Friday, December 8, 2023

My neck and shoulders feel better than they have in years


Regular readers will know that almost two decades ago, I suffered a severe job-related injury that left me with a fused spine and serious nerve damage in my lower back.  Since then, I've been in pain 24/7/365, and had limitations on movement, ability to lift any meaningful weight, and so on.  Over time, as my spine adjusted to a much more limited range of motion, I began to experience pain and stiffness problems in my neck and shoulders, too.  They've been getting steadily worse.  Chiropractic treatment and massages haven't fixed it, although they can temporarily alleviate pain;  but they're pretty expensive.  I also tried a heating pad for my neck and shoulders, which feels good while I use it, but only produces minor temporary relief - nothing long-term.

Recently, someone recommended that I try the Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager.

It's a shiatsu-type massager with a kneading, probing motion, not just a hot pad for the neck.  I use the arm/hand loops to pull it reasonably tight against my neck, which adds to its effectiveness.  I've been using it for almost two weeks now, at 15 minutes per session, and it's made an amazing difference to my neck and shoulders.  Most of the stiffness and much of the pain has receded, and the little that's left is responding well to ongoing (daily) use of the massager.  I expect that given another couple of weeks' use, they'll be negligible;  if I'm lucky, they'll be gone altogether.

I've seldom been more impressed by how well a product works.  After years of enduring increasing pain and restricted mobility in my neck and shoulders, it feels almost miraculous - which sounds like hyperbole, I know, unless and until you've had to endure being locked up solid in that area by muscle and nerve issues.  Those who have will understand my joy at being relieved of that burden.  I'm also able to use it on different parts of my back and shoulders.  It's probably not as good as a full-back massage pad, but as a "problem spot treatment" it works reasonably well.  If you have muscle-related neck and shoulder problems, and haven't been able to find a solution, I recommend this product very highly.

This model is powered by a plug-in adapter, but there's also a rechargeable model if you prefer to use it without a cord attached.  I haven't tried the latter yet, but I plan to.  If it works as well as the plug-in model, it'll be very handy to carry in the car on long trips.  I also plan to try the same company's Full Body Massage Chair Pad.  It won't be able to relieve the area of my spinal fusion - that's pretty much frozen solid - but if it helps the rest of my back muscles I won't complain.  The Shiatsu Foot Massager also looks promising for future reference.  (There are any number of competing products out there, some of which look almost identical to the Snailax versions - typical Chinese practice, where one factory may "pirate" a single design under several different labels.  However, since I haven't tried any others, I can't recommend them from personal experience.  That's not to say they may not be as good, of course.  YMMV.)

The cost of these products may raise an eyebrow or two - they certainly did mine, being on a limited budget.  However, when one compares it to the cost of a massage or chiropractic adjustment, it looks a lot more reasonable.  For example, around here I have to pay $60-$70 for an hour-long back massage.  That's about a third more than the price of the massager - but I can use the latter every day without paying any extra, so the "cost per treatment" plummets.  The foot massager is also less than the price of one massage, while the larger and more complex chair pad costs a little more than three massages - and, again, one can use them as often as one likes.  I hope they'll hold up in long-term use, but in all honesty, even if this neck and shoulder massager stops working after as little as a month, I reckon I'll have had my money's worth out of it.  (Fortunately, thousands of positive customer reviews provide relatively few complaints of it breaking down.). When one is calculating a cost-benefit analysis in terms of pain and mobility (or the lack thereof), it adds a lot more realism to price comparisons.

In general, highly recommended.

(Note:  I paid for my own massager, and have not been compensated in any way by the manufacturer or distributor for reviewing it here or mentioning their other products.  They don't even know I'm doing it.)


Thursday, December 7, 2023

Massive gift card fraud exposed - just in time for Christmas


I was surprised to read about a new, sophisticated twist on gift card fraud.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office arrested hundreds of suspects accused of ripping off retail chains in a massive anti-theft operation, including disrupting a likely international gift card scam the office has never seen before.

. . .

The suspect, who was only identified as a Chinese national, is likely part of a larger operation in which people take legitimate gift cards off the shelves of stores and "surgically remove" the glue that covers the cards’ barcodes, Gandhi said. They then record the PINs, re-conceal the barcodes with glue, and return the cards to store shelves, the spokesperson explained, adding his office had never seen such an operation before.

Then, when an unsuspecting shopper loads one of the cards with funds, "that money goes straight into a Chinese bank account somewhere," the spokesperson explained.

"It’s going to go unreported because are you going to confront somebody who gave you a $0 gift card, right? No, that's rude. And then you're sitting there fat, dumb and happy, thinking, ‘Oh, I did something nice for somebody,’ not knowing that your money's gone," he said, noting the crime has national and international implications and is not isolated to just Sacramento.

There's more at the link.  A photograph shows literally thousands of gift cards arranged on the floor, with police putting out more of them.

I'd never heard of that sort of scam before, but I guess with gift cards becoming more and more popular, it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to defraud their buyers.  If you were planning on buying gift cards to give to family and friends this Christmas, you might want to think again about that;  and if you receive a gift card with a $0.00 balance, it might be worth mentioning it to the giver, along with a link to the news article above.  If the giver was charged for the gift card, but it had a zero balance, they might want to follow that up with the issuing store.


A needless, tragic death - and a warning to the rest of us


A Massachusetts man has died after an "accident" with a knife he was wearing attached to a lanyard around his neck.

Police initially feared Patrick Kenney Jr. had been attacked Saturday night when he was found collapsed in the parking lot of Kowloon restaurant in Saugus, about 11 miles north of Boston, WCVB said.

But they later ruled that the 42-year-old dad of young twins had somehow stabbed himself with a knife around his neck in what his family also called a “horrible tragedy.”

“This incident appears to be accidental, and no additional parties are believed to be involved,” District Attorney Paul Tucker and Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli said in a joint statement.

There's more at the link.

This news hits hard for my wife and myself, because we both carry neck knives from time to time.  There are situations where clothing requirements make it difficult to carry a knife anywhere else, but where security issues make it advisable to have ready access to a knife because one can't carry any other defensive tool in a particular venue or environment.  There are lots of different examples available, and variations on the theme such as push daggers.  We own several examples between us.

It's hard to envisage a situation where one could be stabbed with one's own neck knife.  Was the victim fiddling with it, and fell with the blade in a dangerous position?  Was he wearing a blade without a sheath (something I'd never do in that location)?  Did something or someone knock into him with sufficient force to make the blade penetrate his skin and puncture a blood vessel?  I guess we'll never know all the details.  Suffice it to say, his death is a grim warning to all of us to keep our guard up and never let it down for a moment.  Safety, and our lives, are in our hands, and we'd better be paying attention to them - or else!

May Mr. Kenney rest in peace, and may his wife, children and extended family find what comfort they may.


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The warped, demented world view of racial polarization


Ibrahim X. Kendi, darling of the "Everything is raaaaaaaaa-cis!" crowd, recently spoke at the launch of a new Netflix production, "Stamped from the Beginning".  Here's an excerpt from his talk.

“I don’t think white people worldwide have really reckoned with how much their own personal identity is shaped by constructions of whiteness, and how much that construction of whiteness prevents white people from connecting to humanity. In other words, recognizing that — when you — when you recognize that you are part and parcel of humanity — in other words, you’re not over humanity, right? It allows you to really be able to connect to people who don’t look like you, who have kinky hair, who have dark skin, and to see yourself in them. And it’s whiteness that prevents that, right? And when you’re not able to see yourself in other human beings, that creates all sorts of problems, but not just societal problems, personal problems that I think, hopefully, this film and this work will liberate those folks from.”

I couldn't disagree more with Mr. Kendi.  Let's look at a few examples of why he's so very, very wrong.

  1. In my experience of racism (which is, I daresay, considerably more extensive and a whole lot more violent than Mr. Kendi's), "whiteness" has little or nothing to do with the problem.  It's any person who thinks in terms of his or her race versus all the others.  To cite just a few examples, there's black African resentment and hatred of Indians and Asians, frequently taking violent form, as in Uganda in 1972;  Chinese contempt for all gwailos, all other races, but particularly for blacks;  colonial attitudes of racial superiority by whites against blacks;  tribal hatreds between black groups and individuals, which can be far bloodier and deadlier than any merely interracial conflict (witness the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe between 1982 and 1987 [which I saw for myself], or the Hutu massacre of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 [ditto in the aftermath], or the ongoing tribal and religious conflict in Nigeria);  and so on ad infinitum.  Yes, white people have perpetrated such hatred and discrimination.  So has almost every other race on earth, including black people.  "Whiteness" as such is no more a factor than is "blackness" or "Chinese-ness" or any other "-ness".
  2. Mr. Kendi claims, "that construction of whiteness prevents white people from connecting to humanity".  I can't help but think of the millions upon millions of white people who routinely conduct business and/or tourism with people of other races in many other countries, on many other continents, all over the world.  Is that not "connecting to humanity"?  If not, what is it?  What about a person like myself, raised as part of a privileged white minority in a racially governed country, but able to live and work among black people of many tribes and cultures throughout sub-Saharan Africa?  Am I not "connected to humanity"?  I certainly don't regard myself as special, or somehow "super-connected" for any reason.  I'm just an ordinary guy who recognizes a common humanity with every other regular guy (and gal) out there.  I'm not conscious of any "construction of whiteness" that has prevented me from living like that.  If it had been there, I daresay my (many) black colleagues, friends and fellow workers would have pointed it out over the many years we spent together.  Also, I was (and am) far from unique.  There were, and are, many like me.
  3. As for seeing myself in some others who don't look like me, that's no hardship or problem at all.  We all do it, all the time, with those with whom we associate.  It's not innate behavior, but learned.  Look at small children - toddlers.  Put them together with others of the same age group, and there's instant affinity and communication.  They don't see each other as white or black or brown or yellow, but as fellow infants, and they communicate, and play, and carry on like that.  So do puppies and kittens, or baby chicks and ducks.  Even a predator-to-be like a lion cub can (and, in the absence of its mother, will) play gently with a prey-to-be like a fawn, and not try to kill or eat it.  It's an automatic, instinctive identification of young to young.  In the same way, people are good or bad regardless of the color of their skin.  Their goodness or badness is the result of their own choices, the decisions they've made that have shaped their personalities.  (As a prison chaplain, I had plenty of opportunity to see that up close and personal.  A bad guy was a bad guy, regardless of his skin color.)
  4. On the other hand, I certainly don't see myself in some other people, irrespective of their skin color.  Again, I have very extensive personal experience of this.  When I encountered genocidal Interahamwe militia in Rwanda, or "blood in, blood out" prison gangs in the USA, you may rest assured I did not see myself in or as part of them.  They had made choices and espoused views that set them apart from the rest of humanity.  I had little or nothing in common with them, and apart from trying to be as polite as possible in order to facilitate communication, I didn't want to "see myself in them".  I don't think any person in his or her right mind would want that.  Again, my "whiteness" had damn all to do with it.

I suspect Mr. Kendi, like so many others of his ilk, has invested himself so heavily in the racism paradigm that defines his (and their) world view that he's literally incapable of seeing beyond it.  The truth is, of course, far more varied than any one such perspective can encompass.

When speaking to groups about trying to see things from a wider perspective, I often use the example of white light.  When it's shone through a prism, out comes the entire rainbow spectrum of colors, something with which I'm sure we're all familiar.

I usually say that each of us is standing in one of the colors on the right of the image.  Someone standing in the red will exclaim, "Look!  Light is red!  You can see it for yourself!  It's obvious!"  On the other hand, someone standing in the purple segment will say precisely the same about what he sees - and both of them will accuse the other of being wrong.  Only when they both realize that the light each of them sees is coming from the same source, but filtered through the prism, will they be able to accept that the light is white to begin with.

The same applies to those fixated on racism.  Mr. Kendi is clearly determined to maintain that the light he sees is (pick any color).  A Chinese racist might see a different color, and a Caucasian racist yet another.  The reality is that humanity is a mixture of all of them.  Our common humanity is the white light.  Trouble is, so few of us will step out of our "comfort zone" in one of the rainbow colors, and see that for ourselves.  (And if it troubles some that the source light is white, I'm sorry about that, but that's science!  It's got nothing to do with the color of our skin!)


Don't like your local government? Disney's response - we'll just make our own!


Back in 1966, the Disney company set up its own governing district for its properties in and around what is today Walt Disney World.  It called the resulting body the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) (recently renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District [CFTOD).  Wikipedia describes its creation.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District had the authority of a governmental body, but was not subject to the constraints of a governmental body. That changed under the 2023 act, which gave the Florida governor the authority to name its board members, replacing the original five-member Board of Supervisors controlled by the Walt Disney Company, the majority landowner of the District.

. . .

Walt Disney knew that his plans for the land would be easier to carry out with more independence. Among his ideas for his Florida project was his proposed EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which was to be a futuristic planned city (and which was also known as Progress City). He envisioned a real working city with both commercial and residential areas, but one that also continued to showcase and test new ideas and concepts for urban living. Therefore, the Disney company petitioned the Florida State Legislature for the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which would have almost total autonomy within its borders. Residents of Orange and Osceola counties did not need to pay any taxes unless they were residents of the district. Services like land use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services were overseen by the district. The only areas where the district had to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections. The planned EPCOT city was also emphasized in this lobbying effort.

. . .

To maintain full control of the district, it was important for Disney to limit the voting rights of the inhabitants, rights which were only meant to include landowners owning more than one-half acre. Since Disney owned most of the land, the residents would simply be renting their homes.

There's more at the link.

This year the RCID was replaced by the CFTOD, following major political and policy differences that emerged between Disney and Florida governor Ron DeSantis.  A lawsuit by Disney against the change is currently before Florida courts.  However, that lawsuit may now be a moot point, as an independent audit of the RCID/CFTOD has apparently demonstrated the truth of many of the Governor's allegations against it.

Disney secured the ability to effectively govern itself in Florida for more than half a century by performing a “bait and switch” on the state, and used its “complete and unaccountable governmental power” to “maximize its profits” at “the expense of the public good,” according to an independent audit of the entertainment giant’s role in the state.

The audit of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which was established by Florida to bring Disney’s business to the state in 1966, found that Disney seized complete control of the government entity, and used the structure to establish itself as one of the world’s largest corporations. The report, obtained by The Daily Wire, says the steps Disney took to maintain control over RCID are “shocking,” and that its establishment “facilitated the most egregious exhibition of corporate cronyism in modern American history.”

. . .

The audit ... found that Disney used shady tactics to maintain its control of power, hand-picking government officials, and making payments to district employees that were “akin to bribes.” It also used the district to avoid taxation, and thrust costs on taxpayers in surrounding communities.

. . .

The report lays out how even the democratic aspects of the RCID were meticulously controlled by Disney. Board members, for example, were only eligible if they owned land in the district, so Disney would temporarily deed plots of inaccessible land that board members could hold during the duration of their service, and forfeit it back to Disney at the end. The company would even continue to pay the property tax for the board members.

The system ensured that the board “would be responsive to Disney’s preferences and would serve Disney’s interests,” the report states.

Again, more at the link.

Many of Disney's and the RCID's shenanigans were clearly against the law.

For decades Reedy Creeky employees were treated as if they were Disney World cast members. The annual passes that are a standard benefit to Disney employees, were given to Reedy Creek employees and they were told it was a “gift from the Walt Disney Company.”

What Reedy Creek was actually doing was buying the passes with the tax money that had been collected from the Walt Disney Company. They were giving Disney’s tax money back to the company. Then they lied to their employees about the gift part. None of this was reported to the IRS.

A bigger problem is the 50% discount on Disney cruise lines. There is no getting around the fact that Reedy Creek and Disney broke Florida’s public disclosure laws. These benefits were never reported as taxable benefits, which they are.

More at the link.

As another report sums up:

“Disney had wholly outmaneuvered the legislature and pulled off an incredible act,” the report reads. “It had established an extra-constitutional governing authority – ‘an experimental absolute monarchy’ – within the borders of the State of Florida, and, accordingly, the United States – one that strikingly resembled, without exaggeration, a kingdom of yore.”

Nice job if you can get it!

And another summary:

One final thing. Disney Freedom of Speech lawsuit is now dead. Oh, their lawyers will keep it alive for as long as they can but DeSantis and company will have no trouble claiming that RCID was disbanded, not because of Disney’s politics but because of criminal activity.

The more I read about this mess, the more it appears - assuming the audit is correct in its findings - that Disney has been engaged in criminal activity (i.e. in clear violation of black-letter state and Federal law) for literally decades, and expected to continue to do so.  Its outrage at Governor DeSantis' actions in response to its political interference with his policies was not so much based on injured innocence as on the very real (and, according to the audit, justifiable) threat his decisions posed to its finances.

Pass the popcorn, folks.  I think Disney's going to be in very hot water over this, particularly when the IRS starts asking questions about all that tax evasion over more than half a century.  Adding interest and penalties to that bill, plus any fines that are levied, and we may be looking at a very substantial sum indeed - possibly one large enough to threaten Disney's bottom line.


Adventures with sweeteners


Last week I wrote about the fun and games of cleaning up spilled Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, before it could poison neighborhood animals.  In reader comments below that article, Stan_qaz said:

We switched to Monk Fruit, the real stuff not the 5% Monk Fruit 95% erythritol sold in most grocery stores. Not cheap but no after-taste. Only downside is needing a 1/64th teaspoon as that is the equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar.

Spouse gets ours here: one, three or six packs.

I was intrigued by his 1/64th teaspoon measurement.  It seemed impossibly small, but I had no experience with monk fruit, so I decided to try it.  I duly ordered a single jar of that stuff from the supplier he recommended.  It arrived late last week.

I'm here to tell you, that stuff is incredibly sweet!  A quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon, which was the smallest we had, made a cup of tea or coffee undrinkably sickly-sweet.  I ordered some micro measuring spoons, which arrived yesterday, and proceeded to test smaller amounts.  To my surprise, even 1/32nd of a teaspoon was slightly too sweet, whereas (for my palate) 1/64th teaspoon was slightly too little.  I'll settle on the latter measuring spoon, filled very slightly rounded rather than flat, to hit the right note for my taste.

I'm not sure whether I'll switch to monk fruit sweetener entirely, but I'm glad I made the experiment.  It's definitely a useful item to carry with you, because even a little jar such as illustrated at the link above will go a very, very long way when used in such small measurements.  It'll certainly last almost as long as a ten-pound bag of Xylitol or sugar!  That makes it invaluable in a bug-out kit or camping gear.

Thanks, Stan_qaz, for your recommendation.  Those of you who also use artificial sweeteners, and are looking for healthier options, might want to give it a try.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Globalism, and the open assault on the Christian faith


I'm not by any means an "end-times fanatic".  As a Christian, I believe that there will be a Second Coming, but it'll happen as and when God wants, not as we predict.  I'm baffled by those who claim they can predict the time of Christ's return, when Christ himself stated very clearly that "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only".  In other words, anyone making such a prediction is calling Christ a liar - not something I'd advise . . .  Throughout history, there have been "signs and portents" that some have interpreted to foretell the Second Coming.  So far, they've all been wrong - but that hasn't deterred others from following their example.

One of the signs predicted in the New Testament has become known as the Great Apostasy.  In his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul warns:

"... that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

Whenever the Second Coming may occur, it's hard to read headlines like these from around the world, and not be reminded of Paul's warning.

And the latest:

From the second article above:

The post shared a series of slides elaborating on the steps of how to have a ritualized abortion ceremony as prescribed by The Satanic Temple. This included steps such as staring at one’s reflection before taking an abortion pill and saying, "One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone" ... The ritual is later concluded by declaring, "By my body, my blood; by my will, it is done."

The slides also attest one can "include as many loved ones as they’d like" in the ceremony and "light candles or even dress up — whatever makes them feel empowered."

There's more at the link - not that I recommend reading it, you understand.

To those who don't believe in God, or in the Christian perspective on God, the above probably seems unexceptional;  just another human ritual designed to give - or try to give - added meaning to an ordinary, everyday event.  However, to those of us who do believe, it seems nothing less than a calculated attempt to devise a Satanic liturgy in deliberate parody of Christian liturgy, defying and denying God and removing the Divine spark from human life.  After all, if we are not created beings in the Divine sense, where's the problem in snuffing out a human life?  Only if we give added value and meaning to humanity, namely that it was and is created by God and possesses a "divine spark" that sets it apart from animal or plant life, does destroying it take on a wholly new, sinister, evil meaning.

This is also a microcosm of what so many are trying to accomplish on a macro scale - the complete secularization of human life, devoid of any meaning or individual importance.  How many of the fawning articles about "fifteen minute cities" spare even a thought for the exercise of faith, the existence of churches, or allocating space and time for them in the midst of the otherwise utterly secular planning for this nominally utopian future?  The concept isn't important for them, so they ignore it.

This is also, ultimately, where globalism leads.  It ignores individuals, it ignores tribes or clans, it ignores nations, and subsumes all of humanity into a vision of a managed, ordered society where everyone is subject to order and discipline and there's no room for freedom, religious or otherwise.  Brandon Smith pointed out recently:

These people HATE any notion of free markets. Adam Smith’s system was drafted in direct response to the trespasses of mercantilist control. The two constructs are mutually exclusive. You cannot have free markets (or freedom) within a centralized mercantilist empire. You cannot have free markets and socialism within the same economy.

. . .

They get to decide which companies thrive or die. They get to decide the social values of the next century. They get to dictate how the worlds resources are utilized and who is allowed access to them. And, governments will ensure that they are protected from the rage of the people should the public become wise to their hostile takeover.

The most insulting part? Anyone who criticizes or attacks this ideological invasion of our economic life will be accused of being a monster ... If you want to stop them, you must be some kind of selfish villain that values individual freedom over the common good.

The bigger question that the globalists don’t want us to ask, though, is what makes them qualified to determine the common good? Why is is assumed that they should be the arbiters of everything? Even the stagflation crisis we are facing today is a direct result of governments and central banks stepping in with trillions in fiat money to save the “too big to fail” corporations from their own disastrous practices. Why should we trust them with our social welfare, or anything else for that matter?

The globalists will respond to this argument with AI. They will say that AI is the ultimate “objective” mediator because it has no emotional or political loyalties. They will assert that AI must become the de facto decision making apparatus for human civilization. And now you see why Rothschild is so anxious to spearhead the creation of a global regulatory framework for AI – Whoever controls the functions of AI, whoever programs the software, eventually controls the world, all while using AI as a proxy. If anything goes wrong, they can simply say that it was AI that made the decision, not them.

It is the perfect shadow government; a technocratic Wizard of OZ using the smoke and mirrors of an AI puppet to rule the planet, removing all accountability and displacing all rebellion. For how can the populace argue with or revolt against a faceless algorithm floating in the digital ether?

There's more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.  It's worth your time.

That's ultimately why religious faith in general, and the Christian faith in particular, is under attack at the moment.  Such faith insists on the freedom of worship - and freedom is antithetical to the New World Order.  Hence, they want to write God out of human history, deny his very existence, and punish those who honor the divine in any way, shape or form.  That includes warping and twisting the sacredness of human life into an evil, Satanic parody of the truth.  After all, if they can render the very concepts of divinity and faith utterly risible, why bother with freedom of worship at all?  There's nothing to worship! - and that means that freedom can be restricted out of existence . . . and where one freedom can be denied, others can and will follow.

Makes you think, doesn't it?


Inflation in action - gold up, dollar down


I'm sure most of you saw a variation on this report yesterday.

The price of gold struck an all-time high on Monday, surging as much as 3% to trade at $2,135 per troy ounce as the US dollar fell.

Though gold futures have since dipped slightly — to roughly $2,080 in early morning trades — the price of the precious yellow metal hasn’t these levels since August 2020, when it hit its previous record-setting price, $2,072.49 per troy ounce.

Gold’s gains are part of a rally that began in November 2022 and has since worked in opposition with the US dollar, which has weakened as the world has become more volatile because of the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel.

The dollar experienced a 3.1% month-over-month dip on Monday against a basket of six other currencies, according to the Financial Times — a rate just slightly above its four-month low.

There's more at the link.

It's important to note that gold hasn't become more valuable, or more expensive, in and of itself.  Rather, it's that the dollar has grown less valuable over time.  It now takes more devalued dollars to buy gold that has held its value in terms of buying power over time.  The rampant printing of dollars by the US has resulted in the devaluation of its own currency - a result that was clearly foreseen and predicted by generations of economists, but ignored by our feckless politicians and bureaucrats.  However, since gold is limited to what can be dug out of the earth and refined, its supply can't be arbitrarily increased, so its value - its price - remains stable in real, non-inflated terms.

That's the essence of inflation.  A currency decays, becoming less and less valuable as more and more of it is printed.  The supply of goods and services people want to buy with it remains constant, or increases, depending on supply and demand and other factors - but the price paid for it is seldom determined by those elements alone.  Rather, the value of the currency used to buy it is weighed up by sellers, who decide whether it's still worth their while to accept the same price in that currency for what they're selling when the former has lost value, while the latter has not.  Result:  they ask more money for their product.

Things aren't more expensive.  The dollar is cheapened, devalued.  Hence - rising prices, of gold as much as anything else.


If music be the food of love - bad hair edition


Mike Hendrix over at Cold Fury, himself a musician and trumpet-player, is giggling over a product he found on Amazon.

Endorsed with all my heart and soul!

Saw that this morning, and I haven’t stopped laughing since ... you can bet your sweet bippy my young ‘un will be getting herself a BrassTache from dear old dad this Christmas to adorn and enliven her noble old King [trumpet]. She inherited the same silly, juvenile sense of humor her old man has, so I know she’s gonna love it all to pieces. And laugh herself sick over it, like papa did.

There's more at the link.

Why do I get the irresistible mental vision of a one-legged Mike, capering around a stage on an improvised crutch next to his two-legged daughter, and both of them tootling away on matching trumpets - with matching moustaches?


Monday, December 4, 2023

Not your average sinus cleaner...


Found on MeWe (which unfortunately won't let me link to any particular post - a failing of their software setup, IMHO):

Dear Arm & Hammer,

As your customer I would greatly appreciate in the future if you could affix warnings or perhaps bold letters depicting the words "MENTHOL" on the bottle of your "EXTRA STRENGTH PLUS" sinus rinse.

As a long time customer of your saline washes, I was left to assume that "EXTRA STRENGTH PLUS" referred to the sodium level in the saline spray. I stand corrected in my assumption. It actually means SPICY ACID BATH OF NOSTRIL LAVA.

This product set off an unexpected chain of events which led me to quite literally; s*** my pants.

As with prior sinus rinses I inserted the nozzle into my nostril, tilted my head back, and began to spray the saline wash into my nose letting it work it's way through my sinus canals. Suddenly, with a thunderous vengeance, the menthol activated. It felt like I had snorted pure wasabi. My whole head began to burn like a prostitute trying to enter the Vatican. I felt burning in places I had never felt sensations before. It was so hot, my third eye began to water. I can only describe it as my "inside face" had caught on fire. Meanwhile my teeth, armpits, and groin suddenly felt freezing cold. Parts of body began to tingle, as if my Spidey Sense was warning me that the worst was still yet to come.

This sudden combination of sensations prohibited me from leaning forward to let it drain from my nose into the sink. Instead, it began to run down the back of my throat sending me into an uncontrollable coughing fit, ultimately leading me to lose control of my rectal retention. Thus removing my ability to govern self control over my sphincter - which regrettably induced an episode of what I'd like to call "unexpected wet farts of despair." I'd estimate, I coughed five times in total, whilst simultaneously farting each time. Each one sounding exactly like air escaping a balloons blow hole being pinched and spread apart. Crying out in a high pitched whine mimicking someone whispering the word "Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?" in a really really sad voice.

Take note Arm & Hammer: "Half blind, on fire, and s***ting your pants," were not mentioned in potential side effects. You may want to add that for legal purposes.

I implore your marketing and design department to have the word "VERY SPICY" printed on the front of the label. Along with "MAY S*** PANTS."

Your loyal customer,


Er . . . oops?


Memes that made me laugh 188


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