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CPI, CP Owed
"Yee-haw, git a long little wage slave!" The old joke set up goes "I have good news for you, and I have bad news for you... which do you want first?" Times up:
Unadjusted, prices are up 2.9%, but food is up 4.4%, gasoline is up 9.7%, other energy costs are up 10.0% and clothing is upo 4.7%. So, you're wondering, what got cheaper? Darned if I can tell, housing and rents maybe? Speaking of "thank you housing collapse," here's real treat...
Housing Settlement Follow-Up: The Daily BOHICA
Think it was a good thing that the banksters worked out a settlement with the states on the housing settlement? Well, not so fast. Turns out that according to the UK's Financial Times, a good chunk of the supposed settlement will come from what amounts to taxpayers underwriting the settlement costs. Friday's BOHICA.
The idea of counting loan modification toward the settlement amount is bullshit, pure and simple. Federal officials, says the FT report defended the idea.
It does give me a fine idea for a lecture to a forensic economics class; a new kind of accounting called "Double Weasel Accounting: The practice of counting the same money six or more ways without actually freeing up case to injured or aggrieved parties." Now playing in a country near you....as long as it lasts, that is...
We Are Not Alone
One of the central beliefs about here is that the US economy may have hit its all-time peak in 2000 when the Dow was around 11,720, but corrected for inflation that would be well north of 15,000 on the Dow these days.
It's a cynical view, to be sure, but not everyone in Washington has swallowed the happy-talk statistical Kool-Aid. We have to hold the Congressional Budget Office director in high regard for saying:
And, what's more, that 8% number is a little shady at best, since people who run out of UI benefits aren't counted - and magically just disappear from the counting. Fine sleight of hand, this being an election year and all, but could both the corporate-suck-up parties get real for a change? Americans are not stupid, and the systematic failure to get real with reports is offensive at least, and worst is cause for rebellion against what's increasing being seen as an unjust government.
On De Banks of Denial
We notice that European stocks are up this morning on upbeat comments that a likely default by Greece on its debt won't happen in March. Whistling in the cemetery, I figure. We get into the late hours of options expiration today, I wouldn't be expecting any last minute skyward moves....
March to War
Is it a sign of reasonableness that Israel's defense minister has backed off his contention that Iran has reached a nuclear point of no return? No, actually. Just gives Iran a reason to drop its Guards a bit and that may be the kind of headline that could translate into an easier first strike. We'll just have to wait and see - N100 masks at the ready.
March to the Police State
So it sounded like a good idea to crack down on illegal aliens and all, but is there a chance this new federal program is just the tip of something more in the works - like biometrics for everyone?
Notice a lack of terrorist activity? Oh, sure the underwear bomber was sentenced to life in prison. That was way back on Christmas day 2009.
Sometimes watching the complicity of the MSM in all this is amazing: Remember, that flight didn't originate in the USA - was coming from Amsterdam, remember?
We note that TSA's budget is $8.1 billion per year, not counting the lost productivity of people showing up at least a half hour earlier than every to make it through security lines at airports...
A US immigration agent was shot and killed this morning in a workplace violence outbreak in Los Angeles. No word on what the underlying argument was about.
...is out and about and right about on schedule. It's being called the "silent famine" but not for long... How many Horsemen did you say? Four?
More after this:
Coping: Wireless ADS-B and Flying Notes
OK, we start this morning with a shameless plug for the folks up at Adventure Pilot/ iFlyGPS up near McKinney, Texas. They have started shipping the upgraded version of their iFlyGPS called the iFly 720.
The thing which makes this the third most-used instrument in our old Beechcraft (after airspeed and altitude) is that it gives a pilot almost everything you could possibly want for safe VFR flying. Don't get me wrong, the iFly 700 we had was (and still is) a great GPS. What makes them both so cool is that you can download a very modestly priced update to all the charts you might need for flying at a reasonable price.
But the 720 is a whole next generation of features. For one, it has a built-in wireless capability which means if you fly into an airport where there's an open access point (really common at airports) you can simply update weather from the plane. It's a lot easier than using the USB drive to update, and that was an advance over earlier approaches.
But where I'm looking forward to really getting use out of the box is that the wireless means that the ADS-B receiver and the iFly 720 can now talk and that means over much of the territory we fly over (and pretty much all the US by the next of next year) the weather updates will be free and continuous in the air.
The older systems had relied on a subscription for live NEXRAD weather delivered by satellite. True, these gave very good (and highly reliable) results. But there was a cost: About $40 per month. So, I decided last year, when the original iFly came out and the migration path to ADS-B became clear, to go that route instead of the bigger name boxes which came with the subscription.
Anyway, I'm a huge fan of the iFly and even though the 700 series doesn't have the more sunlight-readable screen, it's fine if you buy the sunscreen or fly a high-winger when the pilot (and optional yoke-mount) is in the share most of the time...oh, and you don't mind remembering a thumb drive goes in the flight bag to update weather and TFRs...
Once the new 720's rev 7.0 software comes out, I also hear that a certain aircraft gizmo outfit has a panel mount which will work, too, so I'll bet you can't guess what's next on our shopping list...take out the old Lowrance AirMap 2000 GPS and go to a second 720... Now if they just had an IFR certified unit...
Getting There Safely
Speaking of flying: I just counted up last year's accident reports on the AOPA site: 24 if I'm awake. Considering there were 618,660 pilots in the country, I'd say that's better than driving. Toss our 142,650 Air Transport ratings and you still have 475,810 commercial and private pilots. And if each flies 100 hours per year at an average of 160 miles per hour (not particularly fast) - that's about 7.6-billion miles. Want to continue matching flight safety with driving?
Last time I checked, auto fatalities were running about 1.36 per 100-million miles. Just like I don't drive if possible from 9 midnight to 4 AM because that's when drunk driving seems more probable, so too avoiding flying at night, bad weather, yada, yada makes flying safe.
March Reminder #2
If you have an alert IT department, you might remind them there are only a few weekends left until the FBI turns off internet access to computers that have been infected with the DNS_Changer virus.
If you're IT department is worth its salt, it might have already scheduled complete virus updates and scans, but sending them the link above with a simple email "We ready?" might not hurt. Much as it would be nice to believe all IT folks are geniuses, there is some evidence to the contrary...
Something drifting up into consciousness is the idea of a super volcano causing a doomsday scenario this year. Hope not, but lava in the front yard would cut down on mowing...
Simpsons Nail It?
Part of a reader email this morning:
Cool....since the Simpsons is close enough to "the symptoms" for me, I may have to put that on the list of the very small number of TV shows I enjoy.
A Few Thoughts on Habit Substitution
I like to think the world is not going to blink out in March - though in fact, I'm hedging my bets both ways. On the negative side, there are some low-cost things regular people can do in the coming week, or several, which will - not matter what the outcome - improve your life later in the year. Those will be outlines in tomorrow's Peoplenomics report.
On the other hand, life isn't just "doom & gloom" (although I get called that a lot) and we all need something other than just another day on the treadmill at work to get us really focused on peak performance.
Really, peak performance has become something of a research project around here, but already something peeks out of the numbers: People become what they spend the most time with. The other sad fact? Most people don't post any guards whatsoever at the precious gates to consciousness.
I wish there was a study I could point to, but danged if I could find it, which would study the amount of time people watch spending violent television (rape, murder, torture, robbery...you know, the rotten stuff) and the frequency with which sun things actually materialize into their everyday life. For if it's true - even slightly - that we are what we think - then there should be something in the data that supports the notion.
Going a step further, in a person puts bad behaviors into their head even if in the entertainment mode, doesn't that change the range of that person's expected behaviors under stress in the future?
Seem to me that there is a huge hole in the literature...which doesn't address some of these kinds of issues. If you know of any legit studies, I'd sure be interested in reading them, particularly any studies in psychology which address the "managed your inputs for better outputs" proposition.
Habit substitution, I'm finding, is a dandy consciousness-changer. Whenever I think about a bad habit ("Why don't I knock off early and go have a couple of drinks and relax, maybe read a book or listen to some music?") I've taken to asking myself, instead, "Is there something more productive I could do?" Invariably there is.
Yesterday, for example, faced with a late afternoon pause around 4 PM, I had one of those "What about that book or some tunes? Or, how about an early movie?" kinds of moments. Yeah,. easy enough to justify, after all that was 12-solid hours into the work day with only 1˝ -hours of down time, waiting at the local airport for something better than instrument conditions so I could shoot a few landings. Skies never cleared, until 3-hours after I gave up on 'em doing so.
What "tipped" the scales in favor of mounting
up the Kubota and mowing about 3-acres of goat weed so we'd get decent grass
this year, was the realization that spring is coming and soon the
field would be much harder to mow, which means harder on the
equipment as well since the China Berry trees come up about as fast as
bamboo and already some of the goat weed was greening up.
We only have so much time in life, and if I make it to my goal (realistically achievable) of 90, that means as of my birthday this month I've got only 9,855 days to go. I can work on improving the property, since the cost of diesel is more than offset by having a field suitable for animal grazing, OR I could read more...something I do plenty of already.
This may seem like a small choice, but people can make this kind of choice - if they see the choices and take them - on a daily basis. Another choice made recently involved the urge to take a mid-day nap. I was tired, but staring me in the eye was the installation of the French doors into the shop.
"You know, George, you have to listen to your body sometimes and just take the nap..." suggested one half of my brain.
"You know that's bullshit and the only reason you're tired is that laziness is just tired in advance without earning it fair and square!" screamed the other side of the brain.
I could feel this was a difficult bit of head-talk to justly decide, so I got out the tie-breaker question: "Which course of action, whether short-term or long, will increase my net worth, self respect, or future convenience?"
Aha! The nap lost, French doors went up, and honestly it improved the look of the shop a good bit. This in turn probably added a dollar or two to the value of the shop/office building, and in turn because it keeps out blowing leaves better, it reduced my future workload cleaning the shop. Good call...and the nap idea had just sort of vanished when the job was done. Fear factor? I don't know.
Some people redirect their high levels of motivation by by having a passion for some non-work activity: Golf, swimming, others by gardening, and me by living in the middle of nowhere surrounded by an impossible and undeniable number of projects that I can't ever possibly have time to accomplish.
Not like I'm alone: Clif's working on his boat...my consigliore has reconnected with skiing and in my circle of friends there's not a texter or couch potato in the group. Just people who recognize the available choices every few minutes to either excel at Life, or disengage and drop into "average."
Worse than any disease, impairment, or aging process I can imagine is that ugly little word average. Next time you feel yourself coming down with a bout of it, take a double dose of habit substitution and feel free to borrow my "tie-break" question.
This is a particularly auspicious day to give it a try, too, since it's the weekend. I can't tell you how many people I've seen over the years who come home for the weekend and then go into the modern equivalent to suspended animation until Monday rolls around again. Working for "the man" 40+ hours (and don't forget commute time unless you turn that into motivation or learning time with audio books" is bad. But to throw out the two full days more people get? I wish there was a way I could collect those and use them.
If you apply some of this, please let me know how it works out.
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Playing the Game of "Top-Calling"
Over the past couple of weeks here, I've been explaining in step-by-step fashion how I use a simple price-channel system for making long-term market decisions. Although it comes with no guarantees, a look at its latest is worthwhile, especially for people who are in retirement systems which offer limited fund-switching. But, before we get into that let's have a romp through the news seeing first how our build-up to tensions in the Middle East is going but then considering the possibility that instead of war per se, we may simply be facing the Mother-of-All Crashes next month.
Safer Computing: Swearing Off Cookies
It has been a while since I roared the praises of the Maxa Cookie Manager which you can download and install for a free test drive by clicking here.
To upgrade from the demo to full working is still less than $50 and one heck of a bargain at that, if I do say so.
I am a high-reliability computing kind of guy - and near as I have it figured, the road to a hassle-free computing experience is (like flying an airplane) a matter of going through a proper checklist before popping onto the web:
Like anything in computers, updates are critical so before work every morning, the computer does its update ritual - Check of Maxa (5.3.02 is current) Avira, and Malware bytes.
Toss in a good bit of common sense (example: Don't open email purporting to be from UPS, IRS, the US Post Office, or anything else that even has a hint of fishy odor to it) and first thing you know, the internet's actually a useful tool.
"Live on $10,000" A Year
Having a hard time making ends meet? (Like who isn't, right?) A good starting point to better match up income with outgo is our $10 e-book "How to Live on $10,000 a Year...or less!"
It's an automatic download. It's written in an information dense style: The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the cheap, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you have a little hustle left. A bonus section called "How to Build Anything" should instill confidence if you've never taken on a home improvement/home creation project before, too..... Click here for the index and details.
Please pass along word of this site to your friends by simply clicking here to send 'em a short email. - Thanks!
Thursday February 16, 2012
Global Markets, Moody's Blues
The past 24-hours have not been good for the bullish case. To be sure, Greece hasn't fallen apart, yet the fact of the paperwork not being up to snuff has resulted in Greece being blamed for everything from my eczema flaring up to stocks closing lower in Australia. And why not? Greece is running around like a chicken with its cash cut off trying to dress up it's trashed economy which, when you think about it, is like sending a pig to Victoria's Secret and expecting something else to come out.
Unfortunately, a pigs is still PIIGS and one way to read the assessment of the bond rating outfit Moody's Investor Services, is to wonder is their batch of 17 banks and 114 European financial institutions going to somehow play in to the linguistics coming due in about two weeks time?
Moody's press page today understates things this way:
...and then goes on to list 10 press releases - just for this morning and the day's not out yet - which drop expectations for Italian bond, Portugal's (telecom), a Portugal sovereign downgrade, an Irish Bank's paper,43 Spanish multiple cedulas and a number of Spanish bonds. (Cedulas would be something like a government operating permission.)
So, if you see weakness in U.S. Markets when the bells go off this morning, there are probably two reasons for it: Options expiration day, so a pullback to somewhere closer to last month's closing means less payoffs going to the bulls, and all this latest batch of news on credit ratings in Europe.
The word showing up in some quarter this morning is "contagion" and how that could work out. I won't bore you to tears with the progressive collapse of how the global(ista) economy falls apart, since it oughta be here soon enough on its own.
I have a hard time reading stores that begin "After weeks of suspense, French President Nicolas Sarkozy officially declared his big for re-election..." It's the use of the word "suspense" that bothers me. Because as we all know... (transition to next item...)
Power-Hungry Never Quits
Word that the head of the World Bank is about to step down means there will be a job opening their soon. Never-you-mind that it's supposed to be a world bank, and keeps getting filled with left-over US political types.
But, speaking of which, outgoing SecState Hillary Clinton is reported going for the job. Which means what to the careful observer?
Oh, how about "Must mean the job is really political and not really financial at all...which brings up some questions about why it's called a bank instead of a globalista SuperPAC doesn't it?"
Just so. We hark back to last summer's budget battles and note that the Obama administration not only was pushing for World Bank (and other development bank) funding to the tune of $3.7 billion plus access to about $60-billion in new capital.
Don't mind me grabbing the calculator for a sec, do you? Hmmm....rounding off, that just over $200 for every man, woman and child in America, or somewhere north of $400 for every working person.
A rational budget process supporter might wonder why the rush to spend money overseas. This is where things get interesting. The US has been passing out money overseas in order to control wars, and so forth, right? Latest example is the story that the "Muslim Brotherhood warns US that aid cut may affect treaty with Israel..." But at about the same time, the details became visible in the headline "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood backs Military in US Dispute."
The US - like a cash-drunk tourist - goes into places like Egypt ready to play checkbook diplomacy and everyone seems shocked when the checks start to clear.
Since the US is spending large amounts of money in placed like Afghanistan and has pissed away mountains of cash in places like Iraq, one might even wonder "To what end?" Are you a terrorist or something?
The answer is in the question! Pissing away taxpayer money IS the point! That's because our economy is so overbuilt that without artificial demand from wars, famines and other artificial shortages, (earthquakes?) prices would fall to more reasonable levels and humanity would figure out that we don't need new software every month or three, and that there is another way to live besides manic.
That means, of course, clear-headed long-term thinkers, not career politicians who are only interested in their rather self-interested vision of the world. Which is why we're very unlikely to see anyone other than a career politician heading up the (US) World Bank. And who's better than what's her name to play the role of career politician?
I've been thinking here lately that what we ought to do is get rid of the existing corptocracy that runs America (sharing the trough) and redefine politics into a new rational framework. How about "The Hard-Ass Accounting Party" (HAAP) versus the "Free-Spenders" party? Care to bet which one would cut foreign grifting and solve foreclosures and such? End jobjacking to cheap labor countries?
Near as I can tell, less than a dozen out of 535 would have a prayer in the HAAP. But not worries, never going to happen because it would make sense. Much more profitable to have people like you know who pulling the strings.
Maybe if I can keep my monkey-mind overloaded on data....say, here's some now...
Tame, at least generally, though core PPI was up at a 5% annual rate...
Gee, isn't that exciting news? Want another? Dow futures are about even.
News for Few
Near as I can figure, 25% of America's workforce is in China, India, Korea, and Japan.
Madness on Bordering Dept.
Word that Customs has stopped 13,000 hair dryers which could have hazards, from coming in from Mexico illegally really makes me sleep better at night.
Slamming Alternative Health?
What is with this bill pending in the South Dakota Legislature? "An Act to establish a board 1 to regulate certain emerging complementary health professionals with no current state regulatory board.?
Seems to me that a more progressive approach would be a law which would require annual review of existing accepted medical practice, like passing out ADHD drugs, pimping statins for cholesterol which may be dead frigging wrong, but whatever... Must be time to go fund-raising from the establishment docs with elections coming up.
Coping: Oregon Oddities
A couple of readers have told me to go look at the magnetometers of HAARP because they have been jittering down into the -500 nT area over the past couple of days, and as one reader opined: "Someone is going to get crapped on I can feel it."
All of which would just be more grist for the mill, except for two things: One is that there was a 6.0 off the Oregon coast this week. 7:30 PM local time and 159 miles off of Coos Bay, Oregon.
Nothing strange about that but did you happen to catch the Huliq articles. Seems a week or so back they ran an article about how UFOs had been see in the Florence, Oregon area, and shortly thereafter, a series of five-foot by five-foot by 20" high metal boxes were spied up and down the beach.
Fast forward to yesterday and someone has been taking the boxes away.
And what happened in the meantime? A 6.0 earthquake offshore, is what! Check out the coincidence here:
Naturally, this doesn't prove a damn thing, but it sure is one of those stories which is either a mighty fine case of mass hysteria accompanying the arrival of a quake.
OR, the data upon closer inspection might cause us to take another look. What IF, for example, the "metal boxes" were part of some dark agency dropping in scalar gear to trigger an earthquake in order to prevent a greater quake from happening near a populated area?
What I notices about the reported region is that if I draw lines down 50-miles of beach, I get VERY ROUGHLY a parabolic shaped shoreline, which seems to have its focal point about 25 miles north of where the quake took place!
Like I said...coincidence, or just a damn interesting big "Hmmm..." Oh, thanks for reminding me: Tide at Coos Bay was at the minor high for the day at quake time.
So now all we need are metal looking boxes with advanced antennas that would look like metal and be set into the top of them (design notes on these just happened to cross my desk this week) as I noted in an email to a few friends:
Which means the so-called metal top couple easily have been a microstrip patch antenna...and a 5' x5' substrate would be large enough to accomplish some downlink gain of a control bird... which leaves plenty of room for as much as 1,000 amp-hours of high tech battery, and then some of that pulsed-opposing magnet technology I've been thinkering with the disrupt local gravity...and presto! Drop in quake generator.
Wild flights of fancy? Let me know if you know anyone who has seen one of these boxes up close before they disappear... damn interesting coincidences, though, and not too hard on the engineering side, especially if you've seen the Boyd Bushman experiments at Lockheed discussed... huh? Just comes down to an engineering problem in the end.
Wonder if that 4.7 quake off Vancouver Island this morning would have been bigger without this precursor?
Thursday at the WuJo
We haven't been down to the place where strange happenings meet the boyz from hard science, but we haven't been getting the usual flow of woo-woo reports for a week or two. So, if you have had a run-in with things that shouldn't work like they did, please send in reports.
Like this guy's..
I too had the same thinking happen. Usually, when it does, it's something like "George, can I have my pillows (sometimes covers) back?" My was about 2:30 AM as well and didn't seem to be kidney-connected.
Note to Veggie Fans
OK, sure, if you read Gaye's article on meat glues and other yucky crap that goes into meat, you might be tempted to flee into the arms of the vegetarian movement. But wait! What is (says reader EE)...
Sure enough, the article "The Dark Side of Wheat" has mean wondering what is safe to eat, besides those blue-green algae pills.
Ionized Water: Scam or Worthwhile?
Speaking of health issues, Elaine's been reading this and that on how to stay young until we're in our mid-100's. (Little does she know, I can't write that long and we'll be broke by 95 at the latest...) But she asked me the other day to price one of those water ionizers which were making the rounds.
So, if you have direct experience with one, I'd sure like to hear about it, because all the hard research I've been able to find so far seems to come down to scammy...
Placing Your Bets on March
Readers continue to speculate about how life-changing events will work out this spring into summer...
Another reader wonders:
A senior and very wise sage down on Wall St. who shall go unmentioned polls some of his friends who advised...
On the other hand, with 90-million barrels of crude sloshing around at sea, a doubling of oil prices could give the oil trades a nice double - $9-billion, but that doesn't seem enough dough to get the world into thermonuclear war, or anything, so my money is 15% of big events kicking off in early March and 85% on muddling through. We've got lots of experience in the latter.
Wednesday February 15, 2012
The Wednesday Reader Memo
As happens on Wednesday's our report is for subscribers to the premium content site Peoplenomics. Here's what's up there:
How to Eat a Book & Reinventing Chess
As we sit around waiting for the (alleged) Consumer Prices report on Friday, I've had time this week to work on all three of the book's I'm writing at the same time, plus having enough time left over to write a daily column, play with the cat, and plan the upgrade the avionics package/wireless network on our old beater-that-flies airplane. Of all the work, though, none has been more satisfying to pursue than the thought-trail which began with Monday's UrbanSurvival report "Grand Master's Monday." It turns out to have dovetailed remarkably well with that book on life as a series of nested recipes or, if you're an old BASIC writer, it might be stated as Life is an endless string of nested GOSUB commands. Fine brainfood to be sure, but before we get into what I think might lead to breakthroughs in chess-playing ability, we stumble first into the mundane of the morning: our slog through the headlines which begin with Iran playing hardball on oil...
If you are looking for something to read, as thinking people do, then you might want to have breakfast before heading over to my colleague Gaye's site, BackdoorSurvival, because after you read her article "Meat Glue and Pink Slime. What Evil is Lurking in Yourt T-Bone" you won't feel like eating meat for a while. (Knowing of the article in advance, Elaine and I had shrimp and lobster ravioli and red wine for Valentines, thanks...)
If you still have an appetite (at least for words) the article we have on our collaborative site [ www.strategic-living.net ] "What Most Gun Nuts Get Wrong" may be worth your time, as it will give you some new ways to look at the crime-fighting problem.
More on the 'morrow at our usual time. Oh...and subscribers to our Feedburner feed should start seeing their links earlier tomorrow... till then: cheers & beers...
Tuesday February 14, 2012
Proof of the Second Depression
Writer Katie Hill has found what seems to escape the Washington intelligentsia's ken: Proof that the Second Depression is in full swing. Her article here gives important context to a "non-economic" story that outs the truth. You see, back in the 1930's Depression, horses went wild northeast of the Dust Bowl as people didn't have the dough to feed them. Care to make a guess as to which wild horse population is growing again?
We get the same kind of effect out here in the outback of East Texas, too. The other day another cat showed up: a young one, all black except for white "boots." Zeus and Pusscilla are trying to figure out how accommodating to be. They get more food than they earn, yet taking in a stranger seems to be difficult as the raised hair on their backs seems to indicate. Yet, they seem to be warming just a bit to the idea.
In the animal kingdom, hard times bring differing responses, which vary by breed. The same thing is true in humans, I have to imagine, so I'm studying how quick the fat cats here at the ranch (analogous to banksters) handle things when a stranger comes calling, since it might give me some insight into the uber klassen/PTB/bankster behaviors to come.
Admittedly, though, it may not. When it comes to charity, I'll keep my money on the cats.
Valentine's Day Hope
While there is that class of bipeds whose love for paper with the right kind of ink on it exceeds their love of humanity, there's something for both in our first economic number of the day: Retail sales are just out.
Tomorrow's big "number du jour" will be the Fed industrial production and capacity utilization which I know you will be up all night worrying about. Don't bother.
Mandatory Troop Cuts
...seem to be in the works to meet budget requirements. But wait! The monkey-mind is screaming "Isn't this one more reason to have a false flag attack against America or our interests to keep this from becoming [or adding to] the unemployment mess?" I'll shut up and look for meds...
Has Russia Backed Out of Backing Syria?
Interesting speculation here...which might make a Syrian invasion likely, or could it be we are seriously mis-reading this and the Russians are doing a strategic pullback to draw us in? March draws near...
Markets Holding, But...
Despite the fact that Moody's Investors Service has taken another whack at European countries by lowering their debt ratings, the European markets this morning are actually up.
This remarkable aspect of the so-called bailout is that Greece debt is (by this story) running about 160% of GDP right now and that the solution which everyone is getting wet dreams about doesn't really reverse anything. It just brings the debt down to 120 times GDP by 2020.
Oodles of Gold Facts
NumberSleuth has a really interesting report on how much gold there is in the world over here.
Waiting for March 3
Thought it was March 2, but the chief time monk sent me a ponder to think about since (as our PTB insiders keep hinting "The Movies are the Message!"
Meantime, we keep watching reports out of the Middle East which one could describe, perhaps as calm before the storm. The US Navy which was 41% underway last week is now down to just 32% underway. What's more interesting, only four carriers out and four amphibs...
Toss in the March 8 partial DNS shutdown "due to malware" (uh huh...whatever...) and the plans of Operation Global Blackout for later in the month and things couldn't look murkier.
Totally off point, or not, I didn't realize there was a big pow-wow coming at CERN to discuss progress being made on cold fusion research. About time that the 1988 report of Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons gets recognized, maybe?
About that Marina in El Centro
This may seem like a fixation on my part, and OK, so what if it is? But you know a tremendous portion of our nation's food supply comes from two great valleys California: To the north of Bakersfield there's the San Joaquin valley. And off east of the LA/San Diego area, just a few checkpoints away heading east once you get over the hills is the Imperial Valley, and most people don't realize that a large por4tion of this is actually below sea level - as is much of the are south of Palm Springs and down toward the Salton Sea.
"The point?" Ah, remember that series of earthquakes we have been experiencing at the southern (high) end of the Imperial Valley?
Not a world-ender, but check out the map of the 5.1 shaker overnight here. I'm not predicting the Imperial Valley will flood, but El Centro is 39 feet - and more - below seat level - so it's important to think about it you like your fresh vegetables, since El Centro is also living through a kind of "double jeopardy" already. It sports one of the highest unemployment levels in the country, at times north of 25%.
Also overnight there was a 6.4 in the Solomon Islands, but no tsunami danger.
And a couple of more from a reader going through the big airport in Japan:
The initial reports on those quakes off Honshu were somewhat exaggerated. They're now showing as a 6.0 and 4.9.
As to the novel ideas? We do wonder about such things now and then, but with only 2 or 3 weeks before things start to unravel seems I can wait. To do more would be like "cheating" when reading a novel...skipping ahead to get to the "good" part, only to find out it's not so good.
A Well-Written Math Reminder
A well-informed reader in Canada thought this might be of interest: "Do mysterious laws link tennis rankings and earthquakes?" One sentence from this BBC report lays down one of the underpinnings of predictive linguistics work, which although not a science when Clif started grokking it in '97, certainly has become an emerging science now:
It's cool, because while word frequency analysis has been around since prior to World War II as an intelligence tool, it wasn't till Clif built the lexicon and set up the archetypes that small shifts in language (outside of raw frequency distributions) came into their own.
But, like the A-bomb, it's one of those tools which can be used for good, or bad, depending on how much effort you're willing to put into driving toward a particular outcome.
Maneuverings and Machinations
Federalization of Police
Reader emailed me a tip about a story I'd missed:
What happened to powers not specifically ceded to the central government remain with the States? That gets me to thinking I've become a throw-back old reprobate which we'll discuss next...
Coping: Honoring Our Elders
What ever happened to it? I mean seriously, it seems like the older folks in society just don't get the kind of respect they deserve. Yet they all have lots of wisdom because no matter how smart, or not, you are, just living 70 years on the prison planet just has to brush off a few pearls along the way. Take this reader email:
Seriously, there are days when I just want to grab the ViseGrips, give myself a good pinch, not write a column, and go back to bed. That's how crazy the world seems to be.
Examples? Well sure, now that you asked. How about this out of the Rapid City Journal: "Sioux Falls business testing DNA to track dog poo"?
Not convinced we're on the road to perdition? Wowzah...check out the trailer for the upcoming movie (due out July 4th if I get it right) called "Good Bless America" which turns killing people into comedy.
Contrary to comedic attempts, I just can't find much to laugh about when it comes to killing people, or realizing how far niche marketing has come when we start turning what should be important tools in learning to optimize diets gets turned into poo-bagging detective tools.
The older generation may not have gone around playing with paintball guns much, but we lived in a world where violence was not a huge niche market and having been through enough real wars and lost enough real kin, the idea of idolizing violence is simply not acceptable.
Just as my only rising to the first few six-figure rungs in life is no doubt attributable to my sense of compassion and unwillingness to screw the next person ahead of me, so too, I keep holding to roots that abhor violence, except under exceptional circumstances and think that to promote it should be criminal, along with unsustainable economic policies, and giving US tax money to foreign governments.
Sensible as this stuff is, I'm afraid it's a sure sign I'm aging.
You get to a certain point in Life when it becomes apparent to you that there's a find circus of circular bullshit being played around us to benefit the few. Which is kept on spinning by fads, fashions, planned obsolescence, and slowly debasing America's money.
Perhaps one of the PTB ways of controlling spin rate is by dissing the older people with more reasonable (OK, sane then) views. Want to promote more wanton disregard for law and order, and thus justify more authoritarian government? Fund social projects (movies) that cheapen our values would be one of my starting points...
Peak Oil Deniers
Oh, boy, I keep getting email for believing in Peak Oil...like this reader email:
I respectfully disagree. I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the problem and except for the global recession we would be at $6 gas right now. Reason? Look at global oil production since 1982:
Source: US Energy Information global database as of 2/14/2012
And look at gasoline production globally:
Now I can't say about you, but here's what I see: In both views, I see a rounding top formation, very familiar formation when you spend as much time looking at charts as I do.
If you're wondering why, if oil production is up somewhat the past few years (still fitting into the rounding top) where is the production going? The answer is simple: Product mix change. As the global demand for plastics and such goes up, guess what happens to gasoline? Goes down to make more plastic for cell phones and diesel for trucks and farming (more mouths to feed, got it?).
And is coal our savior? Hell no...
Again, the important bit of mental clarity on this stuff is peak oil doesn't mean an overnight end to civilization. It just means that people like me who can read charts have been putting our money in solar panels instead of in the bank. Know why? I think putting money in solar will have a better payoff long-term than paper with ink on it.
But WTF do I know. I just know how to read numbers and can eyeball the slope changes of charts OK now and then.
Why do you think it's been game-on in Iraq, Libya, and soon Iran? Oil maybe? Not successful, but let's not quibble over details.
Stu Wins One
Interesting email from G.A. Stewart, noted scholar on Nostradamus:
I'd ask what comes next, but between Clif's work and other charts we've got a pretty good idea it's not sunshine and lollypops.
Here's one that I hadn't seen previously - the World Digital Library website.
Which gets me wondering just how big the Web is these days. Answer? About 51 billion pages worth as of today.
Yes, that was a typo: I fixed the typo on this site's IP address. Damn typos. And mornings with 'em as long as I'm venting...
Managing the News Bureau
Bernard Grover, our diligent bureau chief in Indonesia sent me an advisory of local news happenings in Jakarta, details of which are:
As a good bureau chief would, he asks: "The question of just exactly what Obama is exporting remains somewhat vague…"
Indeed. Still, one way to find out would be to see if they'd comp us a press lunch, since without that (and not being members of the sponsoring group) the full-meal deal price at IDR 350,000 works out to $38.70. That much dough will feed a family of four (with change, I would hope) and if it's just one person attending, are three martins included?
Ham Radio Deluxe has a a poll going to see how much users would be willing to pay for the next generation of product. I still prefer HRD to a lot of other ham radio digital interface software because it incorporates radio control gracefully.
I still haven't gotten up to McKinney Texas to get the beta of the new iFlyGPS 720 with the sunlight readable display and wireless connection to the planes ADSB receiver. This is the iFly 720 series. The iFly 700 has been our main (VFR) nav tool in the plane with an older Lowrance AirMap 2000C in the panel as a backup.
Interesting problem for all the GPS makers: Seems there are not enough colors in the world. On the GPS, there's a live weather display (off the ADS-B receiver output) and the colors used happen to be the same as... Terrain Awareness features!
Hell, anymore, its gotten to where flying the plane isn't why the 90 day three landings rules are in place. It's so the pilot remembers where everything is in all those menus...iFly is pretty intuitive/touch screen. The Lowrance product is button-driven... Having flow from [kinda crappy] turbulence with both, touch screens on the yoke are a bit easier because you can brace your arm better, though a stylus instead of fat fingers improves things.
Monday February 13, 2012
Grand Master's Monday
"OMG, what's he off on now?" you're wondering as you contemplate another week on the treadmill at work. Oh...err...just trying to find the right bit from my past that sets a mental framework for assembling all the days seemingly disjointed & disconnected events into a whole piece of reality that makes anything approaching sense. And best I could come up with is a Syrian fellow by the name of Yasser Seirawan.
For those not into chess, Yasser is a grand master of chess, who I interviewed years ago in a radio interview (while playing a game against him) in the 1970's in my news directoring days. While I came up with the roughest, toughest, and slipperiest questions I could, and he gave deeply thoughtful replies during the interview, he also beat me in 10 (or was it 11?) moves.
As he explained it. after playing a good bit of chess, certain patterns emerge and the game becomes predictable, which is how he could take on a whole roomful of challengers playing perhaps as many as a dozen games at a time (sometimes more, if I remember right) all the while talking with players and offering advice. In my case, it didn't help.
Awe-inspiring gamesmanship and a fine lesson in concentration and pattern recognition, though. So with that as our referential touchstone du jour, the image of a room full of players taking on each other in global chess matches, we're off into the headlines, which, as luck would have it, begin in Syria.
Syria: West Slaps Timer
Our first of this morning's multiple games sees Russia promising to examine the latest moves of which, near as we can tell, involves the establishment of a UN-Arab peacekeeping mission, although frankly, there's not much peace left to keep.
We notice, significantly, that China has been milling around this table watching the game, but not giving away how this will apply at the next table where its own game is being played...
China: Several "Mini-Games"
The Chinese have what can best be called a series of mini-games in play, as usual, but with such a large (especially population-wise) and ethnically diverse culture, there's no lack of strategies to try.
As disputes flare occasionally, there are also some of the troubles of raising up a middle class, and the seizure of Apple iPads from store shelves in Shijiazhuang over a dispute involving ownership of the product name. Is someone being a bad ACTA?
Chinese president-in-the-wings Xi is going to Washington this week, no doubt to meet the folks at the next table in our serial chess series this morning, who are trying the Paper Swarm strategy by...
US: Printing Money
The Chinese/US mini-game is strategically rather important. The Obama administration has sent a rather large budget to congress, where no doubt it will be drawn and quartered in Ginzu knife fashion.
Whether president-in-waiting Xi thinks a 1.3-trillion deficit it workable may figure into long-term debt strategy, because rumors of the US buying its own debt is a problem and China needs to keep buying, since we're in financial troubles if they don't.
Xi's trip is akin to looking at the republicorps vs. democorps mini-game, which is on a short clock, at least for this round, with the clock stopping again (for a few minutes) in November.
No doubt, Xi will come away as mystified as I am over talk of lowering corporate taxes, which seems a foolish thing to do when revenue is short. Holding taxes even (or lowering them, but only in the case of genuine US job creation in skills other than lawyering and accounting) wo0uld make sense, but that's gone missing from the planet in question.
Iran: China's Game and Boatbuilding
As China continues its other mini-games, it's also holding some not-too-high-profile talks with officials in Tehran to discuss getting nuclear talks going again.
But Iran's style of play is confusing; the West doesn't understand (at least in part) than Iranian oil reserve numbers are only high because OPEC members have historically exaggerated their reserves in order to earn bigger current production allocations and they know the truth of peak oil really is out there.
But, at the same time, there's a report that Iran is preparing suicide boats to operate in the Strait of Hormuz where the (linguistically significant) aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is nearby. Admittedly, suicide boats are quicker to field than drones, no ailerons or elevators, just a single axis problem with a throttle link, and if those are not available, disposable humans may be.
Europe/Greece: Games of Budget Control
Although, amidst violence, Greece approved a new budget this weekend, they are not out of the woods yet, and no doubt, sanctions on Iran figure (though someone remotely to be sure) in what's going on. More coverage here.
To some extent, Europe's game is chilling as freezing has paralyzed the Danube River and has now moved on to places like Serbia where the power grid is in danger of failing. And Kosovo where an unusual avalanche has killed 9. I think someone had mentioned to expect a "legendary winter."
Israel: Caught Between Games
For now, Israel seems to be on the sidelines of several games. So much so, that it's likely collateral damage as a what sounds like a car bomb went off injuring the wife of one of their defense officials in India.
We could continue on with the analog to chess, but it's not exactly a high-speed adventure game. But then neither are most of the news items this morning.
And although it's an honorable pastime it doesn't usually come with a yoke of joystick, though horses, castles, and the other guy's bad bishops are historically good thinking tools.
The point of this morning's note? (there sometimes is one...) Viewing the world like a Grand Master would is a viable approach - everyone is trying for the own version of "winning." And just as in chess, mostly it comes down to two sides, or globally, batches of small games with the West's players one one side of the room, the Rest of World on the other.
Or so the promoters would have us believe - they only make money and have power to rule so long as they can whip up the audience. And like chess, it's not real exciting most of the time which is why "headliners" need to be brought in from time to time.
Reports out of New Zealand about 274-odd people being quarantined on suspicion of carrying flu on an airliner could be either aggressive public health or paranoia. I suppose it depends on whether you were on the flight.
On the other hand, what is the "mystery disease" in Central America that's killing thousands?
While the series of match chess games continues, there's something a lot more serious going on. Sure, it's somewhat reassuring that the Baltic Dry Index was over 700 again (pre-open today) but that doesn't mean things are coming up roses everywhere.
In fact, a steely-eyed reader noticed that buried in the headlines about US gasoline prices hitting $3.51 a gallon there was mention that gasoline deliveries were down 6.8% compared with year-ago levels:
The Weak Ahead: Economic Valentines
There is the little matter tomorrow of Valentine's Day. I spent a good part of the weekend trying to figure out how to make it special....like flying in a load of seafood from the Pacific Northwest. A bottle of champagne and 5-pounds of already-shelled Dungeness and a loaf of fresh french bread and some homemade clam chowder I was thinking. Until I figured that with air freight it would eat about one and a half hundred dollar bills and don't have any of those around...
I'm also not holding my breath on retail sales figures due out tomorrow, or the import and export price figures. Who's got money?
Wednesday, the Fed's industrial production and utilization figures come out, but unless you own a factory, that's a yawner, too.
Housing starts and the Producer Price index Thursday will be just foreplay for the week's main event: The consumer price index on Friday, which as I see it should have been timed for the 15th.
Would have been much more appropriate given the kind of activities that happen on Valentine's eve....if'n you follow.
Although the Dow futures are up 83 when I looked earlier....the market's angle of ascent seems unsustainable, so I'll keep sitting on my wallet and watching my short position wither.
Coping: Data Gap Ahoy!
Well, well, well...seems another one of those news items predicted by the "rickety time machine" is about to fall into our laps. A reader sends this:
Not a bad theory...more a terrible one, since we already know what at least some of the data gap, which has been visible for years is all about.
In case you don't read PC World, there is a lot going on with a planned internet shutdown on March 8 on the pretext of malware-fighting on government computers. Check out the sub-headline to the OC world story of FRebruary 2 which you need to read here: "If feds pull down temporary network as planned, machines infected with DNSChanger Trojan won't be able to access the Web."
As some scanning under the Google News search +malware +March 8 shows
the FBI is planning to go with this and what date-range is this in the middle of?
So, OK, now we have some serious computing stuff to talk about. First, you need to make certain that you DO NOT HAVE MALWARE and the best way to do this is to 1) run current antivirus software and update it daily like we do, then run a good cookie catching and smashing program (like Maxa Cookie Manager, details below) and then run MalwareBytes.
Seem like a lot of work? Oh, year, it is, but not if you plan to keep on using the web!
Next, you need to write down the numeric IP addresses of your favorite sites: UrbanSurvival recently moved to a new server which lives at http://22.214.171.124 and Peoplenomics is at http://126.96.36.199. If, come next month you can't access this way, try the https:// prefix since we keep paying the dough for an ecommerce capable SSL layer, and whether the SSL layer will go down, we don't know.
Next, you need to make sure any routers you have (wireless access points, right?) have current software and have not been compromised.
Then, you need to preassemble all the software you have had over the years and make sure you have all you need to wipe and reassemble a whole computer from the ground up with a back-up hard drive (well scanned!) with all your backup files on it.
And then after you've done all this, can download and run the Avira (makers of AntiVir which I swear by) file AviraDNSRepairEN.exe software here to see if you have any issues. This is a tiny file and it only takes a few seconds to run, but after it completes, you should get a message "The DNS setting of your system have not been manipulated by the DNSChanger."
If you've got a different message, computer life just got burdensome and I'm not your tech support department.
We also can't help but notice the Fox News story "US government looks to mine social media to combat terrorist attacks, uprisings" since control, control, control is what's going around these days. Unless I am mistaken, there wasn't any internet involvement in the 9/11 attacks (or I'm certain we would have been marketed to death on that one) and similarly, there haven't been any uprisings, except, of course, those mostly legal peaceful assemblies to address grievances, which doesn't seem anti-American in the least.
It's almost like a replay of the Vietnam war protest era at times, the government and establishment (death industries) on one side (banker class now, too) versus the common sense public on the other. In the past, common sense has prevailed, and the domino theory turned out to be wrong, yet people still seem to honor its promoters, just like PNAC theories here lately.
What's really going on, but not getting much play may be hinted at by the recent "Report 'Data Show No 'Upsurge In Muslim-American Terrorism'. So, if DHS/FBI officials are worried about spotting people who are buying storable foods, a generator for storms (tornado season is near) or buying their lattes breaking a hundred-dollar bill, I'd offer that the money might be better spent building factories and getting a few jobs back from China, India, and the rest of Asia.
Even better? How about a little more aggressive work around those DC law firms that funnel money to keep buying control of Washington? Or better, what ever happened to the MF Global money? Think the SEC/CFTC could use a hand?
The American Muslims may be less a threat than fear-marketing would cause us to believe. There's another religious group more sinister and pernicious, I'm afraid: It's those True Believers down at the Church of the Almighty Dollar who blow up prices and bomb balanced budgets that don't suit their ends. They even have a cell which specializes in home invasion and occupations. It's their "Foreclosure" unit and no one counts all the victims they've claimed. Many are children, though.
Words are delicate little critters and we have to be precise in their meanings. The right role of government is to manage the greater good under the framework laid out by the Constitution. Not to profiteer by victimizing the world when like damned idiots we've gone from being a hugely independent country to an Asia-dependent shell.
We have done, near as I can figure, a piss-poor job of identifying the real enemies, foreign and domestic.
Say, got a glance of the article in the new issue of the Ham Radio organization publication QST put out by the American Radio Relay League (www.arrl.org) and on about Page 40 there is an interesting article dealing with three misconceptions about the ionosphere.
Read as I did, it was an interesting article but I'll be damned if I can see any findings that are worth the all the dough sunk up north. I came back from the throne room this morning trying to remember the song lyrics to "Is that all there is? [to the circus]"
But no worries, the great Ringmaster of Universe brings us another day, although it's got a name even more scary than the worst fear-marketers can come up with:
Before the chart, a little background:
Once upon a time, a long while ago, I observed during my quest for 'truth' in economics, that the PowersThatBe, the talking heads on the teeve, and the other information sources that actively engage in the programming of humans not to think, had conveniently swept several trillions of dollars that disappeared in the Internet Bubble's bursting (since spring 2000) under the rug. Surely, it wasn't unnoticed by the thousands of people who called brokers and said "Where is my money?" "Gone, but hang in there as you're a long term investor!" was about all they heard back.
So one of our charts for Peoplenomics subscribers oughta be widely circulated - it shows that if you line up the peak of the Dow in January 2000 with the peak in early September of 1929, we're on a very very close replay track. Much closer than even the chart shows if you were to back out inflation, and put in the effects of 1929 deflation, but that'd be real work, and I'm sort of lazy if the truth be told.
No, it's not a perfect replay of 1929, but history doesn't repeat exactly, it only rhymes. So think of this as the rhymes and the crimes chart:
"George, that's only a coincidence!" your monkey-mind will protest.
Why sure it is...you bet. A 11-year long coincidence...yessir....just a coincidence, we're like SO sure... (Shhh...don't tell anyone that major Depressions are two-part coupled affairs like the linkage between 1920-21 and 1929, OK? Damn, dude...don't spoil it for the sheep...)
Oh...don't forget to "Write when you get rich!"
George Ure, The People's Economist
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