Coping: How Social Media is Killing America

Communications:  There has been increasing chatter in social media circles about what the ‘next business model’ will be.  Social is running its course; like a bad case of flu.

To refresh:  The social hoodwinking of established web sites and creative content for all, began with the simple premise that if established websites (like Urban, for example) wanted to increase readership, the smart thing to do would be set up social media pages.  Let people talk.

We saw right through it, of course, and figured what the real “mater plan” for what it would be:  A way to get major corporations (and freelancers like us), to migrate their audiences to social.  But that, predictably, was just to “lead the cows into the social slaughterhouse.”  Someone was going to make a killing.

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You could see the moment of the change:  It was when enough of the BIG (but arguably dumb) had made the foolish mistake of trusting the Zuke Markerbergs of the world to continue free access to their own clients and social-migrated readers.

Recall a few years back: Corporations found that they when “posted” on social media sites, only a small fraction of their audience would be informed of their posts.  Once on the slaughterhouse floor, they discovered they would be required to buy access to their own audience.  Mind you, the same people who – prior to social – had interacted via stand-alone websites.

We called it in a Peoplenomics discussion about “time-circular” business models.  “Free” up front – and then the bigger switcheroo.

Goes like this:

Step 1.  Invent an ego-addictive software platform.

Step 2.  You social media to allow unfettered access to your migrated audience who promptly get hooked on “social” heroin. Egos are nasty self-management demons.

Step 3.  Social slams the door and begins to rent-back the very people that businesses and websites brought to the party.  Because runaway egos are rampant on social, resulting in YUGE numbers of eyeballs, companies started underwriting it.  Thus, letting the foxes of social begin counting the chickens.

The problem with social has continued to evolve on two front, now::

First, they need to find out new ways to get people  to otherwise don’t care to spend useless hours generating FREE CONTENT for the czars of social companies to spend MORE time doing so.  This sells more ads.  Which in turn makes them richer.

Social media is gasoline thrown on the national emotional state.  It’s where social justice warriors, not to mention anarchists and ISIS, go to recruit.  Land-o-Link-Bait.

Secondly, social has sold its soul to  the Deep State in America – which is (presently) seen as the liberal/progressive left alliance with the liberal “intelligence community.”  The folks who don’t seem to be able to read The Constitution and fully abide by its terms.

Little details – like unreasonable search  and having reasonable rights to an expectation of privacy..

The undocumented tactic is simple:  Ideologies that make sense to grown up people (things like balanced budgets, national borders, gun control, auditing the welfare state, and questioning the whole ‘climate scam’) may be posted, but then it just “disappears” a few minutes, hours, or whatever, later.

Thanks to social media addicts, we can safely predict a whole new  genre of political ideologues who will claim the specious SJW high moral ground (after screwing the people who built them, yeah?).  That’ll be their platform from which to preach.

Looking ahead, it’s easy to predict that in either the 2018 or 2020 election cycle, one of these “social giants” will run for office.

Public service is one of the few gigs that can be more abused than social media power.

If you think your Federal government is crooked now (as in prone to over-reach, and no, the creek on our property is – for now – not a navigable water of the United States, for crying out loud), just think what social will be able to do as government.

It will be the accidental revolution that has – in our view – the potential to bring global mob violence.

Already, social media is moving to strengthen its mind-control lock (go read on shadow-banning) to “control the narrative.”  We’re asked to overlook the worst-case of social:  Streaming murder (and attempted suicide), radical recruitment, and thought viruses related to climate and causes.

The worst is yet to come as we near elections.  People with a taste for power (and big money) won’t be able to resist going for the gusto.  I will bet almost any amount imaginable that the Big Three of Social Mind Control (which is what social is) will generate both an “election process” and maybe its own slate of candidates.

Thus, arrives the third party in America.

The “Stupid, Lazy, Egocentric, Me-Oriented Dopes.”  Call it the SLEMOD Party, for short

From an historical standpoint, we are appalled that as a country has cast off it’s “chains of oppression” from past wrongs, we’re anxiously lining-up to be fitted for the new chains.

You have to be a fool not to see it.  If you spend more than 5-minutes on social a day, congratulations, you may have passed curable.

The problem isn’t just social media taking down America.  It’s a much bigger topic.  And we’ll jump into that in our subscriber report tomorrow.

Because the real problem is Network-based Business Models, in general.

Around the Ranch

Colder than a well-digger’s but.  Disappointing, though, that our much-warned “Big Winter Storm” has brought only cold and not nearly enough precip.  Still, one of the coldest years ever in our 15-years in the East Texas outback.

It will mean fewer bugs, snakes, and critters when summer finally appears; usually in March, or so.  So much for climate change.

Ham Radio Corner: Something as loud as an inch-and-a-half firecracker went off at the ham radio desk Monday as I was banging out Morse code to a fellow up in W9-land.  (Ham radio call signs are loosely assigned by regional numbers.)

That new to me (restored to near its 1963 manufacture date condition) Johnson Thunderbolt linear amplifier was still acting strangely.

Seems that the bias power supply is having issues.

It’s on hot standby this morning – a kind of auxiliary heater for the office!

Through the top of the cabin et, you can see the happy glow of a pair of 4-400Cs.

So far, no idea what the problem was, though there were lots of sparks from the final amplifier tube area.  Strangely, though, no odor.  I suspect either a parasitic oscillation or a non-critical bypass capacitor.  But, I’ll have to be help moving the 125-pound beast before opening it up for inspection. 

But, with low plate current and idle plate current for AB² operation low (only about 500 watts input), it likely comes down to either a screen or bias voltage problem.  Which is the stuff that makes troubleshooting electronics so rewarding.

Real serious hams can look at the power supply schematic third from last page of this manual and see both V-104, a 6BY5GA rectifier along with the related switching of the bias (as J-102) and the associated regulator, an OD3/VR90 which will also be replaced.  Ure’s rebuild of the switching relay has been ruled out, so says Mr. Fluke.

An Eye Update:

Oh, yeah, still trying to keep my vision which continues to display mood-swings.

Trip to the eye doctor Monday was OK.  20/30 to 20/25 continues in the “good” (operative) eye.  So next on the shopping list is monitoring corneal vascularization.

I’m still skeptical of Allopurinol for reasons found here.  Although it you have “cat eyes” maybe not an issue. You see, in one study here, it was found that Allopurinol helped moderate xanthine oxidase free radicals.

Here’s the personal problem that presents:  If I buy up enough lab equipment to do self blood-draws, and enough chemistry set goodies to make meaningful blood serum level checks, that might be noticed by some federal agency.

Which could (wrongly) conclude instead of breaking the bank and doing personal blood checks, I’d gone off on the Breaking Bad track.

So, for now, we let the docs order the lab tests and we’ll just keep going through through the modern medical smorgasbord lines.

Write when you get rich,

Coping: Retooling of UrbanSurvival Site

Reader Input Request (RIR):  As you know, I have started working on the periodic updates and upgrades planned for UrbanSurvival. Just by being here, you’re already a highly esteemed member of our Board of Directors. In order to make sure we continue to deliver a quality product, please take the time to send an email to and let me know as many of your thoughts as possible on the following points.

Display: First question is “What size device screen are you using?”  This one is important because unlike the old days, we actually can “tune” sites to deliver an optimized reading experience depending on “viewport” settings.  Back in the old days, a 1080 browser width was all it took.  No longer, though.

Browser type:  Phone?           Desktop?

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Layout: Next is the current layout basically shows up at “centered” on most displays.  But this could be reduced to a two column display which might result in a bit less scrolling.  The downside of this?  It’s not quite as pleasing to the eye.

Do you prefer 3 Columns (now) or would you like 2 Columns?

Chart Location:  know this is a biggy.  Right now, on desktops and large devices, there are three charts at the top of the website.  These are “served” to us from  They get a minor ad, but we are able to keep you updated on prices of gold and such,

We may have a limit on placing these charts at the TOP of the revised site software.  In the event we do, please let me know:

How important are the charts?  Very?       Not?

Preferred location:  Top?        Side?

Want a Crypto Chart if I can find one?

Yes?       A what?

Page Speed:  This is another one that is important to us:  Do you find page load speed is OK now?

We are always doing our best, but…

Does Urban load fast enough?  Yes?      No?

Social Media:  You know my thoughts on social media (boo, hiss!), but I also realize that you may use it to communicate with your friends.  (We don’t have any, so no social is a no-brainer, lol.)

Do you want social buttons?   Yes?     No?

Best two Socials for you?_____        _______

Color Scheme:

Do you like the blue color scheme, or would you like to see a change?

It’s OK?          Change it to:______________

Comments and Discussion:

There are TONS of reader comments.  More than 24,000.

Would you like to see additional emphasis on discussion?  This might be done by adding some additional functionality to the discussion portion of the site.

Yes, like the discussions?       I don’t care about other people’s thinking?

Thank you.  Copy, paste, and toss in comments and send to

The idea is not to change the basic content of Urban, but rather to keep it as user-friendly as possible.

These are the typical questions that most web site designers would ask, but if there’s anything else on your mind about the mechanics of the site, please pass them on.

Again, thank you.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming in process…

Best Columns Contest

Every year, the National Association of Newspaper Columnists (which I’m a member of) has a contest to find some of the best columns written in the previous year.

In the past, I have picked out what I thought was some of my best work and sent it in.

To be sure, I’m not very good at column-picking.  So, in order to maybe up the odds, if you remember any columns from the previous year that struck you as especially “good” please let me know which one(s?) so I can include them in the submission this year.

Columnists are an interesting group…and we’ll likely be attending their convention this year up in Cincinnati, Ohio come June.

The conventions float around – giving us all a chance to “immerse” for a few days in different parts of the country.  The Macon, Georgia convention was fun…while the Detroit convention was closer to heart rendering.  In between were the conventions in Hartford, CT and elsewhere.  Though Hartford got us all through Mark Twain’s home which was interesting.

Since Ohio is off to the northeast of Texas somewhere, we may be able to swing through Hannibal, MO on the trip.  That’d give us a chance to revisit another “Twain town.”  Last time through was in the airplane for a refueling stop and we were, as always on a schedule.  We’re trying to learn the art of slowing down a bit.

Ham Corner:  The BIG Switch

Ham radio is often not so much about money, although there are people who do spend $10,000 and up on a piece of equipment.

Come to think of it, if you feel like sending Ures truly a late Christmas (or early birthday) present, click here…  The good news is, for $12,000 plus, you get a free shipping.

Still, at the other extreme, it doesn’t take a lot of money, or power to have fun.  For this?  We have eBay.

This week’s big problem?  On the old Gonset GSB-100 there is only a front-panel switch to manually turn on transmit. Since the panel mounted wafer switch is nearly, uh, 60-years old, finding a replacement would be difficult.  So an external switch makes lots of sense.  You just hook something up to the terminal strip on the back, but that means finding the right external switch.

And here’s the Joy du Jour in ham parts:  Turns out that tattoo artists apparently need enough foot switches that you can pick one up on eBat for under $5-bucks!  Check out the item here.

I’ve regaled you in the past about the value of a foot switch for power tools in the shop, but this is low-voltage switching.  And for this, I’d like to thank all those people who got tattoos.


If there hadn’t been a zillion people getting tats, there would not be foot switches wearing out.  And without the foot switches going out, some entrepreneurial sort in Shezen, China would never has posted on eBay for these dandy foot switches.

I can think of lots of applications for them, specialized this and that’s…but for one, a simple transmit switch is a fine deal.

That leaves only THE BIG SWITCH to kill equipment.

The way (old school) ham radio conversations end, particularly on AM around 3886 KHz on the 75 meter phone band end is often something like this…

“Well, old man, about time to pull the BIG switch.  Gotta be at work early tomorrow, so we’ll be seeing you on down the electric bill…”

South hams might begin “Well, bub…”  While in the Northeast, you might be seen “down the power bill…”  Such are the dialects you pick up.

While a simple outlet strip will provide a “local” BIG switch, back in the day my previous ham shacks featured a 220V disconnect.  In the modern era, the servers are co-located in the same facility, so we leave that BIG switch the hell alone.

The best one ever was a mercury whetted silent 110V switch.  These are getting harder to find, though.  Almost as good – and bright red to boot – is the Leviton 1221-2R 20-Amp, 120/277-Volt, Toggle Single-Pole AC Quiet Switch, Extra Heavy Duty Spec Grade, Self Grounding, Red which with a matching red cover will come to $14-bucks, or so with Amazon Prime.

Initially, this “Big Switch” will live in an outdoor utility box.  Total overkill, but a good foot switch and “the Big” switch are some of the fun accoutrements of an eccentric hobby.

One of these days, we will have an UrbanSurvival CW meet-up on the 40 meter back some evening.  Times and frequencies are open to suggestions…

Whew…back to more mainstream stuff Thursday.  Or, not.

Oh, and thanks get getting tattoo’ed.  Helps ham radio, robotics, science labs, and who else will discover the cheap foot switches?

Write when you get rich, (Or when you have the shipping info on that Icom 7851 for me, roflol…)

Coping: Those Damn Bugs in Windows 10

Communications: Forget Specter/Meltdown for a minute.  And, if you’re a Mac, Android, or Linux user, stick around – you may get some jollies. Because this morning I’ll tell you the tale of tracking down a miserable bug in Windows 10 that I spent much of my “down time” working on over the holidays.  Try 12-hours worth, to be exact.  The “Meltdown” has been me.

Windows is a dandy operating system, don’t get me wrong.  Still, the headlong rush of OS (operating system) designers to all jump onboard with the rollout of voice recognition systems feels as though some obvious bugs elsewhere in the code are still not fixed.

The story of how I found my Win10 bug – and fixed it – should be instructive for those still trying to run grown-up computers.  It also explains by Android and other simpler, phone-based systems, are so appealing.

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Bud Description:

My problem began when I installed a new update to work with my Brother label printer.  I have a label printer (in addition to the duplexing laser) because it’s a huge time-saver.  Oh, and my writing is mostly illegible.  The more education, the worse the writing got.

The Brother label printer comes with something called P-Touch software.  I was simply going from version 5.1-something to 5.2-something.  It had been a while and it was part of my systematic clean-up work to get ready for some serious website development work.

At this point, though, before Christmas, I didn’t know I had a problem…

I installed the update and everything was fine.  Until, that is, I loaded up the maze of spreadsheets that our ChartPack in the Peoplenomics reports comes from.  This adventure started the Wednesday before Christmas weekend.

A day or two passed before I discovered the problem:  Suddenly, all the charts in Excel looked like incomprehensible little boxes of goo.  Gone were all the charts.

The simplest solution was to recover to the most recent Restore Point.  Which took a fair bit of time.

Once done, the charts came back.

Except now, the new P-Touch labeler was wonky so I decided to take it off and reinstall.  Using Revo Uninstaller (great program, marvelous for this kind of work), I got P-Touch off and put it back on.  The problem of bad charts came back.

No problem…I had the old version of P-Touch another hard drive (H:) [I have lots of drives] so off came 5.2 – again.

You know what I was thinking, right?

“No problem – I will just do a restore point restore and back in business in no time….”   Or, so I thought….


In my zeal to get the offending software off, I had managed to eat the part of the system where the last several restore points once lived.

Crap!  Damn…  Sweat was beginning to pour out.  What the hell would I do for charts in Peoplenomics?

Lots of options, of course, but each one was fugly:  Do the report on the computer in the recording studio.  Problem: That would require install of Expression Web on that machine.  Lots of time.

OK, what about doing it on my traveling laptop?  Problem:  The charts need to be big and since the eye operations, even though I am 20-25 and cool with driving, doing charts with hard contacts in is a beast. Squinting hurts in no time. When doing charts I tend not to blink enough anyway…more lost time was ahead.  The traveling laptop is not on Win 1709 so Updates would be a troublem.  *Elaine’s word, lol.

Either of these options had something going for it, though:  It would allow me to have a second fresh ground-up copy of Win10 on my machine, but I had been through THAT process just a couple of weeks prior with a whole reinstall of everything including all apps because of problems building a WordPress sandbox site which (when the LAMP stack was removed) ate the Win OS as an appetizer…

There was one more option:  Find out what the hell was going on with the charts.

I hit Google and read more Microsoft support comments than  I care to remember.

Then I got lucky!

I found a post going back 3-4 years that described almost exactly the same symptoms I was encountering.  I knew the .xlsx files were NOT roached because they displayed fine on two other machines.  Peoplenomics charts live on 64 GB SD card to reduce the odds of hard drive of SSD failures.  They get backed up onto the bigger drives and NASD weekly.  (Investor note:   Not the National Association of Securities Dealers.  This refers to the Network Attached Storage Device, just so’s we’re clear…)

It turned out the problem – which has been around for a couple of years – is that when certain software is installed, it “grabs control” of the printer controls in Win-10.  From what it looks like, when the P-Touch 5.2 installation using default settings ran, it toggled on “Let Windows Control Printers” option.  That was NOT a good idea…IF you don’t have a default printer set.


Yeah…I can see how that would work:  I’ve got Win-10 (1709) and it’s working perfectly with Office 365 and rolling Excel 2016 in this case.  With my previously declared printer (Brother duplexing laser) the rendering to the printer (and screen – which is a GeForce 730 driving a 3820 x 2160 UHD 55″ monitor) there were no issues.

BUT when P-Touch 5.2-something installed,  it left my printer with no default and hence, no default device to render charts to.

When  I finally nailed the problem (and solved it for good, it seems) – by turning off “Allow Windows to Control Printers” and declaring the duplexing hi-res laser the default, everything worked flawlessly.  My charts were back!  Tears of Joy!

I’m telling you all this because there are a couple of “lessons learned” even for an old-timer who’s been chasing bugs since the VIC-20/Trash 80/CP/M days…

The first is before installing ANY new software, set a restore point. 

I think all of us are guilty of taking new software as “good to go” and on things like the new P-Touch, who would have thought?  Yet there it was.

The second is learning to use Google with as few words as possible to describe a problem because that’s faster than reinstalling your OS plus all the programs and reactivating.  I shudder at retraining the voice recognition software.

Searching was how I eventual zoomed-in on this problem with Windows – it had been in discussions for a couple of years.  Why it hasn’t been fixed previously is beyond me.  I think Cortana is in software ‘bitch-fight’ with Siri…and blocking and tackling bugs like this one get back-burnered.

All in, I am still a huge fan of desktop computing:  Since we don’t text, having no cell coverage out here, when we want to connect with friends it’s via Skype and big screens.  Leave us smack in the land of real computers.

If you’re an Android of Mac user, don’t be so smug.  Sure, we can’t get our home automation to turn on the lights with a phone call, but Microsoft, unlike Apple, doesn’t degrade phone performance due to batteries wearing out, if you have been following all that.

And if you think I’m going to trust a password on an Android to my critical support systems (trading platforms and banks come to mind) you’re nuts.  End-to-end desktop SSL is fine and we are great admirers of the Gibson Research Password Haystacks discussion over here.

Phone users tend to be sloppy with security and we choose not to be. A massive cracking array would take 1.65 hundred centuries to bust us.

Yeah, all the backups in the world is a fine thing.

But the past two weeks, I would have traded all my backups of the data for a single restore point… Thus today’s lesson.

A BUG?  I can hear it now: “What Mr. Ure encountered was not a bug at all.  It’s what s/w engineers call “and undocumented ‘feature.’”  Yeah, dat’s it….of course…


Had a dandy note from a former flight attendant who used to fly for Ed Acker’s old outfit about the last US 747 flight:


Good morning. I had sent this to several of my Pan Am cronies, but I’m also sending you this because I know you’re an aviation buff.

It’s a very bittersweet event, but the last 747 flight is now a reality. My Pan Am days included the 707, 720, DC 8, 747, L1011, and a few others. The Pan Am fleet wound up in the boneyard out in the Mojave, not in AZ, but it’s still mind boggling that virtually every aircraft I operated is now destroyed, either through the crusher, or a crash (back in December 1988 I had operated a flight on the 747 that was the same 747 in the Lockerbie disaster – it was just days apart); a few of my 707s also had ignominious ends. I’m glad Delta is doing this so “Fat Albert” can have 1 last glorious time aloft.

The flight should be ‘in the books by now’ as it was scheduled for Wednesday, per the NY Post.

As a cub reporter, going to press conferences at BCAC (Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company) at age 21 on my dirt bike, once borrowed by Jordan’s King Hussein at the Boeing Renton plant where he was on hand for deliveries and he was taking pilot training on them. Hadn’t seen a Honda 350XL single before.  This was when the Renton, WA 727 line was still ‘cranking ’em out’ just down the stream from PACCAR (Kenworth).

Already, though, the Boeing 747 plant in south Everett at Paine Field had come on line.  Few thought there would be so much “industrial tourism” to the plant but people showed up in droves to see what a 98-acre building complex looked like.  In a word?  BIG.

There are still 747’s flying, but not in US carrier scheduled service.  The “new” name of the game that became clear when I was in the airline business in the early/mid 1980’s was the application of computational processes to aircraft optimization.

Nowadays, airplanes begin with rigorous city-pair analysis:  How many people and how much cargo between points A and B.  Then you look at operating costs and other restrictions.  For example, going into JFK or LaGuardia the emergent noise regulations in the area caused pilots to constantly worry about “ringing the bell” – an indication that noise abatement flight profiles weren’t being followed closely enough.

Ultimately, the airplanes than made the most sense depended on the city-pairs.  For short hops, with lots of people, lots of smaller equipment made the most sense.  For a while, one of the east coast carriers was running something called the “SkyBridge” service.  You could show up at the airport and you’d be in the air to NYC or Atlanta from MIA(mi) in less than 35-minutes.

Ah, the days before TSA, eh?

With this, an era passes under the wings – as they seem to with increasing frequency these days.  Once, though, airlines really were ready when you are and they were, indeed the friendly skies.

We were better people then.  We didn’t need a software program to be “social,” either.

Write when you get rich,

Coping: Sunday Night is SKN

Prepping/Comms:  Take it from UrbanSurvival Actual – this is a very big deal – this weekend – in celebrating the heritage of ham (amateur) radio.  Starting Sunday night to Monday night is Straight Key Night – SKN for short.

There is still a pretty good base of us “old timers” who can copy Morse code at 30+ words per minute.  If you don’t remember the Jay Leno “showdown” between some kids texting and a couple of good Morse ops, perhaps watching the video on YouTube (here) will bring you up to speed…

The Jay Leno show was not an odd event.  Here’s another example of how Morse smokes texting done on a television morning show.  A long lead-in (*skip to the end minute or two) but the idea is pretty simple:  Morse rocks.

(Continues below)


Just so you can feel knowledgeable, Morse lettings are made up of dits (shorts), dahs (longs), and precise spacings.  An “A” for example is dit dah.  “B” is dah dit dit dit.  And so forth.

When you start off, the customary “hand key” is where you begin.  That’s the classic image from movies.

High speeds come with a mechanical speed key (called a Bug) or electronic speed keys called Keyers.  Ultra-high speed can involve a keyboard for sending.

My personal best was around 43 words per minute (back in my high speed days).  Recently, I was sketchy at 38-40, pretty solid at 35, and going out for a sandwich at 25.  The real limiting factor is writing it down.  Using a pencil, writing 25-words per minute is a LOT harder than it looks.  A Morse operator writes in block letters chosen for speed of writing.

Morse is sometimes called CW.  That’s short for continuous wave – the carrier of a radio transmitter.

I will likely dust off my “collectible” Vibroplex Centennial Edition for a few minutes.

The difference between a Bug and a Keyer is the Bug makes the dits (shorts) only.  The Keyer makes dits and dahs both.  When you make the dahs (longs) on a Bug, there is some tendency not to be so consistent (compared to an electronic keyer) so many older ops (ahem,,,) get accused of having a “Banana Boat Swing” to their sending “fist.”

It’s called a “fist” because sending on a regular (straight key) involves precise “pounding of the brass” connectors with your “fist.”

A kind enough mention could never due justice to the fine work of the International Morse Preservation Society.  Been a member in the past and will again in the future.

One last footnote:  SKN is when a lot of us fire up our tube type gear.  Although the newly arrived Johnson Thunderbolt linear amplifier will probably not make it to the operating position in time, one of the tube rigs will do fine.  This is an old Drake 2B receiver (left) and a Gonset GSB-100 transmitter on the right:

Short story about why the Drake/GSB-100:  That was the first ham radio I ever talked on:  All the way from Seattle to Anchorage during the aftermath of the Good Friday quake back in 1964.

Tube-type gear is more resistant to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events, but until the NorKs go off on that fork, it’s not a worry.  Still, mankind has never built the weapon that doesn’t end up being used in anger sometime…

Morse code isn’t for everyone…it’s just one of those survival skills than will let you pass a message to others under very unusual circumstances.  It’s been used in covert ops, prisons, hospitals, and lots of unexpected places people don’t think about.

Elaine knows that if I ever lose my ability to write or run my onboard “voice processor” Morse is still a way to pass traffic.  People with strokes have done it…

So, if you notice an abundance of very out-of-practice ham radio people “pounding brass” while you’re tuning the old shortwave around Sunday night or during the day Monday, that’s what all the clicking is about.

Just old timer’s living in the day.  On the theory it may come around again.

Write when you get rich,

Coping: With Cancer and Cell Phones

Communications: We have been bemoaning the over-abundance, over use, over-price, over-tech, over-indulgence, and over-rudeness of cell phones for a good, long time.

Finally, although they get things generally wrong, California may be about to get something right.

Start with the Forbes article here: “California’s Latest Precautionary Move Against “Cell Phone Radiation”.

(Continues below)


The story is potentially huge.  It came out last week as a press release from the California Department of Public Health in a press release: “CDPH Issues Guidelines on How to Reduce Exposure to Radio Frequency Energy from Cell Phones.

In the public advisory, the California health folks mention this data which is glossed-over by the communications industry showing potential links between:

• brain cancer and tumors of the acoustic nerve (needed for hearing and maintaining balance) and salivary glands

• lower sperm counts and inactive or less mobile sperm

• headaches and effects on learning and memory, hearing, behavior, and sleep

As if that wasn’t enough, there has been plenty of concern over both the effects of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

“Exposure standards for radiofrequency energy have been developed by various organizations and governments.  Most modern standards recommend safe levels of exposure separately for the general public and for workers.  In the United States, the FCC has adopted and used recognized safety guidelines for evaluating RF environmental exposure since 1985.  Federal health and safety agencies, such as the EPA, FDA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have also been involved in monitoring and investigating issues related to RF exposure.

The FCC guidelines for human exposure to RF electromagnetic fields were derived from the recommendations of two expert organizations, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  Both the NCRP exposure criteria and the IEEE standard were developed by expert scientists and engineers after extensive reviews of the scientific literature related to RF biological effects.  The exposure guidelines are based on thresholds for known adverse effects, and they incorporate prudent margins of safety.  In adopting the current RF exposure guidelines, the FCC consulted with the EPA, FDA, OSHA and NIOSH, and obtained their support for the guidelines that the FCC is using.

Many countries in Europe and elsewhere use exposure guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).  The ICNIRP safety limits are generally similar to those of the NCRP and IEEE, with a few exceptions.  For example, ICNIRP recommends somewhat different exposure levels in the lower and upper frequency ranges and for localized exposure due to such devices as hand-held cellular telephones.  One of the goals of the WHO EMF Project (see above) is to provide a framework for international harmonization of RF safety standards.  The NCRP, IEEE and ICNIRP exposure guidelines identify the same threshold level at which harmful biological effects may occur, and the values for Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) recommended for electric and magnetic field strength and power density in both documents are based on this level.  The threshold level is a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value for the whole body of 4 watts per kilogram (4 W/kg).  “

Unfortunately, the Federal government is more likely to “give” to industry pressure because it’s easier for communications lobby groups to round up lawmakers in Washington rather than 50 capitols around the country.

Which explains the double-talk in the FDA statement, found online here, that says:

“Many people are concerned that cell phone radiation will cause cancer or other serious health hazards. The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

Or has it?

The way cell phones are considered “safe” is if each of the individual risks is taken absent all the other risks.  So, for example, we all know that accidents happen with cars because of people texting and not paying attention to traffic.  But THAT doesn’t figure into cell phone risk…at least not directly.

Yet here’s a recent study that says, in so many words, you’re a lot safer listening to an ebook than texting: “Good distractions: Testing the effects of listening to an audiobook on driving performance in simple and complex road environments.

And to be sure the “Life-Time Dosimetric Assessment for Mice and Rats Exposed in Reverberation Chambers of the 2-Year NTP Cancer Bioassay Study on Cell Phone Radiation” doesn’t actually give cell phones to rats and mice….

For all the talk of how good our electronics are, there are still costs of using them. Musculoskeletal pain and musculoskeletal syndromes in adolescents are related to electronic devices.

Still, not enough to indict cell phones as a health risk.  And, here’s the key thing, as we see it:  While the California guidelines came out as a shock, they are really quite commonsensical. We just don’t have enough data, yet.

All of which gets us around to the point of this morning’s epistle:  No, it’s not about cell phones.

It’s about the government’s database.

Oh, it’s dandy, and its current, and it’s useful.

All except for the ONE BIG GLARING shortcoming when I go through and look at reports.

There is no disclosure about who paid for the research.

Since we know (thanks to climate change/global warming) that the science goes where paychecks are issued, it’s abundantly clear that especially in MEDICINE it’s important to  have a solid handle of who’s a partisan in the issue, and who’s not.

Years ago, we had an issue with the small international airline I was with (yeah, SR VP) and it was marketing related.  So this colleague named Alex suggested we pay a substantial Florida university to do a “learned report” that would justify the position we were promoting.

Check done, report done and oh, how surprising:  It supported our objectives.

Can you believe that?

This is precisely where we are on cell phones.  As one example, there’s a hearing loss study that says “no impact” based on head side used for cell calls.  n – statistically the sample size, was 160 cases.  Another study (n-1600+) found just the opposite.

So back to our point:  When even ham radio operators (like Ure’s truly) have to post property with exposure signs and have a radiation exposure calculation in our local files (which we do…we don’t want to get cooked), how is it that cell phones don’t come with more risk awareness training?

Let me cite an Israeli study (2009, here) because it’s not common to line up the ducks this well.  Let’s see which countries are most restrictive on phone exposure:

Now consider the “loose” countries:

If it’s too early for math: We get 1.33 times more than the Swiss allow, 13 times the Israeli number and 1.66 times what Greece allows.

California is onto something…and it’s rare I will congratulate them with getting things so right.

Long-term public health longitudinal studies take years and as we figure it, an abundance of caution on the front-end is preferable to a national of half-baked zombies on the other end.

But, those microwave neighbors (cell phones) are already generating things like phantom rings…what will they generate next?   And who’s buying the research?

If you get a new one for Christmas, ask yourself: “Is this a lump of coal?

Write when you get rich,


Coping: With Media [ Mob ] Rule

Communications:  We begin this morning with an interesting phenomena up on the “gurney” here at  Cleat Through Labs.

We look at the problems around us and wonder how much of it is being whipped up by electronic versions of mob rule?

Let’s back up for a second and understand how it happens.  Maybe the best place is to consider a few thoughts about “flash mobs.”  These things never happened before the arrival of “smart phones” – which in the hands of dumb people can be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes.

(Continues below)


I must be the only one to see the clear and present danger in cell phone use beyond minimums.

Why, just this morning we have in our pile of “nice to get too it, if we only had more hours in the day…” pile:

Life-Time Dosimetric Assessment for Mice and Rats Exposed in Reverberation Chambers of the 2-Year NTP Cancer Bioassay Study on Cell Phone Radiation

Good distractions: Testing the effects of listening to an audiobook on driving performance in simple and complex road environments.

Teens’ distracted driving behavior: Prevalence and predictors.

This last one is pretty good: Gets to the idea that in 58 percent of samples, the teen drivers were engaged in secondary tasks (think dialing, redialing, texting, searching, yada, yada).

The reason this is so damn interesting to me is it puts some legs under our newest crackpot theory.  This proposes that…

Every demographic has a problem coming at it in the opposite lane about 50 percent of the time…”

In the 1970’s, for example, the young driver in the oncoming lane was either stoned, high, ripped, or smoked, often with beer.  Presto!  Along comes MADD and other right-thinking groups and here comes the education and DWI rates go down…

B U T…

In their place comes the distracted driving void which is likely to hit you with about the same frequency, damage, AND impact on insurance.

So here’s an easy prediction to make from the data:  Within a very short time, telecom providers will be able to hook up to insurance companies.  And, if you are texting and driving more than 2% of the time (allowing for an emergency, right?) then Ure rates would go up.

Credit where due, BTW: OM2’s son listens to audio books which allows his eyes to be on the what?  Oh-oh…not everyone has good genes, we’re sorry to report.

Oddly, there hasn’t been much in the journals (except for older work like Adolescents texting and twittering: the flash mob phenomena.) because why?  (Economics at work here!)  Social Media purveyors and the like don’t want people seriously looking at how our behavior gets all twisted around the axle by social media.

It’s Really called “Ultrasociality” by Experts

Try on The day of reckoning: Does human ultrasociality continue?

To counter human ultrasociality, alternative communities can arise (ongoing), and, unlike insects, lower echelons can unite and rebel. Examples include movements such as: “Black Lives Matter,” “Fight for $15,” “Occupy,” and the “Village Movement.” To strengthen ultrasociality, a surplus bottom echelon can be reduced: for example, by means such as imprisoning Blacks, deporting immigrants, wars, and the Holocaust. Alternatively, a new structure could be created, for example, ISIL (even more ultrasocial?)..

To be sure, it’s an early 2016 paper, but it gets to the point:  What is ultrasociality other than an e-mob?

And if you’re wondering by now (depending on the caffeine loading dose for the day) “Where did ultrasociality come from?” get a gold star because here is a POSSIBLE anwer:

A book (Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth) may hold the key to explaining how “social at all levels” could be the “new fire.”

Not saying it is, though, because just yesterday we had another radicalized gomer try to off himself and others in NYC at the bus terminal.

Which does (eventually) get to this morning’s hanging question:

What is ahead of us as a society?

Ultrasociety (and ultrasocial specifically) explans why someone can have an injured dog and raise thousands of dollars with a “FundMe” campaign.  While, at the same time, people are living in their cars…The key difference being one group is already into the new Ultrasociety and is ultrasocially connected, while the others are not able to afford even a laydown phone.

Which (thankfully) gets us to the nubbins of this morning’s discussion of internet access.

We can pretty clearly see (who wrote Broken Web The Coming Collapse of the Internet, right?) that a kind of socioeconomic showdown is “on the way.”

One might even go so far as to postulate that Bitcoin is the new currency of the Ultrasociety.  Which is a problem because the Old Guard, that thing we call The Network which is the interlocking directorships and offshore weasels who make the real dough and can afford to live out of the US and lie with impunity about their real incomes…well, those people won’t share power because (like a bad stock deal) they see shareholder dilution.  And, at least for now, they have all the shares.

The Left (and this is actually to the credit of people like Bernie, though much lesser so the Obamites and Gorists) have seen Ultrasociety early because they’ve been cobbling up a shaky foundation for their version of Utopian seems like foever…

For them, it’s a simple shift to swap out revolutionary causes (whose mom was a lefty?) and replace it with ultrasociety goals like breathable air.  Why, it’s almost graceful in an October Revolution sort of way.  And with the same political results on the way.

The drivers are obvious – and there are three right “in our face” this morning.  I mentioned Bitcoin is the money of the International Ultrasociety.  Sadly, there is a serious criminal element to it (which everyone wants to deny got Bitcoin going – Silk Road and all that).  But, back to the yin and yang of it all, it’s what gives the PowersThatAre a case.

The second is the Climate Mob.  This is made up of mostly dupes and dolts, who don’t see the larger game in play.  At the front on the socialist revolutionaries, who will take ultrasociety in lieu because they will be going with a tide.  Then, it will be a leadership swap and presto!  Done deal. They have managed to fund pro climate change (only) research, so we sit out here at the tree farm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We pray that carbon credits will get a Bitcoin-like bubble.

The third is the Republican party is imploding.  Oh, not here in Texas, but in the case of Moore a few states over, that’s a mess.  Problem is, people have heard enough of the touchy-grabby that anyone tainted by that broad-brush of personality assassination is toast, at least if the Ultrasociety does e–mobbing around it and actual gets out and votes.

So our bottom line?

Just wanted you to have the thinking tools in hand so you could see “the factions” that are duking it out on prime time news shows.

In their typical ignorance, the MSM (mainstream media) has failed to label the good guys and the bad.  But here’s a hint:  They’re all bad and they have all forgotten the basics – things like the Constitution.

So,  instead of investing in Bitcoins, damn shame we can’t invest in a company called Biofilm, Inc.  Because they have just the right product for times to come.

They make?  Astroglide.

Write when you get rich,  (or, at least tell Rich ‘hi’ for us…) (rim shot)

Coping: With the Return of REAL Typewriters

I mentioned a while back that I was planning to pick up an IBM Selectric II because to my way of thinking they were the absolute best keyboard ever made.  That is, if you don’t count that seven-pound marvelous mechanical keyboard that shipped with the original IBM-PC’s and which I used at a number of job sites in Ure’s Halt & Catch Fire-era.

Lots of UrbanSurvival readers write.  And not useless social jots.  Since A.G. Kimbrough wanders by often-enough I’ve actually focused on reducing typos.  And then there are colleague – like G.A. Stewart, probably the best Nostradamus writer on the planet, presently. Plus, I hold Chris Tyreman of The Chronicle Project in very high regard as well.  Not just as a reader, but as a graphic artist to boot.  And let me not overlook Lt. Col. (Retd.) Chris McCleary who picked up the National Dream Center project I launched back in 2008 and continues producing fine reports on what dreams foretell.  It’s an honor to be in such esteemed writing company.

Thing is, we all bash words for money (or love of research and intellectual jollies) and that requires the RIGHT machine.  Like selecting a spouse, car, or right sailboat, there are classics.  And that gets us to an interview with Daniel Marleau, another professional wordsmith, who has a dandy site The Typewriter Review which you can find over here…

(Continues below)


While my own preferences run to the Selectric I or correcting Selectric II, Dan’s focus is on the REAL machines.  Ones with no plug.  The manual machines that birthed everything from Hemmingway to…well, you name it.  Most great books haven’t come off keyboards, at least until lately.  Hemmingway wrote standing up, writer Coy up the street reminds us.  First of the Stand-Up-Desk crowd?

Since Urban is about making money and prepping (in other words, buy a future instead of social status crap) I though it’d be interesting to pop some questions over to Dan and see how a real typewriter aficionado looks at that’s out there…

I began my chat with Dan of Typewriter Review with the obvious: Are old geezers like me (*and maybe you) the only ones interesting in getting back to our typing roots?

Seems like the crafting crowd has gotten into typewriters for crafty projects. I’ve seen a new typewriter for sale at Michael’s craft store. I played around with it. As expected — unless you’re tapping out a few greeting cards, then avoid.? Plus, I’m not much of an electric guy, as you can tell. Though I’d love to give the vaunted IBM Selectric a spin! It’s an ICON! My dad’s secretary was a whiz on that thing. 

I could regale you with tales of the quarter-million newscasts I cranked out of a Selectric during my broadcast days.  The sound of the old Model 19 teletype, precut half-sheets of news print for stories…cigs going up in smoke in the ashtray… real audio tape cassettes of news-makers recorded on an early vintage Sony TV-110 – yeah, that was journalism at it’s finest.

Back to point, I asked Dan, “If you were a prepper – and wanted to be able to type when the net goes down (and presumably the power) what would you recommend? Your top 10 list?”

A proper prepper packs a pallet of pencils! I wouldn’t want to be making undue noises that’d call attention to my stash. ?Unless you’re living in an underground bunker, then I’d recommend at least 5 meters of concrete between you and your noisy machine. Still want to take chances with drawing looters? Go with the Remington Noiseless. I had one, it was so quiet that it barely made an impression on the paper! But if you insist on posting communiques with the outside world and want a minimalist machine with a small footprint that is somewhat quiet, go with the Olivetti Lettera 32. Zip up case for easy travel in case you need to hit The Road. It’s so small you don’t even need a table. Works great on the lap or from the horse’s saddle. I want a horse if things go south. 

What about full-sized machines? We see a lot of copy about the smaller portables, but what about those YUGE machines that were such a joy?

Full-sized , aka, The Standard. I wrote a post, “Titans of the Typosphere,” that touched on this subject. Despite their size, the YUGE ones are often superior machines — even if your fingers are small.

Having had a machine get wrecked in shipping (the first effort to buy a Selectric II) are there any packing (and for that matter shopping) tips you could suggest?

You read my mind! Got a post in the works with detailed instructions on how to pack along with pics. BUT — getting the average seller to abide by these tips is another matter! See answer to next question. ?Quick answer. 4 inches of padding all around the case. Ranpak is fine. Bubble is better. Use a rubber pad to disengage the carriage lock. Keep the carriage free floating. But, wrap the typewriter in plastic wrap to keep the carriage from moving. The carriage is the most sensitive part. I’ve got a story about Royal doing a stunt involving dropping typewriters by parachute. Those that landed flat were ok. If it landed on the side — the carriage got out of whack. Don’t know about packing electrics. I use FedEx packing services. I drop off typewriter, they pack it in a new box with loads of Ranpak. After I’ve secured the carriage. Never had a problem. FedEx seems to actually care about doing a good job. It costs about $10-12 for this service, depending on typewriter size. Totally worth the peace of mind! Plus, I don’t need to keep packing supplies in stock. 

A Selectric mechanic retired to his own shop in a big city (after 50 years btw) tells me that buying a machine on eBay is like roulette – with maybe better odds in the casino due to shipping. Would you buy a machine on-line? Or, would you stick to Craigslist and an in-person type-drive?

I agree, eBay for me has been 50/50, even after giving packing tips and the offer to give them a great review! But, eBay is a buyer’s market. I look for typewriters that claim the machine is “fully working” or some such language. If it arrives not in working condition, you have the eBay buyer’s guarantee. Full refund, including shipping both ways. The seller usually just tells me to keep the machine. I have quite a few busted ones in the basement. But still bummed — the world has one less working typewriter. I don’t have a repairman nearby. Sad!

What about old-fashioned publishing? Does ANYONE have old linotype machines, presses and such? I’d sure like to set up a hot lead machine one of these days but damned if I can find one.

Forget that and the mimeo — look up Risograph. That’s what I want.? They still make ’em and you can get good used ones. Great for doing a zine. But still need some power to run the thing. Not good for the doomsday scenario. 

(Hmmm…rocks and chisels?) 2. When the whole world electronica backbone fails what role do you see the printed/typed word?

When, not IF?? I’m optimistic about the world grid staying ON. As it turns out, it’s much easier to control (distract) people when you get them hooked on these little gizmos and screens. If they go offline, they’re liable to read and think and, well, we know that’s not good. However, I’m seeing young people opting out and looking for something more fulfilling than nonsensical snippets. I suspect it’s mostly brief moments of sobriety before they drink the magic potion and lull themselves into a semi-conscious state of swiping and tapping or gaming. If reports are true, teens drink less, don’t drive and delay having sex. What’s the fun in life?!?! Not much to write home about. I yeah, I forgot, they don’t write much these days. I’ve been reading my father’s letters from WWII to his parents. While the circumstances were dire, the writing was heartwarming. Suppose these days the warriors just fire up Skype or FaceTime….

Got that right, brother.  Still…care to make any side bets (after reading books like “One Second After”) about whether the Post Office will still be delivering?

Don’t know about that book, though I watched Kevin Costner in The Postman. Still delivering after the crash! There might’ve even been a typewriter involved in that movie.

All great questions! While I might not share your view on the current state of world affairs, I am a fan of post-apocalypse tales. And it seems these stories are never in short-supply. What is it about things falling apart that is so compelling? Do we yearn for a return to simpler times? Do we need to destroy the present to restore the past? I don’t know. About the only thing I’ve been advocating is the potential for a typewriter to reduce distractions and reveal a voice that might’ve gone undiscovered. Plus, it’s damn fun to pound the keys and see those typebars make a lasting impression! I never have that much enjoyment on a computer, which always seems like work. 

Enjoy and happy trails, amigo!

Dan’s site is and also has some great sources if you’re looking for a good manual machine with a little “character” to it.

If you’re feeling flush, you can get a mechanical keyboard like the Plugable Full Size 104-Key Mechanical Keyboard for Typing Enthusiasts and Gamers with Adjustable White LED Backlighting, Blue MX Style “Clicky” Switches, Double-shot ABS Keycaps, and N-Key Rollover (long enough link for yah?) for $50 bucks, but I get occasional double-strikes with that and finding a useful double-strike filter for Win-10 (the included one is useless, won’t go less than 0.5 sec.).

Hard to be a good mechanical machine – so check Dan’s reviews of some oldies but goodies.

Or, head to Amazon and pick up a very nicely reviewed (there) Nakajima WPT-150 Electronic Typewriter which with a ribbon or two will be under $200.

It’s the write thing to do.

Write when you get rich,