Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Word of the Year

Nominations now being accepted.

So far, "unexpectedly" is the overwhelming favorite ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas

I have always hated this holiday. The crass commercialism and greed, the extreme hypocrisy. So many people find so many memories of disappointments, separation, family abuse. Usually I just choose to work on the day.

I have a T-shirt which reads, “When going into the woods, be sure and remember a compass. It is uncomfortable when you have to eat your friends.”

I got to thinking about how that works. It is not too hard for me to imagine a group of intelligent people, stranded somewhere with a food shortage and only faint hope of rescue. I have been hungry, and desperate, I know how it is. I can imagine them coming to the conclusion that some must live and some must be eaten, and drawing straws or some such. But it’s the afterwards that we don’t think about. Suppose one lives. Then, suppose, MIRACLE! He is rescued. Well, what then? The news reports of his rescue. Sooner or later the grisly details will come out, how it was that he was able to survive. And no matter how rational and reasonable we all feel about the choices, it were better, ultimately for the one who survived, if he had died as well. The stigma, the way everyone else, for the rest of his life, will look at him, and cringe just a little bit. It were better for him if he had died as well.

In his novel, “The Fall”, Albert Camus’ protagonist raises a very similar postulation about Jesus. How was it that this incredible kind, loving man, who did so many wonderful things for so many people, found himself to be condemned by all to death by that horrible torture mechanism? But also, how was it, that he neither did nor said the slightest motion towards his defense? Well, if you remember back to the stories in Matthew of his birth, you recall how his parents high-tailed it to Egypt soon afterwards, and Lo and Behold Herod, in his paranoia, decreed that every young child in the city of Bethlehem be put to death. Only Jesus was spared. And no doubt, though the Bible doesn’t go into it, the adults who taught him reading, and writing, and joinery, and how to tie his shoelaces, undoubtedly told him about how lucky he was and about the gruesome act perpetrated on every other family of the town. It would not have been pleasant for him to hear about it, over and over and over again, as it must have come to pass.

In other words, the atheist and nihilist suggests that it was not supreme love at all which drove Him to the ultimate sacrifice for me and you and all mankind. It was guilt, the kind of guilt that only a man who has eaten his friends could understand.

I’m not saying that I agree. But it’s a potent opinion …tough to ignore … at the very least, Satan tells a good story when he wants to …

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Airport Insecurity

vagrant thought ....

It's kind of too bad that I am not flying anywhere for these holidays ...

because I would just LOVE to get all dressed up
in full drag,
and then put a condom in my pocket (or one of the cups of my bra)
and then just see what they do(you DO know that the metallic package
will set off the magnetometer ...)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A prayer

Our banker, who art in Manhatten,
forged be thy name.
Thy sheriff come,
Thy affadavit be done
In Florida as it is in New York City.
Show us this day our original note,
Or else forgive us our debts
As we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into bankruptcy
But deliver us from penury

For in thy pockets are the president, the congressmen, and
The federal reserve chairman,
Forever and ever.

ah, men!

where is the beef?

Wondering where the revolution is?
Where is the anger? The riots, strikes, political rallies, demonstrations, sit-downs?

It is here, all around us.
Every day, another ten thousand people decide not to make their payments,
not to meet their contractual obligations.

Most of them, because they can't.

Some of them, because they realize
that the bankers and investment houses and politicians (of both parties)
have rigged the country and the system
to commit rape, pillage and fraud upon everyone else,
negating anyone's moral obligation to play along.

The system is now bleeding from every orifice and
the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
Jobs and income-producing assets, are all rapidly declining.

It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Book of Enoch

From wikipedia:

“The Book of Enoch (also 1 Enoch[1]) is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not currently regarded as part of the Canon of Scripture as used by Jews, apart from the Beta Israel canon; nor by any Christian group, apart from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon.”

“Eleven Aramaic-language fragments of the Book of Enoch were found in cave 4 of Qumran in 1948,[33] and are in the care of the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

“The famous Scottish traveller James Bruce in 1773 returned to Europe from six years in Abyssinia with three copies of a Ge'ez version”

“The first English translation of the Bodleian/Ethiopic manuscript was published in 1821 by Richard Laurence”

“The publication, in the early 1950s, of the first Aramaic fragments of 1 Enoch among the Dead Sea Scrolls profoundly changed the study of the document, as it provided evidence of its antiquity and original text. The official edition of all Enoch fragments appeared in 1976, by Jozef Milik.”

Scholars have established that this collection of books was written and assembled between about 300 B.C and about 50 B.C. There are parallel passages with books of the Old Testament. There are also quotes from Jesus indicating that He may well have been familiar with this work. And yet, it lost to any of the western versions of The Bible from the earliest compilations of the “Old” and New” “Testaments”, surviving intact only through continuous use in Ethiopia.

So: I had to read it.

Although Joseph Lumpkin’s translation does not make any natural divisions, the “Book of Enoch” easily falls into five distinct texts. These cover:
1. The book of Watchers
2. The parables of Enoch
3. A treatise on Astronomy
4. The Book of Dream Visions
5. The epistle of Enoch

My thoughts, in order of easiest to hardest:

The book of astronomy shows a greater respect for number systems and for mankind taking the measure of his world, than any other spiritual work. It shows clearly the Babylonian influence and their 60/360 counting system. It shows the correction of the calendar year from 360 to 364 days and has an even more accurate description of the orbit and phases of the moon. Not a bad job, for those days, and quite a surprise to find within a “spiritual” work.
The epistle is a simple prophetic send-off from Enoch to his descendants, including vague references to Noah and the flood, but also of the coming of the Son of Man and the end of evil. But its tame stuff with no specifics.

What others dubbed “the parables” I found to be a description of heaven suitable for a cartographer, rendered in the form of relating a special tour Enoch was given by one of God’s angels. I wondered if anyone has set out to actually map the place, given the description. There are mountains, valleys, rivers, streams, fields, and deserts, all in their place. It actually does not sound too different from this planet.

The Book of Dream Visions is written in the same style as the Book of Revelations. In metaphoric terms and with symbols of sheep and shepherds, bulls, dogs, eagles, and kits, it suggests a synopsis of the history of mankind, most especially the Hebrews, from Noah down through Jesus and culminating in a cataclysm resembling the Armageddon or second coming which many Christians believe is foretold through sections of the New Testament.

I refrained from starting any mental exercise of assignment; this sheep is this person, that death is that event, down and down and down. Clearly the book is vague enough that it could be applied with benefit by anybody wishing to make a political argument. However, I was strongly attentive to the description of shepherds assigned by angels or The Lord. The “shepherd” is a heavily-used metaphor throughout the Bible. However, nowhere in our Bible does anyone mention the ultimate outcome for many of the sheep. We probably overlook this simple aspect of that occupation. All shepherds are assigned from time to time to cull the herd and provide suitable animals for slaughter for food. That’s a pretty amusing aspect of my own culture which tends to want to glorify and sustain all life and all living things and pretend that we don’t ever deliberately kill animals and other people. In the Book of Enoch, however, there is a group of shepherds who were selected to carry out this task but who became overzealous in their duties. Later they received dire punishment for their excesses. I can’t ever remember reading or hearing anywhere else of anybody being chastised or punished for “killing too many”. Perhaps its an idea that could be brought back (especially know that its becoming more and more evident to more and more individuals that this planet can no longer support all the people who are here.)

Others have referred to the first section, the “Book of Watchers” as an account of the origins of evil. We may already be familiar with stories about Lucifer and his fall from grace, his revolt, perhaps we have also heard of Lilith, and though we consider these figures to be part of the Judeau-Christian religion, they are not really included in our Bible.

The Book of Watchers goes into great detail about a group of angels who came down from heaven and corrupted both themselves and the men and women on earth. I found myself recollecting the stories from Greek Mythology of Chronos, of Prometheus, of the Titans, even of Cyclops and other giants. There is an uncanny similarity here worthy of Joseph Campbell’s attention:
Since it is known that Greek dominance came to Israel with Alexander and stayed, this is probably not purely coincidental. In the Watchers account, the angels bring not only fire but the knowledge of metallurgy, including knowledge of gold, from which so much human suffering has disseminated. (Interesting that brimstone, that other traditional scourge threatened from so many pulpits also known as sulphur, is the other necessary ingredient for the refinement of copper and gold.) Historically, the Philistines had been masters of iron ore and probably taught the Hebrews when conquered. Not long after that the copper mines of Timna came to play a prominent roll in their commerce and led to Solomon’s wealth, and untold generations of sorrow afterwards. In sum, the ancients seemed to have a pretty good understanding of the tribulations and suffering which our discovery of metallurgy has brought down upon us all. Neither they nor we have yet devised any solution.

I have covered the bits and pieces which stuck out for me, the book is now readily available in an English translation, perhaps I have tweaked your curiosity enough to go look and see for yourself what you may find.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parrots and Monkeys

This is reprinted from a post of mine on Yahoo Finance, made tuesday morning before the market opened ... by the end of the day, the DOW was up 200 pts, with gold, silver and oil all hitting new yearly highs

From time to time my "plebian" friends ask me about
getting in to the market.
If they are really interested, I start them out
by explaining that there is just tons and tons of material to read,
that they need to read read read all the time.
But I explain further that there are basically two types of authors,
parrots, and monkeys.

The parrots are just repeating stuff they have heard somewhere else, some other time.
They have no idea of the sense of what they are talking about, they just like to make noise.

However, interspersed among them are a handful of monkeys,
who know very well what they are saying,
and who are determined to makes fools out of you and me.

If you can identify who the monkeys are,
and bet the other way from the way they try to lead you,
you can't go wrong ...

Goldman Sachs has again revised downward
their estimates for the quarterly GDP.
Its looking pretty ugly.

CNBC is saying that we could be having a little dip here.

I'm putting the accelerator to the floor ....

Sunday, September 26, 2010


As far as the scam goes, I am happy for the scam artists to continue to take advantage of the naïve, for just as long as they are able. I decided quite a long time ago that I was not going to get involved, not make a crusade out of it, not attempt to right the wrongs.

I have a “condition.” It is as much a part of me as my skin color. Furthermore, it is not any more likely to change than my skin color, no matter what I or anyone else do (thirty years ago I remember how my dear friend Lonnie used to pee in the bath to make her skin lighter. Um, it did not work …). This condition is just one of the enormous gifts which my Lord has given to me; no human being has the power to take it away and it is arrogance to pretend that they can.

The condition consists of an intense emotionality which may, at times, not be connected with anything in the present environment, anything in my personal life, or anything in the past, any traumatic experience or bad thing that my parents or teachers or priests did to me, and while there are occasions when empathy with events beyond my traditional senses may be the root, there are times when there is, simply, no cause.
Like the throw of the dice, sometimes you get snake-eyes. Or, in currently-popular jargon, its just “drama”, or theatre, or make-believe entertainment.

At any given time, I may be subject to intense grief and sadness. Sobs, tears pour out of my eyes. At any given time, I may be subject to intense anger. In almost every circumstance, this means taking myself out of action and not trying to do anything or relate with any person, because most other people don’t care to be on the receiving end of it. At any given time, I may be subject to intense feelings of elation, fun and spontaneity. I am known as someone who can do anything, at any time, a master of the unexpected.

There are certain other gifts from God which seem to be more or less connected with this one. I was blessed with extreme intelligence; in other words, I am very, very good at taking intelligence tests. I am smarter than you are, and no amount of jealousy, envy, or power plays on your part will change that. I fully understand that this is not something that I did, it is something that God gave me. I would be happy to share and give it away in any way that I can. Sadly, most people around me view it as a call to compete, to show me up. This results in a lot of other people experiencing a lot of bad accidents.

The situation is exacerbated by my “creativity” and willingness to experiment. I like to believe that I have made more different mistakes than anyone on earth. Of course, I remember every one and all of the more egregious ones I avoid repeating. However, I have found that it is just fruitless to attempt to warn anyone else, this only seems to encourage this “competitive spirit” that I mention above and egg them on towards their destruction. Have you ever read the Odyssey from the point of view of the Sirens? What a sad, lonely existence they must have had!

Just a few words about the scam, from my point of view. Other individuals have gifts similar to mine. In this culture we have built up complex structures and procedures for labeling this condition as an illness, a medical condition. We have special doctors, counselors, hospitals, clinics, medicines, and so forth. The pretense here is that this “condition” can be “cured”. I go back to skin color.

No doubt some of the doctors understand the lie very well. My first shrink moved away to Palm Beach, evidently understanding that rich people make better shills. My last shrink was having fun (and getting paid!) with a patient who was so brain-dead that he could lift his arm into the air and the “patient” would hold it there for hours on end. There is of course necessary collusion from the parents, whose primary interest is to make the individuals less irritating, at any cost. I remember a particular president of NAMI … she was the most hateful, obnoxious human being that I have ever run across in my life. If I had been her son I would have had to kill myself too. That was simply the most egregious example I know of people vilifying their own offspring in order to clear their own names and deny their responsibility.

I saw recently where Seraquel is being given to soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Evidently, the government lying to them about freedom and democracy, sacrifice and honor, while asking them to invade a foreign country and kill innocent women and children, has a permanent impact on their point-of-view of the world. It tends to make them less amenable to cooperation and friendship when they return home. I cannot understand why.

After I had washed out all the other drugs, mostly, from my system, I still had a few 25 mg pills left, and a few times I took them to help me get to sleep. One 25mg pill would guarantee that I was asleep in 20 minutes, regardless of where I was or what I was doing (driving? Waiting for the train? Arguing with my wife?). Moreover, I would stay asleep, dreamless and unsatisfied, for 12 hours or more. Finally, when I awoke I would be groggy and thick-heade for another several hours.

The doctors had had me on 300 mg/day. They wanted me to go up to 400. I would take 200 at night, 100 in the morning. There actually were several times when I awoke, got ready for work, took my pills, went to the train platform, and fell asleep standing on the platform just as the train pulled in (God loves me very, very much. He sent someone to catch me each time.)

At sixty, with a whole lot of assistance from God and despite the strong, steady mistral from my culture, I fully understand these waves of emotion. I have enough sense, when the situation allows it, to take myself out of communion with other people, since some of them they try to damage me for. I can’t always do that. I do find that there is no other human being who will remain as partner to me and share intimate space with me. As a relationship develops, everyone sooner or later decides that they can fix me, so they end up shipwrecked on those rocks.

So it goes. That’s just how it is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits were a bad idea.
Another way that the government has tried to protect its citizens from small misfortunes.
I return, over and over again, to Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.) poem
"The wonderful one-hoss shay".
If you pile all the small risks onto a single entity,
then, by-and-by, it is sure to happen, sooner or later,
that the entity itself will collapse.
By smoothing out the little bumps, you ensure that the big bumps will be total calamities.
No one can eliminate risk in this world and only fools try.

I hired my ex-girlfriend's boyfriend (and now common-law husband)
to install the wood furnace for me
(I took care of procuring it myself,
I had to,
because there is only one factory in the country that makes them
and I was able to find out that they have a huge backlog.
I found one, gathering dust in a tractor shop in the styx,
and I immediately went and got it).

He called all the HVAC places in the yellow pages.
They all wanted to sell me heat pumps.
Other than that, they would not take the job,
either because it was too small or because it wasn't heat pumps.
He finally found a duct man who knew what he was doing, who wanted to moonlight.
The man is good and he is almost finished. He does nice, careful work
and good planning.
but yesterday,
his assistant quit.

Because the assistant was angry that he was not getting $500 for 24 hours of labor.

excuse me?
That's as much as I am paid for what I do!!!!

When people start to collect unemployment,
they tend not to look very hard for work.
They aren't serious about it.
They are not hungry.
Even, some of them won't moonlight for cash.
Extending their benefits leads them to believe
that they can go on watching tv all day forever.

Besides, it does not take too long before they begin to lose their skills,
forget how to do the jobs they knew how to do before.
They get fat and lazy.

things are going downhill fast. very fast.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MERS cannot foreclose

This is a quote from an email I have just received --
I presume the guy who sent it will be happy for me to spread it around.'t-foreclose-citibank-can't-collect/

"Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is VOID under California Law."

If you read that sentence and thought… "MERS," then you're already in the club. If you've never heard of MERS, and have no idea what is meant by being "in the club," don't worry, this is a club that just about every homeowner is invited to join. In fact, you may already be a member and not even know it.

MERS is the acronym used to describe Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. Best I can tell, our friends in the mortgage banking industry created MERS to make it easier for banks and servicers to sell and transfer our mortgages at the speed of light during the real estate bubble. According to the company's Website:

MERS was created by the mortgage banking industry to streamline the mortgage process by using electronic commerce to eliminate paper. Our mission is to register every mortgage loan in the United States on the MERS® System.

MERS acts as nominee in the county land records for the lender and servicer. Any loan registered on the MERS® System is inoculated against future assignments because MERS remains the nominal mortgagee no matter how many times servicing is traded.

I have to tell you… I hate these guys already. Their attitude alone bothers me. I looked at pictures of their three top executives on their Website and thought to myself… "No way I'd be friends with these guys." Probably not very fair of me, but as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to anything that talks like that and was created by the mortgage banking industry… "fair," is where you go on Sunday to have popcorn and cotton candy. Just so we're clear.

MERS, which is a company that I hear doesn't even have employees, has been about as controversial as you get ever since houses started dropping like flies into foreclosure back in 2007-08. God forbid you find yourself losing your home to foreclosure, you'll very likely find a representative from MERS looking smug and acting like the owner of your mortgage. But, MERS is not the owner of your mortgage, of course, and now a bankruptcy court judge in the Eastern District of California has officially said that he agrees.

MERS is a relatively new development in the mortgage world, and as the foreclosure crisis began the courts pretty much let them do whatever they wanted to do, as the party in interest in a foreclosure action.

But, that was before the foreclosures became a full fledged tsunami, and homeowners watched the bankers first get bailed out, and then pay out billions in bonuses before treating every single American homeowner/taxpayer who applied for a loan modification like insignificant garbage.

In response, homeowners, having been trained for over 200 years in the fine art of pushing back when shoved, went to their lawyers, and those lawyers started asking questions, as they are prone to do. Many started with questions like: "Who the heck is this MERS guy and why does he think he has any right to be foreclosing on my client's home?"

For almost two full years, it seemed to me that judges, who frankly weren't used to foreclosures being challenged, basically yawned and gave the house back to the bank. Then, starting about a year ago, give or take, things started to change. Judges started to listen to the points being raised as related to MERS showing up as the party in interest ready to foreclose, and the more the judges learned, the more they saw problems with what MERS was doing. As time went on the tide seemed to shift a bit and several decisions weren't falling as MERS would have liked for one reason or another.

According to the company's Website, MERS "is a proper party that can lawfully foreclose as the mortgagee and note-holder of a mortgage loan." Here's what it says on the MERS Website:


("MERS") is In mortgage foreclosure cases, the plaintiff has standing as the holder of the note and the mortgage. When MERS forecloses, MERS is the mortgagee and it is the holder of the note because a MERS officer will be in possession of the original note endorsed in blank, which makes MERS a holder of the bearer paper.

But, in this latest decision, the bankruptcy judge in California didn't agree, writing in his opinion:

"Since no evidence of MERS' ownership of the underlying note has been offered, and other courts have concluded that MERS does not own the underlying notes, this court is convinced that MERS had no interest it could transfer to Citibank. Since MERS did not own the underlying note, it could not transfer the beneficial interest of the Deed of Trust to another. Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law."

Did you get that? Since MERS didn't own the underlying note, it couldn't transfer the beneficial interest of the Deed of Trust to Citibank.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


the only way to fix the situation ... is not going to happen ....

Doctors, clinics, hospitals and homes must be made to be accountable for their procedures,
patients and parties responsible for paying must have motivation to control costs.
The only way to do that is to totally ban health insurance
and require all procedures to be paid for with cash in advance.
If you aint got the bucks, you dont get the help.

its cold I know, but its necessary.
The "profit motive has so overwhelmed the "standard operating procedures"
that the customary ways that doctors and nurses and hospitals do things
are wasteful and unnecessary and unhelpful in the extreme, motivated solely
for their self-interest.
It has been so much easier to manipulate and take advantage of a large group of people (the insured) than it is to take advantage of an individual.

I recently went to a cosmetologist with a skin problem,
its simply eczema, dry skin aggravated by stress.
But he still took a small sample to test for cancer,
even though it does not present as cancer at all.
Moreover, he put a fucking stitch in the skin where he too the 1mm square patch,
so that I had to go back to his office to get the stitch taken out two weeks later!

cost of his "surgery" --$250
cost of the biopsy -- $350
cost of the stitch removal -- $90

Now, he did not even tell me in advance what he was doing,
or else I would have blocked it.
My insurance company will go ahead and approve this "preventive medicine".

But this is the kind of thing that makes our medical system the most expensive in the world
without being anywhere close to the most beneficial system in the world.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


People have asked me why my blogs have been tapering off.
Despite a disastrous winter (it took me quite awhile to
assimilate the enormity of what the government is doing,
behind the veil.) I am still one of the top amateur investors
in the country.
About two months ago I was driving around, maybe looking for
free firewood, maybe just looking. I ran across a car with a
bumper sticker that said, "Bark less. Wag more."
Made sense to me. Still does. More and more ...

Friday, June 11, 2010


There is a new story on the NPR website
from an amateur investigator
declaiming the process of "fracking"
for extracting natural gas from shale substrate.

basically the article claims that the chemicals used,
pollute the groundwater.

I really don't know, firsthand, if there is any truth to this
or if its just muckraking and fearmongering.
I tend to doubt its veracity because the average natural gas well into shale
is 7,000 feet or more deep.

Americans are going to find that
the only energy source remaining to them
will be the predominant one now employed in Ethiopia,
where there are as many asses on the streets as cars ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

From a Distance

I am tired of talking about it. Really, I have only been talking to myself, anyway.

From the time when I was a very little boy I have been ostracized. I still
don't "get" why, but it is what it is. My own family, my work comrades, my wives, everybody; they all label me as "crazy", "different", simply damaged or wrong.

I test out as very much more intelligent than most people. I test consistently as triple sigma. Teachers, parents, mentors all my life have told me what a gift that is and that I should do something with it for mankind. But you know what? You
do not want me to. All of you are simply jealous and envious, you all put me down, spend serious time just trying to prove me wrong. The only ones who look at me eye-to-eye are cats. All of you who can read are too busy putting poison ivy leaves on my butt when I'm asleep and then accusing me of having herpes when I wake up.

And the effect of that is to give me distance. I have no vested interest in this society, in this culture. It is neither better nor worse than any other culture that has ever come along. You all are every bit as crazy as the nazi's cremating all those jews or the late romans going to the coliseum every week to watch the latest christian do battle with the most recent lion.

Every one of you knows the story of the emperor's clothes, you were taught as little children. The sad thing is that every one of you is wearing clothing that was made from little bits of the same cloth. You all are just too embarrassed to admit it. Its not just the emperor who is naked, its every single one of you.

Show is over folks.

I'm not sorry.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I went in to the local Roy Rogers fast food outlet yesterday
(never mind why, it certainly was not for myself!). On one
section of their price board, above and behind the cashiers, was
the following list:

bottled water $1.45
coffee or tea $1.25
milk $1.10
orange juice $1.35

Now, I lead a lonely life here. I insist that nearly everybody in
my culture is insane, and as a result, must people want nothing to do
with me. But am I really wrong? What am I missing?

Friday, May 21, 2010


There is one, and only one, way out of this crisis.

The crisis was brought about, slowly, over a very long period of time, by allowing for too many debts; for loaning too much money to too many people who will never be able to pay it off. (It was bad judgment on the part of the bankers,
to begin with. They created it by taking too high risks.)

It cannot be fixed the way that they are trying to fix it now;
everything that is being done is the equivalent of throwing gasoline
on the fire. It cannot be fixed any other way. Either you do it or else
it will be done to you by forces that are bigger than you are.

The only way out is for all debts, public and private, to be forgiven.
Wiped off the books. Start over.

You cannot postpone it much longer ... we are about to see civil
unrest and general social collapse ... your money is all worthless anyway,
it has no value at all ... the emperor has been quite naked for such
a very long time ...

Friday, May 14, 2010


I interpreted last thursday's 1000-point drop, and subsequent recovery,
to be the warning-signal to anyone still in the water, that the sharks are coming.
My own portfolio was heavily short. I happened to close out most of the shorts
when I saw the jaw-dropping changes; then reopened them just before the closing
bell, so I had a profitable day. Even after the next monday's gap up I was
still looking good. After that, of course, I took on even more shorts.
That leaves only one gold position as a naked long, everything else is hedged or
From what I'm reading about the deterioration in European markets, I
believe that not even the PPT can keep stocks from falling now. For what its
worth, I stand to clean up better than John Paulson did last time. I
seriously doubt that I'll ever be able to actually spend the cash.
The only thing saving us all from instantaneous breakdown is us shorts;
I'm quite aware that there's a whole lot of savvy folk like me, who
have gone short with a whole lot more wealth than I have.
I traded my physical gold for a piece of real estate last month.
I expect gold to continue up for awhile. However, in a situation of
anarchy and general social collapse, owning gold is not going to be
good for one's health. Not with americans armed to the teeth and
drugged to a frenetic torpor with CNBC.
The internet itself will not last too much longer. Satellites have
a way of drifting out of orbit when they are not closely monitored.
Infrastructure requires constant vigilant maintenance. However,
more and more of the intellectual giants find that the only stimulating,
fascinating endeavors lie in the arena of finding new holes and
more devious exploits.
I pay for old sins. My parents had imminent trust in "the establishment"
and they turned me over to the psychiatrists, I expect as much in order
to protect me from the drafty winds blowing towards southeast asia as
because of genuine concern fore my behavior. Still, I believed in
personal change as much as social change, so I gave them enough rope
to do real damage to my body. With my smattering of chemistry, I surmise that
Lithium, the drug of first choice for bipolar, mainly acts by binding
with any free iodine in order to short-circuit the thyroid gland and
just radically dampen-down all bodily function. Yes, it definitely
reduces the intensity of emotional expression, and the parents and doctors
and nurses have no idea of what that feels like from the inside, where
the turmoils and dilemmas are just as intense, they just don't show themselves.
Of course it does, as the metabolism slows, the cholesteral and weight rise, the
kidneys, liver, and gastric system all begin to deteriorate. In enough time,
the thyroid typically sustains permanent damage so that stopping the lithium
cannot save you. Thyroid replacement hormone is a safe, simple, well-understood mechanism. If there is enough of a social system exisitng in the world in
order for drug factories to produce it and pharmacies to dispense it. If not,
a young man will slowly become very, very sick. An older man like myself
will whither. I hope it does not take too very long.

God will be with all of you. After a generation or two, the detritus of our
failed culture will whither and become overgrown. Nature will be able to heal
itself and overgrow all our pathetic and ugly social structures. Life itself
will survive and prosper. People will learn to trust and to rely on each other
again, they will learn that giving is a better means of survival than taking.
I just won't be there to see it. But still, its okay, I know that its coming.

chistletoe,(formerly "Pan" of "Pan and Dora")

Sunday, May 9, 2010

From a Distance

My mother asked me recently where she can invest
her assets to keep them safe, from the volatile market
and the rapacious government.
This is how I answered:

It has been said that the safest place to hide your store of food
is in your neighbor's belly.

My only caveat is that I was born into a race full of "takers"
near the peak of their power ... the people in control
take everything they can get their hands on, from everybody,
and give back nothing in return.
their time is over --
its been over ever since they ran out of new people to take from
(the chinese are finally wisening up)

still, among the poorer folk of the world
I have found that most still operate as givers,
where the measure of a man is the amount that he is able to give away.
Like, I have to be the only white man you know
who has a black man come around and mow his lawn out of friendship,
from time to time ... never mind what I do to get that kind of respect ...
Almaz and I agree that Ethiopia is the country of love
while the USA is the country of money ...
but it took her years and years to begin to really understand how everyone here,
especially the rich,
are trying to take money away from her all the time and give nothing back in return.

I could relate some stories about love and sex in Ethiopia
which would be totally misunderstood here
because people here treat sex the same way,
as something to be "taken" from the other person
rather than as a chance to give pleasure ...

The other issue which our society and culture have totally botched
is the issue of security.
Never in history has a society gone to such extremes
to give people the illusion of total protection.
Not only insurance for nearly everything,
but cars are like cocoons, and cubicles and baby carriages and flu shots
and everything.
derivatives, basically, were designed to be financial insurance,
before people on the other side of the transaction began to treat them as leverage.

As Elizabeth Warren (one of our more favorite people these days) puts it,
"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without Hell."
There must be risk for the system to work.
There must be the potential for failure and calamity of all kinds.

What has happened is that we have made the US government into
the risk-defender of last resort,
the insurance companies' insurance,
the one who protects all of the other organizations that protect.

And what is happening now
(I've said this to a lot of people but not to you yet)
is very much like what Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was describing
in "The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay"
where everything is going wrong all at the same time
and the protector of last resort is failing, spectacularly.

From a distance, it makes for quite a show.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Natural Gas Issues

Some honest information for you and your liberal friends:

AES corporation has been applying for all the permits and permissions
for a couple of years now
to build an LNG terminal on the site of
the old Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point, Baltimore Harbor.

Governor O'Malley, numerous Maryland politicians and pressure groups
have been trying to block this terminal construction for years.

5 years ago, after Katrina devastated wells in the GOM,
US gas supplies were dangerously low. Gas went over $15/therm.
Since then, however, new "unconventional" sources have been exploited
at a feverish rate. The current spot price of natural gas,
about $4.20 per million btu, is about 50 cents per gallon of gasoline equivalence,
the cheapest that it has been for almost ten years.
Future development in the Marcellus shale, in hydrofracking, and in coalbed methane pockets suggest that the east coast will have a plentiful supply for decades to come.

Me and my friends are thoroughly convinced that this terminal is meant to be
an EXPORT terminal, not import.
I'm sure you can understand the benefits
that the USA would receive for selling gas to western Europe.
This also includes their dependence on us and their future stability
and their independence from Russian gas, Gazprom, and the Ukraine pipeline issues.

There is a prevailing street myth that LNG terminals are dangerous.
Certainly all forms of energy involve some risk.
Do you believe that the people who tell you these stories really care about you?
Even if you only rely on a mule to plow your field,
there is always the chance that he will kick you in the keister.
However, there are numerous LNG terminals in operation all over the world,
including another in the State of Maryland,
and none have ever incurred any serious accidents.
In fact, natural gas is not prone to creating large explosions in the open air
because it will only burn when the percentage mixture of gas and oxygen is within
a very tight range.

On the other hand much of the "spring water" bottled water which we enjoy in the region,
which tastes so much better than city water,
originates from coalbed methane gas wells.
Who knows what other unintended benefits might come our way?

One of the strongest causes for the current economic crisis in the USA
is that we have virtually no products for the rest of the world.
The only things that we currently export
are suspicious Wall Street paper,
and Hollywood movies,
and all our miscellaneous and endless wars.
These do not win us friends, nor do they win us hard currency.

Building the terminal would make jobs.
Operating the terminal would make jobs.
Drilling for gas, building pipelines to the harbor, and selling it
would make jobs.
Heck, all of this activity would even generate new tax revenues!

That seems like a good thing, to me, right now.
Worth a little risk, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Do You Think What You Think You Think?

Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom immediately seduced me with their second chapter (Who begins anything at the beginning, anymore?). “So you think you’re logical?” has four little puzzles or exercises, each one about two pages long but really pretty simple, logically. By the third one, I was getting a little antsy because the underlying logic was identical in each puzzle. The fourth repeated the pattern.

But the authors then astounded me by saying that only maybe one out of 4 or 5 people get the first and second puzzle right but the majority get the third and fourth one right. The differences are that the first and second present basically abstract situations involving cards, colors and shapes. However, the third and fourth puzzles involve situations more nearly parallel with real-word problems, such as beer drinking and surfing the Internet at work.

So the first thing that I got out of the chapter was a poignant reminder that, as someone who thinks logically and intelligently, I am in a small minority in the population. Its no wonder that so many people treat me as if I am different. I am.

I went back to the first chapter. It involved an exercise of agreeing or disagreeing with thirty “opinions” which most individuals in my culture in my day would be likely to have a clear prior judgment of agreement or disagreement. As it turns out, they are in pairs but shuffled, where one pair is a specific instance and the other a more general statement. Here’s an example:
14. “Judgments about works of art are purely a matter of individual taste."
25. "Michelangelo is one of history’s foremost artists."

Can you see how agreeing with both of those statements would be a near-contradiction? Out of fifteen so-called “tensions” I only selected one such contradiction and even there I was quibbling with the authors about how much leeway “more or less” gives to a truth sentence.

Once again, the authors found my consistency to be remarkable. Through extensive administering of the same little exercise to many different people in different circumstances, they have found that most peoples' opinions are terribly inconsistent, instead most people disagree with themselves most of the time!
Given the current state of affairs of my society, that's not hard to see.

From there, however, the book slogs into some pretty dense jungle. There is a chapter which attempts to help the reader pinpoint his definitions of God, what attributes and qualities God is supposed to have. But here the authors take a dramatic suspension of their quasi-logical approach to everything by the use of the pronoun “She” in reference to God. I fail to see a logical reason for using that pronoun and they never explain their use. Its only purpose seems to be for artistic or emotional effect and it seems completely contrary to everything I had read in the book up to that point.

I put the book down and reviewed again my remarkable recent discovery of the contributions and life of Kurt Godel (he was a 20th century mathematician who had as much impact on logic as his contemporary Einstein had on physics.) Ultimately what Godel contributed was a proof that any logical system had to be, by definition, incomplete and also capable of supporting statements which are internally inconsistent,
such as paradoxes. I got all the way through this book on logic and found the names of many famous logicians and philosophers cited as sources, but not Godels’ nor was there any hint that such “flaws” in the perfect world of logic as conceived by Hilbert and others, lay in wait for the unwary.

The next chapter was entitled “taboos”” Here again, I differ from a lot of people but I know that already. I practice “judge not lest ye be judged” far more than most people and I am less apt than most to hold universal moral judgments on particular behaviors taken out of context. Here, however, the authors went so far in their efforts to try to trip people up that they made a logic error of their own. In exercise three, part one mentions doing an “unnatural act” in complete secrecy and then part two, you learn about a society where members may perform such an act in equanimity. However, these two are not comparable in the way the authors try to represent, because doing something in complete secrecy is totally different from doing something for which you may be judged by your peers. The two cannot be compared or contrasted. I am quite, quite certain that there are all kinds of very strange goings on behind closed doors in my own culture among my own peers, that we don’t make moral statements about or judge each other about, because we simply do not know that they are happening. In fact, I have long supported the logical supposition that all of the people that I deal with on a frequent basis, as soon as they are out of my sight, earshot, and nose, turn into putrid green monsters traversing an environment totally askew to anything I have ever seen or imagined, only to return to their false front the next time they cross my path. And, that it makes no difference, either to me or to them, that this happens.

The most pronounced logical inconsistency of the authors' came up several times,
consisting of a cultural bias presumed by them to be a natural truth -- that
love will always act to eliminate or reduce suffering. In the universe where I find myself, suffering is a significant experience and it is a very necessary prelude
to changing behavior patterns and learning new ones. In my culture, in contemporary times, I see a mass insanity and one big contribution to it is this mistaken presumption, that eliminating or masking or hiding pain and suffering is always desirable, loving and morally correct. I see that nothing could be further from the truth. I see that the overwhelming reliance on addicting prescription pain medications is not beneficial to anyone. I find the insistence on "always being positive" by the management culture in my employment situation brings about incredibly absurd contortions on the part of nearly everyone which ultimately result in virtually no constructive work being accomplished by anyone. I further believe that the reduction or elimination or hiding of small pains and inconveniences throughout the culture will eventually result in the unleashing of massive suffering, perhaps on a scale as has never been seen before in history. And maybe that has already begun.

After getting that far I began to suspend my engagement with the book and devote some of my focus to critical reexamination. There are several more exercises. I came to stronger conclusions that the authors themselves are more trapped by their own cultures and idiosyncrasies than they have any idea about. One of my strongest objections came up in a section discussing belief in God. The authors' prose suggest that all beliefs in God are based either on evidence, on proof, or on “faith”. It never occurs to them that there are other possibilities. The generalization that “religion is the opium of the masses” should be well-known and understood. A lesser-known but powerful other alternative is that belief in God is functional; that is to say, it enables escape from arrogance without endangering dependence on other people or peoples. Such a purpose for belief in God is totally “outside the box” that the authors are in.

So, ultimately, I finished the book unsatisfied, thinking that the smug authors think more nearly like the illogical people that they seem to chide frequently, than they think like me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

God’s Way is the Safeway

The Holy Bible is rather like the supermarket, isn’t it.

Inside the covers, you will find whole chickens, chicken legs, chicken breasts, chicken tenders, chicken livers, canned chicken, chicken noodle soup, and chicken bouillon. You will find fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, and vegetable juice. The one store serves literally thousands of different people, with thousands of different tastes. Some come in with a month’s list, some come in with a few ideas and a hunger, some come in just to grab something quick for lunch, and some may come in just to find someone else to flirt with.
There may be one or two things in that store that you have never tried, or only tried once. There might be anchovies, chitlins, beef liver and spam. There might be juice with artificial lemon flavoring or furniture polish with real lemon.
There might be other things in the store that you buy over and over again. When there is snow in the forecast, you can just about be certain that there will be no bread, milk or toilet paper left on the shelves.
There may be some people coming into the store who only buy the same three or four different products every time that they come in there, never venturing to sample anything else. They rub shoulders with other people who keep a great variety of edibles and ingredients in their sumptuous kitchens, and then eat out every night. It’s a safe guess
that the person who has tried every item in the whole store is a rare one indeed!
Most of us simply do not know how we could ever manage our lives without the supermarket. On the other hand, we might never, never, never buy brussel sprouts or prune juice. God help the people who do. Thanks Safeway that they are there for them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

God Knows

God Knows, many people would be offended by this book. God knows, any work of art worthy of any consideration, is greeted with outrage and effrontery as it upends everyone’s “comfortable values” and challenges the senses on multiple levels. I have not laughed so hard for many a day. God knows, people on the commuter train, in my office, even in the bathroom, were wondering what the heck was giving me so much fun.

Joseph Heller has taken a serious knowledge of the Old Testament, combined it with artifacts of history, art, music, and the lot of the modern Jewish boy, and produced a firsthand account of the life of David. He brings the characters alive, put flesh on their bones, color in their cheeks, and adds here and there a few blemishes, pot bellies, whines and cheese. The descriptions of Michal as the original Jewish American Princess and Abishag as so beauteous, patient kind, and insecure, really bring them to life. The descriptions of Saul’s melancholia and paranoia, and how David followed him down that same road in his later years, give an exquisite picture of what it really must mean to make it to the top of the heap in this world.

If you are the sort of person who revels in the discovery of a new word such as “assherd” to add to your regular usage, then I thoroughly recommend you check this out. Or, if you would like to review the stories that you learned in vacation bible school, told in such a way that the boys might escape to the john to read it amongst themselves, well, you know what to do. If you want to learn the extent of the hebrew empire under its greatest poet and military strategist, and then consider what has happened to every single nation which rises to become a world power, then this might be a very good review for you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In the DC area in the wintertime, very occasionally two jet streams will converge, cold dry air will pour down from the Great Lakes and Canada while moist air will come up from the Gulf of Mexico. The two will spin together in a vortex, pulling down even more cold air from the north and moisture off the North Atlantic, sitting tight overhead for 24 hours or more and dump and dump and dump.

When I was younger, the storms from this convergence would always catch the weather forecasters by complete surprise, though they have begun to watch for it in more recent times. Some years we go without any snow all winter, other years we get
3 or 6 inches here and there. But when this happens, comes the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

About fifteen years ago I remember catching the train to work even though they were calling for a couple of inches and it had already started to come down. Once there, I went through my morning rituals, and talked with friends about office mates living nearby too chicken to make it in. I also stopped by the credit union to withdraw a large amount of cash. If I remember right, I needed it to close the deal on a second-hand tool purchase.

But the snow kept coming down, harder and harder, and the wind began to blow. The forecasters changed their story from a few inches to several inches to a major storm. One by one my co-workers abandoned their posts. .Finally our whole office was dismissed, as were most others. The streets quickly became impassable.

The train of course only runs at rush hour. I knew that the first train back, after 3, would be packed. So although the office was getting very, very quiet, I did not venture out until time for the next train.

But by this time in the late afternoon, the wind was howling, blowing snow, the temperature had dropped, snow had piled up in drifts, the streets had become deserted, even the plows had quit. I had boots. I had gloves. I had long underwear. I had a hat on under my hood. But it was cold.

I got to the station about 10 minutes before the train was due – I did not want to miss it. The station was locked and there was not a single other person around. I waited in a corner, trying to protect myself as much as possible from the biting wind. I stomped and shuffled my feet, closed my eyes, breathed lightly, and tried to remember as much as I could about Jack London.

When the time came for the train to come … it did not come. It did not come and it did not come and it did not come.

And I was just a little bit scared. I started to consider my alternatives. I knew no one was left at the office to let me in. I did not know anyone who lived nearby. There was one hotel I knew of but it was over a mile away and tromping through knee-deep snow and fighting that wind did not make that option appealing. There was one more train due in another 50 minutes.

I could burn the money in my wallet.

I prayed that the train, which had always been there for me, for years and years and years, even if sometimes a couple of hours late, would still come.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


One spring our boy scout troop participated in a "jamboree", a
camping trip and contest to show off our skills for all the troops in
the area. We all gathered on a piece of land adjacent to the CIA.
Two boys did get over the fence and into spyland, but that's another
The big shots organized inspections of our campgrounds, our
entrance ways, the monkey bridges or other rope constructions,
our cooking and our latrines. They also held contests on the
common area, such as a pancake-flipping contest. I was chosen to
represent us in the fire-starting contest.
Each contestant was given a small area to build a fire.
We were completely restricted to natural materials that we gathered
on site and we were given two matches. Our areas had been prepared
with two cotton strings at twelve inches and twenty four inches.
Our materials could not exceed the first string. We were each to
have, I think, 5 minutes to in which to burn away the second string.
Everybody went to work while the judge circulated. I was way
at one end, there were twenty or thirty contestants. I had carefully
prepared some green cedar branches and, underneath and inside,
some tinder from the shreddings of the cedar bark.
We all were instructed to light our matches at the same time.
After a couple of minutes the judge made his way down to my site.
By then, it already looked as though a few boys were going to be
successful but a large majority had already failed, probably for
lack of sufficiently small, fine tinder.
There was nothing but prodigious smoke coming out of my
green effort. The judge pompously proceeded to pronounce my
effort a failure in advance of the time limit. He patrimoniously
explained to me that green material would not burn, that I needed
to use dry material.
Just then, in the middle of his speech, four things happened
v.bery quickly.
First, the second string completely disappeared.
Second, the smoke disappeared.
Third, in its place suddenly burst forth the largest, biggest
licks of orange fire in the whole area.
Fourth, the judge stopped talking.

I was the first to burn through the second string. I was not,
however, awarded the first prize, because, the judge explained,
I had not done it according to the way he believed that it should
have been done. My frends and troopleader protested that I had
been ripped off but their protests were ignored.

The rest of my life is pretty much going along the same lines.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Structural Deflation

...must be Lloyd (God's Work) Blankfein's worst nightmare.

think about it ... suppose society gradually builds in an expectation that prices are gong to fall, like, say, 2% or 5% per year, forever.
Then what happens?
For one thing, people postpone important purchases - most especially real estate - for as long as possible, knowning that the prices are sure to come down.
Then, by the same token, they become very reluctant to borrow money to make a purchase because the loan balance could be expected to end up larger than the value of the purchase.
And, by the same token, banks and bankers become even more reluctant to make loans, because there would never be adequate collateral to make sure they were repaid.

It'll never happen here. We love you too much, Lloyd.

giggle ...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Evelyn Fields

I flatter myself to believe that, just a little bit, Evelyn Fields was my friend.

From time to time, she would come in to work out of uniform, wearing jeans or some old throw-on dress. I must admit, the first time that I caught her doing this, there was just the merest fleck of gold from her hat, peeking out of her purse, to clue me off. I quickly understood that this was a game … maybe the only pleasure she had in a very, very difficult position.

Because, of course, you know what happens. During the day, in uniform, she received stern, dignified respect from the white pot-bellied associate directors. But let her show up out of uniform and not even the guards recognized who she was. Instead, they would treat her the way they saw her, as some old black lady trying to take advantage of the system. And so she would be openly dissed.

And I? Well, I guess that I was the only little white boy to ever look her in the eyes, and see what she looked like, and recognize that little twinkle of an impish. boyish miscreant that she got when she knew she was making fools of them. I knew exactly who she was and what she was doing. She earned huge respect from me for the incredible rigidity that she had to display, without the faintest hint of a crack, whenever she was around other folk. Once in a while, we got to do silly stuff alone together in the elevator.

At the end of her career, when she announced that she wished to retire, she was asked to serve for six months more while they found a replacement. Reluctantly she obliged. And during that time, the application for promotion of my boss’s boss, among others, came to her desk. Perfunctorily she passed on it.

And at the end of six months, it came to pass that someone noted that those applications for promotion had not been passed on through Congress as was the protocol.
Don’t you know that after her brilliant career, after attaining a rank never before held by either a woman or a black person, and executing it with aplomb and grace, they had to find this petty, petty excuse to denigrate her and even demote her, after her retirement.

As for my boss’ boss, she was soon forced to leave the corps because she had difficulty keeping her mouth shut, at the dinner table. She stayed on in her position for many years afterward, in a most undistinguished role, bringing many a man to his knees begging, yelling, pleading, her to allow them to do some useful work.

So it goes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Last month, according to the US Department of Labor, approximately 660,000 individuals stopped looking for employment. They did not find jobs, each one must have reached some other arrangement. The whole situation enabled the DOL to report an unemployment rate of 10.0%, whereas if those 660,000 people had still been counted, the rate would have climbed to 10.4%. Of course, this gradual process of exclusion has been going on for quite some time.

I liken the current economic situation of the country to a passenger train going down the tracks. In the cars, there are a lot of people seated with tickets. Some of them read the paper, some of them sip their drinks, a few are engaged in quiet conversation. Occasionally they may look out the windows and enjoy the scenery going by – the backs of warehouses, the chain link fences with barbed and razor wire, the junk yards and bus lots. Because the tickets they bought say that they are going to Pittsburgh, and because that’s where the same train went yesterday, and the day before, they all believe that they are going to Pittsburgh.
In the locomotive, the engineer and the fireman are the only ones who can look forward through the glass. They sit transfixed by the image of a washed-out bridge over the river ahead of them.
The conductor, back in one of the passenger cars, has been alerted to the situation. He, of course, and not the engineer, is the one empowered to make the decisions. He doesn’t see the bridge. He does understand that the train has too much momentum, that even if the emergency brake is thrown and all the wheels locked, that the train would not stop in time to avert disaster. He sees no reason to throw the paying passengers out of their seats and into a panic. No benefit would incur. And so he has made the decision to carry on as if nothing is happening. He has told the engineer to do nothing and he himself has not alerted the passengers over the loudspeaker system.
On top of the train, riding in the wind, there happen to be an odd collection of fellows. They have arrived to where they are via hitchhiking, hoeboeing, or otherwise ostracized from the crowd below. They are the only ones on the whole train who can see the whole situation, all around, and feel the wind in their hair, the rapid speed, and see the black swirling water ahead under the bluff. If the train could be slowed down they could get off but now it is moving too fast for them, they are prisoners. If they could talk to the passengers below them, the passengers would not listen to them anyway because they are outcasts, vagabonds, who did not pay their way. And so the train continues on.

That’s just how it is, and how it’s going to be. Might as well enjoy the ride….