Category Archives: geography

Syria, St. Paul And Of Mice And Men

Damascus is a really old city.  It has been there since recorded time from the Biblical ages.  Christians are familiar with the story of St. Paul.  He was on his way to Damascus to punish Christians as he had been doing in his role of Roman bureaucrat and a true Jew who viewed them as heretics.   Then came the epiphany on the road to Damascus when he literally saw the light and heard the voice of God and his life was transformed.  He bought a word of hope and peace as the Gospel to the world that is followed today by billions.   Can we expect such good news (no pun intended) from the US’s tortured and perhaps militant (?)  journey to Damascus today?

One major factor we overlook in our current slap stick foreign policy efforts is that from the Syrian and Assad perspective this is a fight to the death.  The loser will be at the mercy of the winner.  It is winner take all and one can see the way Muslims treat one another in their internecine wars.    The Shia, Alawites and Christians will be killed or enslaved at best if they lose this battle.  Such dreadful outcomes focuses the mind and stiffens the spine even in the face of difficult odds.  We can’t credibly promise love, peace and prosperity for them if they lose this battle and they know it.

Its geography is diverse as is its people.  From desert lands to the mighty Euphrates to the north and the mountainous regions in its southwest.  The entire land like Damascus is filled with nooks and crannies to hide WMD.  Because of the way we have handled the situation they have already had three weeks to disperse and re-arrange their armaments including those WMD.  You can assume that only the  most trusted troops would be involved in such a process.   Damascus alone would provide endless small buildings off alley ways to stash the WMD.   They have been doing that.  Never assume your enemy is a fool; what they are capable of doing they will likely do.   But for the mental exercise let’s assume that somehow there is an agreement to get the WMD and have it destroyed.

First there will be the interminable delays.  They news today is already that the Syrians supported by the Russkies wants at least 30 days to merely hand over an inventory of the WMD on hand.   But assume we get the deal for real people to come and look and locate in a reasonable time.  How many will it take?  If there are 20 locations you have to assume at least 3/4 inspectors per location.   They can fly in fairly safely and even get transport to a school or hotel or wherever there is relative security.  Speaking of which who is going to provide the actual, day-to-day security for those inspectors.  No doubt they will want some outside force and not be dependent on Syrian troops for that job.   How many foreign security troops will Syria allow into their country during the Civil War?  They could rightfully suspect they might be spies transmitting data back to the CIA or similar organization.   But assume we get by that hurdle also and some limited number of foreign troops are allowed as escorts to protect the inspectors.

Will the Syrians blindfold them en route to locations?  I mean what if the deal falls apart only a few days after the process is started.  You think the Syrians will allow those inspectors to take back home the exact locations of their WMD?  They sure won’t allow them to wear Google glass hardware or Zillow cams.

After they locate the WMD it has to be secured.  Locked under seal.  It is inconceivable that it could be destroyed in place.   How will it be transported?  Who supplies those trucks and workers to load all that bad stuff?   I doubt the Syrians will donate trucks during the civil war when they need them to move troops, ammo and logistics to their own troops.  In all likelihood if the US estimates are remotely close you are talking about lots of trucks.  Who will provide the security for the convoys to move those trucks and exactly where will they be taken?  You ever thought about one of those trucks being taken out with an RPG?  Either side could have a lone wolf who decides that would be just a dandy idea.   One assumes the neighboring countries will not touch this transportation and storage situation with a ten foot pole.  Israel would probably help out but, but, but, try selling that idea in a Muslim country.

Of course there is the obvious advantage to Assad of having those inspectors in-country during the Civil War.   First, those facilities and nearby areas will never be targeted by the US for fear of collateral damage.  Secondly, he has some built-in hostages that he can disperse where he likes and again protect those areas from any US military strike.   If he delays, hides stuff even without trying to conceal the effort, the fact is that there will never be any military strike against him as long as they are there.   History is replete with “guests” being in fact nothing but hostages to their hosts.  Read any history and you see.

Yeah, we have satellites and drones and all that sophisticated gear to detect and attempt to locate the WMD and keep up with the inspectors.  But Assad will not let the inspectors wear tracking devices unless it suits his purposes.  And all that sophisticated gear is not full proof.  It can’t see everything and night vision and all that heat sensitive sensors still have limitations.   We simply can’t keep up with all the Assad troops in Syria 24/7.   It will be impossible to verify we got it all.  Maybe we get 90% but is that really making us safe?  That ten per cent with the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston is not a vision we should welcome.

The only way this would work effectively is to destroy the opponent militarily so that you can work your will without interference.  But getting it that war is a terrible idea.  The US interest are not threatened and those Muslims should solve their own problems by the sword since that is their choice.  We aren’t making them fight and kill each other.  The solution is for them to find.  Indecision and vacillation are the marks of the tepid and weak and seen as so by the world.

“Fish or cut bait”

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

So much to learn and so few students of life…..

When passing through the Panama Canal you are of course moving from the East to the West, the Atlantic to the Pacific.  In your mind’s eye you naturally conjure up the vision of the canal aligned East to West.  Take a look at the map however and you will see that Panama has a pretty sharp slant on that East/West alignment and the Canal passage from Atlantic to Pacific is actually moving from North to South.  After you make the passage it is in the open sea that you finally turn westward for your journey to the Pacific and the Far East.

Whether you support the Senate Immigration bill or oppose you should at least make sure you do understand the actual language used to implement those supposedly severe “trigger” requirements.  Look at it and pay special attention to the many times that the provisions of the triggers can be waived by the Homeland Security Secretary.  Criminal violations, language requirements, prior immigration law violations, fencing and other security requirements, etc. can all be waived at the discretion of the Secretary.  Of equal concern is the age-old problem that the Federal government regardless of who is in control will simply refuse to enforce the law or slow walk enforcement to such an extent that it is meaningless.  If we are going to have specific requirements for the path to citizenship they should at a minimum be real.  Example, the English language requirement only requires signing up for an English course, not completion or real proficiency in English and even that can be waived.  Remember also under existing law the President or Secretary of State can grant special status to anyone they choose for whatever reason.

In the Fall of 1942 as the German army was closing in on the epic battle at Stalingrad, the Soviets launched a massive counterattack north of there against the Nazi armies.  The area they attacked was manned mostly by the Romanian allies of the Germans.  They were there to fight the Communists, not support the Nazis.  Over 200,000 of the Romanians were killed, wounded or captured.  It was a major battle by any standard and one you have never heard about.  German reinforcements rushed to the breach and the Soviet attack was blunted and the battle for Stalingrad entered its bloodiest stage.

The Supreme Court ruling on the California Prop. 8 that had disallowed gay marriage is of great concern.  That concern has nothing to do with the merits of gay marriage.   The Supremes held that the proponents of Prop. 8 had no standing to even bring the case.  The Governor and other California officials had refused to defend the initiative passed by the people.  What if that Proposition had dealt with the tax rates or had mandated a flat tax and the Governor and other officials had refused to enforce that new law and would not defend it in court?   Who is in charge of our democracy?  The people or the politicians?  Under the law of the Supremes the folks who urged and passed that Proposition were mere “bystanders” with no stake in the outcome of the litigation.  The Angels on the head of the pin ruled the day and no one was allowed to move legitimate new laws through the legal process.  It may have been gay rights today but the grave concern is where this direction takes us on other non social issues in the future.

Snowden and the NSA matters raise areas of great concern and the old issue of matter of degrees.   We really don’t like the NSA looking into all of our calls, emails and locations with GPS devices.  We do want them to target terrorists and try to keep us safe.    If your 70-year old mom or dad has early stage Alzheimer’s and goes missing in the car with maybe an Iphone or IPad in tow and they are gone for a few days  you would surely want the police to be able to contact Apple or ATT and try to find the location of your missing parent.  This doesn’t even involve a crime but you wouldn’t want ATT to refuse saying it would violate your parent’s privacy rights.  It could be your 17 year old runaway son or daughter.   I want my privacy.  Let the Government target, profile like crazy and go after the really bad guys and leave the rest of us alone.  One of our greatest threats is our own home grown political correctness gone mad.

For our economy and job situation to improve and return to something resembling normality we need the Federal government in all its forms to back off and back out.  All financial institutions are overly regulated and their interests rates are under the thumb of the Federal Reserve.  The Stock market is dominated by the bond buying of the Federal Reserve.  The housing market is totally controlled by FHFA; over 90% of all mortgages are now backed by it.  Those interest rates affect the car industry and sales.  The new Obamacare looms over 1/6th of our economy.  All these factors are outright manipulations of prices, wages and the advancement of our economy.  The actual fundamentals of price, supply, demand and free bargaining between a willing buyer and will seller are completed distorted.   We need the Federal government in all its forms and its machinations to fade away.  Let’s have a real market based on consumer demand, true wages, profits, and innovation without regulation that kills entire industries such as it being proposed with the EPA death warrant for the coal industry.

Word choice can be so curious.  In England an elevator is called a “lift”.  Why isn’t it called a “down”.  I mean the elevator goes down as often as it goes up.   Maybe it is because lift simply sounds a bit more optimistic than down.

“to smell a rat” from Shakespeare.  Good advice when it comes to trusting Government.

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Driverless Cars And The Future Revisited

There has been a lot of press lately about the advent of driverless cars in the near future.  Many are predicting that they will be common in another decade.  They have already been experimenting with some and they allegedly work just fine.   Heck folks are already noting that there will be a plethora of novel issues that will arise because of this new technological wonder.   Maybe it really will happen this time.  There have been many predictions in the past of some great leap forward in the technology of automobiles before.  If you read Look or Life magazines 60 years ago there were pundits who were predicting that most cars within a short time would really be flying cars.   They had lots of prototypes during that era.  Some were small with wings that would fold up or down just like the fighter aircraft on aircraft carriers during WWII.   Many others were a miniature helicopter.   There were predictions that the suburbs would be even farther removed from the city center and that fewer roads would be necessary because so many commuters would be flying in to work.  They believed the Interstate highway system had done all that was necessary the big challenge was going to be creating and controlling the flying lanes in and out of the city with different flight levels for inbound and outbound traffic and then the cross traffic.   Of course many really smart people were shortly predicting also that we were about to enter a new Ice Age.  The cost of the new control systems and the cars themselves were to be mostly covered by the gazillions of dollars saved in not building new highways.   They were going to be the next Big Thing.  How many flying cars you seen in your neighborhood lately?

Cars can be made to drive without human control now using off the shelf technology but it would have to be integrated to work properly.   The primary components will be a gyroscope of one type or the other, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), an inertial navigation system, GPS and radar.   We have all these already and have had some for over a century but they will have to be coordinated with a master computer software system even though the MEMS is a miniature computer and GPS works with computers.   We’ve had gyroscopes since early in the 20th century.  A fellow named Sperry developed the one that was the most famous and was used by the US Navy and other Navies around the world for decades.  It was purely mechanical and expensive to make but quite accurate.  What you say is the purpose of a gyroscope–the found true North.   You know that magnetic north is off by several degrees and hundreds of miles from the North Pole.   A gyroscope is  essentially a spinning wheel that never stops, indeed that is the whole point.  When operational the spinning gyroscope will aligned itself with the spinning axis of the Earth.  I don’t pretend to understand the physics of this but trust those guys in the lab coat it works.  It is momentum.   Once you know true north then you can start figuring out where you are, where you have been and where you are going.   They now have laser type gyroscope that serve the same purpose.  The MEMS measure torque and acceleration.  They use tiny mechanical measures and electric impulses to do this.  I can’t explain the science behind them but they work and have for a couple of decades.  By the way these tiny devices are already in use in your air bag deployment system and your electronic games and inkjet printer.   The gyroscope allows you to determine yaw, pitch, roll and direction of the vehicle it is in but it doesn’t tell you where you are without reference to something else.  The Inertial navigation system is used by the military because it doesn’t depend on outside factors to determine the direction of movement.  this is used for our rockets and cruise missiles.  It can’t be electronically jammed which is important in military terms but again it won’t really tell you where you are going.

So you need mapping by the traditional method even though enhanced with computer readings from “maps” built into the rocket or car or a GPS.  The GPS has been mostly used now for a couple of decades.  With GPS or mapping in the system then the “car” will know where it is and where it is going.   Lastly the car will have a small radar system to see objects, like other moving cars, and thus “advise” the total system when to turn or stop or slow down to avoid collision.  So all the parts to work the car and control its speed movement direction and acceleration are in place.  They will have to be coordinated by and utilize a master software program.    Many of the parts and pieces as you know are already in place in the newer cars today.  They all have GPS and those MEMS and some are getting radar.

First thing that concerns me is the idea of hacking.  Gee, the papers are filled almost daily with some story about hackers getting into all kinds of vital systems, banking, military, dams, Social Security, etc.  What will happen to the traffic on your favorite Interstate highway when  some pimply faced teenager hacks into the highway/car control system?   Or even worse a foreign entity that wishes us ill.  Of even greater concern will be a hacking into the GPS system.  So much of our modern world is now dependent on GPS that simply shutting it down or scrambling the signals would wreak untold havoc throughout our civilized world.  There is the conspiracy case to be made that the Government could shut down the system any time it wanted and ground us all for whatever their reason.  Remember the Boston lock down of just a couple of weeks ago? Imagine that anytime the Government thought it advisable.

There is also the question of the countless people who prefer to be in charge, they want to be driving that car not be dependent on some unseen distant computer system.  They like driving in addition to be a Type A personality.  Just because we can do it will that whole new system be marketable?   Will we be willing to pay the extra costs.  Of course there is the problem of computer shut down.  Not hacking just the typical computer crash.  We all know that does happen.  For whatever reason it just goes kablooey.   Be rather awkward at 70 miles an hour.   We’ll see how it turns out, or at least many of you will.

“Predictions are hard things, especially about the future.”  Yogi Berra baseballer extraordinaire.


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Popes And Leadership Lessons

There has been understandably been much news print and comment about the new Pope, Francis I, just ordained to that position.   Especially there has been great time and attention devoted to his leadership goals and style.  This first couple of weeks every little nuance has been observed to get a reading on what his goals and methods will be and what kind of leadership traits he will emphasize.   This is certainly to be expected as he is the religious leader for over a billion people.  Any institution as old as the Church will have witnessed many leaders and many different leadership styles and skills or the lack of them over the years.  After all it has been in business for 2000 years.  At different times there have been various demands and needs in the leader of the Church.   There have been wars, famines, religious conflicts, doctrinal disputes and social injustice and governmental oppressions that have challenged the Church and therefore the needed leadership in the Church has varied greatly over the centuries.  Today it seems that making the Church seem relevant in an increasingly secular world  is the great challenge of the Church.  Sometimes the leadership required was much more profound and fundamental–it was a battle for survival.

From the time of Jesus until the conversion of Constantine, the Popes (more accurately bishops in the early days) had to struggle to spread the Gospel and do so without arousing too much animosity of the Roman authorities.  You are familiar with the stories of the early Christians and the lions in the Colosseum and those stories are true.  The Church had to attract new devotees and its mission of course was to expand, grow and convert everyone to the Gospel.  It was devilish balancing act because it wanted and needed to grow but it realized it couldn’t be seen as a threat to the Empire.  Thus the ebb and flow of persecutions in the early centuries.  The Empire finally embraced the Gospel with Constantine and the Church fully emerged into the light and indeed the Popes now starting assuming a power beyond the pulpit.  Now Kings and Emperors wanted and needed their blessings and ordination to their crowns.   By the 9th century AD the Church was firmly established throughout the Western world but the world was still a dangerous place.

During the 7th and 8th century the Muslim world was on the march and making conquests throughout much of the known world.  The reach of Islam under the sword had now stretched from the Indus in the East all the way west across all of the Middle East and to the straits of Gibraltar and beyond.  You will recall that the Muslims had taken Spain in the 600’s and then moved into southern France in the 700’s and were only stopped finally by Charles Martel at the battle of Tours early in the 8th century.  That was only a couple hundred miles from Paris.  In the 8th century the Muslims began expanding their hegemony from the shores of North Africa and Spain into the southern reaches of Italy.  By mid-century Sicily had fallen to the scimitar and the western coast of the Italian mainland was under assault.

In 846 Rome no longer gleamed with the splendor of the ancient days and the true political power now resided in the Constantinople.   But Rome was still a large city and already was filled with millennia of history.  The Muslims pressed their attack onto Rome and the outlying regions.   They looted and carried off some of the treasure of the Vatican and then moved farther inland to subdue the heartland.  But the situation was very fluid as there was resistance up and down the west coast of Italy and the Muslims varied their military objectives and targets of conquests regularly.   It was in the midst of the perilous times that a new Pope was elected.  It was Leo the Fourth.   He immediately began the call for help and aid from allies along the coast not under the dominion of the Muslims and even up the the Carlovingian rulers of the Franks but time and distance prevented effective relief from the quarter.   After Leo performed the usual prayers and formalities of office he immediately followed up with restoring the defenses of the once great city.  The City walls were repaired and expanded and 15 new battle towers were erected around the City in strategic locations.  Two of those were on either side of the Tiber and there was a great iron chain established between to prevent ingress by a hostile fleet.

From Naples and Amalfi among others fleets came to the rescue of Rome and the Pontiff.  A battle was joined off the coast but the Muslims were not savvy sailors and got caught in a bad storm and much of their force was destroyed while the Christians remained in the sheltered bays and coves.  The war raged on for several more years but under the encouragement and blessing of Leo the Christians did extract the Muslim from the Italian mainland and even the outlying regions over time.  The Pope brought in a flood of immigrants from Corsica to to replenish Christians at Ostia Porto, the Roman port at the mouth of the Tiber as a buffer against future attack.   The City of Rome and the Church had managed to survive the Goths, the Lombards, Huns and now the Muslims.    Leo was the man of his times and his martial leadership skills in addition to his religious guidance were necessary at that moment.   It was several more centuries before El Cid finally  extirpated the Muslims from Spain.  But with the battle of Tours and the wars and battles during Leo the Fourth’s reign Europe was saved from the Islamic yoke.

“The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul…”  Proverbs 13.

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2 Cents On Life Its Ownself

Hang onto those Euros and let’s explore the thoughts of the day….

Here is an idea to completely reform all our social welfare programs.  Why not simply write a check for those in need to the tune of 2o thousand a year, tax-free.  You think that sounds high well take a moment an add up the costs for all the various welfare programs that now exist for that typical family of four.   There are the food stamps, Temporary assistance for family, housing subsidies through HUD, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, new job training benefits, earned income tax credits and even more not listed here.  Heck promise them the money for their family, cash on the barrel head and let them decide how they want to spend it–food, clothing, shelter, Iphone, flat screen tv, or whatever they desire.  Then put a lifetime cap on it of 500 thousand.  Make it a block grant to the States to set the eligibility standards they think are best for their citizens in need.  Believe me, we would come out ahead.

Keep an eye on the Chinese navy as it continues the expansion of its operations throughout the South China Sea and beyond.  Now they are off the coast of Malaysia and show no signs of changing their aggressive course.  They have been pouring lots of new investment into their navy and have launched their first aircraft carrier.  If they build the tools they expect to use them sometime.

Can you imagine having to go almost two weeks without being able to use your bank account like they have just done in Cyprus?  Those ATM’s only give out a limited amount of money and their banks today are only allowing about $430 a day to be withdrawn for the foreseeable future.  On top of that for a while (length yet to be determined) they are not allowing checking transactions.  What a mess. All due to loose monetary policy.  Our policy could be described as a bit loose itself with the Fed printing 85 billion a month of new money out of thin air.

It also will be interesting to see what the Euro is worth in Cyprus in the coming days.  Theoretically it is worth the same as else where in the Euro zone but the problem is you have to get it out of the country to spend it and Cyprus has place severe restrictions on taking money out of the country.   There soon will be a black market of one kind or another in Cyprus as there always is when there are artificial values and restrictions placed on the price of a currency.  Just like in Argentina at the moment where there is a vast difference in the official exchange rate for their peso at the banks and what you can really get in the back alleys of Buenos Aires.

The sectarian and factional disputes among the Muslim world we witness now in Iraq, Syria and Baharain to name only a few are nothing new in that Muslim world.  From the very first decades of that religion and its expansion across great swathes of the world there were internal conflicts between different rulers of the faithful.  Each claiming their were the true inheritors of the prophet and they had different ideas about how to rule and there were vast differences in how pious and humble they were or were not.  There were revolts, assassinations and wars among those factions pretty much from day one.  Even the mighty Ottoman Empire had its opponents from within the Muslim bloc that kept its borders within check for centuries on it edges.   Remember it was only about 30 years ago that Iran and Iraq fought a pretty brutal and bloody war and they are both Muslim.  The current conflicts in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan to name only a few are not unexpected to any student of history and they will likely continue for the foreseeable future regardless of any action taken by outsiders.

The  peach trees are blooming and the dogwood and redbuds have theirs out and the wisteria is in all its purple glory.  It won’t be long before we have those hot days of summer upon us.

Most people have at least heard of the Arctic Circle but not so many really understand what it signifies.  It doesn’t mean that you are close to the North Pole even though you are closer than if you are in Kansas City.  Not that line of demarcation is where the Sun will shine for at least a while for 24 hours in summer and will completely disappear for a while during the depths of winter.  Below that degree of latitude the Sun always rises and sets even if only briefly.

Drawing a map can have real consequences especially if some of the dimensions are guess-work.  When the Pope negotiated the treaties between Spain and Portugal dividing up the world between them for future exploration and ownership it was really intended to give Spain essentially the Americas and preserve Portugal’s existing interest in India and the East Indies.  But the line of demarcation actually cut through the eastern most tip of South America unbeknownst to the participates.  Lo and behold Portugal got Brazil and they sure weren’t about to give it back once they found it was within their boundary set out by treaty.  Those clever Portuguese lawyers and diplomats won the day by accident but heck good fortune is often where you find it even if by happenstance.

“Liberalism today has become deuces wild.  It can be used to fill any hand….freedom of opportunity is the great value that must  be preserved about all others.  Unless this freedom is preserved, no other freedom will be secure.”  Thurman Arnold, America lawyer, p0litical commentator of the early 2oth century.

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We didn’t even  look for things to interest us but the flow of information and misinformation from the media compels further review…..

Wow, Mother Nature revealed again how puny our doings on earth are in the grand scheme of things with that asteroid display over the Urals mountains Friday.   The reports are of hundreds of injuries and some relative severe damage to windows and structures from the sonic boom caused by the explosion of the descending asteroid.  Ironic that the news has also been ripe in the last week with the information about the passage of that large asteroid some 17,000 miles away today which in astronomical terms is whisker close.   Of course what we never remember is that each and every day we are bombarded by thousands of smaller asteroids which in turn shower us with hundreds of tons daily of debris from space. It pollutes our atmosphere and the EPA is doing anything about it!

The blooms on the Bradford Pear trees are going to burst out today or at least by tomorrow; they are on the verge.   At our latitude you can about set your calendar by them; they come out within 48 hours either way of Valentine’s Day each year.

Noticed several news items this year critical of the whole concept of the State of the Union address as a relic that should be radically changed.  It has become pure political pageantry.  I have said it should be eliminated for several decades now.  The President should issue a formal written report to Congress and have a serious working meeting for a day with top Congressional leaders where in fact they question him about the current concerns and issues of the day and the actions he purposes.  We get enough campaign speeches during the election season there is no need for another.  This should become the norm regardless of the party in power in the future.  The Congress can control this if they have the will.  After all it is they who have to invite the President to make the address in such a formal setting.  They can change the rules of the delivery of his report.

Once we got the cell phone it was only a matter of time til we reached the Dick Tracy stage of a communication device like he had.  Yep, the news now is that a couple of outfits in the biz are thinking of a “watch” smartphone.  You can phone with it, send messages, see videos and pictures and receive everything you get on the smartphone your carry in your pocket.  It was bound to happen.

Those people much smarter than me are finally also talking about the problem of our debt/money printing style of economic planning and policy and its effect on the value of the dollar.  A few decades ago well over 70% of all international transactions were denominated in dollars, today the figure is just barely over 60% and declining steadily.  Have a very strong and esteemed currency is good for our US economy even though it makes our exports a bit more expensive.  There are many more off-setting advantages to having the world standard currency.  More and more the yuan, Swiss franc and Japanese yen are used for those international transactions.  Factually, the Chinese have stopped buying our Treasuries already.  For a couple of years now they have bought them but at the same time have sold off other that matured and thus there net holdings have held steady at about 1.1 trillion.   The world markets (think Singapore, Australia, the Middle East, Japan) will one day soon turn on our debt (Treasury bills and notes) and stop buying them because they will fear even more Federal printing to cover our debt and deficits.  The interest we have to pay on those bonds will skyrocket.  You ask what does that have to do with Joe Blow–plenty, all his credit card, car loan and mortgage debt will go up even more and the Feds will likely demand even more taxes at the same time to cover the increased government expenditures.   The ONLY reason our Treasure debts are so low right now is because the Federal Reserve is buying over 80% of all of them with freshly printed made-up money on that money tree they have out in the back yard.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense or Surrender?

Some watch the science or history channel and see those episodes about how the Earth is doomed in the long run because our Sun will someday go nova and literally devour us as it expands.  Yep, that is true.  But we will already by long gone anyway.  The outer core of the Earth is molten iron that rotates around the inner solid core.  That movement of the iron is what gives us our electromagnetic field.  You know, the magnetic north pole and south pole.  Well, it is what also protects us from the Sun’s radiation now, today.  Without that protection we’ll not survive.  Mankind and all other forms of life worth discussing with be fried.   Just as Man doesn’t live forever, Mankind will not last forever.  We would have to leave the Solar System for another world.  That ain’t likely for lots of reason not the least of which is we won’t find another earth-like planet and it would take millions of years to get there unless you can find one of the time warp thingies.

The good and bad in man, the noble and venal haven’t really changed since recorded time.  The nature of Man is so poignantly revealed in the Bible stories.  The worst of evil, Satan, and lots of heroes but most of them as to be expected have their faults too–David, he slew Goliath, was a hero but he also had Uriah slain just so he could have his wife.  We haven’t and won’t fundamentally change regardless of modern secularist theories and that isn’t all bad because we each still have the choices to make that direct our life.  We have plenty of examples of the choices we should make even when they are the harder ones.   You just don’t go wrong doing the right thing even when you are pummeled by others at the time for doing it.
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil”  Proverbs 3, 7.  Good advice then and now.

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

The Earth wobbles and spins and makes its orbit and we managed to find the keyboard again so let’s get to it….

Is there anything that will get a bigger or more genuine smile than a parent or grandparent seeing that little tyke with their first couple of missing teeth when they come running with that gap and tell you about the Tooth Fairy.

Unfortunately, it seems that far too many of the Liberals continue to believe in the Tooth Fairy into adulthood.  Just like the Tooth Fairy, they think money can fall off trees magically and that the money doesn’t really come from anyone.   There is only so much GDP and money to go around and it is a zero sum game–money out of the private economy is lost for production of new technology, jobs and higher standards of living.

The GPS system is ubiquitous these days and taken for granted.  So few have even the most basic understanding of it workings or history yet we have become very dependent upon it.   Lord help us if in some future war an enemy takes out those satellites with an Electronic Pulse Bomb or missile.  The program started with the US Navy wanting a more accurate and quicker method for navigation.  It requires satellites in orbit about 12,000 miles distant from Earth.  There are 24 of them today and we have 6 backups.  They send signals which are absorbed by the receiver in your car or mobile GPS.  Like radar is measures distance by speed relative to time.  It requires more than one of course to get an accurate fix.  There days your GPS device uses four most likely so they can triangulate your location.  Also those satellites have an onboard clock which is vital to its functioning.  The Satellites and the clocks are of course affected by Einstein’s theories of relativity, both the Special Theory and the General theory.  Special Theory is the one about the speed of light; General Relativity is about the effects of gravity.  Remember that clocks in motion run slower due to the Special Theory, likewise the clocks are affected by the Earth’s gravitational pull.   The little nerds figure all this out to adjust for those effects otherwise your GPS wouldn’t be nearly as accurate; they adjust the time calculations to account for the differential as the electromagnetic speed back and forth from space to Earth.   It is a concern if that system is ever lost due to hostile action.  How many, even in the military, can navigate and locate their destination with a compass or sextant or the Stars have men have done for centuries?   We have a lot invested in a very fragile and exposed method of navigation.

Feel sorry for those millions of Yankees that have never been out West to see the night sky.  Someplace where there is not a light in sight, no street light, building lights or even home lights.  The only light is that from a campfire or your Coleman lantern.  You can actually see the Milky Way with the naked eye quite clearly.  It is quiet.  The only sound is the talk with your family or friends or the scuff of boots on the ground or the sipping of hot coffee around the campfire.   Such a place is where you can feel God reaching down and making you look at that marvel of a universe and challenges the notion that is was all merely an accident of nature.  Nature ain’t a Michelangelo; it doesn’t have the concepts of beauty or majesty or worth.

We note the spate of articles about the tunnels from Mexico to the US, mostly in Calif. and Ariz. that are used to convey drugs, money and/or weapons.  Some go on and on about the how well- engineered they are and that they are quite marvelous.  Uh, pardon me, folks have been building elaborate tunnels forever.  Geez, look at all the tunnels built by POW’s during the War, or during the trench warfare of the War Between the States.  Usually they would simply enlist someone with a bit of mining experience if available and off they would go.   Motivation will prod innovation.   I doubt if any engineers were needed to construct these things.  The labor would be cheap and they have the time to keep  looking for the right direction and exit point by trial and error.   It is simply a matter of time and plenty of money and that cheap labor that builds these thing, not genius as some have claimed.

Some economic pundits worry about what will happen when the Federal Reserve starts reducing its balance sheet by selling its trove of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities because they will take enormous losses.  A few thoughts on this matter–first there will have to be buyers for those instruments and there is no question that the buyers will not pay face value for those Treasuries thus driving up the yield (buy for 90 cents but collect 100 cents on the investment for example);  this will drive up dramatically the interest rates on new Treasuries issued simultaneously; the Fed will take a loss.  Of course the loss doesn’t really matter to the Fed because it can print up all the money it wants without authority from anyone else.   The political outcry will be huge however.  Likewise the Fed and the Federal government will not enjoy the idea of the general public looking behind the curtain to see the way the sausage of an economy is run.  They might realize that the Fed is “monetizing” the Federal debt making it easier for the Liberals to continue spending and running deficits with no end, ever.  Even  the most liberal Keynesian Democrat would acknowledge though that the Fed can’t keep buying 85 Billion forever.  We’ve allowed the Government to make us all jump on the rotating merry-go-round when it was slower but now it is at warp speed and its going to be really hard to jump off.   By year’s end the Fed will have about 4 Trillion of assets versus about 900 Billion a few years ago.  Good luck to us all.

Another definition of crony capitalism–“Private profit by public servants at the expense of the general welfare is corrupt period.”  E. Kefauver, Democratic Senator and Presidential candidate.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.c0m

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Altitude Bias And Conspiracy Theories

Those arguing for strong and expensive climate change legislation and action are doing so to merely mislead the hoi polloi and advance their own secret agenda of self-preservation.  We’ll assume for the moment that there is indeed climate change and that it is caused by Man and his use of fossil fuels.  But that is small beans compared to the other planetary disasters we face in the future.

Let’s start with some basic geology and geodesy.  The Earth is not a sphere.  It is slightly off and not shaped like a billiard ball.  It is larger at the equator and flattened at the Poles and squeezed so that it is a bit pear-shaped.  Furthermore the Earth’s surface is not smooth like a billiard ball.  The Earth has high and low spots all over it.  It is more like a dimpled golf ball at the surface but the ups and down aren’t uniform.  This shape is due to the forces of gravity and the varying density of the Earth itself especially the density in its interior.   Also the shape and movement of old Earth is greatly affected by the Moon and the Sun and their gravitational influence.   The Earth has a 23 degree tilt on its axis as related to its orbit around the Sun.  Remember the Earth both spins on its axis and it also moves through space in its orbit around the Sun.   The centrifugal force of the Earth’s spin combined with the influence of Sun and Moon make the Earth bulge at the equator and thus the oceans are higher there and then that water moves “downhill” like all water does toward the Poles.  Lastly we must consider that the rotation of the Earth is slowing and the same is true for the orbit around the Sun.  Both of these phenomena are occurring now without let up and will continue for perpetuity.   The effects of all these matters will be felt first at “sea level” as we commonly define it.  Those at higher altitudes will more immune to the coming disaster for a while longer.  So what you ask as to all these facts.

Well, we do really well and have for recorded history with the 24 hour day and the 365 and a quarter day orbit around the Sun.    But how will we do with a 30 hour day or an annual orbit time of 430 days?  We all have been taught that the Sun some day will die and explode going Nova on us.  But that is projected to be so many billions of years in the future that it appears more fantasy than a reality.   The extremes of a longer day and orbit will destroy all life as we know it on Earth.  Our crops and cattle will not survive is such extremes.  The seasons will not be as we have known them.  We might get something to grow but you won’t be able to have a pastrami on rye.  The cockroaches and centipedes might do quite well if they can figure out how to move in and out of the sunlight.  We might do for a while digging underground but then Lord forbid we would have to use that evil nuclear power for all our energy needs and that just wouldn’t do.    We are truly doomed and yet the world leaders ignore this coming catastrophe and offer no hope for the future.  We have been repeatedly told to heed the “science” of climate change and those who challenge it are  dupes of the energy industry or merely ignorant meatheads.  Why you ask are the world leaders silent on this vital issue of our time to preserve Mother Earth for our progeny?    The Cabal is why.

It is so obvious to the thinking man–it is the Commie, Rich Sheik, Big Oil, Jewish, Scientology, and Elite World Leader  conspiracy at work.  Why do you think we are having a world wide economic slow down?  That excess money and economic growth is being drained off for the building of a fleet of space craft to take those privileged few to a new world in our galaxy.   They are doing this at an undisclosed secret location.  Why do you think that North Korea is still so closed to the outside world.  Even the outsiders allowed to visit can only go with minders to keep them in tow.   That is the best guess for this project’s location.   Although it is conceded that many believe it to be in a remote and inaccessible valley in the Hindu Kush of Central Asia.  These people are stealing the wealth of the middle class and working man to build a luxurious intergalactic floating resort to take them to safety.   They will even have universal free health care provided by captive doctors taken for the purpose.   The whole climate change issue is merely a giant campaign to confuse us and keep our eyes of the efforts of this Cabal.  They figure they can divert us for at least a century while they complete their planned escape to a better world.  Leaving the bulk of Mankind to a Hobbesian world of despair and certain destruction.   I say to arms and the ramparts.  This conspiracy is the great issue of our time and indeed for all time if Mankind is to continue its existence.   Are we going to allow the billionaires and millionaires to put their boots on the necks of the middle class yet again?  They should be working on a solution to our slowing rotation and orbit.  Maybe we could organize a world-wide “Jump For Life” project where will all jump off the Earth at the same time and reduce the weight and offset the slowing spin.  But we can’t count on the Cabal to initiate this life saving program they will denigrate it and call it phony science so be on your guard.  Long live the Spin Speed.

*The facts cited in this tale are all true.  Verify them yourself.  There are plenty of books, remember what they are?  Even wikipedia might get it right on them.

“The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.” Albert Einstein.


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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Well, the Holidays are done and the extra pounds need work and the time off is a memory, back to the grind and does the daily news ever make it a grind….

Ever wonder where the expression about  being a scapegoat originated?   Well, learn it here.  In Leviticus when God was giving His statutes to Moses and Aaron about the sacrifices to be made to Him and their purpose for the people of Israel there was an example of goats to be sacrificed.  One goat was selected for a sin offering and used for that end.  However another goat, the scapegoat, was selected as an atonement sacrifice for the sins of others.  That goat did nothing wrong whatsoever but was killed and placed on the altar for what others did wrong.  That expression has become part of our vernacular and is used when some poor soul is picked out to take the fall or blame for the wrongdoing of others.  The politicians in Washington are particularly adept at finding scapegoats for their own shortcomings.  Shakespeare and the Bible are the two greatest sources of our adages and Shakespeare liberally used those from the Bible.

Some pundits and others are complaining loudly about the possibility that AIG might sue the government over the bailout takeover of that company and its management under government control.   We wrote here months ago that such a suit might be likely.  You might want to recall that the takeover of the company was a complete violation of the 5th Amendment and there never was even a token acknowledgement of following established corporate law.  The shareholders never had a voice in what was to happen to their investment.  It was simply confiscated by the Feds.   Full, disclosure, I had litigation with AIG several years ago and don’t even like the company or its management but I do have a regard for the rule of law as opposed to rule by edict of the anointed ones.   AIG could have filed a Chapter 11 and reorganized itself and paid all its debts and retained value for its shareholders but it and the shareholders were denied that opportunity by the Feds.   Many thoughtful legal scholars agree they have a solid case to make.   Here’s hoping they do sue and win big time.    They didn’t go begging the Feds to give them money and AIG had assets of substantial value as events have proved.   Are we a country of laws or dictators?

We also wrote some time back about the crazy notion of the Trillion dollar platinum coin to be minted by the Treasury and used to “pay” a trillion dollars of debt to the Federal Reserve.  Viola, we reduce the national debt by a trillion dollars.  You may have now noticed that several Democratic Congressmen are actually promoting such a proposal to avoid the argument over raising the debt limit beyond its already staggering 16.4 trillion dollars so even more spending and debt can occur.   Remember that the demand for US notes is manipulated and phoney at this time due to the fact that the Federal Reserve is currently buying 75% of all the new debt issued by the Treasury.  Others in the Democratic Party are beginning to push the idea of simply writing off some of the Treasuries owed to the Federal Reserve.   Either idea is horrific.  It will cause an immediate and steep decline in the stability and confidence in the US dollar.  Even Joe Six Pack at that point would begin to question exactly what is the dollar worth if legitimate debt could be wiped out with a minted coin deemed by the Treasury to be worth one trillion.    The international community would be apoplectic and demand hugely higher rates to lend us money or worse what if they decided to pull the same trick and pay their obligations to the US and US companies with minted coins they deem worth a designated amount?   Its like someone who has maxed out their credit card and then just manufacture their own credit card in their basement and expect all their creditors to accept their self-created credit card as having real value.   How did all these people escape from the institution at the same time?

Would the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense make Israel more or less likely to strike Iran on its own?

In spite of what Democratic spokesmen may scream the full faith and credit of the US would not be jeopardized if the debt ceiling was not raised.  The phrase refers specifically to the Treasury notes issued by the Feds.  That is the “credit” of the US; by the way that credit and credit worthiness belongs to us, the people, no the politicians.  It is our credit being used.   All the other payments made by the Feds is just statutes and those could be met too.   The Feds will still be collecting billions of dollars ever month to pay bills  and specifically the interest and principal on the Treasury notes.  The employees at Commerce, EPA or HUD or those zillion other departments and agencies are not guaranteed a job, although it is true you can’t hardly fire them even for incompetence.   So what if Planned Parenthood and gobs of other organizations don’t get their monthly dole from the Feds?  The money is there for defense and the three big social programs–Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.   If the debt is raised there should be cuts real cuts for each dollar it is raised.  And we don’t mean those “baseline” projected growth cuts but an actual reduction in budgetary expenditures year over year.

Our tides are affected by both the Moon and the Sun.  The Moon moves the oceans and seas by about a foot and the Sun by about half that.  Even though the Sun is enormous it is 93 million miles away whereas the Moon is literally right on our doorstep figuratively speaking.  The full Moon and the new Moon produce the high tides and the half Moon creates those small neap tides.

Sherman famously said that War is Hell but a worse Hell is subjugation to a central dictatorial authority.

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Pathway To A Better State–Part III–Geography

A thorough examination of how two new United States could emerge from a Constitutional Convention to divide the nation into two new portions must include a look at the geography of those new nations.   The case for pursuing this course of action is clear because of the great and unbridgeable chasm between the Left and Right on some many critical issues.  The first and foremost disagreement concerns Federalism or the size, scope and power of the Federal government.  The sides have vastly different outlooks on that vital issue.  Personal freedom from Federal control and regulation is very important to the Right but the Left views that central authority as benign or even a force for good. Economic and tax policies couldn’t be more disparate between the sides.  Then there is the list of social issues that are viewed differently be the sides.   The sides don’t respect the views of each other and indeed on many important matters see the perspective of the other side as anathema to their core beliefs.   To some extent it can be viewed as large urban areas versus the outer suburbs or rural
America.   The divide between those two areas could not be more profound.   Geography matters greatly in all societies and cultures and the division of the US should be sensitive to those effects.

Fortunately the geographic separation is mostly manifest to any rational mind.  One only needs to look at the last few decades of Presidential elections and the elections down ballot at both the Federal and State level.   It is very apparent that the Left is concentrated in the Coastal regions of the country and that definition of coastal would include several states around the coasts of the Great Lakes.  Thus a likely moniker of “Coastal America” because that would be a reasonably accurate description.  But one of many advantages of this separation is that the new Left region can call themselves whatever they want.  The remainder of the country is “Middle America” or whatever that region will ultimately wish to call themselves.   Coastal America would encompass the area north of Virginia to Maine and then pick up a couple of three states on the Great Lakes shores and then move west to the Pacific and all three states from California to Washington.

The Left should be more than satisfied with the area.  It would include many of the great cities.  They would have New York, Boston, Philly, Baltimore and it is posited here that they could have Washington D. C.  Then they would pick up Chicago and likely Detroit.  Out west they get those great urban areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco.    They would have a huge industrial base and abundant natural resources if they wish to develop them.   They would have plenty of great port cities and access to both oceans.   They would get the economic center in New York for as long as they can keep it.   They would have great advantages they could exploit.  Indeed some might point out many difficulties like the NYSE and the commodity exchanges being in Coastal America but that wouldn’t prevent cross border commerce and Middle America would be free to compete for all that business and the better run economy would emerge the strongest which is as it should be.  As far as this commentator is concerned Coastal America could keep D. C.   Middle America would choose its own capital city.   Many of those Lefties in northern Virginia would decide to leave because the size and scope of the Federal authority in D. C. would diminish and Virginia would return to a more robust and long term rational balance economically and politically.   Remember there would be a free flow of people and trade between both nations.  But you would be a citizen of only one or the other with the attendant right and privileges granted by your chosen nation.  You would be subject to the local criminal laws of the nation where you reside or visit and have to pay locally imposed taxes but all other legal matters would be determined by you own nation or State as the case may be.    There would be a sufficient time period allowed for people to migrate from one area to the other before the division takes official status.

Middle America would have the Mississippi and Missouri and the Gulf of Mexico and access to the Atlantic from the southern states.   It would not have direct access to the Pacific but the Panama Canal would be accessible and trade and goods would be allowed to flow freely to the Pacific coast from Middle America so there would be no impediment to its economic viability.   There would also be very abundant natural resources available and it would continue to be the breadbasket for all America and much of the world.   There would be beautiful and beckoning sea shores and New Orleans for the entertainment minded.

Yes, there would be many concerns to be addressed but they could be dealt with.  Even the professional sports of the US could continue without interruption.   It might even add a little more spice to some of the rivalries.   Take the time to look at a map and you can see the logic of this division.  Each state after the Constitutional convention would make its own determination as to which nation it would elect.  That selection process by each state would be determined by each state, closer to the real voters.  For each problem with this proposed solution think about each new opportunity it brings to the two sides.  The Left can have tax policy as they wish.  They can attack the “rich” to their heart’s content and use affirmative action as a hammer to fashion the society they want and do these things without any interference from the Right.    They can let their judges legislate directly from the bench if that is their desire.   They would be free to nationalize any industry or enterprise they wish for the greater good to spread the wealth around in any manner they deem more equitable.   All problems can be solved and both sides will be so much more content without having to deal with the other.  The hard cold facts are we don’t like each other and there no longer exist even mutual respect for the views of the other.  All societies are better off dealing with reality rather than a fantasy society built on the bludgeon of legal force against a sizable minority.   I am confident about the future of Middle America; it will be a nation to take pride it and support and Coastal America can forge its own destiny for good or ill.  Give these ideas reflection.   We created the US from nothing and it turn out pretty good;  each of the new nations would have tremendous advantages in their fresh starts.  More of the problems and concerns you envision will be addressed in future posts.

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”   James Madison.   US President.


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