to go through the inbox around here. Take our discussion of building a wok station:
Another fellow sneaks up on this Tractor Supply approach:
Well, after visiting their store, I can see I need to save up for one of the 22" disks...but meantime, I was able to find an $80- burner on Amazon Eastman Outdoors 90411 Portable Kahuna Burner with XL Brackets and Adjustable Legs which with a Whitmor 6056-344-N Supreme Cart, Chrome ($33) would just about fill the bill.
Getting hungry just reading these remarks:
Westernized or not, if we ever move again (northwest is closer to the kids and I'm not getting enough radiation down here...) I will be ripping out the next kitchen to put in a commercial kitchen in the home. In addition to a big six-burner Wolf stove, I'd put in a Robert Yick two wok range. Next time I win a multimillion-dollar lottery...still waiting for the first one, too, come to think of it.
When I get this done, I'll do a video on it...a one minute meal...
Ever wonder how Cheerios are, quick-fried and served with plum sauce?
Time to open the mailbag:
Oh-oh...our first example of people not knowing what's in my head: Here's the thing: Gold is a fine inflation hedges. Inflation...got it? In deflation it may hold its value, especially since government has a habit of printing its way out of Depressions, but gold and silver are like spring and fall...things have their seasons. A person "married to gold" in 1980 having entered at its high ($800)would still be waiting to break even on an inflation-adjusted basis which would be $2,256.
As I wrote back to the reader "Sorry – was simply trying to underscore the gun craziness going on in this country…" Another case of not writing enough about what's in my head....and being insensitive, an occupational hazard. Sorry about that.
But we do live in an increasingly armed country and, near as I can figure it, the more guns around, the more dead people there will be. Hunters and farmers have legit reasons for owning guns, and do the 17-million women who own and carry concealed guns for self-protection.
But America's wheels are coming off. We've became victims first to hoody styles and pants worn at knee height, embraced an imperial street culture which would 'pop a cap in yo ass' and then we all get so caught up in our Jonesing with the neighbors that we won't dial back lifestyles long enough to pass on sensible values to the kids and lock up the guns.
So yes, insensitive about the Buckshot state remark, sorry about. I should have mentioned that when I counted there were 50 of them.
I'd like to think you're right, but I'm still every worried about the long-term food outlook for this summer. Remember, diesel is expensive, a lot of farmers lost important money on the MFG disaster.
What's more, diesel is up 11.7% compared with year-ago levels, and since energy is the biggest ag input cost, care to guess at where I think food is going? A remember, beef herds were decimated by the drought down here in Texas last year, too... If food isn't at least 10% higher on an inflation-adjusted basis in a year, I'll be surprised.
Wednesday February 29, 2012
The Wednesday Reader Note
This being Wednesday, our charts, incantations, and invocations are over on the www.peoplenomics.com site....which costs a whopping $40 per year (77-cents a week) details here. Here's what you're missing today...
Psyching Out Spring
Friday morning, most people in the world will NOT realize that we have entered into "release language" in predictive linguistic work, yet as we assess the trends in plain view, there really has been a crescendo building process underway. That includes Markets, which is our focus, but other factors figure in, too, like gun sales (and sadly, use). So as part of our efforts to be well-informed and reasonably coherent, we'll take this news this morning and apply a little basic understanding of psychology since we're living in a world which may be clinically defined as crazy...and in the ChartPack we consider whether we're in a Big Rollover...
For non-subscribers, you might want to look at our Strategic Living site where more on the National Bank of Dad will be found.
And speaking of which, a reader sent me a copy of the book The First National Bank of Dad: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money by David Owen ($31) which obviously hasn't been read by most people in Washington.
So enjoy the day, watch the rollover of the market here over the next few days, if we have it right, and enjoy the adventures of Ben the Banker's Bunky on he Hill today. We'll be back tomorrow morning with our usual sizzling sentences and pointedly poignant paragraphs of prose. Which sounds like a lot of work so I'm going back to bed now...thesaurus under the pillow and all.
Is sardonism a word? Sardonicism is so damn long to spell.
Tuesday February 28, 2012
The One Number that Matters
Conspiracy types are not particularly trusting of government numbers, particularly, when like this morning's Durables report, which we will get to next, they don't seem to square with reality, most of the time. Especially when it comes to reports like Unemployment or Cost of Living. But if there's one number that's fairly easy to agree to, it's the Case Shiller, S&P Housing Index which, though it's reflecting December's pricing data, is about as good as it gets for real estate prices - and that matters hugely to most families since that's the biggest financial position most people will ever hold: Ownership in their home. Ready?
We'll do some chart analysis for Peoplenomics readers tomorrow, but this is plainly not good...The Dow futures which were up earlier have turned neutral as of press time and a downside "excursion" seems possible...
How Durable These Orders?
The Department of Commerce released a rather disappointing Durable Goods report this morning:
This unfilled orders part is the most interesting one to me, since I've been around manufacturing. When you see an increase continuing in unfilled orders it means manufacturing managers are doing two things: First, they are not hiring as fast as they could be (yet) because they want to keep their existing workers busy and not get into more layoffs and secondly, that if they have an unfilled orders book, they can weather coming economic set-backs easier.
As long as the nation's backlog of orders remains fairly solid (not declining) it argues for a mush-through/muddle-through economy ahead. Wall Streeters tend to looks more closely at the new orders book part....as it's a more reliable "What's coming down the pike" incidcator.
Dirty Deeds Dept.
Oh-oh...those Wikileak'ed Stratfor emails are starting to get read: "Israel, Kurish fighters destroyed iran nuclear facility, email released by WikiLeaks claims" is making the rounds in foreign policy circles now.
Which is sure to piss off the Iranians...and this morning Israel, it seems, is planning its attack without giving the US a courtesy call....in order that the US will have plausible deniability.
Of course, that ONLY works if you don't look at how much military hardware (billions and billions) has sold to Israel under the foreign military sales program (FMS) and you'll see Israel is not flying Chinese made hardware, so how well the denial of involvement will play is doubtful...but maybe on the first spin maybe.
I think it would be way cool if reporters doing war stories would include in each story who made the weapons involved being used by either side. That would out the string-pulling proxy players who are really behind most wars.
Our sage aerial observer wonders "How does a Nobel Peace Prize winning president spell 'angst'?
Sounding Like Us...
The UK Daily Mail has started sounding like folks around here with their headline "'Plan for an economic 9/11': Analysts warn Americans to buy guns and gold, predicting market crash and street riots within a year."
I'm not sure why no one writing about such end of the world scenarios nerves asks me.... Maybe I'm just too cheerful-sounding...yeah, that's it...
World Ends in 2040
A 460-foot wide asteroid has a good chance of hitting Earth in 2040 says a report in the Christian Science Monitor.
If I make it to age 93, if we haven't decimated human life yet (which happens this year anyway) you can rest assured our slightly sardonic coverage will distill events down to their most useful and condensed state. In fact, I've pre-written the story for my heirs. Want to read it?
We notice this morning that leaders (and we use the term advisedly) in Europe are having a hard time committing to tossing more money on the bonfires of excess spending.
This is mighty amusing and you'd think the reality TV guys would have figured out this would make a better program than most on the air, since it's like Russian Roulette with the whole world. Or, maybe people aren't interested...
Economic recessions are hard on people and this is just more delay cream...to keep the hard on part going...err...so to speak.
The $16 Trillion Petition
Here's a good one on the We the People petitioning the White House....
I'm not sure what the WH actually does with this site, except maybe as a weather station on public opinion... Hey, you don't suppose tyhis is part of "Change!" do you?
Just yesterday I was referring to Ohio - the buckeye state - and then came the shooting which killed 2 and wounded three at a high school up there.
So time to change the moniker of the place. How about the buckshot state?
Not a good idea? Apparently people didn't think much of my idea to move the nation's capitol to Orlando, but it would fit better with local industry there (ahem,,,).
Desperately Job Seeking
Real welders will be snickering about what kind of rod the guy might use...welding rod I mean...
Sad Day for Pilots
A sharp-eyed reader reports this:
I'm not sure how this will impact services such as www.airnav.com which have fine facility directories and airport information, but which rely on RunwayFinder for their charts...we'll keep you posted as we figure out how this all shakes out.
Sad thing to see them shutting down.
Fortunately the new iFly 720 does all the weather, TFR's and so forth automatically, but the online services have important details like near-by motels and whether a rental of crew car is available...stuff that doesn't fit (or belong) in a high precision flying instrument.... hmmm... Restrictions on travel redux?
In Depth Sports Coverage
We've been considering web site statistics lately and wondering how to make the UrbanSurvival site grow. I can only lean on you to tell all your friends about it every so often and when push comes to shove, original content is what's needed. What's missing and what to add? Sports coverage. So look for new In Depth Sports coverage.
This morning's report: Someone won the Daytona 500.
I can hear the thundering herd of mouse clicks from ESPN's site already.
Around the Ranch:
Coping: The Ultimate Secret of Cooking
Time for some thinking brought about by my book on obvious but hidden processes which run Life that I've been writing/rewiring for 10 years now. But we need to start at the beginning...
Not only did I get my root canal (#5) done yesterday, but it was about the most painless thing I've had done to my mouth. Showed up at the Rooty Doc's, sat in the chair for an hour something, and I felt so good that Elaine and I went out to the Red Lobster for lunch.
While there, I had a good conversation with the Doc - and I looked at the X-rays of the previous rooties...and they look mighty fine with bone going back around them as it should and so forth. He said there's a lot of bad info on the net about medicine...and today's docs are very, very careful with how they do such procedures. In my case, most of it was done with the magnifiers on and they're so particular about hygene that after the initial drilling, they don't even use water anymore for rinsing...they use alcohol and something else (a disinfectant) so as to keep the jobsite clean. That's more than I do around the shop...
Coming home, I noticed that some of our neighbors up the hill were taking advantage of the dry day to burn brush piles and so after a single Vicodin for the slight pain likely as much as from anesthetic injections as anything, I mounted up the Kubota and Panama and I lit off three good-sized piles and I spent the rest of the afternoon lazily watching the piles burn down till sunset.
As I came in, 4-ounces of Italian vitamins later, it was time to eat and Elaine has some left over shrimp from the Red Lobster. About 15-second in the 'wave and they were ready.
More than ready, they were dellicious and great. Better than at the restaurant. How could this be on rewarmed food, I wondered. And then the lightning bolt hit.
This morning, back to our regularly overscheduled events including addressing a couple of Peoplenomics subscriber issues and working on tomorrow's report, while at the same time enjoying mostly pain free "day after" no doubt because of eating well and getting some light exercise in a stress-free, phone-free environment followed by an 11-hour nonstop sleep.
Besides tweaking on our solar installation this week, I'm also working on my new "secret project.;" I'm building a "wok station."
The idea is BBQs are OK and all, but my favorite kind of cooking is stir-fried/Asian. If I could pick just one meal to eat over, and over, and over, it would likely be Mongolian BBQ, which is stir-fried in an 9-billion degree wok.
It's not the kind of thing well-suited to indoor cooking. My favorite place, where I got hooked on the stuff, was up in Seattle a few blocks from Lake Union back in the day. There was an old restaurant which has been converted to Mongolian stir-fy and it was simply amazing.
If you've never been to one, you go down a buffet line kind of affair where there are stir-fry sized bits of everything you can imagine: Pork, chicken, shrimp, scallops, beef are the meats and then every veggie you can think of plus mushrooms, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage/bok choy. Extra big helping of Mung beans and sugar peas, if you please...
You get everything you want (heap up the bowl) and then it's onto the cook station. This is what looks like the old aluminum melting furnance from 8th grade metal class with a quarter-inch sheet of steel on it which is slightly concave...it serves as a huge wok.
The cooker/BBQer tosses your food on one half of the almost dark dark red surface and kicks it around with some bamboo implements, and in about 2-minutes or less, and after asking hot you like it sauced, some days it was teriyaki but oyster sauce if fine too, he's sliding the perfectly cooked food back onto your plate.
By the time you get back to the table, there's a bowl of white rice and some think pancakes for wrapping up the contents (the better to eat them with) along with a big tray of additional sauces and spices (including some of that pepper braver people than me put on pizzas) and if you're a regular diner - and it's dinner not lunch, along comes a hot jug of Ozeki...and you're in business. A little hoisin or plum sauce on a pancake, rolled up with a couple of tablespoons of the cooked bit of heaven inside, and./...more pancakes please?
I get hungry thinking about it. This isn't like perfect panko fish and chips...the only way I've figured to do those in the middle of the East Texas outback is to have Solly Amon fly some fresh cod in from www.freshseafood.com and then, long as they're at it, five ,\pounds of shelled Dungeness, too. But that would require a refi of the ranch. Is perfect panko cod worth it....tough call when hungry...
So we put our crossed culinary and shop skills to work on new projects like this one.
For the burner, I'm planning on using a 2-burner propane unit from Harbor Freight which has been in my "emergency supplies" kit as a back-up cooking system, though you can pick one up for $38 even now. The hose and regular are additional, but not much money, at all. Say about $50-bucks.
I figure a $10 hunk of angle iron and some 5/8" rebar plus some scrap steel to make corner gussets and maybe a few 1/4" rebar for cross-bracing and I should have a base that you could park a car on. I'll put some tabs on so the burner can't jump ship as I'm cooking.
Now, what to put on the burner? I have already ordered a Lodge Pro Logic 14" Cast Iron Wok, Black ($49, Amazon) as well as a cooking ring for it: Real woks have a round bottom and need to be supported and with a ring, you can til;t them for shoveling out food...
But, as long as I'm building the wok station, why not go the whole route and get a break-making surface, too? So I've got a Lodge Logic LPGI3 Pro 20-by-10-7/16-Inch Cast-Iron Grill/Griddle ($41, Amazon) on the list, too.
Other than time with a bolt cutter and welder, and then from scrap wood from around the shop to make up the side "wings" for this thing, I figure the whole project budget will come in around $150. Should the power ever go out, it's one more thing to cook on...and down on low, I figure we could put the Dutch oven on there are do stews and various slow-cookery, too.
Since we've had a sun oven for years, I'm adding sun oven baking to my list, too...and between the wok station and sun oven, we should really get a lot of outdoor cooking done this year.
I don't know why it is, but outdoor cooking always tastes better than food eaten and cooked indoors. THE best meals I've ever had have either been around a camp fire, BBQ, or off the grill on the boat back in the old days.
I've even gone so far as to come up with a pet theory - which plays in to my wok station plans: The theory is that when you cook indoors, the smell of food works on your nose before you get around to eating it. Think about this: Why would anyone want to eat outside at one of those sidewalk bistro kinds of things? The fresh air! Because of it, and helped along by other smells (diesel bus going by, and so forth) there's a culinary Surprise!!! when the food arrives and is tasted.
I nailed this theory down when we were on our last big trip in the plane. While in San Diego waiting to depart the next morning early, we had a few hours to kill so we went to one of those outdoor bistro places. A breeze was blowing through the place as we had a glass of (overpriced) wine and watched people strolling about.
Wait! Was the wine bad? Well, it wasn't as good as the jug wine around here (Piasano)...but what made it so good at the moment? Contrast! Out where we were sitting, there were no smells from the kitchen.
So to sum this thing theory up into something gnaw-able: When you go to someone's house for dinner - and you walk in and smell a delicious pot roast, your nose - effectively anyway - starts to eat right then and there. By the time you have a 20-minute chat and a vino or juice, your nose (ands taste is largely nose, right?) is burned out.
But if you don't let your guests smell anything by Lysol or (better) fresh air out on the patio, well...you're going to have a hell of a lot more compliments on your cooking than if they sit adjacent to the kitchen have get desensitized for 20 minutes to an hour ahead of time.
If you know anyone in the restaurant business, give them this little secret and you ought to at least score some free meals in it. Near as I can tell - based on personal experience - if you walk into a restaurant and can smell the food? The place will not get as high marks from reviewers as a place where the air is clean and crisp and there's a front-of-the-house to the back airflow to keep guests isolated from the smells.
Amazing, ain't it? All of fine cooking in my family (including an award-winning culinary daughter) and no one mentions this stuff. In your face,. isn't it: Hide the smells of cooking. That's why the wok station.....and it's why good really does taste better outdoors: Contrast!
That's why I am drawn to BBQs on boats, outside BBQ food tastes better, why I built a veggie cleaning station at the garden and now this wok station stuff.
Care to bet the main (and measureable) difference between a 2-star joint and a 4-star is statistically correlated to smells and odors of cooking as you wait for food? And why crummy wine tastes "gourmet" outside next to a diesel bus or a pack of Harleys cruising by?
Buffett on Gold, II
My inbox was slammed overnight with people accusing me of being a traitor to gold and all kinds of other things...which I'm not. Sometimes, people forget that there are two sides to every investment decision - and having a good appreciation for the other case is always a good thing. Typical of the well-thought-out letters on point was this one:
Oh, but I do! And I mention those things often. The problem - as a member of SABEW I can confess this - economic reporting is just that: reporting of facts that are recent/current as they arise.
In the case of Buffett, one could argue that the bulk of his money wasn't made in the past 10 years for several reasons: First, because the general economy sucks and secondly because his company as gotten so big, it's hard for them to find spectacular returns anymore, because there just aren't that many really great investments out there.
And yes, Buffett will always make more money than small fish like us because he can bring so much cash to the table, he can get "such a deal" deals.
I'd have have gone on disclaiming and counter-exampling for 20-thousand words in Monday's column, except I had the root canal so I had to post early and because my goal here is to write a column, not the defining text on the New Economics...though I appreciate that occasionally I lose sight of that second goal.
Weather Reader Remarks
On weather, one writes...
So, have to put that one on the Next Life list. Figuring out the weather is like figuring out women. It theoretically possible but....
Monday February 27, 2012
Bankers, Tankers, and Gold
The Middle East this morning is something like sh*t soup: Simmering with an occasional stir, and it smells bad no matter who's doing the seasoning. Still, the Big Question for the coming three months is what will go wrong in what order?
Syria is set to get into a hard East-West tussle because of the smashing of the Western aided "rebels" in Homs. The official reason for the lull in the fighting? Elections. But, since we all know how voting machines work, I figure that kettle of you-know-what soup should be on boil by the end of the week. Oh, and don't mind that shelling this morning.
Afghanistan is still coming up to boil, too, with 9 killed amidst protests there. Burning of Qurans is cited as the cause, but the way I figure it, if not that, it would have been something else. This is a crowded theater and everyone is searching for matches and lighters.
Meantime, continuing questions are being raised about whether Iran has nuclear weapons...like this article out this weekend. Depends I suppose on if you read impartial HUMINT or read from the PNAC script book. The bait and switch is to offload the costs of US hegemony and dominance on the taxpayers instead of making the Fortune 500-sized companies pay for their own wars.
To paraphrase what Catherine Austin-Fitts worries, what happens if other countries aren't held at gunpoint to use dollars? Who would buy them then? The answer is We the People through devaluation/watering down of purchasing power...which is what? Inflation, of course.
The price of oil is headlines as "Down as investors take profit" but I expect it will make a skyward leap about the same time the real fighting breaks out.
But I'm not betting on anything till at least Friday and with any luck into the middle of next week (or beyond if we're really, really lucky). After all, it's Monday and it's much to early in the week to jump into war or anything strenuous like that. Hell, it's hard enough picking up a coffee cup at this ungodly hour.
Still, looks like the March 2-9 window in predictive linguistics will hit just so...and it should start with the US "Aerial Blockage" of Syria. Someone might want to see if the Admiral Kuznetsov is still in the area.... Just piecing together dribs and drabs it seems to me like the Navy is taking point in the M.E. and leaving other services somewhat in the dark....and the other services will be briefed-up once the play is called.
Buffett On Gold
No, it's not a debate that most people will see, but the aware observer can see it with a little research....and since we do lots of "little research" (lol) we've decided to make it easy for you.
Start by staring at this chart over here from Jim Sinclair's site. If you're blind, or not opening your eyes yet, it shows since January of 2011, China has been decreasing dollarized paper and increasing gold imports and since China has been bringing in more Gold than US Treasuries. So that chart argues for one side of the cash versus gold equation.
Then there's the middle ground: The G20 meeting this weekend essentially told the Euro-bosses "Show us the money!"
Oh sure, the Official (e.g. on the surface for the plebes) stuff can be read here. But I'm much more interested in what was going on at the secret handshakes level to this whole thing..."Transparency? Ha!!!" But I suppose it's at least encouraging that the G20 is talking about DRM tools (disaster risk management) although I seriously doubt software moves as fast as fear, but we shall see.
Then on the other side, there was Warren Buffett's discussion of gold in the Berkshire Annual Report out this weekend, which any money-making agnostic would have to ponder seriously:
You can take Buffett's discussion with a grain of salt - if you're a gold bug - or, like us, you can take it as a reasonable assessment from a very wise man, who by the way does work - near as we can tell - one day a year in the jewelry business at the Berkshire Borsheim's during shareholder weekend in May up in Omaha...the cradle of capitalism where this year's shareholder meeting will be held May 5th.
I'm tempted to buy a small round lot of Berkshire B shares (BRK-B) just to as to be able to go to the stockholder's meeting. But I have to think about that. I'd go to take part in the newspaper toss...Buffett has a kind of "shareholder open" this year throwing newspapers onto the porch of a Clayton modular home. It's a 35-foot toss and Buffett is taking on all challengers: Remember, he delivered 500,000 papers as a kid (I threw none) but it would be like losing to a grand master in chess...something to put in the logbook of Life.
On the other hand, Elaine would no doubt want to hit the Borsheim's sale and that has the potential to cost a hell of a lot more than a small round lot of B shares, fuel for the old Beech and a cheap motel. Maybe we'll sit this one out.
There's Goes Another Dream Department
Remember the part where the bailout of US automakers would give us a chance to compete in world markets like China? Might want to hold up there, buckaroo: China is setting up to turn to domestic production.
The HAD a Secret
Remember how the PL (predictive linguistics, come on, you can't be that sleepy!) said we should be getting a whole slew of "secrets revealed" going into the game changer period of March? Well...."Wikileaks publishes security think tank emails" starting today. About five million of them from Stratfor say reports.
Back in the Doom Room
You mean it hasn't? Why, I thought there'd been a corporate coup....
The Weak Ahead
I am expecting the markets to start showing more signs of a rollover/running out of steam this week and if the preopen holds, we should be down about 50 by the time I'm good and gassed up at the Rooty Docs.
Fortunately, nothing is happening this morning. tomorrow we get busy, though, with Durable Goods and then we'll be posting a second-section tomorrow morning when the One Number That Matters - the Case/S&P Housing Price Index comes out. I look for it to be only slightly down...
GDP will come from the fiction writer's conference on Wednesday. Wish they'd to an ex-defense spending version for we could see real core numbers. Personal income on Thursday...if you still have any.
Big - meaningful numbers - like the Fed consumer debt and the Unemployment Rate (reported, even if it doesn't show peeps who are out of 99 and no longer counted) come next week.
Wednesday is Leap Day. I plan on jumping at something...just not sure what, yet.
Coping: With Home Movies
What's the point of being an old geezer, if you can't kick back and enjoy some of the finer parts of high tech, now and then? I mean besides getting into occasional use of the DragonSpeaking to take the wear off the mitts when computing, or enjoying the benefits of ABS braking in the rain, know what I mean?
A long time ago, had this friend up in Seattle who ran a broadcasting school (a one-time competitor) and his wife (Ginny, if I recall right) was a video producer in the 1990's when video was just starting through the Big Change of Life.
I remember they had a place over on Mercer Island and it was there I saw my first really working non-studio video set up. Oh, sure, a few years earlier, early 1980's, the Pacific Northwest Bell people had their own video production suite in what was then the new phone company building. But this was when video started to get portable and - in marketing terms - the barriers to entry came falling down.
Video was going civilian and the rig Ginny had (a couple of external high capacity drives and hooked up to a Mac...) was impressive indeed. So much so that I started on a succession of adventures with home media.
Before we left San Francisco for warmer wintering in San Diego in 2001, we shot a short video of what sailing was like come up the west side of the bay...which I finally got around to moving over to YouTube this morning. The video editor used in this one was Pinnacle Studio (version 4, or so) and the shooting was done with a somewhat big and bulky VHS-C recorder which was plugged into a "video capture unit" in the computer.
Checking Amazon, you can still get inexpensive video editing...in fact for $150 you can set up an entire video production company. Check it out: Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection v.15 ($92.24, Amazon).
But wait! You still need a camera, right? So how about one of those little Flip Video cams, then? For about $85 you can pick up a Flip MiniHD Video Camera - Black, 4 GB, 1 Hour (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODEL (Amazon), or, if you want to be able to capture 2 hours worth instead of just an hour, how about the $150 Flip UltraHD Video Camera - White, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation) NEWEST MODEL.
One of the "mysteries of marketing" is why the white version of this cam is $30 cheaper than the white version is beyond me. Still, the results are impressive, though it's not full HD...it's 720.
Yes, when the 1024/768 full HD comes out, I will try to remember to mention it.
There are also a number of other editors out there besides Studio. The one I used this weekend was Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 Production Suite ($60).
Still, if you look at the quality of the first video, and then compare it with the short video I took Saturday as Elaine and I went flying, was significant. Shooting from the plane is a challenging environment in any time...and you'll see why a new front windshield and new side windows are on our shopping list.
I could go on all morning about comparisons between the Sony interface and the Studio interface. Yes, the Sony approach seems to give more options, but from a quick editing standpoint, Studio seems easier. But is there a hidden cost to simple?
A fellow by the name of Eric Jorgenson has a comparison of three home-class editors: Studio, Vegas, and Adobe Premier Elements. I haven't tried the Adobe product...an likely won't since I got stiffed on Adobe Acrobat Pro 6 when Win 7 came out and their support (somewhere overseas) told me I'd have to buy a new license and no upgrade... What's the old saying? Fool me once...
Anyway, if you haven't tried your hand at shooting home video, it really is gobs of fun. Editing down, doing the sound track and uploading to YouTube from Vegas is real easy. But not everything is "in your face" like it is with the Studio interface, so I found myself having to look up some things I don't use often in the Help section. Lots of horsepower, but more of a learning curve.
My next Big Production will come this week as I produce the video for "Drones, Drones on the Range....where the fear and the media play...."
And why am I discussing video? Well, I thought I might try shooting a video of what event today?
Root Canal, III
Yup...Panama's on guard while we sneak off to Tyler this morning for my
chair time at the Rooty Doc's. I'm not too worried about the root
canal (this is my fifth once, by the way, so not exactly uncovered
territory). Nope, it's the "walletectomy" than comes afterwards.
After we make it through today's adventure (no beef jerky in the office this week) the next Big Things include tons of writing and client projects. Moving a s/w development project into a program shell which I found, that may speed up development from six months to a couple of weeks...that's exciting, but we may end up having to make a quick trip out to Phoenix to do that deal...but won't know until we see how the existing s/w approach is doing on the 15 of March...but the foreplay will be NDAs and the usual.
Provided I have not been popping hydro-zone-zones for the tooth, Wednesday morning I will take the plane down to Mark the Mechanic for an oil change, a factory-mandated safety check and installation of the new Vortex Generators.
I think I've read everything ever written about them now....and my son, G2 called me on the phone this weekend to offer up a stern series of warnings... "Now, don't drop your approach speed down low close to the ground and have Bill (my zillion hour fright instructor who can fly anything) go with you when you're testing..."
Have to tell you, the uVGs are worth the price just to be on the receiving end of a lecture which is the flip side of the ones I used to give him: "Now, no speeding, and if you put gas in the car make sure to...."
Cost of vortex generators? $1,600 (painted to match). Son getting delivering a cautionary lecture to dad on flying at the edge of the envelope? Priceless!
Readers Writes: Weathering Elephants
Say, this here is a tuned-in reader/dude up in the Buckeye state...
Yep, no doubt about that one...it is showing up in gardening forums...like we could have planted our garden in January...but what does that mean for the rest of the year?
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 11-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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