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Friday July 26, 2013   07:55 AM CST       FAQ        ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **

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The Biggest (most under-reported) Story in America

NSA Technique?  Something About JSTOR?

Other than the summer sweeps (which ended day before yesterday)  and the George Zimmerman whip-up of emotions and the royal diaper king, what do you think has been going on at the mentally subcutaneous level of thick-headed America?  Glad you're still bright enough to be curious.  Apparently you're resistant to emotional frenzy-whipping...which is a good thing.


We've got a real who-done-it going today watching reports of the continuing investigation into the death (Could it have been  a murder made to look like suicide?) of Aaron Swartz who was the genius inventor of RSS and Reddit.


In the latest episode, reports WhiteOutPress.com seems MIT has jumped onboard the government cover-up bandwagon in fighting a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request from Wired which is trying to get information about the case.  Kevin Poulsen, editor of Wired is, to my way of thinking, a true patriot to asking hard questions of the government in the Swartz case and demanding documentation.


The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is unambiguous:  "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


Except:  The FISA (foreign intelligence surveillance act) Court gets to keep secrets and obviously by claiming "terrorism" the word foreign is being interpreted fast and loose in order to cast a wide net over....everyone.  Oh, and since it's all secret, no appeal to public courts...so yes, boys and girls, there is a shadow government.


As the above-linked article shows, the prosecution/persecution of  Swartz really ramped up after he released a large chunk of JSTOR documents.  This is only meaning if you understand that this is a HUGE repository of academic studies by America's best and brightest - information too hot to be released to the general plebes like you and me.

The judge in the case has given the government until August 5 to produce a timeline for release of documents, but an intelligent bet is that the government will "play for time" on this one and will have to be wrangled  back into court by Wired sometime in mid-August to explain why they haven't released the documents.


OK, fine as far as it goes...which isn't far enough.  What would be the "big deal" about release of JSTOR documents?  For a little more sense of what's going on, I'd suggest a back issue of TechDirt over here under the headline "JSTOR freely released public domain papers that Greg Maxwell already Freed..." 


"OK, why such a big deal?


Good question:  What could JSTOR have possibly leaked to the public that would have caused such an uproar?


 My #1 guess is that there is a key conceptual framework about "Big Data" in there which would only have one purpose:  Massive spying on the [innocent] American public.  Contravening the 4th Amendment in the process.


Specifically I would be looking at advanced server integrations which would be applicable to that new NSA super-farm being built south of Salt Lake City when another side bet is that someone has a huge advance in "named-entity recognition" that will literally give the government key insight into what you're thinking, you threat to freedom, you, lol.


[Forbes has already leaked the blueprints of the mega-server farm, which has to be an award-winner for Kashmir Hill's investigative work.]


Or, the released data might have contained computationally useful information about linguistics.  A head-wrap may be seen in "Phrase clustering for discriminative learning"  Mix up learning agents and massive Big Data warehousing and now you've got absolute control of a population (formerly a "free" country.)


While you'd think MIT would have "clean hands" in this, remember they are one of the world's leading computer theory and linguistics centers and the public blow-back could be significant toward the school if it were to be revealed (all hypothetically, mind you) that maybe they were working with the government (NSA et alia) on computation approaches to spying on protecting Americans.  Why else would they hold that school staff could be placed in some kind of jeopardy by the release of information?


I've been doing a lot of reading lately in the Big Data arena and it's obvious to anyone who reads a few books what's likely going on.  You might start with Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, $20, Amazon and for the theoretical implications.  Next reread The Commanding Heights : The Battle for the World Economy: What comes into focus is that there is a subtle shift in managing populations away from what is now fairly direct mass media manipulation and toward "thought inference" as reflected by probabilistic data analysis.


Soft mass-control versus hard personal-control is another way to look at it.


Another insight arises as Arvind Sathi notes in Big Data Analytics: Disruptive Technologies for Changing the Game  "There were two types of leaders: Disseminating leaders who were connected to their groups by outgoing calls and authority leaders who were connected by a larger proportion of incoming calls..."  [emphasis added- Ure]


While Sathi's reference was to IBM Research's work on (telephone) call centers, the data analysis case may likely be generalized when looking at a much larger universe of Big Data which includes not only verbose speech (SVIR/voice->text followed by NER thence SQL scoring layers) but also text (twits and emails) plus social mapping data (social media).  Toss in your actual income (bank records) and expenses (bank/credit card records) along with call data (time/location/social maps) and there ain't much about you government can't already "know."   


While great research, there is obvious extensibility into how humans communicate in general such that the inbound/outbound call ratios of telephone call centers are ikely extensible to your personal inbound and outbound email, shared links/favorites, and even things like your Facebook postings after running through NER.  Which is why we explained additional mechanics of this to Peoplenomics readers recently [subscribe].


These latter concerns are particularly troublesome to news/analytics types like Ure's truly who might be classes as "disseminating leaders" which means, under the emergent new laws of sociopolitical control via human communications, that you are roughly 28.5 times more likely to send a copy of something read on  UrbanSurvival on to some of your friends than general non-specific web-based information.


Put another way, there's a whole new class of quantifiable social behaviorism being discovered by Big Data and government is trying to get there first by loading up the Federal Data Hub with as much data and inferences about YOU and possible (never mind legal, because that's whatever congress says it is).  It's clear that they're trying to get as much of the baseline infrastructure in place as possible before the public  rebels and demands change from Congress.


So the two battlefronts to note this week are the battle lines in the Swartz case on the one hand and the heavy-handed NSA green light approved by 217 traitorous members of Fools on the Hill whose only concern with Big Data is how it can be translated into campaign finance income.  Which is why out of state money is so important to congresspersons.


Oh.....there is one other slim motivation for all the tensions over the JSTOR records release:  The data may have revealed the location of the other of the moon's sentinel's (one of which is likely adjacent to the crater Aristillus)...but by comparison that's a very low probability case.  Besides, if you really wanted to know the answer to that one, you could get a ham radio license and test when the MUF is below 13 MHz using lunar ephemerides and 20-meters.  But implications of LDE's is another topic for another day...Maybe the secret of why we're not going back to the moon is in there, too.


But seriously (and more so than usual) a word-frequency (topic-frequency) analysis of the JSTOR data would like reveal at least the primary domain probability of the contentious materials.  Sorted to source_school=MIT but then you'd probably already figured that.  If you have access, another tack would be index comparison between public and non-public...but then you couldn't tell me.  But, such is life.


Why subject-domain hunting is more fun than snipe hunting, ain't it? 


The federales meantime have started a big push to secure all web passwords it seems...


Well, enough deep thinking for this morning, shall we get back to the distractions, then?


Reinventing Science

Big headlines this morning about how MIT neuroscientists successfully planted false memories in the brain.  Refer to previous story.


Oh...and product marketers have been doing this for years...


Say, here's something of interest on an MIT server that I  bet'cha didn't know.  Infers a link between a certain widely used ag chemical and autism rates...


More After This…




Weiner Week Continues

As we began this week with an account of national hog dog day, little did we ever imagine (OK, maybe we did, wanna make something of it?) that by week's end we would still be up to our headlines in Weiners.


Yet here we are...and the Weiner du jour is Mrs. Weiner, aka Huma Abedin who is getting a lot of questions about how she could hold a part time tax payer paid job for Hillary (don't make me say it) at the State Department while pulling in more than $300-large from the same outfit ol' Bill's on the board of...


My, things are getting nasty....no, make that nastier.


(Is that an iPhone in your pocket or are you just glad to read my column?)


Capitol Vandalism

Meantime, we have to take note of the Washington Park Police reporting the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized overnight - doused with some green paint.  What the significance (if any) of this is remains to be seen.


Christie Sells Out?

I'm not exactly sure why a rise in Libertarians is dangerous, except that it might present both corporate-owned parties with an uncomfortable number of literate voters to address, but whatever the reason New Jersey gov and presidential wannabe Chris Christie has launched a line of hard spew towards 'em.


What I'd be penciling out is which group will cut a campaign check to the Christie funds on this one, since these kinds of things usually are a business model at some level.


Social Marketing

Since America has been overcome with a disease the Centers for Disease Control doesn't list (political correctness disease), we sort of doubt that anyone will have the nerve to try in America what's being done in baby diaper land, but the Brits have put up signs telling illegal immigrants to leave - as wandering billboards which threaten arrest.


Cool...but the reason we can't do that here in 'Merica is simple:  We need new low income workers to exploit, to keep the minimum wage low, and to pay into us gray's Social Security fund since it's been robbed by previous generations of Washingtonian crooks.   Am I the only one who gets this?  Everything's a business model!


Run the freakin numbers...sheesh.


To Market, To Market...

Since our main shtick around here in making money and some dandy longwave economics research, we can't help but notice that the European Central Banks Mario Draghi is now a year into his plan to save Europe from financial collapse.  Gloomberg has a fine recap of how that's going.


A down open to US markets seems likely at the opening, as we await a consumer confidence number which is more of less meaningless - it's a final revision is all.  But any reason to rally from down, huh?


The weekly money stocks report from the Fed shows 9.6% annual increase in M1 (3 months annualized) while M2 is running 5.3% annualized off the 3-month rate.


You go Ben...push that wet string!



More after this…





Coping:  Past-Life Learning - A Bad Idea?

After being a microphone-slinging journalist for 15-years in a major market, and another xx years of writing/journalism, you get a pretty good idea who's writing you the straight skinny and who's pulling your chain.


so yesterday morning I was all hot on the idea of using past life regressions to "pull through" information and skills from previous lifetimes (if real) and I received a couple of really good emails on topic.  But the capper of them all was this one from a fellow we'll call Bob because it has a serious warning and "ring of truth" to it that causes me to step back from going forward with my usual full-tilt boogie into a new adventure:


"If the memories have not already returned ( usually around late 40s ) then you are probably not ready.


Regret, is the first to come back, fear of running for you life and horror of battle fields soon follow.


Regret will tear you to pieces if you let it.


Hellish dreams appear. 


Language, is a product of years of training the speaking muscles and brain responses. It takes about 10 years ( not fun ) to train a body to survive in its environment. Seeing your loved ones dying around you is the worst horror of all.


When my memories returned, my first thought was "Bullshit". Then I took a trip to a place from long ago and there I found the graves. I lost a dear son in WW1. To see the graves of your loved ones is a terrible experience.


There is no exit from the Wheel until you understand. Suicide is not an option and comes with a very high price ( learned the hard-way ).  Make sure your son understands that.  


The last life was wonderful, my soul-mate and I lived 72 years of incredibly happy years. When I think of her my eyes fill with tears. I would go back in an instant if I could, but you can only go forward.


Regret rips the fabric of your soul so it is best not to remember while you still can.    Don't open hidden doors when you are not ready. Once open, the doors cannot be closed. Consider yourself lucky and forget while you still can.


Forcing memories to return is madness.  Your sanity is at stake.  There is enough Horror ahead of us, no need to call up more.


There is an old saying, "When you smell the camels, then you know you are there."


Whew!  Serious things to be weighed here. But not everyone gets so close to their past lives...some just get snips and bits, not the whole life replay level that would be horrific, indeed.  Take reader Jillian, for example:


"Hi George, I've been fortunate enough to work with Gregg Unterberger for 4 or 5 sessions of past life regression.  His mother was one of my spiritual teacher, so I knew that he was trustworthy.  I was able to get into looking at some lives starting in my first session.  I did find out though that I had many very ordinary lives, no Joan of Arc here. 


It was still immensely helpful and I wasn't looking for particular skills necessarily, but I did find out more about patterns and why things turned out the way they have in this life.   


Good luck.  I found this to be a particularly helpful endeavor.  I've been able to point to many things in my life since then (I did this about 12 years ago) that are explained by what i discovered. "


So that about sums it up - we can only do so many things in the column, but keep sending comments on this and if we get enough, we' ll revisit it.


But in the meantime, it does keep circling back to the "squishiness" of how the world really operates and evidenced by...


Friday at the WuJo

Been a long spell of few reports of high strangements about, but maybe that's because people who have them on a regular basis are coping with them better and don't feel like sharing, or, maybe the who area is drying up because people have been snapped back into other emotional area (like the Zimmerman tr8ial,; royal baby diapers and all those kinds of baser human emotions which seem to mask the really odd stuff going on around us when we look hard enough.




"Hi George,   I read Urban Survival every day, but unless I missed something I've noticed you haven't had any "WuJo" stories in quite awhile. 


Have you decided to drop those stories?  [NO! - G]


Honestly my story is long, but I'll give you as quick an overview as I can.


My husband and my friend, who has been a family friend for 30 some years, seem to have a really good psychic connection, both psychic to some extent. 


I can't tell you how many times I will talk to her on the phone and my husband will say, is there a bowl with a key in it close to her? Answer, yes. 


Just the other day, "I smell coffee around her, is she making coffee?" No, but she was just dumping out the old coffee and grounds and cleaning the pot.


He will pick up on unusual names from their family in Ireland etc.  The other day interesting enough, the day after my son's wedding, a time when I think about my passed on loved ones and hope that they are with us, we had what I'd call a crazy episode that gave me shivers.


I would like to know if this has happened to other readers and it was a weird normal episode, or something paranormal.


We got a call, a wrong number, no biggie, at 8:57pm. Then while the hubby was in the garage, the phone rang again, no name on the tv, but a number, which at a glance, I thought was the same number, it wasn't, similar beginning.


I said Hello, answer hello, I said, Hello, answer hello. Then silence on that end and I freaked out, within about a slow 5 seconds of silence I realized it sounded just like my passed on father-in-law who died about 12 yrs ago. 


He had a distinctive way of saying hello and this was very similar.  I got so scared, I shut the phone off and ran with the phone out to the garage, yelling that this weird call that only said hello twice sounded just like his dad!


Goosebumps all over my arms I thought why would I have even thought that? I got so scared I hung up, but the other person hadn't said anything else in all that silence..time 8:58pm.


While standing there with the phone in my hand, shaking, it rang again, I yelled, "Oh my god its ringing again and its the same number!"  I thrust it towards my husband and said, "You answer it!" 


He said, Hello, kind of harshly, hit the button and looked at me and said, "They hung up." Now I'm still shaking and so I go to call my friend and tell her about it, her name is Pat, and the phone rings and its Pat calling me! 


I answer, was going to tell her about my weird phone call and she started talking a mile a minute saying I'm getting these weird phone calls. I butt in and said, "OMG, I just got a weird phone call, and it sounded like my husbands DAD!"


She says WHAT?  My last phone call sounded like YOUR DAD!"


She says I've had 3 phone calls in the last few minutes and no name or number and by the time I go to answer it the voice mail kicks in and there's nobody there. The last that was calling HER, message on the voice mail says, "Hello....they hung up." Time 8:58pm.  


She had 3 separate calls, first two hang ups, within 2 min of each other and the last with a person calling her, but sounding like someone hung up on them.


I told her about mine, we were both getting these weird phone calls at the same time. She called my dad, who she's friends with to verify that he hadn't left her a weird message because it sounded like him to her. Nope, not him. 


The part that really gave me a sleepless night, was I decided to call back the number that called me, and had hung up on my husband, same number because caller ID only recorded it once. Called it back, twice, checked the number on caller ID twice. When I called it, the recorded message said, "You've reached a number that is no longer in service" 


Is this some kind of snafu that happens periodically or did we get a call from the great beyond? 


Even more strangely, I stopped over to listen to her voice-mail the next day of the voice saying, Hello...they hung up, and was dumbfounded to realize it sounded just like my husband.  All of a sudden I remembered him saying hello that last time and handing me the phone saying "they hung up." exactly the words on her voice-mail by the voice that sounds just like my husband! 


He said "That's not possible, I had already hung up when I said that, and I would have to have been calling her." 


I said none of it makes sense, her getting 2 hang up calls and a strange voice mail of someone calling somebody.


Us getting 2 phone calls from a phone number that doesn't exist and both of us getting all this between 8:57 and 8:59, what are the odds? How can you get a phone call from a nonexistent phone number and someone say Hello? 


My son said you can get an app and send a message, like a text or email from an nonexistent phone number, but a phone call that connects?


Plus it all happened at the same time it was happening to my friend, and why would someone call her house but say, "hello...they hung up, on her voice mail like they were calling someone else?


It was the exact words my husband said and sounded like him.  Its the craziest thing that's every happened to me...ever.                        


Thanks,  Sheri "


Wow!  Remember our discussion of intensity of regret?  Well, this sort of fits right into it.  In any event, you want the defining book on this (might be $30 used if you can find it): Phone Calls From the Dead.


You might want to get Annabela Cardoso's book "Electronic Voices: Contact with Another Dimension? which talks about setting up and conducting EVP experiments.  Well worth the time to read, even if you don't buy the descriptions of the "broadcast stations" from the other side in between lives...but there may be something to it...but you have to be "clean" when you get there and not live a life which you'll regret because that's the hard stuff apparently that hell is made of. 


Whew!  Some mailbag this morning, huh?  Remind me Monday to tell you the story of my encounter with an LDE - a long delayed echo...another weird class of phenomena (* and no, I wasn't kidding about the crater on the moon and the artifact in serious papers...)


Ure's Abbreviated Constitution v. 1.0

A reader from what seems to be Europe by the email header info, asked a fine question which deserves a thoughtful answer:


"Not being American I really don't fully understand the constitution of the USA. (From what I can tell, neither does a lot of Americans! Sadly)"


Like the old TV Show used to say "You Asked for It!


Since the Constitution is a serious document, it may be difficult to understand so maybe my summary could help explain things:p>


Preamble:  We declare this (and us'ns) to be the United States of America.


Article 1:  The Senate and House make law.  They do this miserably of late, not being good readers...and in fact they don't read much of which they vote on which some would call misfeasance.  Others call it Congress.


For additional details read Jack Abramoff's book: Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist.


Article 2:  Creates the President and his qualifications.  According to some, we ignore this part, too. 


Like Congress, agencies make stuff up on the fly and this is called "administrative law" which seems to fly in the face of Article 1, but it's all a wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll just pretend and regulate and if anyone is seriously wronged (but has enough money) they can appeal to a real court.  Conspiracy fans call this (administrative law stuff) part of shadow government.  Can't make that call due to conflicting data.


Article 3:  This sets up the Supreme Court but significantly, the pricing of law is not addressed which is a damn shame because law costs money and anyone who thinks otherwise has never paid for face-time with an attorney.


Article 4: Outlines how the state and federal governments are to play nicey nice.  Competing mobs.


Article 5: Sets out how amendments can be passed but doesn't include tracking so conspiracy wonks claim (for example)the income tax was never ratified under this one.  I figure it's all protection money, and you can't argue with the army or navy. Largest caliber wins.  See Nevada test site.


Article 6: Says everyone will play by the Constitution in money and in office.  Except now we just make up money and whatever else works at the time.


Article 7: Outlines the process by which the whole thing is adopted by the original states.


See how simple this is?


Next we have the Bill of Rights - Amendments:


First Amendment:  We're free to speak, write, and assemble.  Except in North Carolina and most other states if it's contentious.  The cone of suppression comes down.  Ask the WTO protesters and Occupy Houston.


Second Amendment: Right to bear arms.  We know that one's toast, without constant vigilance. Even so:  Now that the ammo's gone, it doesn't matter..so this one is toast.


Third Amendment: No military takeover of homes.  But what were all those police searches in Boston without warrants about, then?


Fourth Amendment:  Says we're free in our person, houses, and effects (which I take to include email and Skype though not specifically mentioned) against unreasonable search and seizure.  Both political parties lie through their teeth about supporting this - which is a crock of sh*t.  Remember the army, navy, and Nevada test site?


Fifth Amendment:  You don't have to testify against yourself.  But in modern America, there's usually a line around the block to testify against anyone over anything, so the effect is to scrap this one, too.  And if you support that, there's always Gitmo which Fearless can't figure out how to close (or he's lying on this, too, yah think?) because he and the .mils ignore this next one...


Sixth Amendment:  The right to a speedy and public trial The right to trial by an impartial jury The right to be informed of criminal charges The right to confront witnesses The right to compel witnesses to appear in court The right to assistance of counsel.  The Constitution does not exempt Gitmo that I've been able to find.


Seventh Amendment:  Any suit for $20-bucks or more can demand jury trial.  Judges can't overturn findings of fact by a jury but sometimes try anyway. Constitution does not exempt Gitmo.


Eighth Amendment:  Bars excessive bail and fines.  But that won't stop the cops from playing highwaymen in Tennessee or in seizing any amount of cash over a few thousand dollars because you must be a crook...forget that pap about presumption of innocence.  Fairytale stuff of the pre-police state...oh, sorry war on terror which includes anyone who doesn't give hallelujahs to the banker class...Henry said so.


Ninth Amendment: Just because something is not guaranteed in the Constitution, doesn't mean government can just have at it.  That clause has not stopped them, however.


Tenth Amendment: Powers not delegated by the Constitution  nor prohibited to the states are reserve to the states or the people. This is why federal program money comes with so many strings attached to keep people in line at the state level.


I realize this short summary is not complete, but it's a starting point.  Some liberals I know just really dislike the Koch brothers, but Koch Industries has provided a great public service by helping to fund the Bill of rights Institute.  Except at Gitmo, of course.


Oh, and see the army, navy and Nevada Test Site if you have questions..,



Write when you get rich...

George Ure (george at ure dot net)


Here are some useful ways to spend your money...


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A Course in Surveillance Algorithms

An algorithm is simply a set of instructions for a computer system to follow in a particular order.  In the case of Big Data, the steps are capture, organize, integrate, analyze, and act.  Using this approach, we can build a fine example of the many trip-wires an innocent civilian could stumble over in the modern surveillance society.  Plus we have our monthly check of west coast port data with is oftentimes a decent truth detector about the economy and an update on many headlines and our trading model.  You may need a third cup for this morning’s report…



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Thursday July 25, 2013 

Slip-Sliding Away

The recent election victory of Shinzo Abe in Japan seems to be blowing up as the Japanese market, which has rallied for a while at the prospect of more Abe-nomics promptly fell on its butt last night, down 168 points in overnight trading, but the futures are hinting at a further 400-points, or more, to go.


While we'll just have to wait until this evening to see how much of that actually materialized, the mood in Europe is somber and we expect the US market to open down 50 and close down a hundred and something.


Just for example, the land of "new royal diapers" was down 0.84% (when I checked earlier) which - if it carried over into the market here - would mean a decline of something like 130 Dow points, so that's our dart for this morning.


As always, this is not trading advice, unless you're an imbecile or fool.  But then again, judging by how things are going lately, I may be way off in my population estimates of imbeciles and fools at a planetary level and certain national capitols.


As always, I think Mark Twain said it best...but I I'll be damned if I can remember where exactly, so you go read his complete works (listed over here) and I'm sure it will jump out at you.


The Train In Spain Is Mainly a Pain

...at least for the 140-odd people injured.  Likely not for the 78 (and climbing) dead.


Durable Goods

Press release just out (I highlighted the weasl-words):


"New orders for manufactured durable goods in June increased $9.9 billion or 4.2 percent to $244.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This increase, up four of the last five months, followed a 5.2 percent May increase and was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. Excluding transportation, new orders increased slightly. "



Excluding defense, new orders increased 3.0 percent. Transportation equipment, also up four of the last five months, led the increase, $9.9 billion or 12.8 percent to $87.1 billion. This was led by nondefense aircraft and parts, which increased $6.5 billion.




Shipments of manufactured durable goods in June, down two of the last three months, decreased slightly to to $229.8 billion. This followed a 1.3 percent May increase. Machinery, also down two of the last three months, drove the decrease, $0.4 billion or 1.2 percent to $34.2 billion. This followed a 1.1 percent May increase.



Unfilled Orders

Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in June, up four of the last five months, increased $21.4 billion or 2.1 percent to $1,029.4 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis and followed a 1.1 percent May increase. "


Here's how our "magic decoder ring" works on this one:  Money supply is up  6.8% (M2, latest H.6 money stocks report).  So if an increase of only 3% on a dollar basis is reported, that still smells like no growth.  But it makes a nice fairytale or doobie-time story.


Nothing changes in our "saved by wars and automakers" paradigm.  Market still looks to drop at the open.  Yada, yada, yada...


Weiners and Losers

It's getting hard to tell 'em apart in the NY Mayor's race.


I trust you remember who told you Monday was National Hog Dog (weiner) day?


Today is another particularly auspicious day:

  • This is National Culinarian's Day

  • National Threading the Needle Day  (sew what?)

  • National Merry Go Round Day

  • National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

I'm be the guy looking perplexed at how to have a Sundae on Thursday. 


Round Up

I don't know if you have seen the story about how almost a thousand people have been arrested now as part of the Moral Monday in North Carolina but it's certainly an interesting story to follow.


Whether you agree with the position or politics of the demonstrators is not the point so much as is the basic freedom to complain about perceived injustice.  As Wikipedia sums up: "The United States Constitution explicitly provides for 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances'" in the First Amendment."


Since when?  My concern is that governments at many levels are in the process of trashing Constitutional rights (like peaceful assembly, even if not "convenient") at an ever-increasing rate.


Fourth Amendment Dead, Too

And then, while paradoxically most of America had been lulled into sleeping like (royal) babies by the over-hyped new king in the wings story, we are sad to report the House voted to keep in place the NSA spying on Americans plans which means the $2-billion federal data center will be collecting all kinds of stuff on you, like it or not.


The list of the 217 promoters of excessive surveillance can be found over here at TechDirt.  these are the folks who gotta get voted out.


I'm embarrassed to report that local Texas congressman Jeb Hensarling was one of those voting to promote NSA surveillance.  One more reason to move, I suppose. 


Seems to me what America desperately needs is a Promise Versus Performance law which would immediately remove people from office who don't vote as they promised when elected to office. 


Too many of these slipperies get elected to office only to find out they are moral turncoats once they get back to Washington.  There should be a mechanism to keep our representatives on the straight and narrow despite temptations of cash or (leverage from spy agencies and interstate corporate election buying).


So great is the loss of Constitutional freedoms, so weak is our defense of what's just simply right, that I'd suggest other journalists join me in refusing to call this "America" anymore.    It's not. 


I like the substitute term 'Merica because is is still almost America...but just not quite.  Terms like 'Mericans is a lot more accurate since we've become an abbreviated democracy of late.


So here's to the United States of 'Merica, formerly the land of the free and home of the brave.  No telling where they went.


We Knew This Would Happen

Ever read Michael Chrichton's The Andromeda Strain?  Well, here comes a HazMat report about some kind of nanoscale research goo that has reader Michael wonder "Is this how it all ends?"


Wouldn't that be a fine joke to play on humanity?  A billion years of crawling up from the muck only to be all killed off in a lab accident.  Oh well, sh*t happens, I 'spose.


Tales of Hoarding & More

New York's Daily News had a pretty good article about Kimberly Rae Miller's new book and her background growing up in abysmal conditions.  Her book Coming Clean: A Memoir is available from Amazon...and some gritty reading about life on the wrong side of the tracks.


Yeah, we read more than economics books, but this really is about how the rubber meets the road when it comes to lifestyle disparities in 'Merica.


Coping:  Shrink Seeking

I'm not sure where the stars are, but this morning I got up with two marvelous ideas...both of which are ground-breaking and both of which deserve serious discussion.


The first of these is one that I'm already researching a reporting for Peoplenomics.com readers for next week based on a really interesting outcome of government surveillance...but complete details on that one after I do some more research and work out the loose ends to it.


But the other great idea which popped into my head this morning was a result of listening to George Noory's interview on CoastToCoastAM Georgina Cannon who was talking about "inter-life journeys."


In order to grok this, you'll need to understand that what we are talking about here is the whole theory of reincarnation.  You know the stuff:  Born, go through a life, die, and later on in another lifetime, you can experience some of the conditions of the past life as medical symptoms, or whatever.


This is usually where the discussion dead-ends.  Now, while I didn't listen to the whole show last night (I do need to get some rest) I nevertheless was struck by people's lack of imagination!


I'm thinking that there must be some skill or talents developed in another lifetime that could sure be useful in this life.


If you read enough about past lives, not just Cannon's work but lots of others have written in the field, you get the idea that the average time-interval between dying in a previous life and waking up/being born into the present one is four to eight years.


Now, since I was born in 1949, the odds seem pretty good to me that I checked out of a previous life sometime in World War Two.  When I think about it (and my fascination with flying airplanes, not to mention my inclination to eat Asian foods, born in an Asia neighborhood with the only Scottish last name that looks Asian and such) it's easy for me to imagine that I was a Japanese or Chinese airplane pilot during the period from 1938 to 1945.


So this is what has me looking for a good shrink/past life regression expert to work with:  I don't give a darn about how my subconscious has twisted thinking-up memories which may - or may not - be real.


No sir!  What I am after would be actually retrieving some of the SKILLS that would have been acquired over the course of  multiple previous lifetimes.  I'd call it something modest like a "Ure Hack" of personality.


The way I figure it is this:  Sure, there are occasional child savants who come along who may just "know" (from their previous lifetimes) how to play marvelous piano or other musical instruments. Often comes with some form of autism...like an improperly done hard drive reformat, know what I mean?


What I'm after would be a series of past life regressions which would attempt to work around whatever those barriers are to actually recapturing lost language and music skills for sure...not to mention trade skills which you may have learned in previous lifetimes!


Wouldn't it be marvelously more efficient to spend a dozen sessions in deep regression work and be able - in that time - to recall at least one (and maybe many) past life languages?  How about all those past-life skills like some of the tradecraft you might have learned?


I imagine myself walking into such a series just a normal 64-year old  MBA with modest home shop. electronics, and flying skills, OK, some sailing skills, too...and walking out of a regressionbeing able to speak two past languages fluently; like passable Japanese, Chinese, French or whatever.


Then there would be the trades that could be brought back.  Maybe I was a free-diver who went for pearls or fish, or maybe I was a violin player in Poland or maybe I was a machinist...cook....or you name it.


That's the part of past life regressions that interests the hell out of me.  Yeah, it's a tidy little conversation starter in the woo-woo crowd to be able to make claims.  But, to come back as an expert machinist or welder, piano player or kicking it in two or three languages, well THAT gets to be pretty impressive.


So if you know anyone who's in the regression business, let me know since this is an area that demands more study and it's been percolating for a number of years and last night's Noory show just sort of brought it back up to front-of-mind with a reminder to mention it to you.


I'll let you know what I find out...but in terms of confirmation of the past lives claim, I'd say recapturing concert piano skills, or some other intricate task (like watchmaking or instrument repair) would be a marvelous proof.


On the other hand, if we can't recall specifics of a trade, and if we can't bring those back to the present, then the odds increase that what passes for past life may be something like DMT - Dimethyltryptamine (the spirit molecule) being activated around the time people are born and yet again around the time they check out.


If a good regressionist could demonstrate bringing back skills, then I might know an anesthesiologist (who was frustrated by the limited toolkit available to neurologists) who might be able to offer some keen insights into how to develop this into a really meaningful technology.


Let me see here:  Recall several lifetimes of past life skill sets including math, language and trades OR fork out 4-8 years of this life and get loaded up on student loan debt...yep, sure seems like a disruptive technology to me!


Prepping Notes: Sun Ovens

Reader Greg is asking:


"Hello George;     I’m a multi-year peoplenomics subscriber, daily reader of Urban Survival. I remember you recommending a solar oven sometime back. I can’t find it on your site. Was it the All American Sun Oven or ?..."


Glad you asked:  Ours is an All American Sun Oven (which run nearly $300 now) but it has survived my using it.  You can find others but ultimately it all depends on how hot you want the sun oven to get.  More reflector area and smaller internal space means you get higher temps.  300-400 is fine for baking, one pot casseroles and such.  No melting aluminum in these.


Now, you can build a solar oven out of some leftover window glass, some wood, insulation, and shiny reflector matgerial.  There are even plans around thenet showing how to build an oven out of glass and a cardboard box.  But if you ever need it as a real cooking source the commercial made units seem like  a better bet.  That and living in the Sahara instead of Seattle, too.


One thing I'm still looking for is an automatic tracker, so I don't have to go move the oven every 20-minutes, or so.  Go read more on oven trackers here.  Send me your second proto.  I'll see if I can break it.


No, I wasn't Kidding

I've been a believer in the Maxa Cookie Manager product for years now and the reason is simple:  Cookies, which can track your computer use, can seriously slow down computer performance.


Not that you'd take my word for it, but a reader sent me this after trying the product out this week:


"Hey George, Just wanted to say thanks for recommending the Maxa cookie manager.  It was a breeze to install and I cannot believe how much faster my computer is!!  I start my day every morning with your column...blog...whatever it is called.  Love the way you think!  Been reading you for 3 years now.  Try and stay cool down there in Texas.  Thanks for what you do!!   Kelly "


If you'd like to sample how it works, click here and download it and follow the setup instructions.  I recommend the upgrade to the paid/pro version, but run it and make your own decision...


Christmas in July

I've always held TigerDirect in high regard as a marketing outfit and this morning's "Christmas in July" sale email somehow struck me as reflecting 'Merca's new core values. 


Their four lead items:  A monitor, a 1TB hard drive, an 8-camera security system, and a laptop to use it all...   A marvelous summation of where the country has gone in a single email...


Another data point in the decline of 'Merica is that Christmas is no longer a religious event... It's being legislated away by the folks with political correctness disease.  Which leaves  Corporations to almost to own it outright with just a few residual nuisance claims.


It always seemed to me, though, that a good IP law firm could sue for residuals on Christmas sales claiming trade dress infringement.  Which is why I don't own a law firm, I suppose.


A "Dear John" Letter

Ah, the scammers are rerunning an oldie but goodie here:


"I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and i came down here to Manila,Philippines for a short vacation to visit a resort and got mugged at gun point last night at the park of the hotel where we lodged.All cash,credit cards and cell were stolen off me. I've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all,our flight leaves today and I'm having problems settling the hotel bills, we still have some money in our account but we don't have access to it right from here.   The hotel manager won't let us leave until i settle the hotel bills(£1,950 USD)now am freaked out.Please reply and let me if can you have the money wire to me through Western Union i promise to pay back as soon as we get back home.    Thanks you so much.  Hope to hear from you soon.  




Since this kind of email shows up with some frequency, I decided to write a useful email back.  After all, even the hard-working scammers should receive the courtesy of a reply....


"Dear John,


I was really troubled to hear of your multiple misfortunes, but as a management consultant I'm pleased to be able to offer you several opportunities to resolve your most distressing plight.  All God's children have woes, eh?


First, you may find it useful to actually visit the Philippines since your message header reveals that your email originated with a YahooMail account stateside.  Tisk, tish!.  Really, John, I'm disappointed with your lack of IT experience thinking anyone would overlook such an obvious flaw!


Secondly, only a complete idiot would go to Manila for a vacation.  What the hell were you thinking?  Sandals in the Caribbean...a cruise....there were so many good choices and you didn't make one.  Your bad.


As to the armed gunman, you should have locked your door and not been carrying easily lost items!  Haven't you heard of Traveler's Checks?  Dude!


Last:  Even a jamoke like me knows hotel management can not hold you.  Are you kidding? The average American's weight is 196 pounds.  By contrast, the average Filipino (age 40-59) is only 122 pounds. 


See here John:  With a nearly 2 to 1 weight advtange you should have easily been able to kick his ass.  If not, you are simply a pussy, and that's being polite as I can be.  You oughta look into testosterone augmentation therapy.


That shouldn't be too hard to find, since you seem to be located just outside Austin, Texas. 


But before I make further consultative suggestions, you really oughta take some IP courses.


Sincerely (or nearly so)




Sending long, involved explanations to perps of such scams is fun.  It clogs up their inbox and gives them false hope.  Its like an invitation to become a pen-pal.  You can also use the address of someone you don't like and invite him to come over and pick up the cash there.  A kinder person would use the address of a police precint station.  But I like the dual-use model.


Another approach would be to promise to send XXX dollars right away,  encouraging the perp to borrow from his local loan shark while he awaits the fabulously generaous cash you promise.  Then, when the cash doesn't appear, the local loan shark will administer a stern lesson about fraud on my behalf.


It's hard to con an honest man...but the dishonest?  Well, they're pretty easy.



Wednesday July 24, 2013 

A GroupThink Project: Sectorial Dependencies

[Long report warning:  >7,000 words]

When someone says the word “GroupThink” I’m sure that there are some negative  connotations.  But in this morning’s context the term  “groupthink” is not a bad thing since we’ll to be using it to help (as a  group project for our mutual benefit) to come up with a different way of looking  at financial data.  Specifically what we’re after is to define interlocking dependencies which can then hone our investing returns not just  in the market but also in day-to-day decision-making about life in general.  Before  starting  this new look into mechanistic causality in complex systems though, there’s nothing to starting the  day with some headlines as we wait for the idiotic mainstream press to deliver  word of the first royal diaper being filled.  Oh, wait!  That’s already been done...so back to our battle between complexity theory  and good old-fashioned economic reductionism.


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While I go rest up my fingers from such a long article this morning, Gaye over at www.backdoorsurvival.com has a list of "9 simple ways for preppers to be a good neighbor..." which goes well with coffee. 


Our usual irreverent will be back tomorrow morning with more on royal diapers....or real news!


Tuesday July 23, 2013

How's Your Weenie?

You know column writing has crashed in the summer doldrums when something as obscure as National Hot Dog Day is our lead item.  Yet with markets stuck in "noise trading" (futures are up a dab, gold's back to $1,330 and Bitcoins are around $90-something) other than rejoicing that oil is back down to $106) there's little to write about. 


Still, it might be worth dropping by a 7-11 or Sunoco to see if they are giving out freebies and buying a drink while you're there.  Dollar dogs at Sonic, too.


National Hot Dog Day seems a uniquely American counterpoint to...


International King in the Wings Day - July 23

All of Britain is worked up, or so the mediafest seems, about the arrival of 8-pounds, six ounces of someday king material.


Which gets us back to the problem of writing something clever (heavy on the 'kraut, please?) to say about Wall Street and somehow tie it in to today's momentous occasion. 


I bet you didn't know that Los Angeles consumes more hot dogs than New York, but Chicago's O'Hare plane hoppers eat more dogs than La Guardia and LAX combined.  Here all this time I thought it was the pizza on C concourse.


This is also National Vanilla Ice Cream Day and you might enjoy playing Stump the Docent at Monticello by asking when Thomas Jefferson wrote down his vanilla ice cream recipe (mid-1780's).  Sunday was National Ice Cream Day (all flavors).


Maybe this is what an economic "recovery" looks like. But there's still plenty of room for good ole American inventiveness:  I've often wondered why American Beer Day was in October.  You'd think the Hot Dog and brewski folks would be able to work out a co-marketing deal.


Likewise, the American Pie Council calls January 23rd Pie Day and yet today is the ala mode companion's day.  See what vistas of economic growth we have ahead?


Uh.....has the opening bell rung yet?   I'll be the guy reading the report linking spicy foods with certain personality types...


Adios Egypt, Part 2

In today's thrill-packed action adventure, we find ex-president Morsi has been reportedly "abducted" by the Army.


This whole Middle East situation reads like a series of penny dreadful novels, doesn't it?


Summer ratings sweeps end Wednesday so maybe we can get back to normal....whatever the hell that is anymore.


ODA: Observations, Departments, and Analysis


There Goes (what's left of) Privacy

Oh, just wucking funderful:  The Obama administration is going to let community organizers ("patient navigators") information people about Obamacare by granting them access to the Federal Data Hub...which is the link-up of all your personal information shared by federal agencies.


All of which will combine all of your personal data into one very detailed computer system.  Right to whatacy?


How Statistics Works

A Southwest 737 suffered a nose gear collapse at La Guardia Monday which comes after a period of relative safety for the airlines, punctuated by that Asiana crash landing a while back.  It's a harsh lesson in how statistics works with noisy data sets and all, but the Law of Large Numbers seems immutable...


Meantime, the FAA/NTSB will no doubt look over the plane's maintenance records, including where it was serviced and by whom.  Southwest had announced a couple of years ago that some maintenance would be done in El Salvador...


Falling Skies Dept.

After China denied using drones in the area, India's worried is may have a serious UFO sighting to explain...


Pope to Go

So he's in South America where his driver took a wrong turn...


And in Rio, police clashed with protesters upset with the $53-million dollar cost of the papal trip.  Seems to me there's a market opportunity for something like www.discountpapaltours.com if you are looking for new website ideas.


Droughts in Play

In addition to the drought here in the US, China's Hunan province has one severe enough to leave 380,000 people short of drinking water.


Meanwhile you can see animations of how the US drought is developing over New Mexico, north Texas, Oklahoma, eastern Colorado, and Kansas over here.


Dying Goes More Mainstream

I have to hand it to WTVR-TV - they have done an exceptional job in their report "CBS 6 Investigates: What happens after we die..."


Dying, of course is only dying from the "earthly" perspective.  From a little broader viewpoint, it's being  "born into a new level of existence..." which makes a little study of the subject worthwhile.


Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife is a grand starting point.


Coping: Time to Eye the Exit?

The case of the Missouri man who got a $1,000 find for flashing his headlights at oncoming cars to warn them of a speed trap up ahead is just one of the small evidences that America seems to be on the verge of becoming "Police State Lite" [PSL] without even giving the grave nature of events due consideration.


You may remember a week, or so back, I mentioned an email from long-time reader John who found fault in my report to you on several counts:


"Hi George,


You're slipping a bit. You listed some seriously erroneous info today regarding giving up citizenship. See below.  


"Remember Cyprus?  Offshore banks seem to be worse than our own.  And besides, the US authorities claim 10-years of  authority to collect taxes from expats even if you make it out the exits.  Not to mention there goes Medicare and Social Security income, too."


Please note that the renunciation tax law was given a major overhaul in 2008 due to the HEART Act.  


The 10-year tax regime was replaced with an exit tax on the expatriating citizen, which only applies to people with a high net worth, over 2 million dollars. Thus, you are making a clean break from the system.  


Renunciation does not affect your eligibility for Social Security and Medicare, that is, unless you went to a country that is considered an enemy of the U.S.


Bye, John (very long time reader, subscriber from both sides of the Atlantic over the years....) "


As usual, when I get a correction like this, I make the most of it since it serves to remind me that I'm not (quite yet) invincible and to remind myself that where there's a will, there's a way...


Which brings me to point #2:  My friend Bruce down in Ecuador has set up a dandy bed and breakfast operation which features friendly amenities and low enough price to live so that a person could hang out in Ecuador for a good long time.


HIs place is called Casa Marilla (Yellow House) and it's located in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.  And it got me thinking long and hard enough about the possibilities to send Bruce a note inquiring as to the price:


"Price is $400-450 for 2 bedroom,  $600 for 3 bedroom, completely furnished.    Internet is available for $35 a month. 2 gigabit speed."

That's per month, no less.


So yes, we are thinking about the exit now and then...


Hollywood Accounting

Reader Chris is a little disturbed about the short-term media coverage given to low initial takes on some films...which turn out to make money (lots of it) in the long-run:


"Hey G  


I Read the Disney Story on The Lone Ranger Tanking.   It seems that accurate Journalism is no longer necessary. Or...only money made in the U.S of A. counts, I'm not sure which.  


Here is the author's statements  

Depp's recent non-“Pirates” movies have bombed. Not counting “The Lone Ranger,” 

2012’s “Dark Shadows” cost $150 million but grossed only $80 million, 

2011’s “The Rum Diary” made $13 million on a $45 million budget, and that same year

“The Tourist” tanked, recouping $67 million on a $100 million budget.  


These are the actual worldwide figures, not including DVD and blue ray sales  


Dark Shadow   $238,727,14  

The Rum Diaries $23,947,544

The Tourist   $278,346,189  


Hell, and we wonder why media isn't doing stories on things that count.  It's because they can't even Google for a fact.   Remember the days when the boss expected you to back up your figures.   I wish there was a fine for this kind of CRAP. "


Fair point, there.  It will be instructive to see how the Lone movie does over time.  One thing that is going on are stories wondering whether Johnny Depp's career is in jeopardy.


Movies always were - and will continue to be - a team outcome.  One big name superstar can't save a movie with lose parts elsewhere, yet the pile-on crowd seems intent on ignoring team play...


Around the Ranch:  Summer Power Failure

Along about  4PM, Elaine wandered into the office.  "I see you're not effected...nice and cool in here..." 


"What, is the power off?"  It was the only question that made sense.


Well, one thing led to another and yes, we had a longish power outage which came back on a couple of hours later.  But it's a reminder that solar power is a good thing when the sun's still out and it's 95-degrees outside.


I still think investing in insulation and renewable energy will, over the long term, out perform any currency out there, especially if you connect it to some kind of gardening project.


Life-Long Learning Note

Here's an interesting note passed on about a new project called Flooved over at www.flooved.com.  The idea is online mentoring/teaching and you can click on the "How it works" tab to learn more about it.


Maxa-Cookie Manager

A number of people have inquired as to whether Maxa Cookie Manager works with Windows 8.  The answer, says my friend Manfred at Maxa is yes...and I've been running it fine on my laptop with Win8 since I converted it from Win7/64.


If you'd like to sample how it works, click here and download it and follow the setup instructions.  Most people are amazed at how much crap there is in the way of tracking cookies on their computers and how much faster their machines run in many cases when the tracking cookies are taken out.


They also have some interesting online encryption tools and a nifty Privacy Test you can run to see just how "open to prying eyes" your computer is....


Manfred and I are talking a lot about security issues and privacy lately, so one of these days I will write up details for Peoplenomics.com subscribers...


Monday July 22, 2013


Waiting for News, Adios Egypt

The market was set to open a tad higher this morning as last week's frenzy has had a weekend to wear off or sober up.  The first news out this morning will be existing home sales at 10 AM but nothing exciting until later in the week when Durable Goods come out and that ain't exactly a heart-stopper.


The reality is that genuine news takes a little time to work its way through the system:  We told Peoplenomics readers this weekend that monthly West Coast Port data for June showed a 3% slowing of imports, which is not the kind of thing to see if there's a major recovery underway.


Moreover the price of oil is apparently not coming down. It was over $108 this morning and that means prices are starting to move upward slightly but the full impact won't be felt until the 60-months of propagation/knock-on effects have time to develop systemically.


Behind the scenes?  Oil goes up, and this enables the Saudis to put $2-billion into Egypt to help keep that country from imploding.


What's going on?  You might want to read the George Packer piece in The New Yorker magazine this morning before I tell you.


But the short answer is?  The Saudis have just out-bid us while we're arguing internally.


If you consider international relations just like you'd assess a leveraged buy-out, many of the same dynamics are in play.  Power of the First offer, for example.


When the US talked but then dawdled, the Saudis were patient but in the end, faced with indecision from the Obama crowd, they stepped up, placed a $2-billion dollar down payment and now have incredible street creds for helping keep Egypt from imploding.


Like I said:  Outbid.  Signs of crumbling empire, my fellow Roman.


Meantime, gold senses this price action and has firmed back over $1,300 and the strong showing by prime minister Shinzo Abe's part in Japanese elections this weekend mean a continuation of Abe-nomics.


Even this little glimmer quickly faded in Europe this morning when things are mixed and so in the interlocking world of linked markets a flat to down day by the end may be expected.


The Big Picture problem, the decline of 10-year bond yields since July of 1981 is still the same.  And there's still plenty of time to  buy inflation hedges for when the long term trend reverses, but patience of a year to three may be required.


For now, the velocity of money has remained in collapse so all that new paper being printing up is not yet out chasing goods and services.  When it does sneak out, we look for the kind of inflation such as has never been seen before.


It's just a matter of preserving your lone coin or two and waiting...hardly exciting, but it is what it is.


Quakes Are Back

After leaving our monthly earthquake reports looking lame of late, earthquake have come roaring back this weekend with lots of activity including:

Given that the Sun's output is undershooting estimates for where it should be for the point in Solar Cycle 25, could the earth's crust not staying warm/expanded have anything to do with these?  I'm sure the journals will get to this...just given them a year or two.


Graphic Evidence

A reader (Anthony) spotted a fine article which I neglected to mention last week called "The Punctuated collapse of the Roman Empire" over here.


"I thought I would send this along, just for the hell of it.  Cassandra's legacy is the name of the blog.  Don't understand why the study of collapses is not a discipline by this time - with its own math, catastrophe theory? Fame awaits - Ure's Precipice?"


Well, that sure seems an attractive thing, although I'm more interested in a living wage and a few minutes to enjoy it.  Still, I made a note for Peoplenomics readers Wednesday to look at how a shorter-term matchup of the 2007 peak with the 1929 peak would fit, especially given that we have just had new all-time highs in the market.


Except, well, of course they weren't all-time highs on an inflation-adjusted basis (with a string of footnotes half a mile long...) since "the Dow" would have bought you a lot more food in 2000 than it would have a couple of weeks back.  Ditto booze, too (the Pickled Price Parity Postulate).


There are a lot of headlines that support the notion of a latter-day Roman fall either in progress, or being down step-wise:

Concurrently, there's a kind of global revolution in violence going on, driven in part by more fanatical leadership (more rabid means more money raised) and due in part to social media which makes organizing gangs and such simple as #.  Some examples?  You bet!

All of which, taken as individual brush strokes paints a picture of a highly stressed Western world which hasn't quite come to terms with social media and flash-mobs. Nor, has the West come to terms with how these tools allow gangs and fanatics to whip up people to go out and act badly faster and faster.


Societies are based on orderly processes.  If the public can act faster than processes can react, then we end up with a world that looks a lot like the one that greets you this morning when you step out into the world...


Can You Really Trust Government?

This is only a hypothetical question, of course.  Unless you had happened to have been an aboriginal child in Canada during the 1940's in which case you may have been subjected to nutrition "experiments" by the Canadian government.


Fools on the Hill:  Better Late Than...

A bill which would require warrants for email searches is in the works in Washington.  But, before you go celebrating, remember these things are usually reworked with trap doors to allow what's gong on now to continues.  Remain skeptical, however, until something real happens besides hype and press releases.


Republicorp Implosion

You know, for a party which you'd think would be working on unity ahead of elections in 2014, the announcement by veep Dick's daughter Liz Cheney that she's taking on an old-line republican is really dividing the party nicely.  Why, I doubt the demos could have engineered anything so graceful.


Take for example The Atlantic piece "Angling for Senate:  Keep America Safe from Liz Cheney."


Kneeler Notes

We've been beset with social notes from the royals here piling up over the weekend.

  • Prince William's a dad...or will be shortly.  (I probably didn't make the cigar list)  Just one more royal mouth for the kneelers of the unemployed kingdom to feed...

  • Prince Philippe was sworn in as king of Belgium this weekend.  His dad, age 79, retired rather than die in office which is the more normal route of succession.  May give him time to hit some bingo games, ya think?

  •  King David's palace has been found, or at least some claims are being made that way, west of Jerusalem at Khirbet Qeiyafa.  But whether it's the real kneel deal is debated.

Just to show you how nutty the kneelers are:  A piece of queen Liz's wedding cake which is...uh...66-years old...will be going on sales for 1,200 pounds.  But won't that spark discussion that it was maybe a Twinkie in the first place?  Bet they could have gotten more by eBaying it....juss sayin'


UK's Self-Incrimination Plans

Oh, kneel some more:  UK officials plan on having people declare they want to view porn when they click a naughty Url.


Did the Soviets unleash some kind of brain-eating disease that attacks people in power when the wall came down?


UK:  Double Meds Monday?

If you haven't see it yet, seems like the UK has known about illegal private use of personal data for a long time but hasn't seen fit to do anything about it per this article over here.


There's still time to escape to the colonies (if you're a news anchor...)



Helen Thomas, outspoken reporter on the White House circuit for years.


And if you have the ghoul on this morning, there's also the Boston Magazine report which portrays what it called "The Real Face of Terror" in response to the picture of the Marathon bomber suspect in Rolling Stone last week...


Just the stuff to go with the Cheerios, huh?


Coping:  Marvel's Franchise/DLT?

Lots of buzz coming out of San Diego where Comic-Con has been going on and with it, word of a new super-hero (Avengers: Age of Ultron) flick to start shooting in February. 


I have a terrible confession to make:  I love those comic book movies:  Super Man, Green Hornet, Spiderman...Yessir, that's one thing America is really, really good at:  Escapist pap.


All of which got me to thinking back on my youth because I figure things are pretty much the same for young people today as they were back in the day.


When I was a kid (1950's) comic books were going for a dime...this was in '55 to '57, or so.  By the time I finished high school ('67) the price of a comic was up to a quarter.


Just for the hell of it, I decided to see what a 1967 comic book should be going for in 2013 dollars.  Turns out the answer adjusted for inflation is $1.75.


To be sure, the cost of printing has been backed out, and the price of video distribution clicked back in, but Yessir, this explains how my kids were watching comic book-like flicks for a buck each when the video store down the street was having "Dollar Tuesdays" in the 1980's.


Marvel was acquired in 2009 by Disney for $4.24 billion, but seems to me that when you step back and look at the category broadly that assuming we don't blow ourselves up in the meantime, Disney's approach (buying a franchise like Marvel) will continue to play well at the cash register.


So, while there are reports that  Disney's "The Lone Ranger" will lose $200-$300 million, seems to me that over time, the mouse is still alive and one of the few things I could put in a portfolio without dirty hands.


Besides, new upcoming stars like Zac Efron are generating plenty of ink.


Now, if they would just get on with building a theme part on all that land they have acquired here in Texas...


There's been a lot of speculation around the web over the past few years that a 10,000 acre Disney property in Texas would make sense...and a poll over at WDWMagic suggests that the leading site would be near Austin.  There's good transportation there, nice airport, land is not as pricey as up in Dallas, and the weather less "iffy" than down on the Gulf around Houston.


I'm going out on a limb here, but Disney announcing a new park would make sense over the next year, or so for a number of strategic reasons:

  • The interest rates for big projects may never get much lower than it is now. 

  • The price of land has been stagnant in many parts of Texas (down at 2003 prices nationally) so that's one major cost to consider.

  • Politically, it would be a slam dunk since fair-haired Rick is already running for the White House, you can bet his administration would been over backwards to help Disney - plus it would be a capper for him politically in his "What I have done for Texas" PowerPoint's.

  • The Texas economy is already leading much of the rest of the country so investment risk would be lower.

  • And...in terms of local/regional visitors, the combined population of Dallas and Houston, both within driving distance from Austin, is somewhere over 6.5 million in the Dallas Metroplex and another 6.2 million in Houston....there's almost 13-million.

  • Now toss in Austin/Round Rock (1.8 million) and San Antonio (2.2 mil) and you come up with...

  • 16.2 million potential visitors, which means the population density is almost as good as for the original Disney Land.

Mind you, I'm not saying they will make any announcement, but intuitively it seems to me that if anyone really wanted to prove the recession was over and that good times were just ahead, an announcement by Disney of a new US park anywhere would be about as good an indicator as you could find.


Sometimes, a short-term hiccup in planned cash flows can be overcome with a bold new vision.  I don't think anyone would question that and I think it Walt were still alive, he'd be putting down bets about here.


Thanks to the liberalized use of "eminent domain" putting the land together shouldn't be that difficult....but whether Disney is run by visionaries or accountants is what's on the table.  If interest rates begin to climb (and go up more than half a percent, or so without Disney announcing a vision) I guess we'll have a hint which faction won.


Less than amusement:  7 people were injured this weekend at the Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio when the log flume ride malfunctioned.


And a woman was killed after falling out of the roller-coaster at Six Flags Texas Friday night.


Power of the Purse?

Don't have second-source on this, but here's some interesting blowback reported by Reader Rick from up in the Dallas area:


"Waiters are getting Trayvoned. At restaurants some black people come in, eat, leave no tip with note "No justice, no tip." Happened to my son THURSDAY night at a 5 star restaurant in Dallas. "


Of course there are also lots of white people who also don't tip based on race but it strikes me as one of those "anyone who stiffs the help is wrong" kinda things.  Bad manners on either side.


Coming for Your DNA

Reader Michael, who worries about such things, says buried in the latest Obama HIV initiative is a plan to get DNA samples of everyone in the country.  Or, at least those under 65.


Which is interesting, since people over 65 might actual remember the Constitution and the promise years ago that your "Social Security Number wouldn't never be used as a form of National Identification."  Yeah, uh-huh, you bet.


Lab Notes

One other lab leftover:  Did you see the UK Mail's report on the biggest virus ever found on earth has been spotted?  And yes....it may have come from (you're gonna love this...) Mars!


OK, that might explain men...we'll be looking for the Venusian equivalent next...


Sure seems like it would fit with the Velikovsky spin-off notion of Venus arriving, ripping up Mars and planting Earth, though...



Chart of the Week!

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:


replaing 1929


"George, that's only a coincidence!" your monkey-mind will protest. Just so in your world perhaps, but not in mine..


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


Breaking News

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