Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nigerian airplane bomb

I seem to be in hot water anyway ... I read the following account
in the comments section of The Washington Post
signed by a pseudonym, and decided that it was worth repeating ... if not
protecting from deletion ...

"We the people are not getting the full story on the underwear bomber.

Detroit attorney Kurt Haskell dropped bombshell revelations concerning his eyewitness experience of the Flight 253 attack and how the FBI detained a second man after dogs detected a bomb in his luggage on The Alex Jones Show today. The FBI has not only ignored Haskell’s story, but they have launched a cover-up by refusing to even acknowledge the existence of another man who filmed the entire flight, including the aborted attack, as well as the well-dressed man who aided the bomber to board the plane even though he had no passport and was on a terror watch list.

After being allowed to disembark from the plane by officials, passengers were detained in customs with their carry-on luggage for six hours while they waited to be interrogated by the FBI, according to Haskell.

At this point a bomb-sniffing dog pointed at carry-on luggage in the possession of a man Haskell described as Indian around 30 years old. Officials led the man away to an interrogation room. Haskell said he was concerned because the bomb-sniffing dog had flagged the man, indicating he may have had explosives in his carry-on luggage. The Indian man was subsequently led away in handcuffs.

Following this incident the FBI moved the passengers to another location. “You’re being moved,” the FBI told them, “it is not safe here. I’m sure you all saw what happened and can read between the lines and why you’re being moved.”

Haskell said the corporate media refuses to cover this aspect of his story. He has repeated it to “countless” news agencies and they uniformly have not included it to his knowledge.

Mr. Haskell questioned why officials have not released the Amsterdam airport security video that will undoubtedly reveal crucial information about the “sharp-dressed man” who escorted a disheveled Mutallab to the boarding area. Haskell described the suspected terrorist as appearing to be a “poor black teenager.”

The well-dressed Indian man did all the talking. He insisted Mutallab be boarded on the plane without a passport and when an airport employee refused to do so Mutallab and the Indian man went to talk with a supervisor. The Indian man tried to pass off Mutallab as a Sudanese refugee and have him boarded despite the fact doing so would be in violation of regulations concerning refugees. In general, documentation must be provided by an embassy in order for refugees to board international flights.

Mr. Haskell did not see Mutallab again until the botched terror bombing inside the plane on the approach to Detroit. He did not know how Mutallab finally boarded the aircraft.

The FBI conducted a follow-up interview earlier today in Michigan. Haskell asked them why he was not shown a full body shot of the suspect. Haskell was eight rows back from the suspect. The FBI agents did not answer and were displeased with the question. He also asked the FBI agents if it would be more appropriate to bring the surveillance video from the Amsterdam airport instead of still photos. “I don’t think they liked that comment from me,” Haskell added. The FBI said they did not have the videotape. They also made a point to tell Haskell they were asking the questions and not him.

See the interview here:

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Healthcare: A Right or a Privilege?
the headline read.

That's easy.
Back in the day, we all used to say "God heals the sick and the physician sends the bill."
God's healing is a right.
Paying the doctor's bill, however, is a privilege.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Fear" as an Institution

Now I am the kind of guy who, when he sees a fence,
understands that it was put there precisely
for him to find a way over, under, around or through.

I think that the "black swan" event in the USA was the assasination of JFK ...
followed by his brother, and MLK,
and then finally, just in case anyone did not get the message,
John Lennon.

All hope was killed in this society.
The only thing left for anyone to do was to take care of himself as best he could
and screw everybody else.
Well, we did.

Many people have said that the current "crisis" is a credit crisis,
caused by too much borrowing and too loose money.
I disagree.
Although those conditions certainly contributed, loans, sometimes very large,
have been a social tradition since ancient times.
However, what I have seen rise from nothing to the point of dominance
is a practice that had no historical precedent
but has now permeated everybody's thinking.

"Managing risk".

Just think about how much time and money everybody, and I mean everybody,
spends playing with futures contracts.
The first ones were automobile insurance, health insurance, and life insurance,
and the hoi polloi are still struggling with those.
But over top of them grew commodities futures and options contracts.
what we call derivatives. And the structures just continue to get more and more complex and large.

Now just look at one life insurance contract.
Basically it is a bet between you and your insurance company.
You are putting your money down to say that you are going to die before they expect you to -- if you are right, you win the bet and your family gets paid off. The insurance company is betting that you will live longer than you expect to, and keep on paying them premiums. They plan on raising and raising the premiums while lowering and lowering the final payoff. There's different rules and versions of the bet, but for the most part, the insurance company has stacked the odds considerably in their favor.
Out of this concept grew a whole new class of mathematicians,
actuarial calculators, statistics.
Soon afterward, we got a whole class of managers learning how to fudge the numbers by lying about the basic assumptions. (from which cometh the global warming debate, among other ills). The critics all go back over the mathematical equations and
they find that the arithmetic has been done correctly, so they conclude that the results are correct but they are not because the basic problem was stated wrong.

Back in the day, we used to say that the market boils down to two emotions, fear and greed. We understood that greed makes the market to go up while fear makes it go down.
But it seems to me that in the last fifty years or so,
bit by bit,
people have forgotten that simple fact.
Fear makes the market to go down.
Our society has become more and more obsessed with fears of all kinds, we keep collecting new ones.
Meanwhile, every old one becomes institutionalized,
made permanent in our minds and actions,
through the use of insurance contracts, derivatives, or what have you. As a culture we have collected more and more fears
without ever "solving" any of the old ones. They get built into our social customs
and our laws.
So the burden, and the expense,
just keeps on getting heavier and heavier.

One little example.
As I have said before,
I got rid of my computer virus protection two years ago,
because it was costing me considerable amount of money
and moreover the software was using up to 60% of my machine resources,
which I considered to be obscene and outright theft.
Since everyone else was protected, viruses can no longer work.
In two years my machine has not caught one virus
(but it has picked up an awful lot of new junk,
as the large corporations and advertising mavens relentlessly keep finding new routes
to invade and infect me and steal my time and resources ...
its an ongoing battle as, sooner or later, I find ways to get rid of the new junk
and then they invent still more nefarious methods of stealing from me.)

Anyway, what I am getting at is,
I have known that our culture, our society, is doomed
by this institutionalizing of our fears,
and by the smaller and smaller spaces that we have left
within which to create and grow.
I've known it for decades.
This place is decaying, its headed relentlessly downhill.
There is no escape.
Its not Bernanke's fault, or Greenspans, or Bush's or anybody's,
anymore than Nero was to blame for the fall of Rome.
Its just the way things happen in this world.
up and down, up and down,
too hot, then too cold, too bright, then too dark.

just like sex.
(now excuse me. I think I remembered something I have to do this morning ...)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Feeding Africa

(credentials: I have traveled to Ethiopia 4 times, eaten, slept, danced and prayed with the people, married one and brought her back to the USA, I also
mingle and socialize freely with Africans here.)

The predominant approach to the societies of sub-saharan Africa by the USA and western European nations has consisted mainly of sending food relief, to a lesser extent sending medicine, and sending a few missionaries who hole out in the local Hilton and force-feed the gospel. The justification for sending food rather than cash is that corrupt governments would steal the cash. Sending food has the dual effect of propping up first world agribusinesses by buying their surpluses, while crushing native farmers by flooding their markets.
For the past decade China has been exerting a greater and greater presence. I hear the same story over and over from my friends and acquaintances. The Chinese build roads, build schools, build hydroelectric dams and steel mills and mines.
They also immigrate in much greater numbers, enough to begin to sway the cultures.

I understand compassion. Children are cute, suffering children are heartbreaking. However, before you lift a finger to act, I strongly recommend the following exercise:

Plan to do this for a whole season. Set aside a time of day when you can buy a loaf of bread and take it to the park, every day. Once there, start to feed the few pigeons (or ducks, or sparrows, or whatever ...). give them bread until they stop begging for it. Then come back the next day.
After just a very few days, you should notice that the birds start to anticipate your arrival, recognize you, and eagerly look forward to their meal. You should also be noticing that they increase in number.
After a couple of weeks, you should be finding that you are now attracting large numbers of birds, quite a few more than you had ever seen in that park before.
You will begin to notice that a few of the other humans using the park may become a bit annoyed. You may notice that the bird droppings are increasing in the area and the odor is definitely deteriorating. In fact, if you continue in your daily routine for very much longer, your activities are very likely to come to the attention of the local constabulary. Depending on your demeanor, they will either politely or less politely find the means to persuade you to cease.
Through all of this, it may be an issue here as to if you have any intelligence and free thought. If that is the case, then it is likely to dawn on you that your efforts to fix a problem, i.e. hunger, have actually been encouraging the birds to be fruitful and multiply, as well as to invite all of their friends and relations. Thus your actions actually have the opposite effect of your original intention.
At least, I would certainly hope so.

Monday, December 7, 2009

black swan

Let me just share this with you ...

"Scientists must stop ignoring the black swan in the room"

The ongoing "climategate" email scandal brings to mind an old axiom of science about a lovely hypothesis being slain by an ugly fact. It refers to the principle that a hypothesis cannot be proven correct; it can only be falsified or proven incorrect. This principle is best illustrated by philosopher Karl Popper's white swan thought experiment. It goes like this:

If you see a large group of white swans, you may be tempted to hypothesize that all swans are white. But you cannot prove this hypothesis. No matter how many white swans you count, there always remains the possibility of a black swan lurking out there. And looking for black swans is a fundamental principle of the scientific method.

In the case of climate science, the emails and other documents make it absolutely clear that the cabal headed by Phil Jones and Michael Mann abrogated their responsibility to science by making no effort to disprove their own hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming. Indeed, they actively sought to prevent others from examining their raw data out of fear that they would find the black swan. They also took extreme steps to marginalize and silence scientists who disagreed with their work and who had the temerity to say, "But here is a black swan."

It is now clear that Messrs. Jones and Mann and their colleagues pressed on counting white swans all the while stumbling over the black ones. Their actions not only discredit the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming, but do incalculable damage to the public perception of science and scientists.

William G. Hopkins, professor emeritus, Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy birthday to You

This is just a friendly reminder that the above-titled song
is copyright, the copyright belongs to Warner Chappell,
and technically the song may not legally be performed at any
public gathering without paying royalties.

If you think that this warning can be safely ignored,
please read this account about the recent arrest and prosecution of
this no-doubt bloodthirsty succubus:,twilight-taping-arrest-movie-120209.article

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Mayan Empire

some semi-connected impressions:

Recently I had occasion to visit the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, Belize,
and listen to the enlightened guide of Carlos from "Lamanai Tours", Orange Walk.
(I highly recommend them, if you are down that way...)

Lamanai was one of the longest continually-habitated cities of the Mayans,
located some 8 kilometers from a major stone quarry on the New River lagoon.

Carlos said that when the spanish first arrived in the new world
and found these civilized inhabitants they asked them, in spanish, who they were.
The residents answered, in their own language, that they did not understand.
The sentence sounded like "mayan" to the spanish, and the name stuck.

Carlos explained about 2012 that Armageddon is just a Hollywood fabrication ...
that the Mayans did, indeed, have a circular calendar
and that one of the calendar's units was (is) a 52-year period
that just happens to end again in 2012.
The last one ended about the time of Kennedy's inauguration ....
The next one will end in 2064.
Circles have this quality about them, they just keep going around and around,
they never end ...

Carlos also talked about the devastation
that the spanish brought to the Mayans,
how Pisarro captured their king, held him for ransom,
and when the gold was paid, killed him anyway.
He also told how it was really the diseases of europe,
(among them syphilis, small pox, and tuberculosis)
which devastated their population and civilization even more than the spanish guns.

But what was even more interesting to me was
when he explained that the Mayan civilization actually went into a decline
spontaneously, around 900 AD, long before the spanish arrived.
Their calendar and indeed a whole system of hieroglyphics
had been developed prior to that time but reading and writing fell into disuse
and the whole population and economic development declined.
He voiced the question of modern scholars, "What happened?"

I know what happened.

Same thing's happening here, now.

At a certain point (it doesn't matter where!)
the general population of a civilization will reach a point where,
in their collective imagination,
there is precious little room for the civilization to grow.
There are no new frontiers.
At that point, the civilization will gradually turn from
productive, growth-oriented strategies to strategies
which are meant to defend or secure or hold on to what people have.
And because growth stops, those strategies of just trying to hold onto what we have
are doomed, by the law of entropy, to fail.

Everything in God's world works on cycles,
up and down, around and around.
Nothing stays the same, nothing goes up forever.

From a distance, its not that hard to see.


I have been saying this, over and over, for years,
and even though it just seems to generate jealousy, resentment and anger,
instead of anyone simply following my advice,
I will say it again:

Over the next twenty or so years,
the USA is going to become the "West Virginia" of China,
meaning that we will become impoverished
and our major economic activity will become the mining and exporting of coal.
Those who do not own it will have to work in the mines.

Here is a wonderfully-written synopsis of
economic events in the USA and the world over the last 30 or 40 years,
written by a Canadian banker ... it is long, very colorful, and worth finishing, imho:

The Power of Zero

"Anything which cannot go on forever, will stop."

Addendum, Nov. 23

This from Reuters today:
"the latest official Chinese customs data showed coal imports rose 219.5 percent from a year earlier to 11.14 million tonnes in October."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wind Electricity Generation

A compendium of facts collected from a wide variety of sources, and my inferences therupon.

The top two commerical wind turbines, by market share:
1 Vestas 22.8 V90 Geared 3,000 kW
2 GE Energy 16.6 2.5XL Geared 2,500 kW
[note that the figures of 3,000 and 2,500 are the nameplate capacities of those turbines.]

"Capacity Factor: Wind power typically has a capacity factor of 20-40%"
What this means is, that the nameplate capacity on a wind turbine is the maximum amount it can generate in ideal wind conditions.
The capacity factor is the percentage of its nameplate capacity to expect over a long period of changing conditions.

the installation cost:
"I asked the company Vestas this question. They are number two in the world in producing wind turbines. They told me the answer is based on a thousand factors but that the general rule of thumb is that wind turbines cost 1.3 to 1.5 million per megawatt. "

USA electrical generation, by source, for 2008:
coal: 1,994,000,000 mWh
NG: 877,000,000 mWh
nuclear 806,000,000 mWh

"The American Wind Energy Association has reported that wind projects installed through the end of 2008 were expected to generate 52 million megawatt-hours/year (MWh/yr),"

Okay, now its time for one inference from me.
This is a mere calculation:
If anyone has a stated goal of replacing all of the existing coal-fired electricity generation in the USA
(and assuming, for the moment, that electricity demand does not increase),
2,000,000,000 mWh divided by 8500 hours/yr is about 250,000 mWyr.
250,000 of the largest commercial wind turbines.

If they cost $3 million each, as above, thats a total of $750 billion, or roughly the budget of DOD.
And, after building them, you have to find someplace to put them. Not in my backyard, please.

tomorrow lets look a little closer at coal.

addendum, Nov. 21

I just have to wonder ...
how much coal has to be burned (in blast furnaces) in order to fabricate one large wind turbine.
I imagine that its not insubstantial. There is still no other way to make steel....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I went to go see "Teza" with my good friend Miss Anne on Sunday.

Anne was raised in a one-room home not too far from here about the
same time that my mother was teething on her silver spoon. She is
doubtless the most gracious and gentle person that I have had the
priviledge to know. I love to share new, special pieces of music or art
with her and here her perceptions.

"Teza" is a low-budget, award-winning movie written and directed by
Haile Gerima. The movie has won awards from Vancouver to Venice.
an arduous project, it took the team 14 years to complete.

"Teza" means "dew" in amarinnia, the official Ethiopian language.
The movie depicts a young man who leaves his village for schooling in Cologne.
He returns to Addis Ababa to work as a medical researcher at the University,
during the regime of Mengistu and the Derg. His best friend is violently
murdered. He is exiled to East Germany. There, a band of white "skin-heads"
beat, lame, and almost kill him. Finally he returns to his village, there to ponder
the meaning of life and to teach reading and arithmetic to young children.

As a young adult Anberber is full of hope, vitality and energy. He
wants to find cures and bring hope against the dreadful diseases which
scourge his people. But he finds frequent dangerous conflicts with
the communist regime in Addis Abeba and its supporters.

The whole story depicts many different incidents of people inflicting
harm and suffering to other people. Anberber's dad had been among
an army wiped out by an invading army's gas attack. A couple of boys from
the village are forcefully captured and conscripted to war; one is returned later,
mortally wounded. A young mother, overwhelmed with the craziness
of her world, suddenly kills her own young baby. Anberber's friend
fathers and then deserts a boy in Germany, who grows up to become
enraged at his treatment as a half-breed. And deeds beget other deeds.
This is a long, long movie and it is not easy to watch. While we are all
busy with the challenges and trials we face as adults, somehow, the morning
dew has all vanished.

As a young man, I was often praised for the intelligence I showed
and exhorted to do what I can for the world and for mankind. I
was trained in aspects of world history and culture and personally
exposed to many, many diverse views. My peers all shared the same
hopes and enthusiasms. Now, as I enter old age, I perceive a culture
that is rotten and mistaken almost to its very heart. I and many of my
companions heartily doubt its ability to survive the onslaught of several
inevitable cataclysms, among them the reduction of cheap, readily-available
energy, the overpopulation on the planet, the reduction of food supplies, and the failure of people to foresee and address the problems.

I married a young Ethiopian girl, awed with her charm, intelligence,
perseverance and wit, thinking that I could perhaps do a little good.
She stubbornly clings to her philosophy that blind hope is far better
than the pessimism of wisdom and experience. And more and more,
she is teaching me to abandon plans and preparation. Perhaps
this very moment is the only one that I have ....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Concerning Al Gore and Me

I am one of Al Gore's important supporters. Please allow me to explain.

Al Gore, of course, is the man who invented the Internet.
Wonderful invention. The most democratic technology to come along since
the invention of the printing press. The whole idea behind it, from the git-go,
was to be able to survive and prosper without the aid of central authority.
My kind of world. But I digress ...
So, we suspect that the Internet requires some power. Its a little difficult
to determine how much, the subject seems to be a sore point among liberals.
But here are a couple of quotes, estimates:

"U.S. business servers and data centers suck up the energy equivalent of all the electricity consumed by color televisions. The industry uses about the same amount of electricity as 5.8 million average American households."

"according to Dr. Jon Koomey, scientist at Lawrence-Berkeley labs. The actual number is closer to 1.5 percent [of all Us-generated electricity]"

"Worldwide data center power demand in 2005 was equivalent (in capacity terms) to about seventeen 1000 MW power plants."

Well, after Al Gore finished inventing the Internet, it seems that he had nothing to do. I heard he had some disappointments hanging around Chad. Then he got over it, and helped to make an inconvenient movie. I hear it was a big hit, though I've never seen it myself. I did hear that one of the authors misplaced a decimal point in one of the calculations, accidentally stating that 23 inches might be 23 feet.

Movies, of course, also require electricity to display, but maybe not so very much. In 2007, a careful sleuth determined that Al Gore's electric bill for his personal residence in Nashville, Tennessee averaged over $1300 per month
(and he forgot to turn off his lights for "Earth Day" )

So now, you ask, since evidently Al Gore has never even heard of me, how is it that I can claim to be one of his important supporters? Its quite simple. As you surmise from my blog, I am a private investor, independent, feisty, extremely successful. I do not know how far my reputation goes but there are signs that at least a few people know about me and a few of my ideas. I've been successful ever since George Bush announced that he wanted to invade Iraq, and I made the simple observation that since Osama Bin Laden had never lived there and all Bush's friend were oil men, probably he wanted the oil. So I bought oil stocks.
However, being an equal opportunist, I also bought coal. I've learned while I've earned. I've learned about US coal reserves, uses, extraction, and shipment. Not the least important is that about half of all electricity generated in the US comes from coal, while the electricity that comes from wind and solar panels is, well, not even enough to power the Internet. I've also received immense returns on my investments. I've also freely posted a whole lot about what I know, in different places on the Internet, so that others can share in the profit.
So you see, all this electricity that Al Gore is inciting other people to use (like, to tell everybody about "global warming"), and all this electricity that he is using himself, has to come from somewhere. Mainly, from coal. I'm doing whatever I can to help out. I hope he appreciates what I do, because I sure appreciate what he does.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Same Story, Different Day

from another buddy,
trying in vain to send out the news
through Yahoo to Beijing:

<Several countries, such as India and China, give financial incentives either in the form of tax breaks or cash payments to companies producing fossil fuels including coal that are major contributors to climate change.
Dumping subsidies could cut global warming by 10% by 2050, according to figures form the International Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the draft. The G20 will discuss possible ways of phasing out subsidies at their next meeting.
"Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change," the draft reads.
G20 leaders will agree to investigate ways of providing financial help to countries threatened by climate change, according to the draft, and "intensify our efforts" to reach a UN climate change agreement at the upcoming talks in Copenhagen.>>

I'm a little suspicious as to what exactly is included when they say they want to eliminate fossil fuel "subsidies" in terms of the G20.

Countries like Iran, Saudi, and Ven certainly subsidize consumption but my concern would be that they also eliminate certain legitimate tax deductible expenses for the fossil fuel industry....expenses that are necessarily incurred to carry on in business.

Witness what was done recently in the US with regard to some previously deductible expenses. Are we to see more of the same?

If that's the plan, the effect on new energy supplies will be much more immediate and trump normal geological depletion (which is already a tough hurdle to beat) and put us back to the stone age in no time. Surely, these knuckleheads aren't thinking along those lines while at the same time thinking alternatives can make up the difference on an even more accelerated timeline????

I shudder to think that if such plans are in place how the industry will ever be able to come up with the necessary capital to even come close to meeting our energy needs but is this all part of the master plan?

Are the elites wanting to create energy shortages so they can justify rationing and gain more power over us?

This elite-sponsored govt interference is actually more dangerous than peak oil is because it accelerates the timeline and the speed at which the alternatives need to be ramped up to offset declining fossil fuel supplies.

And there will be no turning back once the industry's capacity in terms of both capital and the necessary skilled human resources is no longer available.

Of course, this would suit the elites who are pulling all the strings in that it would ensure that everybody would have to tow the line and obey govt in order to get their allotment of rationed energy wouldn't it?

I never thought about this before but it makes sense to me now.

In an energy constrained world, we are much more likely to be faced with a more dominant government and that's not a good thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


From time to time, the national news media bring up issues relating to
Chinese censorship on the Internet, often in relation to american companies
such as Yahoo aiding and abetting. As usual, we may have here yet another case
of the shill master trying to divert your attention from what is really going on.

I did not blog about the time I tried to post something on Yahoo about
the seventh planet in our solar system, and the name was replaced with "U)(*&&&%%$".
That was just too funny, but also too trivial to write about.

A friend of mine has been trying all week to post the following post
on one of the (USA) yahoo finance message bases. Every time he tries to
post it, the post is blocked, with no explanation. He emailed it to me
and I tried to post it there under my handle. Yahoo still blocks it.

"I'm not sure I believe the judicial system is all that independent anymore."

Oh yes it is. Don't buy the jive about that.

Yes, the mortgage bag holders know they've got to get the law changed now. They are toast. I suspect most of the states will rule the same way. What the wall street idiots did with the MBSs, or CDOs, or whatever, simply ignored the law. They wanted to turn mortgage lending into a casino.

To do that, you've got to grease the palms of the best gubment money can buy, like they did for years. They were so confident they could buy every Fed. regulator and politician in town they thought they didn't have to worry about the small time state judges. Big mistake.

Obviously, something has to be done. But at this point, I'm not sure what can be done. Obama says no more bailouts. I suspect Ben feels the same way. The recovery of the market takes the CDO crowd's leverage away. And Phil Graham no longer rules the Senate.

And the state court judges don't give a shiess about any of the above.


Well, lets see if Google will allow me to post it here ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

The markets?

Okay. I don't get these markets.

Okay, we all know that the US Federal Reserve is printing money like mad and putting it into circulation, one way or another. Also, we understand that money
"velocity" is way down because everyone else besides the government is hoarding it.

My understanding is that money is not wealth. It is an arbitrary symbol for wealth,
predicated on the myth that it is scarce (in reality, the government can make absolutely as much of it as sawdust or sand, as much as it wants, right?) Printing
more money does not make more gasoline, or sunlight, does not make more roads,
houses, tires, computers, or anything else. Printing more money to make wealth
is like wearing a flag lapel pin to promote patriotism and heroism. Or,
like pushing string.

So the government is busy printing money and passing it out to the least deserving individuals, the least productive, i.e. certain corporations which have colossally failed to produce wealth but instead have destroyed it. Somehow I don't see how
that helps anybody. Did I miss something?

The media keeps saying over and over that "70% of the economy is the consumer"
and keeps nursing the fond hope that the children, once weaned, can be induced to return to their mother's breast. The citizens are at least peripherally aware of the massive debts. It seems to me, that the way to pay off the debts and to create wealth, is to do work, to engage in productive activity, to engage in activity which is useful and desired by other individuals and entities, to produce goods and service which the rest of the world desires to have ... (somehow, I do not believe that war, coercion, or hypocrisy are commodities that too many people are envious enough to have that they will offer things like oil, cell phones, or tropical hardwood lumber in order to obtain).

Meantime, how can we hope to receive more when we continue to do less and less ourselves?

I don't get it....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My computer makes a joke.

Please regard the following backgammon position:

(If you don't play this game, I'm sorry, this will take too long to explain.)

As you see, I am playing against the computer.
As you know, backgammon is a sufficiently-limited game such that the computer can,
from any position, work out all of the possible eventual outcomes and
compute the exact probability of winning or losing.
The dice enter an element of randomness into the game.

Now, never mind how we got into this position in the first place.
It had to be an interesting game, such that
the computer and I doubled and redoubled all the way up to 64.
What I want you to look at is the current situation.
It is the computer's turn to play.
Now if you know the game, the computer has a 100.0% chance of losing at this point
but it has a clear majority of a chance to get one man off
before I get all mine off, thus saving itself from the gammon.
I still win the match, probably a very important issue,
because the match is only to 50.

But the computer, instead of either playing it out
or offering a resignation of a single,
has offered a resignation of a double, or gammon!

Pure fatalism.
and you thought only people get depressed ....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Markets

The markets can not and will not ever be stabilized.
It is not their nature to be stable.
The crowd, the majority, is always wrong.
The markets will always go in the direction which prove the most people to be wrong.
No system, no "risk management", no regulations, no "manipulation" will ever be able to stop this from happening.
The markets are made up of the billions of individual decisions of all the participants.

Mother Nature herself works in cycles, tiny and small and medium and large cycles, day and night, winter and summer, warm eons and ice ages, birth, growth, decline and death.
Man always dreams about stability and constancy
but life itself is not like that and can not be made to be like that.

The readers of this message base have had the privilege of living through the richest, most complex heights that civilization will ever attain. We are all now facing decline and crumbling. This process is larger than any individual, no matter how heroic, or any institution. It is inevitable, though poorly understood by most. The direction will not be constant, there will be "indian summers". The ultimate outcome will be far fewer people on earth, far less connectivity
(The Internet is going the same route as the Tower of Babylon),
far more languages, less travel, less knowledge, less trade,
simpler device and tools, more interpersonal contact and people helping their neighbors for no personal gain,

more happiness.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Elevator Humor

I work in an office building which houses roughly 1000 cubicles.
It was built for the gubmint, which has always rented it.
Three floors below the street level and three floors above it are
dedicated to a parking garage; then the offices occupy the
15 floors above that. The builder/owner has some kind of
sub-rosa contract with the county so that the munincipality
collects parking fees and writes citations for scoflaws.
No one I have asked knows what the builder/ownber gets in return.
So there are two banks of elevators in the building, one
traversing the public floors, the other, the restricted offices;
with a security checkpoint in between. Its suitably convoluted
for the gubmint, confusing everyone who first tries to negotiate
and navigate through.
The public floors are labeled (from bottom to top)
G4, G3, G2, P, M1, M2, 1.
The office floors are labeled 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15.

I often arrive early in the day. After settling in and checking my
mail and appointments, I often have cause to go back down to
the bottom of the building. I get on an office elevator, go down
to 1, cross the security checkpoint, get on a public elevator,
and go down to G4. Sometimes others get on with me.
Always polite, and standing next to the buttons, I ask,
"Are you going to 'P'? Its not funny to the regular
inhabitants anymore but there are always salesmen, job applicants,
and newbies. If they ask what the letters stand for, there's
always "Pis for groud level, G is for parking."

Usually the elevator will stop there anyway. And nearly always,
there are people coming in to work who have not yet had their
second cup of coffee and have not taken the time to look
at the indicator over the opening door. So they will
push their way in, then realize that the elevator is going
down, and then push their way back out. Or, someone
truly somnambulant may stay on the elevator and go
"Oh!" in dismay as the doors close and it resumes its
downward course.

The other morning, I was severely waylaid on the
way down by individuals who simply were not paying attention.
On the way back up, the travel was turning out to be
equally tortuous. I passed by security and finally
found an empty elevator and pressed my floor. But just as the
doors were closing a hand found its way in, followed by
a harried young blonde.

I could not stop myself. I said, "This one is going down!".
She hurriedly got back off. I spent all day giggling to
myself, wondering how long it took her to realize that
that elevator was already at the bottom of its shaft.
Some days you get the elevator, other days people mess with you.
So it goes ...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Thievery

On the commuter train this morning, a gentleman recently discovered his need for a spare key to his property. He allowed as how there must be a thousand places in his yard to put one. Maybe he could buy one of those fake rocks to hide it in.
I said nothing. I've long since dispensed with this "situation" in our culture. For my own self and my own property, I simply do not lose either my own keys or wallet. I have not lost either item for over thirty years. Once or twice I have misplaced them, but a bit of reflection will always reveal to me where they are, even if that means coming to the understanding that my cat has seen fit to place them more to her liking.
I also figured out, a long time ago, that virtually every homeowner in the country goes through the same experience and comes to the conclusion that he must hide a spare key somewhere on his property outside of the locked door. Its a given that he must lock his doors ... everyone does, which is why I don't need to.
Its also a given that a common thief is armed with this information: that every homeowner has placed a key somewhere outside for him to employ. All he needs to do is to find it. (The same principle applies to computers and passwords and personal information, of course, but that is meandering from my topic.)

Okay, I am a thief. Always have been, since I was a very little boy. I have never lowered myself to common burglary, however. I am confident that this particular gentleman has nothing inside of his plastic home beyond a few pieces of Walmart furniture made from polyurethane chipboard that he aseembled himself, a very large flat screen tv (ugh! you can't pay me to have one!), some plastic
credit cards, and probably a set of glass (china???) and stainless steel (silver???) from his wedding.

For a long long time my stealing has remained entirely within the laws, rules and customs of our great nation; which laws, rules and customs, of course, were all designed by the thieves at the top of the heap.

Of course I have long contended that this nation was settled by rogues, thieves and bandits who could not get along with their families, friends and countrymen and so had to leave. The revolution was nothing more than a rebellion by some well-to-do landowners, most of them slave holders, who simply did not want to pay their taxes, but ended up with a new government with higher taxes than ever. "Revolution", a turning, as in, the more things change the more they stay the same. But that, too, is straying off topic.

Apparently, GS got "caught" last week with their hand in the cookie jar. According to some "insiders", they had discovered how to access and read every single electronic trade, milliseconds before it was executed, in fact, in just enough time for them to open a position themselves first, then close it right afterward, virtually guaranteeing them a fractional profit with no risk.
A tax, as it were, on everyone else. Everyone. Making them a few millions a day.

No biggie. At the moment, total trading volume is off by almost half and volatility has reached a low not seen in my memory. Must be kind of frustrating for people who live off of price swings and commissions. I'm so sorry. I hear, though, that they are licking their chops over the proposals for "cap and trade". I've mentioned before in this blog that the coming winter is going to be the coldest in everyone's memory across Europe and North America ... GS better keep their propaganda machine "hot" if they hope to continue this "global warming" Oz and keep everyone from noticing the man behind the curtain.

I still own more coal than anyone you ever met. And I'm buying more.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tsunami (again)

"In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case gold. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves."

-Alan Greenspan

yeah, there is. Oil.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

An Ever-Flowing Tribute

Don't it always seem to go,
that you don't know what you've got til its gone.
Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.

-joni mitchell



When I started work in silver spring in 1990,
this little park became one of my favorite lunch spots
and I delighted in finding a flowing spring so near the city.

In the late 1990's, the ramshackle stores and
parking next door were torn down in favor of building
a large, modern department store. The store went
bankrupt almost immediately and was resold for office space.
The process of digging the foundation disrupted the
delicate subterranean capillaries feeding the spring
and it stopped flowing, forever.

Several years later, the little park was restored again,
with new slate walkways, some nice perennial flowers and
bushes, and a few benches. Someone I guess realized the faux pas
and so an electric pump was installed near the spring and
hidden under a steel cover made to look like a big rock.
To date it has not been turned on.

I really don't need to say anything, do I?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I was on the phone with JT the other day talking about woodworking, when God piped up with the answer to a prayer that I hadn't exactly articulated. He doesn't usually say much to me when I am with other people, and I never, ever, ever find Him in church. But, He can do anything, can't He.

My mother's father was a preacher, and his Daddy before him. He died young but my grandmother always hoped that I would take to the cloth. My Dad's Dad was a newspaper columnist (am I following in his footsteps with this blog?). His Dad was a character … he fled New Hampshire to avoid the draft for the Civil War, got land in the Illinois Territory, and did all kinds of things. He married a young woman that none of our family genealogists have been able to trace and my grandfather was born to them in 1898 (now do some arithmetic!). But his dad, and his dad, and his dad, and his dad are all buried next to the little white clapboard church in New Hampshire where they preached all their lives. The first one of those, of course, left Boston for New Hampshire to steer clear of the French and Indian war. But enough of that.

I guess that I have been asking God this question, in different ways, on and off, for a very long time. There are all these fabulous gifts that He has given me. I have wonderful health, have never broken a bone, had surgery, or any major illness. Though small, I bicycled everywhere I wanted to go during my late teen years and developed incredible stamina, once covering 220 miles with 50 pounds of luggage in 24 hours. IQ tests administered to me in those years consistently came back with the score of 153, or above 99.95% of the population. My memory is still sharp; short term I remember 12 passwords, my and my wife's SS#'s, driver's license #'s, bank account #'s, car license #'s, and I keep my appointment calendar in my head. Long term, I still retain several memories from my pre-kindergarten days.

Besides all those generous gifts there are two more. One is actually many; the verifiable incidents of prescience that occur to me, somewhat at random, at a rate of about 1 or 2 a week. From time to time I “know” something is going to happen when I have no way of knowing. The other, is God's rather verbose communications with me. Sometimes, I chalk that one up to the fact that He is just lonely. Sure, a whole lot of people are sending up requests and demands of what they want and how they think His world should be, all the time. But very, very few people ever seem to pay attention to Him, very few ever seem to listen, or respect and enjoy the wonderful crazy diverse world that He has made. Besides some of His jokes can be a little crude, though still uproariously funny!

I was “reborn”, while lying drunk and half-dead in the cellar of an old church. I was lying in a pool of stale water and old spilled heating oil, in the dark. From the low wooden ceiling were hanging dozens of old spider's lines, with something dessicated wrapped up in gauze hanging from the end of each one like a scene from “The Hobbit”. I seldom speak about it with any person because the term “reborn” is so cruelly misused by so many people these days. For me, rebirth in God was only the first step (actually I had to crawl for awhile before I could walk!). It was like clearing out my ear canal. I realized that He had been talking to me all along, but I had just not been listening. I began a process of throwing out everything that my parents and society had taught me, starting over, and learning about life, and people, directly from God. He showed me that the world is entirely inside-out from the way most people see it, in so many ways. For example, it really is true that every dollar I give away, comes back to me and makes me richer. It also is true that the more money I accumulate, the more burden and work it becomes for me, mainly because of all the other people who try to get it from me by one means or another. He presented miracle after miracle, for my eyes only, to help me in my growth. He taught me that most people are wrong about most things, most of the time. Then, gradually, as I grew older I became more absorbed and involved in the world of other people, more mature and able to stand and act without His direct participation, an adult as it were, and I hear a lot less from Him these days.

Among other things, God taught me a great deal about hypocrisy and preaching. I hope that I do much less of that than I used to. What He showed me, over and over, is that whenever anyone preaches or moralizes or counsels on any subject, he does it because its he himself who needs to learn the lesson that he is spouting. Almost all the time, as we well know, the people preaching or moralizing fail to listen to themselves. That is why preachers go on preaching, politicians go on politicizing, and psychiatrists go on psycho-anal-izing. Because they seldom listen to themselves. I learned, now and then, to listen to my own preaching, and to take heed. Its not easy for me to change my own behavior. But its so much easier than changing anyone else's!

For the last several years, as you may know, I have been reaping extraordinary returns on the stock market. My numbers make Bernie Madoff look like a piker … and mine are real. Yet, I am not rich, or even wealthy in many peoples' eyes. I have given away a formidable share of my winnings. Most of the money has gone to people who were not born into privilege, some people who, due to circumstances out of their control, cannot even buy a break for themselves. A good chunk of what I have made, in fact, has found its way back to Africa. Looking at the Bernie Madoff exposure and the AIG bonuses, I realize that God has protected me from becoming rich and especially from being ostentatious about my lifestyle, because the rich are getting into more and more hot water these days (deservedly so, I might add …). Basically, I am in love with the market. She's my main squeeze, I never tire or get bored with her. The game is everything, the money is just a side effect.

So I have this very general question before Him: what am I supposed to do with all these gifts? What is Your purpose for me? Its very typical for someone of my background to act as benefactor for people less fortunate. Its also very typical to think that, having prescience means that God wants me to prophesy and preach. People, of course, take to my preaching and prophesying about as well as they did to Jeremiah. I have just about the same kind of news to tell as he did and its no more popular today than it was then. Or, am I supposed to just keep quiet and keep stealing money from the market and giving it to people who don't have my opportunities? Perhaps one or more of them is the one that I, like an earlier John, was sent to herald and baptize?

What He said was, “You do not have to do anything. This is not a trade. I don't ask for anything from you. I just give them to you because I love you. Go out and do what you want, and take care of yourself. Have a good time.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eyes in the back of their heads

The following photo can be found here:
where it is marked "all rights reserved" but also marked "anyone can view".

Oftentimes, it seems to me that every other human being I deal with, acts this way some, most, or all of the time.
I am again reminded of the play by Ionesco named "Rhinoceros" in which, one by one, every character but the protagonist, voluntarily turns himself into a rhinoceros, and proceeds to wrought the destruction of civilized institutions that such an animal can bring about. He was writing about the normal citizens, the everyday people, of German society in the 1930's and 40's. But it seems equally
appropriate to describe how contemporary American society can condone torture and gross human rights violations and the most outright thievery by all the people in high places.

I guess what it is, is that everybody, especially younger people, can be seduced into doing the most heinous, awful things, provided only that there is a slow, gradual introduction, in order to maintain social contact and to "get along with" the people around him.
Or, I guess what it is is that everybody else but me has their eyes firmly fixed on the past. The lesser intelligent people will be focused on yesterday, or maybe the last hour, or maybe the very last thing anyone has said to them. More intelligent people will be able to see back further. But just about everybody believes that they are looking at the future but they try entirely to expect the past, one or another item of their knowledge of the past, to repeat.
What seems to be different about my approach is first of all that I understand that time, "chronos" is synonymous with change. From a knowledge of the past, it
is very possible in many cases to reason how current events are going to impact the
future. If I see a child balancing on a book on a chair trying to reach a cookie jar
on the top of the refrigerator, I can pretty easily deduce what is likely to happen,
and I can pretty much guarantee that the result is not going to match what the child is anticipating.

just, sometimes, I get so lonely ....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Red Rose Petals

For some reason, this incident from my past keeps welling up from my memory. It happened at a time when my life was made up nearly all of hopes and dreams, having very little substance to maintain and care for.
Working for a delivery company, I was walking down an urban street looking for an address. My eyes were diverted by a vision of spilled blood at my feet. However, looking down, I saw that there were just several fresh red rose petals fallen on the sidewalk.
As I walked on further, I spied two men in coveralls attempting to raise a tall ladder. One was holding the feet to the ground, while the other was walking it up from the other end. Though it was an extension ladder, maybe 24 feet, it lacked a rope through the pulley to raise it properly so they had to do it the hard way.
The man from the top came in closer and closer. The to went up, 10 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, as he approached his comrade rung by rung. At about 70 degrees, the top of the ladder began to sway from side to side. He struggled to control it. Then suddenly he realized that he could not, for the weight above him had far more leverage than he did. He ducked quickly to get out from under. The top of the ladder swung out and rested for just a second against the wires suspended along the street by telephone poles. Then it came crashing down, down, down to the sidewalk below.
Only then, the man at the feet, let go of the ladder and fell back on his back and started gasping spasmodically. Belatedly we realized what might have happened to him. The workman who had been at the head end, ran to the first townhouse door to knock frantically. His partner lay there, jerking erratically.
Remembering my goodly training from my boy scout days, I began to do what I saw I must do. The man soon stopped breathing or moving. So I put aside my customary persona and proceeded methodically to deliver mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When I delivered two or three good lungfuls, he started hopefully to breath again heavily. His breaths came fast and deep. But each breath was shallower than the last. After five or six, he came to a rest again.
I began again. This time I went a little more slowly, deliberately. Although small on the outside, all my internal cavities have unusual capacity and strength. I could give him good, rich air. This time I delivered three or four breaths to him. Then he gasped and began panting heavily again. Again, his quick breaths faded gradually back to stillness.
Very distantly I could hear his partner panickly pleading for help on a phone.
A third time I began to deliver breath to this person seeming to fight for his life. This time I gave him three, four, five good draughts and then he began, again, on his own. His efforts were a good bit weaker this time and I was prepared when they faded away yet again. This pattern went on, and on, it seemed for a lifetime, at least for 15 minutes. Each time, it took more breaths from me to get him started. Each time, his breathing was weaker when it came. Each time, the period where he was still grew longer.
Finally I heard an ambulance pull up on the street and paramedics jump out. From behind me a man said, in a slightly bored and disgusted tone, “That’s enough.”
I pulled back and rose to my knees. From there I could see that the man had completely wet his pants. I gathered from the paramedic’s tone that he thought the situation hopeless, the man gone. For just a minute I waited to see if anyone wanted anything from me, if there was anything to do. In silence, then, I got up and padded quietly away.
For awhile I reflected on the thought that “In the boy scouts, they don’t tell you that you can do everything right, you can do everything you know how to do, and still the patient will die.” I struggled all afternoon with what I was to feel about this happening, what I was to learn, what was gained, what was lost. Basically there wasn’t any change in my routine. I found the address where my package was supposed to be delivered and dropped it off. Nothing else happened that day.

We had a pretty good rally in the markets for the last two weeks. Some people are already talking about the bottom being in. But I’m older now, and more aware of the unmistakable odor …

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cushing, OK

I count seven large tanks here with no vegetation around them,
meaning that they could have been built recently.
but that's my inexpert opinion ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Ugly Chart

I received this chart from a fellow independent investor
a week ago (he asked me to post it for you all.)

My own opinion remains that we are headed for "0".


Friday, March 13, 2009


From time to time I have puzzled with this. The right wing in this society,
the business class, the so-called "conservatives", oppose abortion.
Why? Thinking people, intellectuals, "liberals" wonder if its
just part of their sense that they have the priviledge, the right, and the
obligation to impose their will and their point of view on others
who have less money and power than they do. But the inconsistency
has still puzzled me.
After all, its the right wing who are so enamoured of sending
our young men (and women) off to foreign lands for the purposes of
tearing down buildings and factories, maiming and raping and killing
and generally disrupting the citzenry, and obsconding with whatever
loot can be taken. In the process a certain percentage of our own
die prematurely or sustain permanent damage. Its the right wing
who create jobs for policemen, judges, and lawyers by locking
up and ruining the productivity of individuals who happen to be in too-
close proximity to a common weed which happens to have medicinal
properties far superior than the far-more-expensive prescriptions
to be obtained in system establishments at considerable cost.
What is the point?
Certainly some of them must be aware that the planet earth
is undergoing severe strain and incurring alarming damage from
the press of the sheer mass of humanity and the institutions which
maintain us. All of the basic systems which nature operates here
appear to be under siege and threaten to collapse or take major
Certainly some of them must be aware that the majority of
women desiring abortions, if forced to bear their young,
will most likely raise their children to vote for liberals.
At least a few of them must supect that there is not
enough available oil gas or food even to sustain the current
world population and the consequences will be dire,
politically and economically.
Its funny, for a minute, to say that for them , "Human rights
begin at conception ... and end at birth." But that's no answer.
Why do they think that we need more people?

While I was writing my piece on Ponzi schemes and
capitalism, it suddenly struck me what the answer to this
quandary is. Its really quite simple, once the basic nature
of our economic system is revealed. You remember I pointed
out that capitalism can only survive when there is a reasonable
prospect for growth, for an increase in the quantity and
velocity of financial transactions.
So, obviously, they need more people. Not, of course,
because they love them or care one whit about them. They need
ever-more people so that their own lifestyle can be sustained.
Its survival.

Its not going to work anymore, folks. The game is over.
We are on to you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Electric Cars

Here's a starter on electric cars:

I have no concrete figures or studies on this, but a strong suspicion
based on the actions of Detroit, as much as anything:

An internal combustion engine encapsulates between 1000 and 6000
small explosions per minute. Over the years, automotive designers
have succeeded in developing designs which control and distribute
the ensuing vibration, heat, and exhaust, minimizing the damage.
Nevertheless, they have built into the consuming public the expectation
that the average automobile will only last for, maybe 6 years,
maybe 150,000 miles.

Contrast this with electric motor systems, which contain no explosions,
create little heat, and create very little vibration:
in virtually all the devices I have owned which employ electric motors,
the electric motors don't fail.
I had a band saw that I cut firewood with until one of the wheels fell off.
I have drills and sanders that last forever
unless an axle breaks or a bearing fails (and I can't find a replacement).
I have scavenged many an old washer or dryer, worn out and left on the curb for dead, for the motor, to put to some new use in my shop.

The key thing about electric cars is that they are likely to last
for decades. I am convinced that this is precisely why
Detroit has successfully suppressed their research, design and manufacture for the last 100 years,
and why they will take hold, now.
The savings to the consumer in depreciation costs will far outway
fuel costs (although the fuel, going forward, will also be cheaper.)

got coal??????

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ponzi Revisited

After the Bernie Madoff exposure, I was tasked with explaining to my Ethiopian companions what a “Ponzi scheme” is, how it begins, proceeds, and ends. One of the points I made is that Madoff began with high and honorable intentions, and then first discovered how a single number could be slightly adjusted to improve his credentials, improve his stature, improve the trust and faith and capital people gave him, without being observed by anyone, and then his road proceeded down that direction to its final terminus. Then I trotted out the familiar graph of a triangle operation which works just fine until it reaches the point where it is no longer possible to continue to add a larger and larger base at the bottom, at which point everything goes to hell.

The other day I came across this essay and it brought me to review an old discussion from a new vantage point:
Roger K makes the point that “Many people have claimed (I am one of them) that our current economic system requires constant growth for healthy functioning”. This statement, juxtaposed with the exposition above, brought me to realize afresh how much trouble our economic system is in and how deep are the root causes.

People who know me are aware that I have been an extremely successful investor, concentrating on energy for the last decade, and widely read in fundamentals. In brief, I have been telling and writing for anyone who would listen that the concept of “peak oil” is based on production levels, not total worldwide available reserves, and that it is not a theory but a fact, the peak having been achieved in May of 2005, and the current “financial crisis” by damping down demand and restricting access to capital, has accelerated the decline.
The ethanol debacle and the simple information that nitrogen fertilizer is manufactured from natural gas, led me to examine the worldwide food production and supply as well. The numbers suggest that natural gas production has not yet peaked but that a peak is inevitable and probably lies within a small number of years. Less gas definitely means, less food. And less food, quite logically, leads one to the inescapable conclusion of less people.

I considered the economic history of the USA, bastion of capitalism. Recent among civilizations, a few rogues, thieves and misfits, determined either to make profit or to force their world to adapt to their theocratic fantasies, settled in a land which embedded the best farmland and forestry in the world, as well as the most coal and iron ore and oil and mineral resources. They quickly set about the business of exterminating the sparse people who called the land home, and importing slave labor to do their dirty work. Within several generations, these people became rich and powerful in the world, and they attributed their wealth to their religion, their political system, their economic philosophy, and their own general superiority. Certainly one key to their success has been the constant influx of new immigrants, who determined that climbing on to the bottom of this pyramid was to be preferred over staying where they originated.

I considered technology in my lifetime. I went to school during the “race to the moon”.
At first focused on the fiction that mankind could spread to other planets and star systems throughout the galaxy, the unintended side effects were unpredicted advances in calculator machines and methods, among other inventions. My career spanned the advent and growth of the Internet, a technology which first threatened to bring common language and democracy to the entire planet, much as the Tower of Babel had in its day. I have since watched as the corporate world attempts to divide and conquer are relentlessly bringing it to its knees.

One of the fundamental tenets which make capitalism function is the value of providing one’s assets for another person or corporation to use, in the anticipation that both parties will benefit financially. Obviously there are trillions of such transactions, each with its particular circumstances. But the aggregate of all of them, works. Clearly, it can only work when there is long-term growth. Again, over 400 years the population has steadily increased, the infrastructure has steadily increased, the assets and the consumption have steadily increased. The culture has a built-in expectation of economic growth. You have to believe that your own income is going to increase in order to justify most loans.

However, there is a growing awareness, at least among the better educated of the populace, that this growth cannot continue forever, that there are limits, and that some of those limits may be at hand. The limitation of availability of oil is a huge consideration. The use of oil for energy has increased man’s efficiency by a factor of some 34,000 from the days where anything he accomplished was done by his own sweat. If oil production can no longer grow that puts a tremendous governor on the economic machine. Another limit is the amount of food that the planet can produce. There are not a lot more rivers to dam or forests to clear and plow. There are constant increasing threats to modern agriculture as the diversity of crops has diminished, from diseases and parasites adapting genetic resistance to our best methods of controlling them. Maybe the most critical limit to future growth is the availability of potable water. Because of the permanent nature of our residences, transportation systems and workplaces, the threat of any sort of major climate change also could also cause economic contraction.

In short, the society at large is coming to the overall conclusion that general growth has gone just about as far as it can go.

And what does that do to capitalism as an economic system? If a lot of people begin to believe that hoarding food, water, oil, and other basic resources is more likely to be to their advantage than loaning or investing resources in the mechanics of creating more, doesn’t that become a self-fulfilling prophesy? If people stop investing, then what?

For this reason I believe that capitalism as an economic system has come to its final end. Much as Wiley Coyote, chasing Road Runner, would still spin his legs after he ran off the cliff, our day-to-day operations continue. But you know, one of these days, we are destined to look down. And its still an awfully long drop.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The time for action in this concern is ...
long since past.

Estimates vary on the number of dead ... perhaps between 400,000 and a million, perhaps even greater than that. All of the rest have been uprooted, relocated, their homes and their lands and their lives destroyed.

So perhaps its time to say what I think really happened, since no one else has said so. A few of the western media stories mentioned the possibility that there may be oil underneath the ground, that the native Nubians living on it did not care to prospect for it, that the Arabs lusting after the land perhaps did, and that the western world thirsty for the commodity might have a bit of responsibility for it. I do not know. For the most part, the western media reports on the slaughter,
the burning of homes and villages and crops, the departure from the area to other places, tend to implicate the Sudan government either by design or by neglect. They tend to portray the situation as perhaps a racial issue, with the native blacks the hapless victims and the Semitic aggressors as the guilty perpetrators. They endlessly debate whether or not the situation may be labeled "genocide" as if that term will make one whit of difference to any of the people affected.

I do know that there is a tree which thrives in the area and grows nowhere else. This tree has been cultivated by the Arabs for many years and they annually tap the sap in order to harvest a product called "Gum Arabic". This substance, a sticky yellowish crystal, is known to be an excellent emulsifier. What an emulsifier does is to allow substances such as oils, such as aromatic hydrocarbons, to be dissolved in water and to remain in suspension throughout the fluid rather than floating to the top or settling to the bottom. Aromatic hydrocarbons include such things as oil of cinnamon, oil of wintergreen, and in fact a thousand other
fragrant oils, many of them considered pleasing to the taste or smell. Chemical laboratories have attempted to create man-made emulsifiers but no product that could be mass-produced has ever resulted. "Gum Arabic" is the best there is.

If this discussion doesn't have your heart racing with excitement yet, then consider one consumer product, that of the carbonated soft drink.
Consider by how many and how often this product is consumed.
Consider the jobs, the factories, warehouses, retail outlets,
vending machines, sales clerks, and everyone involved in
producing and disseminating this product.

The flavors of soft drinks are provided not by natural juices
but rather by the oils that natural fruits contain and which give
them their distinctive flavors. the oils can be successfully and
cheaply manufactured artificially. However, they will not mix
with water or soda-water. an emulsifier is required to
get them to mix and stay mixed. And that means: gum arabic.

The people who were living peacefully in Darfur, minding their own business, were growing subsistence crops and raising animals on the land. The people who have been taking the land from them have been cultivating gum arabic for generations and selling it for cash.

If anyone had really wanted for the violence to end, they needed for citizens of the "civilized" world to stop drinking any soft drinks. That would have done it. Nothing else would have.

But its always so much easier to point the finger of blame
on someone else than it is to change one's own behavior, isn't it?

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I have just completed my annual computer scan for viruses, trojans, worms, botnets, and other malware.

I deleted McAFffee from my system over a year ago. The yearly subscription fee was not that bad, though it did me no good. But I had come to recognize that the software, running constantly, was using over 60% of my machine's resources. It occurred to me that the "cure" had most probably reached and exceeded the damage of the threat. I was also aware that my operating system was programmed to harass everyone who does not have virus protection software running. Just as everyone is almost forced to lock their car doors nowadays when they leave their car, in the same way everyone is almost forced to buy and run virus protection software, which means that the real threats are finding their way in through some different corridor.

But my machine had been running a tad slowly lately. Sure enough, the up-to-date free scan turned up 5 instances of commercially-installed advertising spyware and over a hundred tracking cookies. Note that every single one of these uninvited intruders came into my machine from popular commercial sites, most owned and operated by large international corporations. After a whole year of constant surfing and use, my computer had not picked up one instance of robot use, of hackers' viruses or trojans, but it had picked up enough unwanted garbage from "legitimate" sites to cripple the machine. I was not surprised.

Is it just possible that our culture is overdoing this "security" bit, just a little? Do we have enough ambulances and fire engines and police and spy cameras and spy satellites and wiretapping and cell-phone geo-tracking and recorded financial transactions? Maybe enough to cripple the few people left who are actually trying to do creative, productive, useful work for other people?
Enough SWAT teams breaking down the doors of innocent families, shooting their dogs and forever altering their lives?

Do we have enough Medivac helicopters in the sky, running our health insurance premiums to the sky, crashing into each other and killing people?

Do we have enough people getting sick from flu shots? (I know the medical community vehemently denies that this is even possible. Is there any unbiased research done to determine incidence of influenza with and without the shots? I'd like to see it.)

I am not rabid about this. After all, I am the man who wrote the very first computer virus and then sent the concept to Rumania (maybe I will tell you all that story another time). I usually lock my house doors and I check my accounts frequently for transactions I did not initiate. I don't advocate abolishing police. The things I do to protect myself against the very rich, the large orporations, lawyers, doctors, politicians, religious zealots, and so forth, I won't detail for you but they take up a miserable amount of time and energy. But is it just possible that we have overdone it a little bit? Is it also possible that we habitually look in the wrong direction?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Negative Numbers

Who out there can provide evidence to the contrary? I'd really like to see it.

My darling wife had reason to drop out of school after the third grade.
But since immigrating to the USA she's been demonstrating outstanding
determination and motivation to learn spoken English, writing, and arithmetic.
She is enrolled in our county adult education program receiving GED instruction. She is mastering fractions, decimals, word problems, our crazy system of weights
and measures, and simple geometry.

In helping her with her homework, I have reluctantly and gradually come to
the appalling conclusion that the public schools in this country no longer
teach numbers below zero, what they are and how to manipulate them. None
of the textbooks she has worked from have any mention of them.

I have perhaps jumped to the conclusion that the omission is not
accidental or isolated, but rather part of a systematic trend in my culture.
Mention has been made that the past president strongly preferred to be
surrounded with "yes" men while anyone in his administration who offered
alternative viewpoints came to depart prematurely. Mention has been made
of the strong bias of investment advisors towards the "buy" grade for
stocks while too-sparsely using "sell". When the music single "Don't
Worry. Be Happy" topped the charts I took that as satire but I have since
heard numbers of individuals enthusiastically recommend such a philosophy
and approach to life.

So now, here I am, an investor in the stock market, preparing my annual
tax forms and grumbling about the capital gains taxes that I am going to
have to pay, but realizing that not one investor out of a thousand is in
this boat with me. Apparently, investors were not taught negative numbers
in school. Apparently they were not aware that stock prices sometimes go down.
And they were not aware of the implications for the macro economy that the
housing bubble was setting up.

Three years ago I had the honor to speak with Michael Jones, founder and
CEO of KeyHole, then Google VP in charge of Google Earth when the search engine
giant bought it. One of my hobbies is automated nautical cartography. I
spoke to him admiring the wonderful tool his company has created. I respect
the man immensely, I have never heard any contemporary executive with
equivalent power and authority to speak so passionately and compassionately,
most especially for the highly-persecuted original settlers of the land of
Canaan, which usurpers continue to slaughter in the name of God.

I digress. I hope you all have had the opportunities to enjoy, and or
put to use, the Google Earth tools. Especially, I hope you have been able to
virtually "fly around" in their 3-D space. If you have, then perhaps you
have noticed how between 2/3 and 3/4 of the surface they represent has
an elevation of "0". Since I work with bathymetry data this is a concern.
The sea floor cannot be shown with their tools. A year later I raised the
issue again with Bent Hagemark, GE CTO. But yesterday, with great fanfare,
Google released a new version of the tool which includes "Google Oceans".
they have added nice relief shading showing major ocean bottom features.
But the elevation still reads "0" everywhere. The 3-D software still
doesn't work, as it does so well on most land features (excluding places
like Death Valley, which is also portrayed as "0").

But maybe their programmers were never taught negative numbers.
Maybe they really don't know how to instruct a computer how to deal
with them.

Please tell me that I am wrong.

Or, raise your voice in protest. Is it so difficult for people
to understand that denying negative information does not make it go away,
but it sure does make it more difficult to talk about and work with others
on solutions?

Friday, January 23, 2009

#2 tries harder

Marketocracy is a website set up for the purpose of
identifying the top amateur stock pickers and traders in the country
and making their picks and insights available for professionals.
Anyone can join, at the outset you will be alloted $1 M in virtual money,
which you can use to buy and sell stocks.
Results are tabulated with maybe an hour's delay over real-time prices.
In about ten years they have attracted some 80,000 members.
Every quarter the site publishes rankings of its members.

The results for the past quarter, ending Dec. 31, 2008, were posted today.
I made #2.

Here's a cut-and-paste from their site of my full results since I joined:
Oct 17, 2008; Nov 14, 2008;

Date 1 Month 3 Months 6 Months 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year
Sep 30, 2005 64.7% 88.7% Q:
Dec 31, 2005 88.9% 67.6% 89.6% Q:
Mar 31, 2006 52.4% 75.1% Q: 79.9% Q:
Jun 30, 2006 52.6% 94.0% Q: 92.6% Q: 94.8% Q:
Sep 29, 2006 2.3% 60.5% 92.2% Q: 94.9% Q:
Dec 29, 2006 56.5% 96.6% Q: 96.2% Q: 98.4% Q:
Mar 30, 2007 65.6% 40.0% 89.8% Q: 97.2% Q:
Jun 29, 2007 62.1% 88.1% Q: 77.4% Q: 95.7% Q: 98.0% Q:
Sep 28, 2007 8.7% 48.0% 75.9% Q: 87.4% Q: 95.6% Q:
Dec 31, 2007 93.6% 96.5% Q: 88.4% Q: 88.9% Q: 97.8% Q:
Mar 31, 2008 97.5% 99.3% Q: #71 T: 99.1% Q: #56 T:
Jun 30, 2008 97.2% 94.5% Q: 99.2% Q: 99.0% Q: #87 T: #93 T:
Sep 30, 2008 97.4% 40.6% 94.5% Q: #31 T: #16 T: #10 T:
Dec 31, 2008 40.7% #54 T: 98.2% Q: #15 T: #7 T: #2 T:

Lemme see if I can copy in my chart:

I suppose this is a skill that I could market.
I just seem to be too shy about it, not to mention
that the kinds of people most likely to want to avail themselves of my skills
are not the kinds of people that I most commonly gravitate towards.

Mainly its just something for me to enjoy about myself, quietly.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year Predictions

I wrote this comment to a Washington Post opinion piece:

It would be typical of americans to think that pop culture and cheap art hold any insights into the future.
Because I have been right, time and time and time again, when nearly everyone else has been wrong, I offer my opinions.

First of all, whether because of mankind's waste or just because of natural cycles, the next ice age is wgathering strength. Within the next generation, large areas of the United States and Northern Europe will become uninhabitable, while the Sahara and the Middle East will become green and fertile again. This event alone would cause major shifts in power balances in world politics. But there's more:

The past year's financial crisis and credit crunch were only the opening salvo of economic distress for the Caucasians in control. The debt of the United States has grown beyond imagining. It deserves junk status, it deserves default, and in time people will figure that out. The United States has lost super-power status and will no longer be a major factor in world events.

Also, peak oil is not a theory, it is a reality -- the peak production occurred in 2005. The decline is inevitable and will happen faster than anyone expects. Also, politicians and science fiction writers notwithstanding, there is no other energy source on the planet to replace it. None. For that reason, all technology and civilization have begun an inevitable, permanent decline.

The good news is that there is hope. High technology led to arrogance and greed, to genocide and willful abuse of simple human beings, unprecedented in history, and will never happen again. Simple lives, subsistence living, and taking care of each other whenever possible, will gradually come into preeminence as all this bovine feces falls away. Those of us who survive will be happy.