Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back In The Saddle, So Let's Catch Up

The work trip I mentioned at the end of the previous post was more intense than I expected, and resulted in spending longer days than I'm used to working, leaving no time to tend to the blog.  I was in Toronto, Ontario, which is a first time for me, to visit a company that supplies parts to Major Avionics Company, where I work.  I traveled with two other guys whom I know but have never spent that much time with.

As a Floridian almost since birth, I've seen a lot of population growth.  Areas turning from cow pasture to housing developments and condominiums seemingly overnight.  Dredge and fill operations turning muck into dry land with channels cut out to deeper water and inviting waterfront housing.  But I don't think I've ever seen as much in building going on as in the downtown Toronto area.  I swear there was a crane every 500' across the city, from ground level to building tops.  It was rather amazing.  I don't know what you guys are doing up there, but God love you, as Joe Biden says.  Nice to see someone embracing growth and profit. 
(grainy iPhone pic from a parking lot)

It might be disappointing the Global Warming Zealots that while this season is supposed to be active, we haven't had a hurricane in the Atlantic yet, the last day of August, for the first time in the last 11 years - and I don't think one is possible for several days.  A local hurricane analysis site says that only 12% of the last 60 years have not had a hurricane by now - average date of the first Atlantic Hurricane is around August 10th, IIRC, and the chances of getting enough storms before the end of the season to meet the numbers called for by the famous Colorado hurricane predictions is about 5%. 

While the people who study hurricanes for a living say the correlation between global warmening and hurricane formation is far from proven, ever since Al "second Chakra" Gore put a picture of a hurricane coming out of the smokestacks of a nameless CO2 source, warmists have believed that higher sea surface temps necessarily mean more hurricanes.  The situation is much more complex than that, with global circulations, like the El Nino/La Nina Cycle (also called ENSO or the El Nino Southern Oscillation) playing a major role, as well as the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and probably others.  The ENSO cycle is rather neutral now, not particularly conducive or disruptive to hurricane formation.  Those who follow it know a strong El Nino really disrupts hurricane formation by shearing the tops off the storms.

I don't know how many people saw this, but Bamster put Cass Sunstein on the oversight committee tasked with looking at whether or not the NSA has been "doing us wrong".  Sunstein is the guy who famously wrote the book "Nudge".  The idea behind the book is simple: we all have an inner Homer Simpson and an inner Mr. Spock who run our decision making.  While the Ruling Class Elites are under the control of their inner Spock, personally you're ruled by Homer.  You're too stupid to make good choices, so the wise and wonderful government will make them for you.  (coincidentally, I'm sure, the Yiddish word for an annoyingly nagging person is a noodge - which sounds almost like it, and is pretty darned appropriate).

Sunstein doesn't fit oversight - I'll bet he's completely behind whatever the NSA is doing.  This is a guy who said in absence of other solid evidence, everyone who dies should be considered an organ donor, rather than assuming not, so he apparently believes society has a right to everything about you - hopefully not before you're done with those organs.  He "suggests government agents or their allies “cognitively infiltrate” conspiracy theorist groups by joining ”chat rooms, online social networks or even real-space groups” and influencing the conversation" - even if it turns out they're spreading the truth and not a conspiracy theory.
The paper also suggests that the government “formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech.” That sounds an awful lot like the 50 Cent Party of online commentators who are paid per comment by the Chinese communist party to sway public opinion.
ZeroHedge called him "America's Goebbels", Hitler's head of the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. 

If you ever had any doubt NSA oversight was going to be joke, you can go back assuming the government has established itself as a ruling tyranny with absolute contempt for its citizens.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Add Me to the "I Got Nothing" List

So go read "Federal Judge Rules Food Stamp Recipients Can Unionize".  (H/T IMAO)

It's satire!!

Not that it's easy to tell satire from real news anymore.  Not a week goes by that I don't run across things I thought I'd never see in my country. 

Blogging is likely to be spotty for the next few days.  I'm being sent on a cross country trip for work.  I expect to have some service, but can't tell now if I'll be able to visit with y'all.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What If The Answer Isn't What People Think?

The consensus of commenters on the story about a coming race war was that it's really here now.  As Francis Porretto puts it, "It's On".   You should read it.  A commenter links to Vox Popoli and his comment on the killing of "Shorty" Belton.  There's much in both places to contemplate.

As I've said before,
This may shock some people, but I don't really believe there is such a thing as race.  I believe there are nationalities, and people from different areas of the world look different, but those differences are superficial and go away as cultures blend.

Most variation is within, not between, "races." Of the small amount of total human [DNA] variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.  No matter how different you think the Italian and Korean look from each other.
While I don't believe in race, race isn't necessary for there to be race war.  It goes without saying cultures are real and can bring real problems with them.  Cultures can be more powerful than biology; where is a poor child with African ancestry more likely to become a world-leading brain surgeon, in a house with culture expecting - demanding - achievement, or in a house that allows any behavior?  In the 1950s, the black and white illegitimacy rates were essentially the same, about 20%.  Now black children are only born to a married couple 20% of the time.  Several researchers say this is a direct result of redistribution policies that reward broken families and out of wedlock births.  The single biggest determinant of whether a child will grow up in poverty is if the parents stay married, and poverty links to all bad outcomes in life that I know of.  I wrote last December:  
One of the most stunning facts in the culture of dependency is how out of wedlock births changed over time from the world I grew up in.  Anyone remember the lyrics to "Love Child" by the Supremes?  "No child of mine will be bearing, the name of shame I've been wearing"?  It was not something to be proud of.  In today's decadent culture, it's different: by percentages, out of wedlock births account for more than half of the births in the black and Hispanic communities.  Try using the phrase "shotgun wedding" around someone under about 25, see if they know what it is. 
The thug culture that glorifies gangstas, and criminality, along with the destruction of the family by "redistribution" policies, make up the biggest problem.  The murder of in Oklahoma of  Christopher Lane is a perfect example of the thug culture, and has been linked to being a gang initiation rite.  
Indeed, a dark picture emerges as one peruses the social media sites teens like these invariably use to brag about themselves and their exploits. Before it was removed, Chauncy Luna’s Facebook page revealed he goes by the alias Baby Drake. It showed photos of him posing with friends, including Edwards, and flashing gang signs. Two pictures on James “Lilbuggy” Edwards’ Facebook page are also quite revealing. One shows a handgun, and several others show staggeringly large sums of cash. Both may be explained by another photo containing hashtags suggesting he was a member of the Crips. There is also a photo of him posing with a shotgun. ”Bitch we up them poles,” Edwards says in the clip, “F— ‘em.”
It's not purely race.  At least one of them was white, so it can't be.  It can be the rotten culture.  I know several black engineers with sterling character who would no sooner engage in that sort of crime than any of us.  Cultural problems can explain many things: why is achievement so limited in some populations?  Is it a genetically low intelligence or that the culture doesn't reward it, so intelligence is never selected for in reproduction? 

One of the big debates of the 20th century was the effects of "nature vs. nurture".  I've always believed the answer to that question was "both".  A good nurture can get the best out of any gift of nature, but a bad nurture can ruin any nature.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is DHS Planning (for) a Race War? Or Is It Just an Employee?

The Blaze broke the story today about Ayo Kimathi, a small business specialist for the DHS by day and black supremacist by night who runs a website preparing blacks "for the inevitable war" against white people.  The website is called WarOnTheHorizon (dot com!), where he goes by the nom de guerre "Irritated Genie".
“The 21st century will either mark the return of Black resistance to white domination or global white-on-Black genocide leading to our complete extinction,” the website declares. “Warfare is eminent, and in order for Black people to survive the 21st century, we are going to have to kill a lot of whites – more than our christian hearts can possibly count.”
(Confidential to Mr. Kimathi: the word you want is imminent, not eminent - but maybe it's just old white cracker stuff to care about the meanings of words)
Perhaps the strangest aspect of this extremely strange story is that the Southern Preposterous Lie Center actually has him listed on their Hate Watch ("Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right") pages!  Why they conclude he has right wing politics is completely missing from the column.  I see nothing about him that I'd identify as clearly right or left, just clearly homicidal, but hard over leftists like they are will think anyone who hates is right wing by definition.

So doesn't the Fed.Gov, with their hands on the mighty info-suck of the NSA know that their ICE employee is running a hate-speech filled web page?  Apparently not - at least, not that they'd tell us. 
Kimathi’s former supervisor told the Southern Poverty Law Center she discovered his website in June.

“When I saw the website, I was stunned,” she said. “To see the hate, to know that he is a federal employee, it bothered me.”

In an email to TheBlaze Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deputy press secretary Gillian Christensen said she could not comment as a matter of policy on whether an investigation into Kimathi is underway.
Yet, by government policy, he had to get the website approved by his leadership so that they know it's not conflict of interest.  Whenever we deal with, it's reasonable to assume stupidity over malice, but does management know about this website just let it slide by?  Did he lie about the website and they fell for it?  If his job involved the massive ammo purchases DHS is charged with, or other military/police activity, that would be ominous. 
Kimathi’s former supervisor said among his duties at DHS and ICE is speaking at various vendor events. He’s one of the agency’s public faces. It is his job to advocate for small business owners “white, black, historically disadvantaged, disabled veteran-owned, everybody,” the supervisor said.

“He fights for the little guy,” the supervisor said. “And he’s very good at it. He has a commanding presence. He’s very suave. It’s almost as if he has a split personality.” 
As of a few moments ago, the DHS Office of Acquisition listed him on a public web page:

It's no secret that there are those in America who desperately want a race war; and you can make the argument we have enough evidence that at least some people have started fighting already.  DiveMedic at Confessions of a Street Pharmacist offers some evidence, but not all of it by any means.  I've chronicled some of it here myself.  Another senseless killing, two black youths killing an 89 year old WWII vet, happened just today.  The motivation for wanting a race war varies with the individual and it doesn't seem a stretch that some in the administration, and their Cloward and Piven devotees might be trying to gin one up themselves.   It's just the kind of thing that could allow the suspension of elections, or create the outcry from the general public to "make it stop", so the Fed.Gov and crack down and remove the last vestiges of civil liberty.

In the final analysis, I can't point at some reference I've found and categorically prove the DHS is planning a race war.  They're not that stupid.  Likewise, I can't prove this is just one employee acting on his own (certainly the simplest answer).  But as I said in that linked post of mine, I think the vast majority of the readers of this blog would agree that if someone publicly says they want you dead, you take them seriously. Don't let them catch you behind the curve. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Zen of Practice

No, not the practice of zen.  Unless you're a friend or personal stalker, it might seem out of place when I say I'm a student of guitar.  I don't post about it often, not as much as Robb, but I say something every now and then. 

About a month ago, the guitar forum I visit the most had a discussion about books; one of those "what are the books everyone should have?" type threads that discussion groups dedicated to a single topic tend to have.  Several people recommended this book, "First, Learn to Practice". 
After reading the discussion and the "look inside" preview at Amazon, I got the Kindle version.  Although I'm not done, it's such a good book that I want to recommend it.  No, it's not that I think you're studying music, I want to recommend it for a completely different reason.  Although the author is a guitarist and the main point of the book is practicing music, I think his philosophy applies to practicing shooting, and just about everything else.   I'll reword his "big ideas" slightly here, but think about these in terms of your IDPA movements, range shooting, or any other activity you do. 
  • If your practice isn't fun, change things until it is.
  • Practice movement.  Performance will follow.
  • Practice and performance are two different things.
  • You know it when your hands can do it on their own.
  • You affect everything by concentrating on one thing. 
  • Don't worry about the hard parts.
  • Get your hands used to the feel of perfect.
There's more, including a whole section on habits: Be comfortable when you practice.  Be honest assessing how you did.  Be optimistic, persistent, consistent.  And although he never uses this exact phrase, he voices over and over an axiom I've heard in my training to be a better shooter:  "slow is smooth; smooth is fast".  Work on doing the motions slowly and perfectly, speed comes after smooth.
Now, granted, most people aren't going to think of practicing music directly carrying over to practicing for competitive shooting.  But, hey, this is a full service blog! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Latest from Nostrildamage

Congress Critter Henry "Nostrildamage" Waxman (E. Cal.) has introduced a far-ranging bill that seems intended to destroy the AR-15 all together.  Unique among laws I've heard of, it takes aim at 80% lower receivers and, well, pretty much all gun parts when you get down to it. The so-called, "Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction Act of 2013" (pdf here) doesn't just control so-called "Semiautomatic Assault Weapons" it bans them.  Section 101 specifically says
“a firearm receiver casting or firearm receiver blank that-
  1. at the point of sale does not meet the definition of a firearm in section 912(a) of title 18, United States Code and 
  2. after purchase by a consumer, can be completed by the consumer to the point at which such casting or blank functions as a firearm frame or receiver for a semiautomatic assault weapon or machine gun;
shall be considered a banned hazardous product  ... [emphasis added: SiG]
Section 102 makes it illegal to "market or advertise, on any medium of electronic communications,
including over the Internet" these "casting or blank" receivers.   The thing is, it also outlaws all the other parts: bolts, bolt carrier groups, upper receivers, trigger kits, and others by banning "assault weapon parts kits".  It defines the kits as:
the term ‘‘assault weapon parts kit’’ means any part or combination of parts not designed and intended for repair or replacement but designed and intended to enable a consumer who possesses all such necessary parts to assemble a semiautomatic assault weapon;
The problem, as anyone brighter than Waxman (admittedly not a high bar) can tell you, is that the parts "intended for repair and replacement" are exactly the same parts used to assemble an AR kit! So all the manufacturers have to do to is mark the packages "replacement parts"? 

Aside from the attack on paperweights and hunks of aluminum, there's really nothing new here.  It uses the terms "semiautomatic" and "machine gun" interchangeably, uses a Bloomberg-style "single feature" test to determine if a gun should be banned, outlaws things like broom handle Mausers and outlaws those kits you see everywhere that allow you to make a machine bun.  You know, those kits that don't exist!!  They keep 'em right next to those internet guns you can buy without an FFL being involved. 

Kurt Hoffmann, the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, puts it this way:
What Waxman hopes to accomplish here is a bit murky. Even if such legislation passes (a very dubious prospect, given current political realities)--let's say 80% complete receivers are banned. What, then, is to stop manufacturers from offering 79% complete receivers. Sure--those could eventually be banned, too, but at some point, Congress would be reduced to banning a block of metal (or polymer, for that matter, with the parts to be milled out color-coded to make the finishing easier)
The realistic view of this bill is that it's probably DOA.  The Stupid Party controls 1/3 of DC, and the one sliver they control is the House.  That's where the bill has been floated.  I don't think they're so stupid that they'd let this out. 
The EPLowers Kevlar reinforced polymer lower receiver - an 80% lower with a twist.  They use white plastic where it needs to be cut away and use the Kevlar filled black everywhere else.  Just cut away the white, drill a couple of holes and you're there. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Markets Are Looking Freakier

The major market indices were down again today, continuing the losses from last week, and some indicators are just not looking good. posts in the daily free info this plot of the NYA - a composite of the NYSE. 
The story at a glance is the red line up top, the former high level attained on May 26th, just a few weeks ago.  It has been approaching that line and not been able to get higher despite being close a few times since May.  It closed even lower today, 9385.9.  That appears to be a sign that it has peaked and it's going to head lower rather than test its previous highs.  By the way, the last time the market was above that nominal level (that is, not corrected for inflation) was at the end of 2007 - well before the '08 crash. 

As the commercials say: wait!  There's more!  ZeroHedge reports all major bond prices are up: the 10 year bond has hit a 25 month high, and:
10Y rates tagged 2.89% and 30Y 3.90% all pushing back to the pre-US-downgrade (debt-ceiling) levels of summer 2011. The 10Y yield has just joined the 30Y trading wider than they did when stocks hit their lows in March 2009. ...
and for some context... 10s and 30s are now higher in yield from the March 2009 lows while 5Y and 7Y remin 26bps lower (for now)...
As I've said here before, because most everyone says it, nothing will collapse the US faster than interest rates going up much higher.  This raises the interest on our debt, raising the percentage of GDP that we spend on debt service, and squeezing off every other target they want to spent money on.  A bit earlier in the day, when 10Y rates were 2.873, ZeroHedge wrote a piece with some "inside baseball"comments on the Fed and the departure of Bernanke.  Interesting reading. 

Why would bond sales go down?  There are many reasons, not the least of which is that bond buyers realize that they might not be getting a fair yield for the inflation they see in the US; not enough yield for the risk they're taking.  Seeking Alpha reports buyers might be upset about the prospect of "tapering" by the Fed (turning off the printing press) - that could include thinking if the money pump gets shut off, bad things will follow and they surely won't get anything for their bonds. 

As I poke my head out of my secret bunker of solitude, one hand lifting the manhole-like cover, an Uzi clenched tightly in the other, I have to say it looks riskier than usual out there.  Time for me to retreat back into the bunker, have some leftover pizza, and try to figure out ways to survive. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Terrorism - the Trump Card of the 21st Century

Terrorists might use this!!  Just as it applies to tannerite, and ammonium nitrate (and I could do a post on that alone) the threat of terrorists is being used to justify copyright violation suits.  Global Research brings the story in "Counter-Terrorism Gone Crazy: Copyright Infringement is Being Treated as Terrorism".  Apparently, the various industry associations have been on this crazy train since the early days after 9/11.
The European music industry is lobbying the European Parliament, demanding things that the RIAA can only dream about:
The music and film industries are demanding that the European parliament extends the scope of proposed anti-terror laws to help them prosecute illegal downloaders. In an open letter to MEPs, companies including Sony BMG, Disney and EMI have asked to be given access to communications data – records of phone calls, emails and internet surfing – in order to take legal action against pirates and filesharers. Current proposals restrict use of such information to cases of terrorism and organised crime.
Never mind that the facts don't fit, this is about cronyism, and the administration is nothing but world elite class at helping cronies - for a fee, that is. 
Boing Boing reported in 2011:
Piracy doesn’t fund the mob or terrorists ….
A scholarly report funded by the Canadian government and the Ford Foundation investigates the alleged link between copyright infringement and terrorism and finds none.
Although this made me crazy to read, the thing that made me madder came up last night.  I was resting a slightly sore back on the sofa and decided to watch a little preseason football.  A few minutes of air time was devoted to coverage of the NFL's Clear Bag policy.  
To provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite fan entry into stadiums, NFL teams have implemented an NFL policy this year that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into stadiums.
That's right, no admission to an NFL stadium without a clear bag to show off all your possessions.  If you're stupid enough to be a season ticket holder, the NFL is going to "give" you a clear plastic bag to carry your personal belongings into the stadium.  
Ladies, no purses will be allowed, so if you should be carrying hygiene products or something that you might not want everybody in your seating section to see, well, so much for that idea.  Actually, you can bring a small clutch, no bigger than a hand, inside that clear bag.

I note it also says:
Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.
which sounds like a blatant grab to ensure nobody eats or drinks anything at a stadium that they don't get their percentage of.  The grab is more transparent than the bags.

The stadium is theirs.  The teams are theirs.  We have only one option, which is not to go.  If stadiums are empty, or their phones burn up with complaints, it might affect them.  I'm too far from any of the three NFL teams in the Florida to go to games regularly, but I have friends who go to games a few times every year, and end up spending as much as $600-$800 per game if they spend the night.  Personally, I won't spend a single dime on the NFL unless they change that policy. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Trying to Pump Up the Mortgage Market

It seems to me that housing prices hold a unique place in economics.  People who buy houses have taken a long term commitment to pay back their debt, and the mortgages are held or bought and sold by the holders.  The system needs to be based on stable to increasing home prices - the worst possible place for an asset bubble that traps people with 30 year commitments in a house that they couldn't possibly sell for what they owe on it.  As you know, that's exactly what happened. Being underwater on their loan traps them in their house, so people's perceptions of their stature in life plummets and they feel miserable.

There's an old saying that if you can't make your mortgage payment, you're in trouble; if no one can make their mortgage payment, the bank is in trouble.  Again, that's exactly what happened.

So it seems to me that one of the prime emphases of the QE to infinity that has been going on since '08 has been to create inflation in the housing market, to make the cost of the houses, in fiat dollars, more than the mortgage note is written for. One way to do that is to make borrowing cheap, by pressing interest rates artificially low (check!).  Here's a plot of mortgage rates since 1970:

The downside of all that money pumping is that every dollar is worth less compared to real physical things, like food and energy.  Gas prices go up, which makes food and everything else go up.  You're screwed by the attempt to make it look like the banks don't lose money.

You can see in that plot that mortgage rates face the same problem the long bond showed in the post I did last week.  They simply can't go much lower without going negative, so they simply must go up.  When the rates start going up, housing gets less affordable. 

I'm sure you hear realtors on TV or see them in your local paper talking about how house prices are recovering.  John Ransom, finance guy at Town Hall, points out some of the problems that don't show up until you look below the surface.
Half of all home purchases today are being made with cash, accord to the analysis made by Goldman Sachs.
For every dollar of purchase price, only 44 cents is being financed compared with 67 cents before the crash.
Who can buy a home for cash?  In large enough numbers for it to affect this kind of national, big picture, only other banks.  The banks are propping up the housing market, trying to make it look good enough so regular people buy and prices inflate.

There are other ominous signs:
  • Mortgage origination in the United States is only about a third of the size it was at the market peak.
  • “But over the past seven years, the all-cash share of sales has more than doubled”  
  • With the median home price in the U.S. at $214,200, ... the average buyer is putting down $119,952
  • That means that it’s highly likely that you ... can’t afford to buy a home no matter how good your credit is if you don’t have the prohibitive cash down payment. [Some editing: SiG]
Back in the old days of the '70s and '80s, you couldn't get a mortgage on a house if the principal and interest payment for a month exceeded 25% of your gross.  Far from saying you could buy a house worth 4x your gross pay, with the interest rates in place in those days, it had the effect of limiting the price of the house you can buy to about 2.5x your annual gross.  That was with a 20% down payment.  Putting that in perspective to today's prices, if you divide that median price of $214,200 by 2.5, you get an income of $85,860 required to afford that median price home, and that's way above the US median income.  The nominal median income (unadjusted for inflation) is $48,152. 

House prices need to fall a lot (or real incomes grow a lot) if someone making median income is to be able to afford a median house.  House prices need to rise to make the banks look good.  Which do you think is going to happen?  Yeah, me too. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Turd Buried in Obamacare

... and they're not even done sifting the legislative kitty litter for buried nuggets. 

The law requires your home be "inspected" to ensure compliance with the Glorious Motherland's diktat. 
The Health and Human Services’ website states that your family will be targeted if you fall under the “high-risk” categories below:

  • Families where mom is not yet 21.
  • Families where someone is a tobacco user. 
  • Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities.
  • Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States.
  • The Obamanoids have apparently tried to say, "but this is only for those in the Medicaid system" - and conveniently overlook the fact that the black letter law says nothing of the sort.  Just as SWAT teams started for armed hostage standoffs and are now used for trivial, low risk things like seizing "illicit" blackberry bushes from some hippie organic gardeners, systems like this always expand in the direction of destroying liberty.

    Constitutional attorney Kent Masterson Brown says:
    “This is not a “voluntary” program. The eligible entity receiving the grant for performing the home visits is to identify the individuals to be visited and intervene so as to meet the improvement benchmarks. A homeschooling family, for instance, may be subject to “intervention” in “school readiness” and “social-emotional developmental indicators.” A farm family may be subject to “intervention” in order to “prevent child injuries.” The sky is the limit.

    Although the Obama administration would claim the provision applies only to Medicaid families, the new statute, by its own definition, has no such limitation. Intervention may be with any family for any reason. It may also result in the child or children being required to go to certain schools or taking certain medications and vaccines and even having more limited – or no – interaction with parents. The federal government will now set the standards for raising children and will enforce them by home visits.”  
    It's short.  RTWT.   Obamacare mandates I recommend you take blood pressure pills before you go. 

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013


    Hat Tip to Mike Myles at 90 Miles from Tyranny for this:

    A friend commented he wished we had a catchier word than "conservative".  It just sounds too much like a grumpy old guy holding onto everything familiar, unwilling to change to deal with the modern world.  Dana Loesch uses the term "conservatarian" to try to acknowledge deep parallels with libertarianism; if anything, it's a clunkier, less warm, less fuzzy word.  

    It's ironic that Big Brother now, "the Man", is exactly the same people who were screaming about rebelling against "the Man" 45 years ago, and the 60 to 80 year olds collapsing the country today are the ones who said, "never trust anyone over 30".  

    The old roles are swapped.  We are the counterculture.  The conservative, good old values are the minority fighting the big, oppressive Man.  Andrew Breitbart said something like, "You're arguing for freedom.  Who doesn't want freedom?  If you put it that way, how could you possibly lose?"  That's the message.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Amazing Cluster of Hindenburg Omens

    Remember the Hindenburg Omen?  For the 5th time in the last seven trading days, 5 times since last Monday, the sign has appeared.  The omen is a set of market technical indicators which precede many (but not all) market collapses.  To borrow a concise description from ZeroHedge:
    As a reminder, the 5 criteria of the Omen are as follows:
    1. That the daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.
    2. That the smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69
      (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum.
      This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.
    3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.
    4. That the McClellan Oscillator is negative on that same day.
    5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week
      Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new
      52 Week Highs). This condition is absolutely mandatory.
    Tyler notes:
    For the 5th time in the last 7 days, equity market internals have triggered an anxiety-implying Hindenburg Omen. Based on our data, this is the most concentrated cluster of new highs, new lows, advancing/declining based confusion on record.  The last few occurrences have not ended well (though obviously not disastrously) but as the creator of the 'Omen' notes, the more occurrences that cluster, the stronger the signal.
    We have seen clusters before... (but not on this scale)...
    StockTiming, the little freebie market newsletter I get, has been pointing out the subtle changes in the market over the course of the last month or so.   Look at the bottom half of this chart, which shows the institutional buying and selling action.  These large companies essentially set the direction of money flow into/out of the market and that means they set the overall direction of the market.  Since early July, they haven't increased their buying as they cut their selling.  See how selling (red) drops off - selling dries up from mid-June to the end of July - and buying (blue) was level through much of the sell-off and then started dropping off. 
    The big institutions know that they set the direction of the market and if they sell off too fast, they can start a panic.  Remember the announcement back in mid June that the Fed may start "tapering" (shutting down) their money pump?  That's the massive spike in selling in June - but it was preceded by a downturn in buying and increase in selling (reacting to a rumor?).  After that nervousness, they seem to have adopted a "don't make waves" policy.  They aren't selling off too much, but they sure aren't buying either.  I see that as they're limiting their potential losses.  Notice how the NYA index (top curve) has been trading pretty much sideways since about July 15th? 

    The analogy I see is unwinding; slowly discharging the battery.  Just waiting on the next money dump from the Bernank? 
    How big a correction are we likely to see?  And exactly when?  Opinions vary, but a 5 to 10% drop in the markets seems to be what they're saying.  When?  Funny how so many market crashes have happened in September.  Which means essentially in 2-4 weeks? 

    QoTD - Child Praying To Obama Edition

    The video - if you haven't seen it and can stomach it. A child praying to Obama.  And I thought the kids singing his praises were creepy. 
    "If God doesn't reset this country soon he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology" - Pastor Ken "Hutch" Hutcherson  of the Antioch Bible Church, and former linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Sunday Odds and Ends

    In case you haven't seen it, props to the guys at Lucky Gunner for not taking themselves or their subject too seriously, and putting up a funny video about Blackhawk! tactical goggles.  Style points awarded.  No financial ties, yada yada. 

    Initial results from the War of the Ants are good.  We had this Terro stuff recommended to us, and it's impressive.  It's a liquid bait, and a drop fell on the door step.  A little while later, every degree of the drop's circumference had ants at it - it looked like one of those Serengeti water hole scenes.  We also found the same ingredient in the Talstar PL I was looking for under the Ortho label, and the perimeter has been secured.  We've read that many of the people who put in pavers for a living will mix some of the Talstar granules in with the sand and brush it into the seams between pavers, to keep the ants from colonizing. 

    The rod rebuilding project is proceeding well, if slower than I'd like.  I removed the last of the old epoxy today, using a heat gun to soften it and a metal edge to scrape it off.  I put the handle and grips in place with epoxy paste.  Hmm... I guess I should put up a photo, but no time tonight.  Next update.  Next step is to smooth the blank with a little 400 or 600 grit paper, and a touch of wet sanding, then start putting guides on.   

    I also did the dirty deed of washing and waxing the cars.  My Explorer has the ability to change size spontaneously, shrinking for normal use, but expanding when it's time to go over every square inch with a waxy cloth.  I used to have a Cherokee that did the same thing.  People wouldn't believe me, but I swear I saw it. 

    Finally, if you haven't been to Borepatch to see someone's Lego version of "White and Nerdy" get on over there.  This is a Weird Al song, the Lego version is based on the original here, and among my favorites. 

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    The Battle is Joined

    Looks like the weekend is going to be spent doing battle with ants.  For some reason, this summer has been the worst we've had for ants in our 30 years here. All of the usual tricks, cleaning away trails and sealing openings, occasional spraying (with whatever the enviro-weenies allow for general use ant sprays) hasn't stopped them.  The sprays kill the ones they touch, then are useless.  No residual action at all.  The ants have found the cat foods; this morning Mojo's food bowl had areas that were black with ants

    They have come to take over our house and conquer us.  Time to get serious.  Looking for some of this to put around the outside perimeter of the house, and sweep between the pavers. Chemical warfare time.

    Friday, August 9, 2013

    To Infinity and Beyond! ... or bust!!

    Overnight last night, Japan quietly slipped into a new territory of Keynesian monetary creation.  Their total debt crossed, ¥1,000,000,000,000,000.  That's one quadrillion yen.  The actual government number was ¥1,008,600,000,000,000.  10 to the 15th power; 1E15 to calculator jockies.

    Admittedly part of having such a large number is because a Yen is such a small amount of currency, about equal in purchasing power to an American penny.  Still, divide a quadrillion by 100 as if you were converting pennies to dollars and you get about 10 Trillion.
    This represents about $10.5 trillion, is an amount larger than the economies of Germany, France and the U.K. combined, and is about 230% of Japan's GDP although at this point who cares: Japan will never repay its debt and the best it can hope for is to inflate it away, which ties in with the first forecast of ever greater "easing" by the BOJ until fiat after fiat loses all meaning in a world that is so hopelessly in debt that destroying the very concept of modern money will ultimately be the only recourse.  {Note: the bold italics are my addition - SiG}
    They're simply the leading edge, the farthest out there in the world - in terms of debt to GDP ratio.  But if you include all the unfunded liabilities and "off book" shenanigans built into our budget, we're looking at a total debt of about $140 Trillion.  Our total indebtedness is over 13 times what Japan's is.  And even that's not the complete picture.  The 9 largest banks in America alone are exposed to the loss on derivatives (essentially debt instruments) of over $220 Trillion.
    Demonocracy's visualization of 230 Trillion as $100 bills. Note the little man standing in front of everything - on the left. The little worm next to lastfootball field is a truck with $2 billion dollars.

    There is no government in the world that has this kind of money. This is roughly 3 times the entire world economy. The unregulated market presents a massive financial risk. The corruption and immorality of the banks makes the situation worse.

    Oh, yeah.  Things will just be peachy.  Nothing to worry about here.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Sometimes The Writing On the Wall Is Really Easy to Read

    Peter, Bayou Renaissance Man, writes an excellent piece on how the bond market is on the verge of becoming a really big problem, and in turn links to Denninger.  Denninger shows the plot that makes my blood run cold.  Let me show that first:
    Let me rush to say I added the lower red line, the lower bound of the range the bonds have been in since 1985 - not KD and not the St. Louis Fed.

    Now, what this graph shows is the interest rate of the 10 year bond since about 1962.  Recessions are the vertical gray bands.  The most important thing to notice is the general behavior. The 10 year bond yield peaked in 1981/82, right after the awful Nixon/Carter inflation of the 70s, and for 30 years has been in decline.  What's so easy to read about this is that it's obvious it can't stay in that channel much longer; in a few years, the rate has to go negative (you pay them interest, instead of earning it).  It has to either stop dropping and stay where it is (see any other long flat areas in there?); or go up, which is the more likely scenario.

    For an excellent introduction to the importance of the bonds, BRM had an excellent piece last Sunday, with nice explanations of the terms always used on the news.  If you don't know what a Zero Coupon bond is, head over and read that.

    Why is this information important now?  The reason rates have trended lower since the crash of '08 despite the incredible deficit spending is the monetary creation the Fed has been behind.  Quantitative Easing.  Creating money out of thin air to buy bonds.  Money from nothing.  The problem is that no one wants to buy bonds with interest rates that low when that same money from nothing is pumping up asset prices of almost every other class of asset.  Why settle for 2% when inflation is pushing 10% and stocks are hitting records regularly?  Since the sales of the bonds are the accounting method to finance our deficit, it's only the action of the fed, buying 90% of our bonds, that allows the spending to continue.  Bayou Renaissance Man writes:
    Detroit has defaulted on its municipal bond obligations because its tax base has shrunk to the point that it can no longer collect enough in rates and fees to service its debt.  That's happening elsewhere in the country as well - for example, witness last month's bond default by a Florida bridge agencyNote how many California cities have declared bankruptcy, or are seriously considering it.  The contagion is spreading fast.
    The rise in interest rates that has already begun will inevitably drive down asset prices, as outlined above.  That means that the Fed's balance sheet may be seriously affected.  Right now it's carrying almost two trillion dollars' worth of Treasury bonds on its books as assets, listed at their face value.  If it has to 'mark them to market' - i.e. list them at what others will actually pay for them right now - the value of its assets will show a serious decline.  It'll become technically bankrupt, and be unable to sell its assets for sufficient funds to deal with any other financial crisis that comes along.  That means its only recourse will be to print yet more money - but it's already pumped over $3 trillion of hyperinflationary excess cash into our economy.  It can't use that tactic much longer without risking a Weimar Republic-type disaster.
    Zerohedge posted this amazing graph in today's "Merle Hazard" post.
    This is the Cleveland Federal Reserves summary view of assets held (bonds, etc.), since '07. Note how it was about $800 billion in '07 while today it's pushing $3.6 Trillion?  That means the Fed has more than quadrupled its assets.  As Tyler put it:
    What will happen if, in order to forestall inflationary pressures, the Fed needs to reverse course and, over a short period of time, sell a meaningful part of the trillions in bonds it has bought? As Buffett intimates, it would be ugly: interest rates would spike, and this could pull the stock market down sharply. We had a hint of that kind of market decline already. In June, the Fed suggested that it would start to taper off new bond purchases within several months, which means buying less, not actually selling, and this led to a temporary dip in stock prices and a rise in interest rates.
    How long can this go on?  Can we buy 100% of our own bonds - fund our deficit out of thin air?   Frankly, I'm surprised it's still going on.  At some point, the world is going to decide we're no better off than a Greece or other country with an extreme spending problem and they're going to shun dollars.  It's already going on: more and more countries are dealing in other currencies, or baskets of currencies.  The world is transitioning into its "post-US" configuration.  At some point, that speeds up and we collapse.  It might take a day or two.  Whether that's next week or in a few years, I can't tell you. 

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Pretty Launch Tonight

    United Launch Alliance is in the final moments of putting a new "WGS Block II", a Wideband Global Satcom satellite into orbit tonight, and we stepped outside to watch it at 8:29.  The vehicle was a Delta IV, a lighter lift version, not the big Delta IV Heavy, and with the launch 20 minutes after sunset, we got a good look at all four strap-on boosters tumbling away and then the payload fairing reflecting the sunlight as it tumbled away from the vehicle, climbing through 40 miles up (that's a guess).  Personally, I think the prettiest launches are around sunset, when it's dark dusk on the ground and the sun lights the contrail higher up, especially when it's a bright sunset pink.  I guess I've become a bit jaded, having watched almost every launch in the last 30 years.  

    ULA's webcast URL is here; they use it for all non-classified launches so if you hear of a launch from Cape Canaveral and want to launch, it seems to work better than Spaceflight Now and some of the other big name sites.

    The one they launched tonight was the third form the left, M+(5,4).

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    Looks Like The New Neighbors Are Getting Ready to Move In

    It has been a long time coming.  I first noted that I was going to get some new neighbors up the road when Colt announced they were moving some manufacturing operations into Florida back in December of 2011.  At that time, they said they'd be moving in "next year" - 2012 - but that never happened.  Kissimmee, the site of the new plant, is within an hour's drive of me, so that makes them neighbors, doesn't it? 

    No Lawyers  - Only Guns and Money reports that they just cleared a major hurdle in this lengthy process of companies and governments.  Yes, the Osceola county and state of Florida governments are giving Colt some incentives to take over a vacant building. A local TV channel covered it this way. 


    I figure I'll wait until they're moving in and then maybe show up with a little "Welcome Wagon" thing.  Bring a few boxes of donuts, or maybe some homemade brownies.  You know - just welcome the new guys to the neighborhood. 

    What do you think?  Too brown nosy?     

    Sunday, August 4, 2013

    A New Low in Solar Flare Alarmism

    If you're a regular reader here, you know I have little tolerance for the too-frequent "solar-geddon" articles that keep cropping up, predicting another massive solar CME like the Carrington Event is going to destroy us.  Like here.  Or here.  Or here.  We happen to be in the lowest solar activity cycle in the last century and it's likely to get lower next cycle.  While flares and CMEs are always possible, the probability of a Carrington type event, has to be lower now than it has been for the last century.  Considering that it was once in recorded history - the chances already seem rather low.  

    So when the Mail (UK) ran a story last week saying we just missed a Carrington level event destroying life as we know it, it was a new low in alarmism.  It's one thing to exaggerate and another to fabricate; this is making up a story entirely out of thin air.  But it isn't the Mail's story, at least not exclusively. 

    The mail, in turn, is quoting the Washington Examiner, who quoted some dood named Peter Vincent Pry:
    "There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us," said Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission from 2001-2008. He was referring to the 1859 EMP named after astronomer Richard Carrington that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.
    The folks at Watts Up With That, though, reviewed the Space Weather in the period two weeks prior, and as NASA's Dr. Tony Phillips said,
    Many readers are asking about a report in the Washington Examiner, which states that a Carrington-class solar storm narrowly missed Earth two weeks ago. There was no Carrington-class solar storm two weeks ago. On the contrary, solar activity was low throughout the month of July.
    Mr. Pry is probably lying like this for one of two reasons: either to get funding for a program to protect the grid (not a bad idea at all) or to soften the battlespace so that if bad forces shut down the power grid and millions die, it can look natural.  In other words, he's either deceitful or completely evil.  Not a good introduction, Mr. Pry.

    It seems every few months someone is trying to warn us another bad flare is imminent and we're all going to die because of it.  The ironic thing is I'm sympathetic to the cause, although more from an EMP standpoint than the solar flare/CME side.  I just can't stand the exaggeration or outright lying.  If I owned a power company, I'd invest in protecting my infrastructure and serving my customers, but I don't think we should drop everything else to do it.  Do it in with the regular maintenance.  Order replacements for vulnerable equipment.  Spares.  "Two is one, one is none".  To quote myself from one of those prior posts:
    So what do you think the chances of another one are? [edited to add: another Carrington level event] According to someone quoted by Reason, the chances of another one between now and 2020 are 12% - 1 in 8.  So something that hasn't happened since 1859, through all those solar cycles, including the strongest cycles on record, has a 1 in 8 chance of happening now?  In this weak, erratic solar peak - in the next 8 years?  Really, dude, you don't have to say between now and 2020.  The next 2 or 3 years should locate the peak pretty well.

    I don't buy it.

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    A Little Techie History

    EETimes, which used to be (still is?) a weekly tabloid newspaper for Electrical Engineers tells the story of Jo, a guy famous in hacker and security circles, and one of the guys who inspired Jobs and Wozniak to start Apple in their garage.   Not a long read, and worth the time if you don't know the story.
    This is the story of a brilliant, highly skilled young man's journey that spawned an entire new industry of engineers and arguably was the true seed inspiring the creation of Apple.

    In 1968, a young man by the name of Jo was kicked out of his university, investigated by the FBI, and nearly went to prison all because he had developed an unusual skill.

    He had discovered how to make free long-distance calls simply by using his voice and whistling various tones and clicks into the receiver. That skill earned him the nickname the Whistler but got him into trouble with the FBI.
    The link is to a book on the topic, with intriguing lead-in:
    Before smartphones and iPads, before the Internet or the personal computer, a misfit group of technophiles, blind teenagers, hippies, and outlaws figured out how to hack the world's largest machine: the telephone system.
    Jo - actually Joe - was a blind teenager who learned to whistle the tones that accessed the AT&T long lines system.
    Without our four blind phone phreaks curiously hacking the telephone network, Woz would never have read an article on how to build the fated blue box -- the same blue box that is credited by both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as the underlying reason they formed Apple. Jo planted the seed that has grown into the ground-breaking giant we all know as Apple. It makes one wonder what other seeds are hidden in plain sight and awaiting discovery.
    There have been a few books (I enjoyed the first version of this one) and movie or two made about this time.  Jo, and phreaking in 1968 were before me: I first worked on mini and microcomputers about 10 years later, but never got deeply into the software side.  Still, I find the stories hit me deeply, perhaps because the characters are so much like so many people I've been around all my life.

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    It's August in Florida

    There are many places in this nation where folks look forward to summer; it's time to go outside - maybe for the first time in months, enjoy warm, glorious days; garden, bike, picnic; maybe enjoy a book while lounging on the beach.  Songs like Nat King Cole's classic "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" come to mind.

    That's not here.  Here, summer is something to be a bit more reserved about.  If you live here, you can keep up with your regular life.  If you were from a moderate place, not used to our heat and humidity, running or other outdoors activity could conceivably kill you.  August marks the Dog Days of Summer; everything outdoors slows.  Fishing slows - sure the fish have to eat, but they become more active after dark.  Animals are more sluggish.  Ordinarily, it can be nasty here from about mid-July to almost the middle of September.  The worst of it is August. 

    When we first got an HDTV a few years ago, Mrs. Graybeard and I naturally spent most of our TV time searching out HD programming.  One of the first movies we watched was "The Chronicles of Riddick".  You have to understand this is not even particularly good scifi.  It's a fun movie to watch, it's a visual treat, it's a fantastic display of special effects perfect for HD, but don't pay too much attention to the story.  To quote a review, "Furyans, Necromongers, Elementals, The Underverse, the so clearly wants to be epic that it forgets to tie all of these disparate worlds, universes and civilizations into a coherent story. (Director) Twohy clearly makes the mistake of not realizing that there is a huge difference between being grand and being simply confusing and the more ideas that are introduced, the more lumbering it becomes…"  

    A large portion of the movie, and one of the longest action sequences, takes place on the planet Crematoria (yes, all the names in the movie are that cheesy) .  Crematoria is a planet that has a tremendous temperature variation (probably an impossible amount) with daytime temperatures of 700C and night time temperatures far below zero.  When the sunrise terminator sweeps through, the force of the heat gales that come with it is literally enough to blow you apart, disintegrating flesh and blowing pieces off until you die.  There's a scene where a character (Purifier) destroys himself by walking into the sunrise terminator and self-immolating.  That's him trying to stand up to the gales while being set afire and having pieces of burning flesh blown off him.

    The first time I saw that scene, I said, "I've been out on days like that".  Mrs. Graybeard said, "Oh, yeah.  We've been out on our bikes when it's like that". 
    NWS danger of heat disorders - I added a box around typical August conditions.  It's usually about 80 at daybreak, maybe a bit cooler, but higher humidity.  Late in the day, mid-90s and 75-80% humidity is pretty typical.  Couldn't tell you how many times I've been cycling when it was in the orange. 

    And that's what life here in Central Florida is like in the summer, for August plus or minus a week or two.  Stay out of the sun.  Do your outdoor activities near sunrise or sunset.  Don't expose bare skin to the sun any longer than necessary - and even then, use sunscreen if you need to be out when the sun is intense, say from 9 AM to 5 PM.  SPF 3 million is adequate.  Without air conditioning and mosquito control, a technological civilization could not exist here.