Peoplenomics “Book of Larger Contexts”

We stray from our usual track this morning  to lay out a kind of “Here’s How It All Works” report that’s some 7,000 words in length.

Lots of charts, too.

We cover everything from the immigration debate – and explain how it’s really a fundamental economic issue.  In addition, we walk-through why a Trump Tax Cut is a horrible idea and could easily backfire.

And all, when you think about it – which we do this morning – then leads to the even-larger context of governments repudiating fixed convertibility for money.

What frightens us most is that governments worldwide are moving to simply “make up” valuations of fiat money on the weak argument that terrorism could be fostered by cash.

That’s not a lie, per se.  More like an incredible stretch of the truth.  Which in turn begs the question whether tax cuts beget cashless, cashless begets floating scrip, and in the end panic as paper money heads for the scrap heap.

Definitely a “three-cupper” of a report.

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Dinnertime TV? Oroville Dam Failure Looms

Phone rang at 6:37 AM. My consigliere was on the horn. He got up early to run the numbers:

“Latest rate-of-rise calculations I’ve run for the Oroville dam is that it is likely pass capacity before dinnertime tonight in California. 12 to 14 hours from now. Looks like the emergency spillway will be eaten-back, too…because the downhill slope is not covered with anything. Just bare soil, so when the emergency spillway fails, it will eat down to bedrock and work back toward the lake.”

“Flip over to the San Jose Mercury News and look at the water being dumped.”

Whew!  Breathtaking.

The second picture shows the downhill side of the emergency spillway.

This morning’s hydrology lesson is simple when we checked out California Water Resource photogs:

This much water:


Breaks things:


Now picture twice as much water flowing in desperate efforts to lower the lake.  Simple enough, then.  And, by our back-of-the-envelope, there will be more breaking this afternoon’ish.

Downstream prepping has been ongoing. The Sacramento Weir was opened Wednesday and such.

Once it lets loose, officials will have only a four day break before more rain shows up. And additional 2 and 2/3’rds inches of rain is due by a week from Sunday.

This could be a real mess and after the dam is damaged, the MSM will probably give us nearly a week of mass hysteria ahead of coming rains.

Sequence of events?  Dam is topped tonight, emergency spillway use begins and then we see how far and fast the earth erosion back toward the dam is.

“Weather News” – The Trade in Trite Tripe

Another “snowpocalype” (Snowsteria) is passing into the history books.

While it’s true that “Suffolk County Digging Out From Heavy Snow” and there is residual ice danger, it is what season? Winter!

As I sat down at the keyboard, and since I was talking to a fellow up in North Dakota yesterday, I decided that people in the Northeast should now feel so “special” when it comes to weather.

So I set about a reality check. New York City will almost thaw at 30°F. Boston will warm to 21°F today and Philly? Damn near tropical at 33°F this afternoon.

Tomorrow night, West Yellowstone, Montana will hit 0°F.

Yes, it snowed. Yes it caused problems for the Northeast. No, it’s not the end of the world. It continues, however, to be winter.

Trump Bash du Jour

So many choices….hmmm….Let’s roll with the Washington Post’s Travel ban ruling: In court as on Twitter, Trump confronts evidence gap.”

As to the court ruling from the 9th Circus? Always been one of the most liberal of the courts since it dispenses to the left coast.

But wait: Couldn’t Trump simply withdraw and write a “court-proof” E.O. and end run that way? I mean there is NO LIMIT ON E.O.s that I’ve ever heard of, is there?

Wait…if that’s the case, while does it take a nutter in the Outback to figure this stuff out? Clear air and strong coffee of Texas, perhaps.

Interesting note over here by Pat Buchanan who figures a clipping of the court’s wings is long overdue.


You mean they shouldn’t be allowed to “legislate from the bench?” Amen, brother. Laws get passed by the legislative branch. “Judging the application of the law” isn’t about (in effect) re-writing them.

‘Course the open border/pro invasion supporters will scream to get this to the SupCo before Gorsuch becomes a potential swing judge on the matter… so goes life in the blender.

Hey…speaking of open borders are bad for you, try this one on:

Another Terror Plot in France


Three men and a 16 year old girl.

So much for the innocent women and children, huh? (Yeah, yeah, don’t confuse the open borders/invasion discourse with facts…no one references them anymore…’Specially not here on Social Media Crazed Subjecto Planet.)

UFO Congress

Yeah….speaking of planets, we come around to UFO’s. Big international UFO conference will be going on today through Sunday in Scottsdale, AZ.

A couple of highlights: One is the future of alien abduction research…been a hole there since the death of Bud Hopkins in 2011 and Dr. John E. Mack in 2004. Also on tap is a new Jamie Fox film on the Phoenix Lights case 20-years on. Meanwhile, Back On Earth…

Gas Prices to Rise

Pronto, too. You can see it in this morning’s report of Import Prices:


All Imports: Import prices increased 0.4 percent in January following a 0.5-percent advance in December.

The price index for overall imports has trended up since March 2016 and rose 3.7 percent over the past year.

The advance between January 2016 and January 2017 was the largest 12-month rise since the index increased 5.1 percent in February 2012.

Fuel Imports: Prices for import fuel rose 5.8 percent in January following an increase of 6.6 percent in

December. In January, higher prices for both petroleum and natural gas contributed to the overall rise in fuel prices. Petroleum prices rose 5.2 percent and natural gas prices increased 12.2 percent in January, after both indexes advanced in the previous month.

Import fuel prices increased 57.6 percent over the past 12 months, the largest over-the-year rise since the index advanced 61.7 percent in March 2010. Petroleum prices rose 60.9 percent for the year ended in January and natural gas prices advanced 45.0 percent over the same period.


All Exports: Export prices ticked up 0.1 percent in January, following a 0.4-percent increase in December.

Rising prices for nonagricultural exports more than offset falling agricultural prices in each of the 2 months.

With the exception of a 0.8-percent drop in August 2016, export prices have trended up since April 2016 and rose 2.3 percent for the year ended in January. The 2.3-percent rise was the largest 12-month advance since the index increased 2.6 percent between January 2011 and January 2012.”

I assume you know when gas prices go up, they will trigger a big hike in consumer price index numbers and the bond market will fall, stocks will do a last gap splurge and then we’ll been in the poo?

Other than that, market futures up about 30 on the Dow. The real test will be seeing if the S&P 500 can hold above the 2,300 mark for the week.

Gold has waivered a bit and BTCs down to $975…which could be tough because if they don’t make a NEW HIGH, it will be “lights out for BTC’s within 4-years, or so.

Coming up in our Peoplenomics report Saturday: Why the Trump Tax Cuts are a BAD, BAD Idea.

Ya’ll come back Monday, ya’hear?


Coping: Perc, Drip, or Press?

Tired of “snowpocalyse” and other (hopelessly trite) MSM nonsense?  Yup, me too.  So let’s talk about something important:  coffee…

Been doing some experimenting with making coffee here lately.

The reason is fairly simple: I’ve never had coffee as good as what I get in Seattle. Maybe it’s the water up there, or when my Mom made it (years and years back) it was a stainless steel percolator and Mrs. Olson’s brand.

Never been particularly pleased with the coffee here at the ranch. East Texas Outback rural water is OK…and seems to have lower chemical levels than what passes for water along the Mississippi, but not as “crisp” as fresh Seattle water from the Cedar River Reservoir.

So I bought a $23 stainless percolator and began my experiments. Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator.

Finding #1: Percolator coffee takes longer than Drip. Anywhere from 3-6 minutes longer for approximately the same finish color/density.

Finding #2: Percolator coffee does have a slightly better (to me, this is subjective stuff, right) taste to it.

Finding #3: Percolator coffee stays warm a LOT longer. This is because the whole pot comes up to 212°F while in the Drip machine, the pot is warm, but doesn’t get up to anywhere near that. I reckon about 185°F.

The good news on this point is that Drip coffee has a longer “holding time” but when fresh-perked coffee is poured immediately into an old-school Thermos bottle, it seems to last very well and retain more of that “fresh perked taste.” Always wondered if this was due to surface oxidation…but haven’t researched the point.

Try a Thermos Stainless Steel King 40 Ounce Beverage Bottle, Midnight Blue about $26.

A word about French presses and “cold coffee” systems: I think they generally suck.

The French press is a feeble effort to take the coffee-making process and make it complicated. Turns out you need to boil water – so you are into percolator time-scales. Then you actually have to do work – which I try not to do unless I am being paid or there’s a worthy pay-off. And the French press is more effort to clean.

The cold coffee system I tried (soak the coffee 24-hours or longer, make an extract, mix with water) has all the taste and flavor of a second-rate instant coffee to me. Pass.

Coffee Health Issue?

A good article on the health risks of getting too much of the poison dioxin from coffee filters over here. Dioxin is a by-product of bleaching pulp to make paper.

No, I have no idea why there is nothing serious about dioxin levels of paper used in coffee filters to be found in the government’s database, but maybe it’s because there’s no money in it for research.

Still, we don’t use paper filters. Instead we’ve gone with one of those “lifetime” filters. This gets to be an easier bet to make at our ages, lol. Get a gold-plated on and Ure good to go.

May not be a major risk of dioxins in filters but if you live as long as we have, and I do 2-3 cups per day, that’s, uh, 43,800 cups of coffee, plus or minus a warm-up.

Needed: Legal Advice

Here’s a dandy one: I like to think about things that define the frontiers of modern life. And one of the items that fired off in the brain Thursday was this:

If a person has a Facebook or Twitter (or Pinterest, or whatever) does that make them a public figure?

It used to be one thing to be a “private person” because if someone said something damaging about you, or something libelous/damaging, you could sue.

But with the advent of Social Media, has the ENTIRE STUPID PUBLIC lost a legal standing position without realizing it?

The reason this came up was partly because I was wondering how long before Donald Trump will be able to turn loose a whole pack of lawyers on some of the mainstream media outfits which have been doing the “daily bashing” ever since the presumed high-bidder (Hillary) lost.

I’m reminded of NY Times v. Sullivan:

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that established the actual malice standard, which has to be met before press reports about public officials can be considered to be defamation and libel.”

Just watching some of the media slams, we have to wonder when the “actual malice” threshold is passed…

In the meantime, for those who think I’m a total Trumperian supporter, please refer to Thursday’s news section where I listed major Trump screw-ups that we don’t agree with. That’s support for civil asset forfeiture, Ajit Pai’s nomination to chair the FCC, and please STFU about family business. He’s on your duty and mine for another 47-months during which please let Ivanka worry about her own clothing line issues.

We would still like to know how Hillary’s Foundation wasn’t out of bounds with foreign donations…and a probe of actual voter fraud would be nice follow through…just saying.

Life in the Outback

From a lawyerly reader of ours:

A Texas Bobcat sighting:

“That’s right. We are just a few hundred yards from the wild lands of the mountains and the Cleveland National Forest. We have coyotes walking over our property all of the time, sometimes in pairs. And, of course, deer come on the property as well. We also are paid visits by cougars of the four legged variety, according to the neighbors. Our next door neighbor (the proud owner of the two yappers) told us she had a cougar in her back yard, inside the swimming pool fence. Where there are deer, there are cougars, I am told. Nice. I thought of introducing our unrewarding Dolly the Cat to her bob-tailed cousin, but she was unavailable for introductions at the time.”

Friend of ours out here…uh…terminated one a while back. Coming after their cats.

So they are still around.

We expect any day the environmentalists to show up in their inflatables in the creek to protect ‘em. If the wild hogs don’t solve that problem for us, first.

Have a great weekend….zillions of project going on here, not the least of which is getting our taxes in order. Most of the brokerage firms will have their downloads for the year ready by the 15th if they aren’t ready already…

Here’s hoping we have to pay – because that might indicate we made more than I planned for last year…

Write when you get rich (or get a refund).

The Miserably Myopic Media

To define terms: “lacking imagination, foresight, or intellectual insight.”

Example 1: Drudge Report this morning leads with “Snowblast Set for Northeast.”

We have been over this before, my friend. It’s winter. What does it do in the winter, do you suppose?

Example 2: For the past two days the “story” about “How Coretta Scott King and JFK joined forces — and helped change the Democratic Party” has been making the rounds.

But that’s not the story: Democrats and the (Paul) Ryanesque Republican have merged and there aren’t effectively two parties in America. It’s the corporate party.  Soros buy ‘em for how much?

Making it even more absurd? Who gives a crap whether Liz Warren or what’s-his-name the Repugnician reads it to Congress?

Points are a) it’s an old letter, b) democrats are still “foxtrot uniformed,” and c) WTF is either party wasting valuable taxpayer time reading aloud something that could be read 2-10 times as fast – if anyone cared? (See point a).)

Worse: It seems to have set of the NY Times into reading other old letters so today “Letters Offer Glimpse Into Jacqueline Kennedy’s Heart…” is a “story.”

Hand my the vice grips, a couple of benzo’s, and a dooby, would yah?

Example 3: NY Times this morning has a tear-jerker about how a woman was arrested in Arizona after the term “criminal alien” was broadened. Pines the TimesFor Years She Abided the Rules. Now She Faces Deportation.

For heaven’s sake, pobrecito, if we wanted four more years of Obama, Hillary would have won. Long part time for the Berkeley rioters and the radleft to just STFU and deal with it.

Sickening, huh?

Trump’s Latest Errors

We note the approval of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, but Trump has made several (in our opinion) major screw-ups and we don’t sugar-coat this as all.

His (latest) screw-up is that “Trump Supports Civil Asset Forfeiture Even Without Conviction.”

As I told Peoplenomics readers Wednesday, perhaps if Trump Towers were seized because someone on the 13th floor was snorting coke, he’s come around to endorsing DUE PROCESS. But, not, he’s got a huge blind spot on this one. It’s fine to support cops and such – but DUE PROCESS is, um, you know….part of Democracy!

Next point is Trump is working for US now, and U.S. News is asking a pertinent question: “Is the Trump Battle With Nordstrom Fair Game?

We’re also EXTREMELY disappointed in Ajit Pai’s nomination to chair the FCC because he’s swallowed the corporate swill about how the net needs two speeds. Under the corporate plans, your net content will only be as fast as your payments.

Previously, one of the few things Obama got right (no, blowing up Libya was not one of them) was Net Neutrality where all bits are created equal.

If there’s a silver lining to Pai, it may serve to slow up (or shelve) our plans for a serious daily video rant. Hmmm…

Point is, Trump is exhibiting behaviors that we don’t like or approve of, but nothing impeachable…so we expect the Trump-bashing to continue unabated.

Media loves of crisis…And near as I can figure it, they’re trying desperately to make one up.

Marketing the “Child from Hill”

So along these lines, what some call the “Clinton News Network” is now pimping Chelsea (spawn of HilnBill) Clinton’s Twitter feed under the headline “Chelsea Clinton embraces her Twitter sass.” Unable to get things like Middle East policy right, the family seems ready to steal a Trump move and one-up Trump as the Clinton’s seem in our estimate to be moving in the direction of a Kennedy-like family empire effort.

Meanwhile, ever apologetic, our favorite NY media explains away Clinton Foundation issues as “Soul-Searching at Clinton Foundation in Trump Era.”

So that’s how stuff rolls out this morning:

The MainStream Media is recycling the SOS (same of zhit) and who can blame them? It’s easy to cover – there’s now shortage of bauble heads to spout anti-Trump messages but they leave our middle-of-the-road assessments like ours that are open to him doing something yet calling out the REAL MISTAKES he’s making as they come along.

While we have some very interesting stories going on, it’s easy “news slop” to serve up “it’s winter,” “old letters,” and “the Daily Bash.”

Myopia, stupidity, laziness, egocentricism of the liberal Northeast? Take your pick. Then look at the topic of our report from Wednesday and I will ask it again:

“Is America Insane?”

Real News…Dam!

Meantime, you’ll have to forgive us for focusing on actual news: As the hole in the Oroville, California dam spillway is growing even as officials had another sleepless night trying to figure out how to stop 1.1 trillion gallons of water from going where gravity orders…

A Short Economics/Investing Lesson

Quick question: What did the market do yesterday?

Most people would quickly answer “Dow was down 35 points…”

True, but it’s terribly misleading. It’s also why on the side of the house we deal primarily in aggregated results. That’s how we arrived at 18,490.25 for a Tuesday Aggregate Index and 18,492.0 for Wednesday.

So the market was UP overall while the Dow was down. It shows up places like the Advance Decline line, too..where the advancing stocks on the NYSE were 54% up.

Today, the Dow is set to open up 30, the S&P up 3-something while the techs could rise 4-5 points.

What seems to be going on is we’re in a sideways trading range and we may get one more big press to the upside in the next month which should press the S&P through the psychologically important 2,100 level.

In the meantime, we will discuss a longer view of where things are going in our Saturday Peoplenomics update.

Bitcoin Dances

Meanwhile BTCs are $1,037 this morning but until we bust above the old highs, pardon me for not getting too worked up.

If we do? Based on old highs and such numbers like $1,860 come into view.

But if we fail to put in a new all-time high for BTCs, then the recovery from 2014 would have been the all time high (ATH) the decline to the 300 level would be the 1 (or A) down. Failure to hit new All-Time-Highs would make this a 2 (or B) and shortly thereafter, BTCs would go to zero.

How could this happen?

Oh, some super-smart person figures out how to hack and crack…that sort of thing. Digital counterfeiting makes for a hell of a novel plot, doesn’t it?

Beyond Crop Circles and Nazca

Check out the mysterious geoglyphs that have been found in the Amazon. Great article with pictures over at Popular Science.

Much better brain food than the daily T-bashing or discovering that yes, it snows in the winter.

Coping: Millennial’s Book 6: [keyword: Travel]

(simple title art)


Reader Note: If you are just catching on, each Thursday we’re are doing a chapter each week of a book I’m writing for Millennials – teaching the insights that will (hopefully!) allow them to live long and prosper – and be around to clean up after us Old People who made a mess of getting civilization this far.

There are three sections to each chapter. Something you can read to children, a general reader part, and the advanced/business section.

We pick up with morning like so…

We established in the first chapter that there is RECIPE for everything we do.

Chapter 2 involves understanding (and owning) PROCESSES.

Chapter 3 discusses recipes and processes of INVENTION.

Chapter 4 looked at FLOW  The reason we do management reports is so we can spot problems and head them off at the pass.

Chapter 5 considered “WORLDVIEW” and how that “place we stand in our minds” determines what happens in the strange land “outside our heads.”

Today, in Chapter 6, we consider the importance of travel as a way to more deeply understand worldviews since people with similar problems will come up with surprisingly different answers to the problems of Life…

For All Readers:

Tom wasn’t making much progress toward finding the “Secret Grand Recipe of Life” on his latest trip into the world to find new foods for the King’s table.

Since arriving at a small island paradise aboard his sailboat, Tom had spent several weeks going through the same recipe, nested into each day:

He would get up every morning, have breakfast, and then go for a walk on the beach.

He would find a place under a tree where he could sit and stare at the ocean, while trying to figure out the Great Recipe of Life.

He would return to his grass hut, have food, and then do his daily chores. These included cleaning, preparing food for tomorrow, and making sure the sailboat was still anchored securely. By afternoon he would begin to hunt for new foods that he could incorporate into new Recipes.

One day, Tom received a letter. He glanced at the return address and had a feeling of apprehension. It was a letter from Little John back at the castle. He opened it and read:


I hate to disturb you while you are searching out new foods on the tropical island, but the King came to me today and said that he was becoming tired of eating the same kind of fish every time I cook fish. I have tried baking fish, broiling fish, stewing fish, smoking fish, and I’ve done it with almost everything I can think of.

Please help me. I need to come up with a new way to cook fish for His Highness, or I fear for our jobs.

— Your Friend,

Little John at the Castle”

Tom considered the letter for a few minutes. Then he had an idea. Here’s what he wrote to Little John:

“Little John,

I have discovered a marvelous new cooking element and it may save us!

Try poaching the fish in a little coconut milk. The locals here on the island do this and it creates a wonderful flavor. It works especially well with white fish, and it is not quite as good with pink fish like salmon.

— Your Friend,


Tom returned to his daily routine. Days came and went, while his food investigations continued. In his spare time, he was still busy trying to figure out the Great Recipe of Life and he felt like a breakthrough was close.

To his surprise, that very day he received another letter – and the postmark was from the castle!

Quickly, he opened it, wondering if Little John had succeeded in developing some new fish recipes using his suggestion that he try cooking with coconut milk. Here’s what it said:

“Dear Tom,

What is a coconut?

— Your Friend,

Little John at the Castle”

Tom realized that Little John had never seen a coconut because he had never been away on one of his sailing adventures to a tropical island. Tom failed to remember his own Recipe for Good Communications: Define all your terms…and coconuts were a new term to Little John.

He hurried and sent Little John a letter (and a huge box of coconuts) explaining his failure and then went into an explanation of what a coconut was so Little John could experiment with them.

He even wrote out the recipe to open a coconut by hand and suggested he let the King himself try it.

If the King liked their taste, Tom the Baker suggested shredding the pulp and incorporating it in a kind of cookie called a macaroon. Several desserts and puddings were recommended as well along with a health drink and a fermented beverage.

Tom was very hard on himself after that. He realized that if you are in one part of the world, the recipes that you take for granted might be completely unintelligible to someone in another part of the world if they don’t understand the ingredients that you’re talking about.

Travel was starting to pay off for the King, but in order for Tom and Little John to benefit, they needed to introduce new tastes that were based on new ingredients.

For all the work that might have been done on the farms of the Kingdom, the breakthroughs into new taste experiences would never happen without Travel.

For General Readers:

When you sit back and read a history book, in most cases you’re not reading about discreet actions of people in a vacuum. A very useful part of the study of history is in the learning how people assimilated various recipes for all activities in Life. Someone, somewhere, had solved almost all problems before, so it becomes a simple matter of optimization.

It doesn’t matter whether the “somewhere else” is a place or a time, either. There is something magical about bringing a recipe (or idea/process/flow) from one place to another, and many times, there’s good money to be made doing so.

The early spice traders from Europe teach us that a recipe that worked in one place, such as curry in Persia, could brought back to Europe and enjoyed with some level of popularity. Native Americans wowed the invaders with popcorn.

In the 1950’s, many Americans including a number of my relatives, discovered Japanese cuisine. It was my aunt Isabelle who first introduced me to chicken teriyaki. This is a typical example of a recipe from one place (Japan) being brought to other place (the U.S.A. – Anchorage, actually) and enjoying huge degree of popularity.

Shrimp tempura was to die for!

An amazing variety of restaurants testify to the process of recipe migration – all the result of Travel.

The Old Spaghetti Factory and the dozens of restaurants of San Diego’s “Little Italy” district reminded us how many recipes arrived in America in the heads of immigrants. Latinos can take credit (or blame) for Taco Bell. The American South bears some responsibility for “The Colonel’s” Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Chinese food is found in almost every city in America.

There are also recipes that come to us from across time. Not so much in the food area, although the basic recipe for milking a cow, or making butter hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. It’s more obvious in areas like clothing and fashion or housing and transportation.

If you look at today’s (2002) young people wearing knee-high boots, remember that this was how disco dancers were dressing in the middle to late 1960’s during the “go-go” craze. The fad was brought back to life, at least in part, by the movie “Austin Powers” and by the resurgence of Doc Marten footwear.

I’m almost always amazed to see how my wife Elaine shops. It’s her great adventure in recipes. She will look through various fashion magazines then generalize some statements or trends about fashion and where things seem headed at the moment.

One example she pointed out was how old jeans were being “cut down” a few inches from the waistband in order to make hip-huggers. Another was cutting legs of unstylish pants, and then reattaching them with safety pins – a grotesque version of garters – to the original pants. This somehow passes as fashion (2002).

Dreadlocks arrived from the Rasta’s from the Caribbean, as arguably did cornrows. Although these were more southern Caribbean and popularized by cruise line stops in Antigua and Barbuda; worn home by tourists.

You see recipes of acceptable social behavior vary from one country to another. I have never seen so many people smoking cigarettes as I have in Washington D.C. and New York, or so few, as in California, where smoking it was outlawed in most public places around 2000.

Pollution laws are another example of how recipes have migrated from one place to another. The horrible smog of the Los Angeles area has been somewhat mitigated by emission restrictions, but the problem has certainly not disappeared.

Meanwhile, a “counter-recipe” was seen for a while in a resurgence of trucks, a good number of them exempt from the more stringent pollution control requirements of passenger cars.

Recipes from afar show up in speech, too, even within the approximately same language.

How many times have you seen Canadians saying “Eh hoser?”

No more than a few minutes with a good dictionary is required to reach agreement that a huge portion of our language was imported from other parts of the world.

Once you agree to this point, it’s an easy step to the further point that our lexicon defines our thoughts. Or, put another way, the more global our language, the more ways we will have to express ideas. That’s actually pretty cool – and by itself is a fine reason all young people should be required to visit several countries (Canada doesn’t count except for Quebec which believes it’s its own country, anyway.)

An old saying passed by my parents was that “travel broadens the mind”. Until I got older, the specific mechanisms didn’t make sense. Now, it does. Aha!

The reason that travels work to expand the mind is that they not only implants new graphical (for the visual cortext) to associate with existing words & knowledge, it also gives us entirely new words and pictures.

The first time into a grocery store in the U.S., a non-traveled person might glance at a product like Corona beer from Mexico, and think nothing of it. The experience of the shopper will determine the meaning of the brand name. If the shopper has studied astrophysics, corona might have something to do with the part of the sun just above its surface. If the person’s experience and training dealt more with electronics, the beer brand name might conjure up images of electricity arcing in a manner peculiar to corona discharge from a high voltage source, such as the flyback transformer of a television set. To the traveler or student of language, Corona means a crown or wreath, a sort of symbol of power and station.

But to sit on the beach in Acapulco and drink one? Ah…that’s a Corona.

This perspective underscores that we live in a montage of recipes from all over the world. As we assimilate, we gain an appreciation for the variety we easily take for granted due to electronic overload.

A useful exercise is to make up a list of countries on one side of a piece of paper and then opposite, list each of your senses.

We begin with sound. Specifically, language and music is our focus because these occupy most of the daily chores and work we do in an information society.

That the words we use every day come to us from a variety of places and times is so patently obvious that it’s hardly worth discussing, except to mention that precisely because it is so obvious, we often overlook the great textural variety.

When you get into music, the picture changes quickly. I’ve developed a personal, and perhaps stereotypical, view of musical instruments and sounds based on geography. When I think of Africa, for example, I think of drums. Djembes! Syncopation!

As I think about drums more deeply, they appear a kind of trans-equatorial phenomena. Must be outside to hear them.

Maybe it’s because of Hollywood. Certainly, first peoples in North America had drums, but when I think of drums as a communications tool, as well as a rhythm section for chants and so on, I think of equatorial regions as communication and then drawing down to the tribal/shamanistic levels as you edge northward.

The flutes, or basic wind instruments seem as a class, to be neighbors of the drums, and perhaps just a bit outside of the hottest parts of the equator. I think of wind instruments as maybe coming from bamboo, or reeds that grew along rivers like the Nile, or they may have been fashioned from hollow woods in the upper reaches of the Amazon, and from there packed upland to places like Peru. No, I can’t say this with certainty. Again, it’s an impressionistic sense of place from listening to music.

Farther north or south of the equator, perhaps above the latitude of Egypt and as far north as the northern border of Greece, we start running into the horns. Animal horns at first, or conch shells in the Caribbean or in the South Pacific islands. Conch horns.

Moving even more north, I begin to think of stringed instruments, and if there is one kind of musical instrument that sticks in my mind as being associated with places like Germany and China, it is the stringed instruments that are either plucked or bowed. Animal guts and furs. I also sense that horned instruments became larger as one went further north, until in the mountains of German Bavaria and Switzerland, horns several meters long were built and played to this day. But then what about Australian first peoples and their didgeridoo’s?

Percussion, wind instruments, horns, and strings have evolved precisely in this way, but that’s my personal sense of it.

The fact is people have always invented music wherever they have lived and with whatever was at hand.

When I think of excellence in stringed instruments historically, I don’t think of a village along the Amazon. When I think of that kind of locale, I first think of drums, and then perhaps wind instruments. I also have a hard time picturing delicate stringed instruments in the frozen Arctic among first peoples. It’s not a matter of stereotyping, so much as just the practical matter of needing to have relatively dry strings in order to make an instrument that bows properly. Dry strings and moving around by kayak aren’t so logically compatible to me.

You see? Common sense matters in how we arrive at the shared world of today.

Taste is another one of those senses (you are mapping, right?) that may be considered on a regional basis. Fruits and fresh meat or fish, barbequed seem like the kind of food you’d encounter around the equator. The fruits are available almost year round, while the meat and fish were, at one time, plentiful and easy to catch. Whether the tool was an arrow, or a thrown net, matters little. What seems to have mattered more was the availability of cooking fuel. In places where cooking fuel was restricted, either because everything was damp, as in the rain forest, or there just wasn’t an unlimited supply of wood, like on a tropical island, alternatives to fire cooking came to pass. Baking and drying became common. Seviche?

In the temperate bands around the world, planting grains become significant as man stopped wandering around in a daily quest for food. The types of outdoor cookery, such as making bread on a hot fire, were again modified to baking because of a relative scarcity of fuel. Ukraine and the U.S. prairies had the production numbers, but the Austrians with their high fat availability from butter and hot ovens mastered the art of the croissant. Which the French then colonized.

As you move still farther north, you run into other means of preserving meats and fish; the smoking processes. Here again, it made a lot of sense because it’s easier to build a smoky fire as you move into forests in latitudes above the grasslands. Once you get into the Arctic, frozen food becomes a reality north of the permafrost line. High fat diets to push back the cold. A problem in the later ages with alcohol because of bodies bred for low sugar diets.

You can see the broad adaptation process away from our sense of taste, too. Consider what people wear on their feet.

In the soft lands of a jungle, or, on an even but warm plain, there’s no need to wear shoes at all. You just wake up in the morning, stand up and even without clothing, when it’s 85 degrees, about the temperature of skin, and the ground is soft, the incentive to “get dressed” is just about absent. Except for bugs.

You might need a bug repellant, perhaps a mud or plant juice, but beyond that, you’re ready for your workday wearing what you came into the world with.

As the climate becomes more adverse, or the terrain less friendly, you start thinking about clothing to protect your sense of touch from excessive input.

Too much sensory input is called pain.

To keep the feet from experiencing pain the first shoes invented were in keeping with local needs. On the burning hot sands of the desert, you had the development of sandals. Among native peoples in temperate zones, you saw the moccasin, the forerunner of today’s modern shoes developed to protect the feet from a variety of ground conditions, and to protect from nuisances like thorns and thistles. As you get up into the higher latitudes, where cold becomes the major issue, you find waterproofing and the thick, padded footgear that protects from extreme cold: boots, mukluks.

The sense of sight varies in two ways, one being the way the eyes are protected, and the other being how they actually operate. The protection issue is one that is apparent when you look at headgear from different parts of the world. In jungle regions, there’s little interest in headgear because so much time is spent out of the sun. There’s no requirement to forage over huge distances during the midday hours because in a rich jungle environment, the food comes to people who are patient. You wait under the overhead canopy of limbs in the semi-darkness.

Step out into the harsh glare of sand dunes, or Arctic ice at midday, and your eyes take a real beating. From these conditions, we got hooded headgear to set the eyes back under additional shade, beyond that provided by our facial structure and eyebrows.

How the eyes operate is an interesting area. I’ve noticed in dealing with people that their eyes seem to see different features within the same scene. I’m not sure if this is a matter of social conditioning, or whether it’s because of some genetic predisposition.

I’ll give you a couple of examples, though, and hope it explains it well enough. A few weeks ago, Elaine and I were driving around San Diego. She looked off to the left side of the car and remarked “What an interesting boat!” Because of how my brain and eyes work, I immediately started looking for a boat. I wasn’t sure whether I was looking for a big item, though, because I know boats are “big” and I was really looking hard, too, because there were no boats in this part of the neighborhood. We were in a business district. I was looking for anything that reminded me of “boat”. Big enough to float people since we lived on a boat. Was it a sailboat, powerboat, cruiser, or what?

I swept in everything I could think of out the left side of the car and finally broke down and asked, “What the hell boat are you talking about?” Then she revealed it to me: It was a picture of a boat on a poster inside the window of the Wells Fargo bank building that occupied most of the view out of the left side of the car. Yeah, it was an interesting picture, all right, but not anything like the “boat” that I had been vigorously looking for.

It got me to thinking though about how we classify what we go looking for, based on personal expectations of what size something ought to be. Elaine doesn’t seem to be particularly restrained by “expected size” of things. Her way of “seeing” things allows her to look at the bank building, see a poster, and then zoom in on a “boat.” My way of looking involves “boat size” and that was what I went off in search of. The idea of looking at something as small as the poster in the window was about the furthest thing from my search. We each have “perception recipes” that define worldviews. Toss in traveled idea, tastes, and sounds, and it’s quite a stew.

The other story about “seeing” things relates to my experience in ham radio. As you may be aware, ham radio hobbyists love antennas. Just like an audiophile loves speaker systems, ham radio types love antennas. The bigger the antenna array, the better, especially for low frequency work.

Unfortunately, many times in various living situations, I haven’t been able to put up a proper “aluminum overcast” which might be a 75-foot tower with a seven element antenna measuring perhaps 25-feet by 35-feet.

The way I have been able to “sneak” ham radio in and enjoy my hobby where people didn’t expect it, was by putting up small vertical antennas. There’s something about how our eyes operate that tend to make antennas “disappear” provided they are either dead plumb vertical, or extremely horizontal and close to a roofline or something that makes the eye not notice something running parallel to a big surface. Against a backdrop of vertical trees, or adjacent to a corner of a building, vertical antennas of moderate height “disappear”.

The perceptual questions about how our eyes operate is something for experts. But ultimately, I can assure you that something makes individual people see the world just a bit differently than anyone else.

The Haida Indians of the British Columbia coast have 26 different names for rain. Most urban dwellers have about four or five. There is rain, a downpour, drizzle, maybe a gully-washer, or perhaps it’s just “misting” outside. When you spend as much time in the rain as the Haida, you become very specific about what you’re seeing with your eyes and touching.

The last of the five senses to consider is the sense of smell. What’s an acceptable odor varies widely from place to place.

The town public bathrooms of certain Mexican cities on the west coast is overwhelming. But locals don’t seem to notice. New tourist places in the Caribbean side manage the smells more than old Mexico.

Aspects of odors become a discussion. In the jungle, the soft rotten vegetation odor, the flower blooming, the occasional fecal odor of some animal something, along with a bouquet of “live plant” odors.

Having stood on the vast expanse of screaming of ice of coastal Alaska in winter, I can assure you that even the slightest odor carries over miles there.

Even out sailing when our boat offshore where the air is exceptionally clean, the odor of cigarette smoke, or diesel exhaust, may carry almost a mile. How far the particular odor carries depends how long you’ve been at sea and how well your nostrils have adjusted to the clean air of the ocean.

Since we will get into monetizing – which is what Industrial Apes do – have you noticed that we have ritualized smells to create a whole industry out of odors?

Everything from Glade Air Freshener to Nutone exhaust fans, to Elaine’s assortment of perfumes, it’s all about taking an odor from a different place, or a different time, and bringing it to where we want it, right here and right now.

I don’t know which I’m more thankful for either, the Nutone bathroom fan, or Elaine’s perfume. Depending on what’s going on, both seem pretty darn important.

I think I’ll light some incense now and think deeply religious thoughts…

For Business Readers:

When we speak about “recipes from some other place” in the business world, we’re into a huge area of research. It’s mind-boggling.

We might, for example, define “other place” as somewhere else within our own company. If a memorandum comes in to the sales department from the accounting department, it is considered a “foreign” memo. Many salespeople look at accountants as a horrible nuisance. Accountants, they rightly figure, like to play God, and they become very irritable when accountants start issuing edicts about vacation policies and health care coverage.

Another kind of “other place” might be a competitor’s business. You see the influence of competition all the time. A company with an innovative product that is being well received in the market is almost certain to be imitated.

Governmental regulations are also recipes from another place. The daily changes in the tax code are but one example.

Look at any branch of government, and you’re almost certain to see constraints on business that occupy time and attention and constitute a huge body of “overhead” on a businesses balance sheet.

I don’t need to remind you about environmental regulations, or the functional aspects of OSHA, or even recently, rules governing our conduct in airports and in public places.

Wherever you look, there are recipes from other places that stifle or direct the operation of businesses, yet seldom do small to medium-sized companies have complete companywide business documentation that spells out how every aspect of a business operates.

Sure you will find a collection of memos here and there that define how things operate in a particular part of a company, and almost any company of consequence has a human resources department whose job is putting together all the forms necessary to hire and fire employees. But what ends up missing in thousands of cases is a really cohesive document that covers all aspects of department right down to the smallest detail. Even in companies that are generally well managed, you can usually find holes in company documentation.

The implementation of the International Standards Organization’s 9000-series quality programs has helped, to be sure. But many companies don’t get involved in ISO 9000 efforts because it takes documentation to a level that can be a real burden in small companies.

Down the road from us in San Diego, there’s a little outboard and outdrive repair shop. This is a place that has been around for maybe 15 years. They guys who work there know how to fix just about anything that can go wrong with a boat motor, but to do this, they don’t need to be ISO 9000 certified. Their customers probably wouldn’t pay the additional upcharge to insure that motor repairs were all ISO 9000 compliant.

As a sidelight, the reason that a company like Sunset Marine (back in 2002) was such a joy to do business with is that they are total experts and they are honest.

I was about to bring my 15-horse outboard motor in to have surgery done on it because it wasn’t pumping water, when a helpful fellow named Rod suggested that the water outflow hole (the “pee hole” designed to indicate that cooling water was flowing) might have just become plugged with salt.

Take off the hose on the engine, and blow through it” he suggested. Blowing with all my might, I could not make that air go through the hose, so I reamed the salt out the fitting with a drill and the engine has been running like a top ever since.

I didn’t need an ISO 9000 certified someone to give me spectacular documented customer service. And, if you ever need an outboard fixed in San Diego, guess where I will send you?

Out at the airport, it’s a much different story. There, tremendous emphasis is placed on documenting repairs. The reason is that in the event of an aircraft accident (crash) the National Transportation Safety Board literally looks into the history of every nut and bolt on a plane if it’s involved in a crash caused by mechanical failure and not pilot error.

Back to my point about recipes from other places: The average business in America gets an official visit from the local Fire Department each year. The purpose of the visit it to come around and make sure that the local building and fire codes are not being violated. Depending on city, they will check the inspection dates on fire extinguishers, make sure the exit signs and emergency lighting in exit stairwells are working, and so forth.

Probably 99% of businesses and private schools that are inspected, have come to depend on the inspection process to find faults, rather than build procedures into company policy and procedure books. It’s a co-dependent kind of relationship.

The Building Department of a major city is a far and distant place to an office manager in a modern office setting. The Fire Department’s role is that of a recipe conveyor.

“Company employees must remove two extension cords that are running unprotected under carpet in the office area” might read a citation. The recipe here is that the Building Department has found that extension cords run under carpets may become worn and frayed and start a fire. Because they are out of sight, the deteriorating condition might not be noticed.

Another kind of codependency comes shows up in audits by accounting firms. Again, the accounting firm plays the role of a conveyor for recipes from afar.

If the company being audited happens to be public, such as Enron, the audit may find questionable practices but report these only to the firm itself. Enron, in response, may have a recipe in motion designed to insulate it from normal regulatory controls, and I think it’s a safe bet to assume that insulation from even application of all business rules was at the heart of Enron’s extensive and extensive gifting to political powers on both sides of the political aisle.

That’s an introduction to the general notion of recipes from elsewhere in business. You can make up a list of every agency that influence how a company operates and draw up a list of activities the regulation requires on a periodic basis. You’ve got fire safety, you’ve got taxes, you have environmental health, and in the case of stores and restaurants, a whole slug of recipes in the public health arena.

I’ve sure you have the picture. Some portion of recipes from elsewhere are of the routine variety, they are either sent directly to a firm, such as the IRS filing paperwork, or they come through third parties that are acting to enforce recipes they didn’t cook up themselves. Fire Departments and auditors are the indirect kinds of recipe reminders.

If this were the extent of recipes from elsewhere, it would hardly be worth mentioning in a book. There’s one other aspect of recipes from elsewhere that needs to be addressed: Globalization.

The notion that an economy can expand forever is really central to our economic existence. While it may have been true a few hundred years ago in practical terms, it is certainly not the case today. The Spanish exploitation of the New World was a unique event that ushered in a 500-year period of unprecedented expansion. Our levels of technology sprang forward, and with it, the general well being of those citizens who were lucky enough by accident of birth to be in one of the hot beds of development.

Yet even in those places where development could have distributed wealth and prosperity somewhat evenly, it generally did not. The reason? The conquerors brought their own recipes with them. Rather than teach the recipes and bridge cultural gaps, the invaders from Europe brought their recipes and ran them to the exclusion of local tradition and customs.

You have only to read up on the hundreds of gold laden ships heading east from the Americas to gain an appreciation of this fact.

Although it would be comforting to say, “Gee, we learned something from that and we won’t do it again”, there doesn’t appear to be evidence that we have learned much from the experience. Countries are still dominating one another today, and you can see in the border conflicts in many areas of the world, the same kind of recipe-driven conflict that has been a consistent feature throughout history.

The Roman Empire had a set of recipes that were exported to northern Europe and to the British Isles. Hitler had a (seriously flawed) recipe for nation building. And most recently in Afghanistan, the U.S. has a recipe that may have as much to do with securing a route for an oil pipeline as punishing criminal terrorists. Or to control the heroin trade.

In developing a sense of how recipes from elsewhere operate on the global scale, you can learn much by looking at how people live and understanding the value of a national currency in the global market.

Like the tide, the U.S. dollar’s fate has risen and fallen according to international events. In early 2002, Argentina devalued its currency by 41% after having it pegged to the U.S. dollar for years. In the early 1990’s, Mexico adjusted its currency internally with the issuance of the Nuevo Peso. In our lifetime, there have been currency changes in dozens of countries, including a fair number that have changed names and political leadership. Khmer Cambodia is now Kampuchea and South Vietnam’s currency is history.

To be sure, there are instances where recipes have been successfully combined by a process of synthesis that seems to work for most parties. The situation in Northern Ireland seems calmer than it was a few years back, but those kinds of successes are rare. More common are smoldering economic battles between countries, many of which want to be the largest player in the world.

Japan came close, when in 1988 a city block in Tokyo would buy nearly all real estate in California, but then the recipe changed, and with it, the value of the yen. The high quality products that Japan produced in the automotive world were cloned in less expensive climates, such as South Korea where Kia and later Daewoo and Hyundai evolved into competitive forces. At the same time, the U.S. auto industry responded to the challenge by building more reliable, cost effective vehicles. Japan’s recipe for success, largely written by American Edward Deming, was copied extensively.

Duplication of successful recipes has become a fact of life in the global marketplace. If a country has a successful semiconductor manufacturing business, such as Taiwan has, it is likely to be cloned in places like Malaysia and Singapore.

The recipe for nuclear weapons, once the exclusive domain of the United States, has now grown to include perhaps a dozen countries: such as Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, Iran, North Korea, and the Southwest Asia nightmare zone: Pakistan and India.

Who knows if Iran has a bomb, but it’s considered likely. There’s speculation that Cuba may not have sent home all Soviet-era missiles following the end of the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962. How paranoid should we be?

The business recipes from other places and other times don’t seem to have any particular advantage over the long run, but in the short run, they do wield power. You have only to look at South Korea to see this to be the case.

Here’s a country that was pretty well wiped out at the end of World War II and the Korean War that grew rapidly in Japan’s shadow. Japan pioneered (with Deming’s help) quality circles and building better products. Many of the techniques were copied in South Korea, and since they had a lower prevailing wage, so many heavy industries chose South Korea.

Shipbuilding is an example of this. As wages went up in Japan, labor costs drove ship construction to South Korean yards. Now, as wages have come up in South Korea, ship builders are looking at other low unit labor cost markets.

The “recipes” from elsewhere in the world economy become a little confusing because of currency considerations and variances in productivity. You may find the cost of labor low in Mexico, but the productivity might also be low, so in order to get high productivity, you’ll need to invest more heavily in plant and equipment.

Even within the U.S. the recipes from elsewhere competition was building. We’ve been watching businesses in the San Diego area being wooed by other states. In the biotech field, for example, California has a pretty decent climate for development of intellectual property, but when it comes time to produce actual product, the Golden State begins to lose its glitter. States like neighboring Nevada have become extremely competitive for corporate business because of their more relaxed regulatory atmosphere. New Mexico, Utah, and to a certain extent Arizona, are likely to become home to new biotech production facilities because their out to get a portion of California’s biotech prize for themselves.

If they don’t secede, that is.

Next week: [keyword: the 512 Matrix]

Write when you get rich,

Urgent for California: Oroville Dam in Danger

Just in is an urgent memo from my consigliere about the Oroville Dam situation in California:

“Oroville Dam, California

(highest dam in the United States holding back the 2nd largest lake in California)

Major damage to the Spillway problem

Spillway damage:

per news conference last night it is 180′ wide by 230′ long. other reports put the depth of the erosion in the spillway at 30′

Water flow in and out:

This is where the problem is: yesterday at the time of the Spillway disintegration 130,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) was flowing into Lake Oroville. They had upped the release through the Spillway to 60,000CFS and were in the process of taking it up further to 70,000 CFS when the problem appeared (to make room in the lake for water run off that will be coming in the next 3-4 days from the incoming BIG storms). They hydro plant was also spilling 5100 cfs via one penstock.

The lake was 851′ +- at the time of the event (2/7/17 at about 11 AM), full FLOOD CAPACITY for the lake is 900′. It is currently as of 8:00 AM PST at 865.88, or up about 15′ over the last 20 hours. (34′ to go until Lake is topped out at max!!)

With the Spillway closed the only way for water to exit the lake is via the Hydro Plant’s penstocks (5100 CFS going through yesterday and so far today). The second penstock was undergoing maintenance but they are hoping to get it operational later today and up the out flow through the Hydro Plant to 15,000 CFS.

Water flow into the lake has now declined to 75,000 CFS from yesterday morning’s 130,000, but with new big storms coming in that will be increasing dramatically.

The highest outflow via the Spillway was back in 1997 at 150,000 CFS during a similar rain event situation (wikipedia has max cap for Spillway at 225,000 CFS but 150,000 may be it’s real actual capacity since the 1997 event was huge and they were probably running at their real MAX spillage rate). The outflow via the Spillway was last at 60,000 CFS in 2006 and then during the drought there was NONE until 2015(?). Only much lower outflows, when there were any, since 2006.

At the current and projected “fill rate” the Lake only has about 3 to 4 days, depending upon the rain event, before it’s MAXIMUM FLOOD CAPACITY of 900′ is reached.

Daily water data:

Wikipedia data on the lake here:

We penciled out the amount of water that could be released with a dam failure: Lake Oroville holds about 1.126 trillion gallons of water. reporting rain in the Oroville, CA area now, 1-additional inch today and 2 more inches tomorrow. Even more is expected in the mountains, so this is a touch ^ go situation that bears watching.

Hourly water data:

(Lake is climbing at half a foot per hour…)

(More as events warrant)

The MSM is still fixated on Trump-bashing but there IS REAL NEWS going on…

Is America Insane?

We approach a very difficult problem this morning:  Mental Health of America.

Based on the outbreaks of “fake news” and “competing facts,” and other such MSM drivel, we sit back with some psychological glasses on, come up with metrics of “what makes crazy” and put up some data.

I think you’ll find the answer sadly disheartening.

But that’s not the only story.  Trump has just made another stupid mistake and we point out his latest… as I told you we would be supportive and give him a chance…but his latest is blowing something big.

Due Process.

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The Fine Art of “News Reading”

Let’s jump right into “how to read the news.”

We can begin with any news story you please. A good one this morning is yet-another Trump-bash: “Experts: Trump Undermines Judiciary With Twitter Attack on Judge Robart.”

We can approach this in several ways. Most people, when they read the news will simply take it at face value.

Very few people spend any time reflecting on the various dimensions of a story.

News does have history, however. And in this case when Donald Trump tweeted “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” he was voicing an opinion.

News also has a Future, not just a past – a past we outlined in the “Immigration Board Game, Home Edition” Monday.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: When other organizations are critical of judicial decisions that don’t agree with and announce plans to appeal, it’s no big deal.

But now, in the Trump-bashing media, suddenly an “expert” is presented arguing the president of the United States is not entitled to his opinion – if stated in very direct street-level ways…

Seems to me it is a crooked game. Why can’t Trump have an opinion? It’s why people voted for him.

The OTHER side doesn’t have problems busting windows in Berkeley, or raising money with panic-inducing emails, or lawyering up to challenge the Trump Executive Order – which they reckoned as ridiculous and ought to be overturned… so why the double-standard application when comes to Trump?

Remember what I told you about the Left being anti free speech?  If it isn’t in their agenda, no free speech allowed – including Trump?

Thus, we commend to any reader of news the notion that when you read the news, spend at least as much time reflecting one its history and likely future direction – as well as motivations and underlying economics – as you do reading the story itself.

Swamp Creatures

Next item has to do with how when the “swamp begins to drain” we learn a lot more about what creatures in the Swamp have been up to all these years.

Want to know why Paul Ryan has been such an Obama-backer on budget matters and why he’s been so wishy-washy on border security?

Well, Breitbart’s headline this morning “Records: Soros Fund Execs Funded Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John McCain, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham in 2016…”

Yes…the likely reason, near as the economics seem to suggest, is that George Soros et al where trying to buy fractions of the next President.

And that’s why the Left/Soros (masquerading as progressives) are so pissed about Trump and won’t let go of his election: He wasn’t for sale.

The others?

A visit to will answer a few questions, but it will raise many more. What is the price of a U.S. president? We can look back on Obama’s campaigns to answer that. But when a self-funder who’s running on principles comes along, well, that screws up all the assumption tables, doesn’t it?

But it doesn’t stop: The Washington Post is headlining about how “Trump’s loose talk about Muslims gets weaponized in court against travel ban.”

Curiosity here: How many H1-b’s does parent Amazon employ?

One source says Amazon has 2,622 H1b holders with an average salary of $121,850…

As our “board game” suggested yesterday, there are a number of options Trump might take to side-step the court showdown and de-fang detractors.

Only momentarily, however.

Trade Deficit Improves a Bit

Very little to talk about on the pure economic front this morning.

We do have an international trade report just out. Press release, please?

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $44.3 billion in December, down $1.5 billion from $45.7 billion in November, revised. December exports were $190.7 billion, $5.0 billion more than November exports. December imports were $235.0 billion, $3.6 billion more than November imports.

Words not cutting it?  A picture, then:


Other than that, about the most revealing economic news left this week will be the Fed report and balance sheet out Thursday (after the close). Depending on what’s in that, we might see some market action Friday, but I’m not putting any money on it.

The markets have had a dandy run since November and is now waiting to see how (or if) the GOP “swamp creatures” will close ranks with Trump on things like the DeVos nomination which may be voted on today.

Futures hint at +65 on the Dow at the open.

Speaking of DeVos

The NY Times covers it over here with lots of jabs at her lack of experience in dealing with public schools. The NY Times (perhaps its fad in journos now) refers to her as Ms. but she is a Mrs. Husband Dick is a multi-billionaire heir to the Amway fortune who ran Alticor, Amway’s parent company from 1993 to 2002. Dick’s dad owns the Orlando Magic.

One thing to say about the big east coast papers is they don’t often ask enough of the right questions for my tastes. I’ll give you an example. Take this bit out of Wikipedia:

“Betsy and her husband Dick are chief investors in and board members of Neurocore, a group of brain performance centers offering biofeedback therapy for disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, autism, and anxiety. The therapy consists of showing movies to patients and interrupting them when they become distracted, in an effort to retrain their brains.

According to The New York Times, a review of Neurocore’s claims and interviews with medical experts suggest that the company’s conclusions are unproven and its methods questionable. Democratic senators raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest and questioned whether she and her family members would “benefit financially from actions” she could take as education secretary. DeVos announced that she would step down from the company’s board but would retain her investment in the company, valued at $5 million to $25 million.”

When one takes a few minutes to ponders the DeVos nomination – and her background – the real questions come to the fore.

Does the Neurocore approach to “depression, attention deficit disorder, autism, and anxiety” really work? Clearly, the NY Times is skeptical.

But could there be something else – something systemic at work??

I think the odds are good: Shoveling medicine into children to get them on the life-long ride on the Pharmacopeia Highway has been a major thrust of drug company marketing. I won’t go into the litany of how even my own son was “hooked-up” early in life on ADHD meds, but it was a chemical solution shoved onto the parents by the dual marketing efforts of teachers and administrators of schools and the medical community.

(*Ask your doctor who pays for annual conferences and “continuing ed” sessions and then ask is it all education or, is there some marketing in there?)

To my way of thinking two likely “truths” come to the fore: One is that Mrs. DeVos doesn’t have a lot of big organizational experience, but I expect if she ran into difficult issues she’s more than capable of getting high-caliber advice.

The second point is that I expect the Big Pharma lobby might have an interest in seeing her nomination turned down. After all, anyone who is open to alternative/complimentary therapies (which Neurocore is) must be rooted out early, lest the primary school pipeline to pill-pushing profits be reconsidered.

And that’s why I expect the “Swamp Creatures” to attempt to block her in today’s vote.

Principles of Principals are at stake? Not so much as a financial shake-up of the “old way of doing things.” Is it possible that real change at D.E. could hurt cashflow of some very lucrative drugs.

Not to mention the student loan servicing profits? Go back to last summer and read about how former president Obama allowed “Student Loan Borrowers’ Costs To Jump As Education Department Reaps Huge Profit.”

But no, the message put out by the East Coast media has been simplified to ‘DeVos is bad…take our word for it.’

Thanks, but no thanks. We’ll do our own thinking.

Coping: Prepping Versus Personal Threats/Aging

There was a murmur of shock yesterday when I hinted that Elaine and I might actually sell the homestead here and look for something in a small to medium-sized town for the next chapter of life.

A reader we’ll call Jonesy offered this:

“So the gloom and doom self reliance model you have been preaching for years is now no big deal? And moving into a condo is self preservation ? What happened to the total Apocalypse and social breakdown we were all warned about ? Every thing is a business model i guess .”

No, everything is NOT a business model. And I will ignore the “troll bait” at the end…but I will explain the rest of it, if you promise to think about it.

First, the “doom gloom and self-reliance” hasn’t changed. Just because we move from the sticks to the cleared land of a small town doesn’t mean we give up on prepping OR self-reliance. WTF? Where did you come up with that notion? Good gravy….Dude, we can be prepped anywhere…get a grip.  This is not an either/or deal.  Prepped is baseline, location is a different issue.

As to the apocalypse and social breakdown, patience please. I think if you look at where we were as a country 20 years ago and compare it with today, you’ll see a good degree of social deterioration (all those “dividers” are actually making progress) while at the same time, our likely conflict with China is not going anywhere.

I’ve told you this more times than I can count, but maybe Jonesy didn’t get it: Eventually we will do another global war – it’s just how economic depressions end.

As to who it’s with? China has a growing population, an excess of males, and they have a growing energy hunger. Eventually they will have to go adventuring. That means both territorial as well as “sphere of influence” expansion.

But, that has only a limited impact on what we/Elaine and I do to personally be best prepared for the future.

Let me back up: Suppose you are 50 years old. Where is the best place to live in order to optimize your personal longevity? Certainly not in a big city, since random acts of violence happen (you can have Chicago). A mid-sized town is better, but the really great mid-sized towns have a way of exploding. I recommend periodic trips through Boise, Idaho at rush-hour as a reality check. Boise is now a medium-large town that started off small. In terms of investment, dandy place.

But for us – more than 15 years ago – we decided that we would have to go through multiple lifestyle and location changes. Remember, we were wild sailors and I did 11-years on the ultimate preparedness platform, an ocean-ready offshore sailboat.

When I rolled up enough money in the high tech world, we moved to the rural part of East Texas as fast as we could. I don’t think either of us would trade it for much of anything, except Life itself.

So here’s the point Jonesy missed: The Reality of threats to Life itself mean that at some point your odds of dying will change depending on your location.

My son, being in emergency medicine, often reminds me that “Dad, if you’re going to have a heart attack, please do it in Seattle…” His point is that from “drop to shock” (heart attack event to arrival and application of an automatic external defibrillator is often under three-minutes. Yeah, Seattle is that good and that fast. It’s the Formula One of emergency medicine.

The actual calculation we all make goes something like this, Jonesy:

Question 1: “What are the odds of having a heart attack between now and 2024 – at which time I will be 75?”

Based on family history, I’d put that number around 40% at my old body weight (and BMI) but I should be able to reduce that to the 20% range by reducing my BMI to normal.

Yep, working on that and from my all-time-high I’ve dropped 30 pounds and four belt notches but I need to drop at least another 30 to get even near something good. 50 pounds would be better, but I’m doing it in a reasonable way, losing a pound or three per week.  Not so much I get skin flabbiness, though.

Still, even though I am “on plan” no matter what I do, there is still the 20% heart risk (maybe that’s for everyone, or darn near) and Elaine is maybe  at a slightly higher risk because her mom died from heart troubles and her brother has multiple stents. For the two of us combined, risks might be in the 30-35% range.

So in the next X years, we know that risk is going up.

Question 2: “What is the likely timing, odds, and nature of the expected apocalypse?

I hope you’ve noticed that we don’t go around predicting global subsidence events, nor do we believe the stories about Planet X coming by.

What we DO believe is the combined powers of economics and demographics. China will need to build a huge middle-class, and we are in our long-discussed “Manufacturer’s Resource Wars.”

As to the timing, that will be at the end of thre Second Depression which puts it out as far as 2030, but the South China Sea could blow up tomorrow over a single naval misunderstanding. Plus there’s the Strait of Hormuz off on the side as another flashpoint.

I think odds of an apocalyptic war are about where our shared health risks are (30-35%) and we can re-assess as we get closer to 2024.

My point is, the profile for two people in their 70’s is much different than people in their 50’s.

As a chart (*oh boy, here comes another Ure spreadsheet) it might look something like this:


I .hope this explains it for Jonesy.

It says at age 50 today, it’s clear that until out past 2032 there are fewer health risks from being in the sticks than there are from any coming apocalypse.

On the other hand, when you look at actuarial numbers north of 70, you see mortality takes a big enough upturn that our risks from a health crisis are likely to be gaining such that risk of death from that will be higher than risk from war or whatever.

The main thing is you’ll see that we are both working on serious health changes (vitamins, exercise, and in my case weight loss) in order to hold down the combined risk of a health crisis to under 30%.

Still, no matter how “conditioned” and how “healthy” we work at becoming, “the numbers” tell us that in the next year or three, it would not be unreasonable to move to a place where healthcare is prompter than out her in the woods.

Will we hate the move? Oh, hell yeah.

We were having our afternoon toddy Sunday as 12 deer wandered through the yard. Ours being something of a no-hunting haven for these guys. We can take deer if we need, but not till Wal-Mart and Brookshire’s run out of food and we get well into our stored provisions.

So there’s the long answer: Young people – of the sort that can rebuild America should be going rural like crazy. See Oilman2’s latest over at the site, too. OM2 is the 12-years younger than me prototype, lol.

Going back into the earliest horizon’s of time, Elaine and I bought this place from a wonderful couple who were just flipping into their 80’s. At that age, even with only the 12.82 acre parcel, it had become too much for them. And they only had about 3-acres cleared for the house and outbuildings.

Now, we have added 16 acres and and about 13-acres are ready for goats or whatever, but damn is it a lot of work!

Note that the previous owners did not publish books or write web columns.

So in addition to the actuarial tables driven considerations, we also look at things like higher-speed internet, not having to spend so damn much of communications costs, and so forth, as part of the equation as well.

And then there’s the “team” aspect.

Right now, Elaine and I are a very “tight team” in that we do projects together. I can’t think of a meaner thing for me to do than stick her with the job of cleaning up the complexities of my life and multiple hobbies and all the farm crap. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to go through her earthly goods, either. But together it can be a shared experience of paring down to essentials, including the hunt for a new home…and to us that’s what makes life worth living: A string of dandy adventures we can both share and enjoy.

Hope this clarifies our thinking.

And yeah, no matter where we go, six months of food and necessaries are still baked in the cake.

When the diet is done, my daily maintenance calories will drop 30% or more, so at least prepping on a caloric intake basis will be less strenuous, as yet-another benefit.

Around the Ranch:  Sun Joe Chipper

M ay be the neatest little yard tool around for some tasks I hate – namely the huge collection of twigs and small sticks shed by 29 acres of trees.  The solution? 

imageSun Joe CJ601E 14-Amp Electric Wood Chipper/Shredder.  Yes, $104 and change.  But time is money.

Only gripes so far??  By the time I got it assembled and the rest of the chores done on the daily list of crap, it was sprinkling and I don’t mix rain or sweat and plug-in electrics. 

Wheeled it up to the scrap pile under the 12” chop saw, found some victim-wood and yep…chips just fine.

Now, if we could get a nice day…

Also, martini time Monday we celebrated the arrival of our first tomato sprout in the cold frame that sits on the seedling mat in the greenhouse.

I’ve put in, gosh, something like 48 beefsteak tomato starts and anything that doesn’t go into the garden will be dropped off around the property to see how well “salad in the wild works.  Eyeing a space down by the creek for lettuce..most shady spot…

Staged are 28 bok choy plants and a dozen yellow squash.   One squash plant here will feed an army.

Figure we will have plenty to freeze this year and give the vacuum sealer a good workout.

Next garden project is “tiller roulette” to see if I can get the old beast going for another year.  We picked up the Black & Decker 20V Lithium Ion Cordless Garden Cultivator/Tiller for keeping rows cultivated  Always fun to see if the Blue Ox (the 7 HP kick-Ure-butt front tine tiller) kicks over..

I’ve standardized on the B&D 20V series for just about everything:  Hedge trimmer, small chain saw, pole saw, cultivator and string trimmer. 

If/when we sell, everything will stay with the property (tractor, tools, etc including the solar etc.) since a local farm/land bank will finance this as a farm which means people can get more than just a box and some dirt in the home deal.

Trying to get all the gardening and home improvement done by April 15 so when the weather gets turned back up to Bake/Broil I can focus on eating with a side of cultivating and raking.

First tomatoes seed in Jan 30 so 45-days out with any luck and a warm spring.  March 16th?  That’d be too cool.

The climate drift this year is marvelous for East Texas growers, though.  Have to say,  I’m impressed.

Kid’s didn’t necessarily appreciate hearing about it with the snow in Seattle/Tacoma Monday.  They’re young and they can deal with it.

Write when you get rich,

Immigration: The Board Game

Home Edition

Sometimes, in order to understand terrible confusing political or business situations, the best and easiest tool at hand is a cocktail napkin. For those of don’t go our cocktailing and choose to have a libation at home, napkins are in short supply.

So we revert to software for our purpose of sketching out where immigration is as a process map. Remember, from the Millennial’s Missing Manual – formerly titled “Victims of Process” we begin each inquiry by trying to understand and map how events are laying out.


Using this approach, we can see based on our other mapping work (some of which was covered this weekend in our premium report on “Weaponization of Social Media”) we have a pretty good roadmap of what is to be expected as events roll forward.

For one, this morning president Trump is upping the threat level against California for petulance (breaking the laws) with regards to Federal Funding. There is a concurrent effort of the Left to propel California into secession and a re-association with Mexico. The marionette string pullers realize that the GDP of California is $2.448 trillion and the GDP of the entire country of Mexico is a mere $1.144 trillion (World Bank, 2015 data).

In a secession and affiliation, California would basically “rule Mexico” based on economic power, although absent U.S. FedGov involvement, California would likely suffer a major decline in GDP per capita to a midpoint between the US GDP per experienced now to the low levels experienced by Mexico residents.

We could draw up a number of process maps (and show links) involving both the Left/Reconquista which George Soros and his NGO (henchpersons) have been working for years, that has been seeding this interesting alternative to the one discussed some weeks ago (*Peoplenomics, I think) which outlined a strong business case for the U.S. to simply “take-back” the northern half of Mexico which has become a primary source of illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and integrate that area as either a protectorate along the Puerto Rico model, or set out a clear path to Statehood.

With the rabble-rousing in California, however, and growing talk of secession, we can see there would be a kind of “instant Viceroy class” created – namely the Californians who would invest and appropriate property in Nuevo California if I can call it that.

Not to say any of this WILL happen but we can see a number of interesting possibilities out on the horizon, including the background data that reminds us that California has more than 12-million Spanish speakers, but then again, as of 2015, the U.S. had developed more Spanish-speakers than all of Spain!

I like to think of this all in terms of economic business models. While there are plenty of emotional anchors in the immigration debate, we tend to look at behavioral economics more around here.

For example, between 2012 and 2018, the number of jobs teaching ESL in the US increased 14%. So clearly, this is an economic proposition. Should the 10% of “other” speakers in U.S. schools be reduced, employment would have to be found for current teaching staff.

So we get the economic basis of loose immigration, not to mention that once in the U.S. the people who come here do file taxes (at some lower rate than residents, perhaps) and that increases the flow of funds into the Social Security system.

The California succession movement started circulating petitions a week ago, so the problem is far from moot.

What is interesting from an historical standpoint is that the secession issue in the United States has been around a very long time. In some ways, it is a marker of the economic long wave. A secession move by California seems possible in the 2018 timeframe, or roughly three Kondratieff longwave cycles from the 1860 succession mess called the Civil War.

This kind of thing tends to roll in slow-motion, however, so we should still be in a rising market for another month, or longer (March and July are target all-time-high periods). So for now, we sit back, look at things like this process map, and wonder “Gee, what else can go wrong?”

We shouldn’t have too long to wait.

Global Cooling

A couple of notes about “climate change” this morning.

First is the latest report from the NOAA Solar Cycle Progression folks. Yes, the Sun is going to sleep:


The second item to bring to your attention is the recent (Obama admin) reports about how the Earth had its hottest year EVER in 2016 may not be as solid as the warmists and changeists would have you believe.

The Deplorable Climate Science Blog over here, makes the point that NOAA mostly made-up data for much of the earth. NOAA to have assumed (imputed) record temps in places there aren’t even thermometers, says another report.

I think I mentioned recently that I’ve been pulling down direct data off the NOAA APT/polar orbit satellites and the thermography imagery uses is “banded.”

In other words, you may see red in one area and yellow in an adjacent area…but within (roughly) 20-degrees color gradients, there’s “enough slippery” to drive a Kenworth through.

The satellite data is then massaged with scattered local data and assumptions are made that enable a lot of reddening of the maps. And that get’s headlines going and here comes the business models on climate out of the closet.

Of course, we have had on our “skeptical helmet” for years on this stuff, but data is data and here’s a UK Daily Mail reports you need to click and read…

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data “

Be ready with your “Quick! Looked Surprised!” expressions…

The Robots Are Coming!!!!

If you work in the grocery industry, you need to be aware that Amazon’s supermarket of the future could get by with just three employees, a ton of robots and telecom gear

Can you picture the fun hackers would have with rearranging stores?

Future’s So Bright….

Stocks are likely to get off to a flat or somewhat down week after the last-minute burst at the end of last week to stay north of 20,000 on the Dow.

We expect this to be a flat to sideways beginning, but then moving up perhaps by Friday.

Gold is up $10 bucks early but on the business docket for the day there’s little excitement.

What we are in, dear reader, is economic stagnation. In fact, Gallup recently pointed out the per capita GDP has only gone up 1% in the US in the last 10 years!

In a world bent on investing in video games instead of human capital, and where investing in machines is a better (and tax-advantaged) move than hiring, we begin the week wondering whether earning $5 a week more is a real payoff for 10-years of work?

Perhaps not – and maybe that’s where some of our “national angst” comes from.

With a light news flow this week, it’s something to thing about as “The harder we work the behinder we get” seems to be rolling into the medium term view.

With it, the leading edge of the Greater Depression isn’t too far behind.