Monday, October 31, 2022

Situation reports around the country


Phil at Bustednuckles occasionally puts up an open thread, asking his readers around the country to report on what they're experiencing, seeing and hearing in their part of the world.  His latest has some interesting replies, such as:

  • "Petty crime way up. Explosion of homeless/transients without cars. Explosion of same, living in their cars. Panhandlers with signs (“HUNGRY”), on e v e r y street corner. We don’t do hyperbole. I’ve NEVER seen anything like it. The lid IS coming off." (No state mentioned)
  • "Wife wanted some romaine lettuce. $4.97/head!" (Oregon)
  • "Most food items are 30 to 40% higher than this time last year and rising slowly month over month." (New Hampshire)
  • "I had to do my quarterly visit to the corp office in Calgary last week. I have never seen so many homeless drug addicts before. You couldnt go 20 feet on the street without one trying to hit you up for money. Offices have all sorts of new security because its such a problem suddenly." (Alberta, Canada)
  • "food prices are up a lot ! coffee went from 9.99 to 14.99 inside of a month. ground beef is on average 5 bucks plus per pound. canned chicken went from 8 bucks for 4 cans to 12.99. canned veggies are double what they where last year, store brand was 47 cents, now 97." (Pennsylvania highlands)
  • "LOTS of young and not so young men standing around drinking all day, all of a sudden. Every quick mart, gas station, and apartment complex has small groups near the dumpsters, leaning on the back wall, or clustered around a couple of cars. None look gainfully employed, and all seem to be recent border crossers. Lot more facial and other obvious gang and prison tattoos too. Lots of illegal dumping, overgrown lots, and closed retail too." (Houston, Texas)
  • "The breakdown of Societal norms. The mood, manner, and method of the other members of the community, has changed. In a mere twelve months. And not for the better. It’s like a switch has been thrown. Many people on edge. Common courtesy and decency now disappearing. The rancid economy has hit really hard here. Bang, upside everyone’s head." (Location unknown)
  • "we’ve been told some of the immigrant women panhandling with kids are part of organized groups and have to give their “earnings” to their boss. They tend to hit up church parking lots on Sundays." (Northern Atlanta, Georgia)
  • "WA on the edge of a deep blue sh**hole metro. 92 octane was $5.29 today, regular around $5, a lot of the difference from other places is massive blue state taxes hugely increasing over time." (Presumably near Seattle, Washington)
  • "Walmart is out of flour, regular all purpose flour. Has been for about 2 weeks ... Currently running my own little CPI on groceries, current annual rate of 57%. Believe that being held down by things where field to table takes a long time like canned goods. Things like eggs with short cycle are at 400% annual increase." (NE Alabama)
  • "Living in SE Mich, too old to move. Decided to increase preps from 1 year to 3. Been seeing this coming for a long time, it got more serious for me this year and now I’m seeing everything I expected coming down and it affects me more than I expected ... My biggest shortage from before was vegetables, as I believed the those prices would stay down and the meat would become unaffordable or unavailable. Watching other area’s produce prices has convinced me otherwise. Running 3 dehydrators as hard as I can and storing dried vegetables in vacuum sealed jars."
  • "Went to the local burrito barn only to find their newly printed menu has raised prices between 20% and 30% on everything. Good thing we rarely eat a restaurant meal anymore ... I try not to obsess on Doomsday Porn, but every indication is that it’s going to get very, very ugly sooner than later. Not looking forward to having to use all those stored preps." (Oregon)
  • "The little food we purchase is up 30~45%. Lots of empty spaces on the shelves ... Normalcy bias is the mental state of the day. Folks have no idea what is coming down the pike and don’t want to know. We have increasing numbers of drifters coming through and some of them are real sketchy. The rest are desperate. There’s also been a few cases of folks just squatting in some empty houses." (Location unknown)
  • "Locally owned grocery store – green onions were $.63 a bundle a year ago – now almost 3 dollars. Shelves are plenty stocked but prices are rising weekly. Best Foods/Hellman’s Mayo $8.67 a jar. Trying a generic brand for 5 dollars. 4 pack of chicken (legs and or breasts) $10 to $12 a package. Most packages of deli slice meats and cheeses are almost $6 a package. Ouch." (Abilene, Kansas)

  • I highly recommend clicking over to Phil's place to read the rest for yourself.  It's good to know how things are going elsewhere;  they're often a forecast and a warning about what's coming our way in our own areas.


    Memes that made me laugh 131


    Gathered around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

    Friday, October 28, 2022

    Weekend hiatus


    I'll be working on the layout and structure of my new blog site this weekend.  For that reason, I won't post my usual "Saturday Snippet" or "Sunday Morning Music" blog articles this weekend.  Please amuse yourselves with the bloggers in the sidebar.

    Things should return to normal on Monday with the next "Memes That Made Me Laugh" post.  By then I hope to give you the new URL for the blog, and fine-tune the handover during the next couple of days.  By this time next week, if all goes well, we'll be live on the new site.


    Can anyone translate duck quacks?


    I had to smile at this video of a Border Collie puppy trying (quite instinctively) to herd a small flock of ducks.  I think he was enjoying it a lot more than they were!

    Can anyone translate the ducks' quacks for us?  I suspect they're being rather uncomplimentary about border collies in general, and that one in particular!


    Joe did this!


    One can't blame the energy industry for taking this stance.

    U.S. energy executives told Jennifer Granholm that shuttered crude oil refineries won’t restart, Valero’s Chief Executive Joe Gorder said on Tuesday.

    . . .

    Limited U.S. refinery capacity—and perhaps more critically, refinery capacity in specific U.S. geographic areas, known as PADDs—has spared worry in the United States over high gasoline prices and energy security.

    US refinery run rates were north of 90% for much of the summer, according to the EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report.

    Shuttered refineries unlikely to start back up are the latest nail in the U.S. refinery coffin. In June, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth posited that there would never be another new refinery built in the United States.

    “Building a refinery is a multi-billion dollar investment. It may take a decade. We haven’t had a refinery built in the United States since the 1970s. My personal view is that there will never be another refinery built in the United States,” Wirth said at the time.

    Oil and gas companies would have to weigh the benefits of committing capital ten years out that will need decades to offer a return to shareholders “in a policy environment where governments around the world are saying ‘we don’t want these products to be used in the future,’” Wirth added.

    There's more at the link.

    Disastrous though this might be for the nation, one has to see it from the oil companies' point of view.  They know that the Biden administration is hell-bent on destroying their industry, going "green" and turning to renewable sources of energy.  They have no certainty that, if the next administration reverses those priorities, they won't be restored by the following administration.  That being so, how can they justify spending hundreds or thousands of millions of dollars on repairing and upgrading existing refineries, much less building new ones?  Their shareholders would (quite rightly) accuse them of fiscal malfeasance, and sue them into the gutter.  Such investments take years to bear fruit, financially and otherwise, and must go on bearing fruit for decades to justify their enormous cost.  Since decades of use can't be guaranteed, thanks to our feckless, reality-deficient, energy-ignorant politicians, such investments can't be described as anything but unrealistic.

    The fact that renewable sources of energy have never successfully made up for the loss of conventional sources (e.g. power stations, refineries, nuclear power plants, etc.) that have been closed, is neither here nor there as far as the Biden administration is concerned.  They appear to believe that if they decree it must be so, then it shall be so.  I wonder if any of them ever heard the apocryphal tale of King Canute and the tide?  If they have, they clearly didn't learn anything from it.

    As a result of the Biden administration's disastrous energy policies, we now have less than a month's supply of diesel and related fuels in the USA.  Heating oil is already being rationed in the north-east, where it's an essential home heating resource, and diesel distributors in the southeast are warning their customers to order early if they want to get the best prices.  Since heating oil and diesel are part of the same refining stream (along with jet engine fuel and other distillates), the impact of these shortages can't help but damage our economy even further.  If diesel prices continue to rise and/or diesel shortages become commonplace, our trucking industry will grind to a halt - and there goes our major food distribution network.

    And all this is directly and immediately attributable to the energy policies of the Biden administration.  Congratulations, Joe!


    Thursday, October 27, 2022

    It's not just the Mississippi...


    ... it's riverine and inland waterway transport all over the world.

    We've heard many reports in recent weeks about how barges are backed up on the Mississippi River, threatening exports of US grain, soybeans and other crops.  For a useful summation of the present situation, click over to Old NFO's blog.  He notes how current problems will affect future movements on the river, and what that implies for our economy.

    However, the Mississippi is only one river.  It's emerging that major rivers all over the world are suffering the same problem, threatening the movement of agricultural produce as well as other exports.

    Water Politics notes that five of the largest and most important rivers in the world are under threat.  The Indus River in Pakistan has just faced a mega flood, while the Yangtze River in China, the Colorado River here in the USA, and the Rhine and Po Rivers in Europe are suffering from droughts.  Some of them have run dry in sections.  That affects not just agriculture, but hydroelectric power generation, as well as transport of raw materials and finished products to and from factories along the rivers.  It's a very interesting summation of what's going on, and I highly recommend reading it in full.

    Nor are those rivers the only problem areas.  Canada's St. Lawrence Seaway, which handles the export of much of the grain harvest from that country's central provinces, is also much lower than usual, with some sections up to 10 feet below normal for this time of year.  If the trend continues, ships using the Seaway will have to carry less cargo, so that they draw less water - the same problem being faced by barges on the Mississippi.

    South America isn't exempt.  The Parana River, used to carry billions of dollars of agricultural produce from Argentina and Paraguay, has been in drought conditions since last year.  Barges and ships are forced to carry less cargo, in order to get up and down the unusually shallow river.  Several major dams, generating huge amounts of hydroelectric power, are also at very low levels, threatening electricity supply.

    GCaptain sums it up in an article titled "Waterways And Lakes Are Evaporating Worldwide".

    From California to Germany, heatwaves and droughts have shrunk rivers that feed reservoirs. Hydroelectricity output fell by 75 terrawatt-hours in Europe this year through September — more than the annual consumption of Greece — and fell 30% across China last month. In the US, generation is expected to fall to the lowest level in six years in September and October.

    It’s a cruel irony that’s forcing utilities to reconsider the traditional role of hydropower as a reliable and instant source of green energy. Dams are the world’s largest source of clean energy, yet extreme weather is making them less effective in the battle against climate change.

    The cycle is “a warning signal in terms of designing power systems,” said Wenxuan Xie, a managing consultant with Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “You really have to think about the possibilities of extreme events, and that perhaps what you once thought was extreme might happen more frequently.”

    . . .

    Dam operators must also balance competing requirements for their water. Large dams provide irrigation for crops, water supplies for cities and navigation for ships. The primary purpose of the Three Gorges Dam, for example, was to control the annual flooding of the Yangtze that periodically devastated towns and farms downstream. This summer, as drought reduced the flow of water into the river, the dam had to hold back enough water to maintain navigation to Chongqing, central China’s largest city which is almost 2,000 kilometers from the sea.

    Lake Mead, the reservoir behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the Western US, provides 90% of Las Vegas’s water supply as well as feeding cities such as Los Angeles and irrigating hundreds of thousands of acres of crops.

    There's more at the link.

    There are those who believe that "The wars of the future will be fought over water not oil".  One begins to see their point . . .


    Blog progress report


    The hard work of transferring over 17,000 posts from here to my new server has been completed.  At present they're simply copied over, and the blog format/layout hasn't been set up;  but the transfer was a biggie, so I'm glad it's done.  The layout and other setup work will be tackled over the next week or so.

    In the meantime, I'll continue to post new blog articles here.  I'll make sure to post each one on the new server, too, so that when the switch finally happens, they'll all be there.  Thanks for your patience while I get all this organized.

    I know how to use the Wordpress editor for blogging, but I have no experience whatsoever in formatting and laying out a blog under that software.  Ideally, I'd like something similar to this one, with books, old posts, etc. listed in the sidebar, but I'm not sure how to get there from here.  If any reader can offer suggestions for good resources to help with that, please let me know in Comments.

    I'll do my best to make the transition as seamless and easy as possible.  Thanks for your patience.


    Yes, that would help...


    Another good one from Stephan Pastis.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the "Pearls Before Swine" Web page.

    That's a smart ass . . .


    Tuesday, October 25, 2022

    No blog updates until Thursday


    As I've mentioned in the past, I'm in the process of setting up an alternate blog site, thanks to the growing threat of censorship and/or deletion on Big Tech blogging sites and facilities.  To that end, the contents of this blog (including all the archives) are scheduled to be backed up and copied over to a new server tomorrow, Wednesday, October 26th.

    As a result, I won't be putting up any new blog articles until Thursday morning, to allow the copying process to proceed uninterrupted.  Anything I posted in the middle of that process wouldn't be copied, anyway, so there's not much point in trying!  Please enjoy yourselves with the bloggers listed in the sidebar until then.



    "The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour"


    That's the title of a long and interesting article in City Journal.  It exposes the warped, twisted view of human sexuality that's behind the rise of "Drag Queen Story Hours" across the nation, and makes it clear that they're nothing more or less than an indoctrination exercise aimed at young children.

    The article begins:

    Drag Queen Story Hour—in which performers in drag read books to kids in libraries, schools, and bookstores—has become a cultural flashpoint. The political Right has denounced these performances as sexual transgressions against children, while the political Left has defended them as an expression of LGBTQ pride. The intellectual debate has even spilled into real-world conflict: right-wing militants affiliated with the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters have staged protests against drag events for children, while their counterparts in the left-wing Antifa movement have responded with offers to serve as a protection force for the drag queens.

    Families with children find themselves caught in the middle. Drag Queen Story Hour pitches itself as a family-friendly event to promote reading, tolerance, and inclusion. “In spaces like this,” the organization’s website reads, “kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves.” But many parents, even if reluctant to say it publicly, have an instinctual distrust of adult men in women’s clothing dancing and exploring sexual themes with their children.

    These concerns are justified. But to mount an effective opposition, one must first understand the sexual politics behind the glitter, sequins, and heels. This requires a working knowledge of an extensive history, from the origin of the first “queen of drag” in the late nineteenth century to the development of academic queer theory, which provides the intellectual foundation for the modern drag-for-kids movement.

    There's much more at the link.

    I can't excerpt more of the article here, because its subject, and the terms used, are emphatically Not Safe For Work, as well as not being family-friendly.  Nevertheless, if you have children or grandchildren (or plan to have them one day), I very strongly recommend that you click over to the article and read it carefully.  It's sometimes nauseating in what it describes (at least to any person of faith and/or common sense), but it does expose the real evil behind this grotesque parody of human sexuality.

    "Evil" is, in fact, the right word for it, IMHO.  As the recent meme points out, when you label Drag Queen Story Hour for what it truly is, a whole lot of parents are suddenly less willing to allow their children to attend it.

    I can't think of a better label for it.

    Go read the whole article.  It speaks for itself.


    Stand by for a deception operation to derail November's elections


    While everybody on the right of US politics is getting excited about a potential "Red Wave" in November, I've been watching the left of US politics.  They don't appear overly worried or dejected by what they see in opinion polls or media commentary.  In fact, they're doubling down on their message that it's all about abortion rather than the economy, or inflation, or President Biden's catastrophic record in office.

    That tells me just one thing.  They think they're going to win in November, or at least keep losses to a manageable level.  If they're not worried, it can only be because they have something up their sleeve.

    I may be wrong, of course;  but after 2020, I don't think I am.  Those who manipulated that election are bound and determined that they won't be called to account for their misdeeds.  There's simply no way they're going to sit back and allow the voice of the people to override their political imperatives.

    How are they going to do it?  I don't know . . . but I'm pretty sure it'll involve some sudden crisis that can be used as an excuse to delay, or postpone, or even cancel the elections.  The explosion of a nuclear weapon in or near Russia or Ukraine?  Some other military provocation, such as a Chinese assault on Taiwan?  Another major terrorist attack inside the USA?  An economic catastrophe of some sort?  It's anybody's guess, but I'm sure something is planned.

    Sundance notes that in 2018 and 2020, precisely 15 days before each election, the FBI produced evidence of some or other plot to disrupt the elections.  Today, precisely 15 days before this year's election, they're doing the same thing, alleging "multiple threats to the nation’s election security infrastructure ahead of the midterms".  Same old, same old . . . from a visibly and demonstrably corrupt security agency.  I'm far from convinced.

    I note, too, that an acolyte of the World Economic Forum, Rishi Sunak, is to become the next Prime Minister of Britain (in a flat-out slap in the face to the regular members of the Conservative Party).  He's in lockstep with the WEF's economic policies, and can be expected to enthusiastically propagate their message in Britain and those nations where it has influence.  Britain's new King, Charles III, is similarly on board with their message.  I can only presume that the WEF and its minions have manipulated Sunak's selection, and plan to use it to bring Britain back into line with their objectives.  Will Britain rejoin the European Union?  It wouldn't surprise me, seeing that the WEF controls the EU and all its member nations through the European bureaucracy.

    Would the globalist powers like to see the USA remain in lockstep with the same message?  They most certainly would . . . which is yet another reason why I'm not at all sure the voice of the people will prevail in next month's election.

    I truly hope and pray that I'm wrong, and that November's elections will be free, fair and honest.  However, I doubt that very much.  The state of our electoral systems across the nation gives me no comfort in that regard.

    I guess we'll see what happens . . .


    Monday, October 24, 2022

    "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"


    That's a well-known exhortation by the late President Theodore Roosevelt.  He was all about actually doing something yourself, rather than expecting (or electing) others to do it for you.  I've tried to live up to his advice, not always successfully, but always with a better outcome than if I hadn't tried at all.

    The Good Citizen outlines some ways in which each and every one of us can defy the Nanny State that's trying to overwhelm our independence and individuality.  In doing so, we'll also be following Theodore Roosevelt's sage advice.

    But get on over to that voting booth dear Americans and see what happens.

    You never know, luck might be on your side and things might really change for the better this time.

    When you wake up from your dream to realize it was just that, know this: civilizations need to hit bottom before anything will change.

    It seems we’re not quite there yet. Usually, civilizations draw the line at child grooming, child castration, and child medical sacrifice with unnecessary injections, but not this civilization.

    And as long as they control all major information outlets and online platforms to brainwash the masses and keep them trapped in their Stockholm Syndrome cages, there will be no change.

    Want to make a difference?

    Take care of things in your life first.

    If you can’t be bothered with the little things then don’t pretend to care about change.

    1. Ditch the smartphone with “apps”. There’s nothing smart about the devices they’ve prepared for enslaving humanity.
    2. At the very least switch to an encrypted Freedom Phone or de-googled phone. Stop using their digital prison technologies.
    3. Ditch anything with the word “smart”. It’s all part of a digital gulag designed to monitor you and enslave you through frictionless convenience ie “Save a second to lose a lifetime of liberty.” Anything that connects to your home Internet will be used against you always and controlled by the state. Buy used washing machines, dishwashers, cars, and everything that is off their “grid”, with no network capabilities, so they cannot know or control how you live.
    4. Vote with your wallet. Reject all tech monopolies that work with the police state to monitor you at all times and censor information and ban users. If everyone quit Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube overnight and only shopped on Amazon when they had to, the world would be a completely different place already. If a popular platform knew that selling out to Amazon or Facebook would mean the death of the platform these tech monopolies would instantly lose power that the state has proven unwilling to check with existing anti-trust laws.
    5. Stop buying any Big Pharma-owned drugs, or subsidiary products. That includes Johnson and Johnson. Ask for generic brands of prescription drugs whenever possible.
    6. Did your HMO or medical insurer force their employees to get the clot shots to keep their jobs? Why are you still with them?
    7. Stop banking with big banks that were bailed out with your tax dollars for their own stupidity and greed. It still amazes me how many tens of millions refused to walk away from Chase and Bank of America in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. How many protestors at occupy wall street in 2011 had BofA debit cards in their wallets while chanting performative slogans? They wanted to upend a corrupt system, yet couldn’t even be bothered to change banks. Now the big banks are canceling people for their political views and still, no major bankrupting boycotts. This includes PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and even Visa and Mastercard. Use cash wherever possible and put your money in a local credit union or regional bank that isn’t owned by a private equity behemoth. If everyone did this instead of voting for an NPC Uniparty candidate lying through both sides of their mouth, the country would change overnight.
    8. Reject companies with ties to ESG, CRT, CIA, FBI, NSA, GCHQ, or venture companies that already partner with these odious concepts and nefarious actors. That includes Rumble’s financier Peter Thiel who claims to be a “libertarian” while founding CIA and Pentagon (intel community) dataveillance company Palantir and being the first investor in DARPA’s lifelog, renamed Facebook.
    9. Opt out of all their diseased systems. Trust nobody who works within them, especially death management or “medicine”. Independence and self-sufficiency is the only path to survival. Do not wait until you need something vital like baby formula or prescription medication, 80% of which, for Americans come from China who can turn off the spigot at any moment and probably will after they invade Taiwan soon. Supply chains are already collapsing. Assume it’ll be out of stock tomorrow because it probably will be.
    10. If you don’t own some gold and silver that can be in hand at a moment’s notice you won’t be prepared for the coming dollar collapse and all the social chaos and riots which no politician will be able to save you from.
    11. The same goes for long-term emergency food for their coming food shortages.
    12. Fertilizer and crop shortages with Diesel fuel shortages are going to bring a world of economic pain to the west in 2023. Not a single political candidate is even talking about this (or the deadly clot shots) because it won’t affect them. You are on your own.

    All of the above have one common theme: Fix yourself first, and prepare accordingly for what most people never expect will happen.

    Politicians don’t give a damn about you, your children, your friends, your country, and your future. And as long as they are owned by corporations, they never will.

    They care more about Big Pharma profits and engineering World War Three in Ukraine than they ever will about your well-being.

    Both parties “Uniparty” are onboard with this madness.

    If you can’t defeat your own demons and find balance and control to thrive in your own life how are you going to contribute to fighting humanity’s demons?

    If you can’t be bothered to starve their systems of your money, time, and attention, how can you expect politicians who are owned and controlled by these systems to help you?

    If each of us took care of business in our lives and focused on all the things within our control we would all collectively be contributing to strengthening the forces of resistance against those who are against humanity.

    There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.


    So that's what it's like to eject from a burning aircraft...


    A fascinating video clip has emerged of a Russian pilot (who was wearing a personal video recorder on his chest) ejecting from his damaged Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack aircraft, after it was hit by Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire.  A tip o' the hat to The Aviationist for publishing the video.  All the action happens in the first 30 seconds.

    You can see how quickly things happen at low level.  If he'd hesitated even a second or two, the aircraft would have flipped inverted on its way to crashing, and would have fired his ejection seat straight down into the ground.  You don't survive that, at that altitude.


    Memes that made me laugh 130


    Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

    Sunday, October 23, 2022

    Sunday morning music


    Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo is one of the twentieth century's most important and prolific producers of music for guitar and orchestra.  He's probably best known for his world-famous Concierto de Aranjuez (which provided his title when he was ennobled by the King of Spain as the first Marquess of the Gardens of Aranjuez).  Other notable works include the Concierto Andaluz for four guitars, which debuted in San Antonio, Texas in 1967, the Concierto Madrigal for two guitars, and his Fantasía para un gentilhombre, which is my favorite of all his works.

    Today I'd like to share his Concierto Madrigal.  It's more like an orchestral suite than a traditional concerto, having ten short movements instead of the usual three longer ones.  It's difficult to find an adequate live recording of the piece, because in most of them the recording engineers and technicians erred in one of two ways:  either the guitars are over-emphasized at the expense of the orchestra, or vice versa.  However, I've found this recording from 2001 that seems reasonably balanced between the two extremes.  The soloists are Juan Francisco Padilla and Iván Ríjos, and the Orquesta de Córdoba is conducted by Irina Trujillo.

    Watch the fingerwork of the guitarists as they try to keep up with the sometimes frenetic pace the composer demands of them.  Note, too, the condition of Padilla's guitar - "worn" is a good description, if not "decrepit"!  Nevertheless, its tone is still entirely as it should be.  I'm sure he cherishes it.


    Saturday, October 22, 2022

    Saturday Snippet: Recessional


    Rudyard Kipling composed a poem in 1897 for the Diamond Jubilee (60th year) of Queen Victoria's reign.  It was a sobering, come-back-down-to-earth call in the midst of widespread rejoicing, and as such was not very popular at the time.  Nevertheless, it has become one of his best-known poems, and is sung as a hymn to this day on the annual commemoration of Anzac Day, remembering the fallen soldiers of Gallipoli, in Australia and New Zealand.

    In our day, when politicians and other idiots talk so blithely about the possibility of nuclear war with Russia, and our own society seethes with internal conflict and disruption, I thought it was worth reminding ourselves of the fundamentals.

    God of our fathers, known of old,
      Lord of our far-flung battle line,
    Beneath whose awful hand we hold
      Dominion over palm and pine —
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    The tumult and the shouting dies;
      The Captains and the Kings depart:
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
      An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    Far-called, our navies melt away;
      On dune and headland sinks the fire:
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
      Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
    Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
      Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
      Or lesser breeds without the Law—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    For heathen heart that puts her trust
      In reeking tube and iron shard,
    All valiant dust that builds on dust,
      And, guarding, calls not Thee to guard;
    For frantic boast and foolish word—
    Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

    Mercy, indeed . . . for surely we all need it.


    Friday, October 21, 2022

    A blast from the computer past


    I was amused to learn of a California company that's recycling and selling old-fashioned floppy disks by the hundreds every day.

    Tom Persky runs, a California-based online disk recycling service that takes in new and used disks before sending them onto a reliable customer base — he reckons he sells about 500 disks a day.

    Who buys floppy disks in an age when more sophisticated storage devices like CD-ROMS, DVDs and USB flash drives have been made increasingly obsolete by internet and cloud storage? Those in the embroidery, tool and die, and airline industry, especially those involved in aircraft maintenance, says Persky.

    “If you built a plane 20 or 30 or even 40 years ago, you would use a floppy disk to get information in and out of some of the avionics of that airplane,” said 73-year-old Persky.

    There's more at the link.

    That brings back lots of memories.  When I got started in computers in the 1970's, the big 8" floppy disks were widely used with the IBM Displaywriter System, and the IBM PC and clones soon popularized the smaller 5¼" diskettes.  By the mid-1980's the 3½" "stiffy" diskettes were taking over.  I had rack after rack of them all at my workstation in the office, and more of them at home.  However, by the early 1990's almost all of them had gone the way of the dinosaur.  Rewritable CD's were the thing, to be followed in the 2000's by the thumb drive and other technologies.

    I'm surprised to learn that so many systems still use them.  I was aware that the US strategic deterrent Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles still used floppies for their software until very recently, but then, they were designed in the 1970's, so that's logical.  I wasn't aware that many aircraft still used them - I thought they would have been updated to more modern media long ago.

    How many of you, dear readers, can remember covering the read/write notch on the edge of a floppy disk with tape, to make it read-only and prevent some overenthusiastic moron in your department from overwriting your precious code or subroutines?


    I've heard of "Nap-of-the-earth" flying, but "Nap-of-the-semi"???


    A tweet from Ukraine shows a helicopter demonstrating what it means to fly "nap-of-the-earth" - over a highway, with vehicles.  Click the image for a larger view.

    You'll find a video clip of the incident in this tweet.

    I imagine that must have given a number of drivers a hair-raising experience . . . or should that be hair-trimming?


    Quote of the week


    From an article in the American Spectator titled "An Elegy for the FBI":

    Thanks to the raid of Trump’s home, the FBI is not only faced with having lost the confidence and cooperation of almost half of America. It has also transformed itself into a despised moral leper colony — a painted, hagged out, repellent, and whorish mockery of what it used to be.

    And that really is the tragedy of the FBI.  It was once trusted and almost revered by much of America.  Today, even its Democratic Party overseers regard it with contempt as yet another tool to be used at their whim.  Its Special Agents, once some of the best investigators and crime-fighters in the country, are now no more than apparatchiks for their ideological masters.  I used to look forward to working with FBI agents who would come to the prison where I worked to investigate leads and follow them up.  Now?  Right now, I wouldn't give an FBI agent the time of day, for fear it would be twisted and used against me.

    Can the FBI be restored?  I sincerely doubt it.  The rot has set in throughout its middle and upper echelons.  They'd all have to be fired, to the last man and woman, in order to appoint replacements who were non-partisan and professional;  but where would such replacements be found?  Almost certainly, not among more junior agents.  The agency has long made sure that the people it recruits fit into the mold it's created for itself.  Given that, could they be trusted to be objective and even-handed when promoted to higher rank?  I suspect most of us would answer that question with a resounding "No!"

    The whole country is the poorer for that.


    Thursday, October 20, 2022

    A school shooting successfully stopped - but the mainstream media ignore it


    I've only just become aware of this report from June this year.  It seems to have been ignored by the mainstream news media - probably because it had a happy ending, instead of turning into a tragedy.

    Duncanville police said no children were hurt when an armed man entered the facility where a summer camp was being held.

    The Duncanville Police Department is not releasing the gunman's name or motive at this time but did say the department recently went through active shooter training. 

    . . .

    At 8:43 a.m., Duncanville police say a man walked in the front door armed with a handgun. He allegedly exchanged words with a staff member in the lobby and fired one round. No one was hit. 

    . . .

    The counselors moved the kids to a safe area and began locking the doors. 

    According to police, the gunman tried to enter a classroom with children inside but was unsuccessful. That’s when police say he fired a second shot from the hallway at the door. 

    . . .

    Investigators say the gunman then moved to the gymnasium that was housing more children. During this time, the children were evacuated and bussed to the Duncanville Recreation Center.

    Stogner says his officers arrived on scene two minutes after the first 911 call and immediately entered the building, following active shooter protocol. 

    "Officers arrived on scene and observed him in the gymnasium and confronted him," he said. "The suspect and the officers exchanged gunfire, where he was put down on the ground."

    The suspect was fatally shot during the shootout.

    There's more at the link.

    Congratulations to all concerned on dealing with the threat so efficiently and so effectively.  I wish this incident had been more widely publicized, to counter the doom-gloom-and-disaster reporting so often associated with school shootings.  The camp counselors clearly did exactly the right thing in locking down the kids before the gunman could get to them;  and the responding officers did likewise in entering immediately, without thought for their own safety, and engaging the gunman before he could do any more damage.  What's more, the first officers arrived within two minutes of the first 911 call, so they were clearly "on the ball" and ready to rumble.

    The only improvement I can think of is if the counselors had been armed, and able to engage the gunman themselves.  There are a few school districts in Texas where that might have been the outcome.  I hope others will train and equip their own personnel to do likewise.

    It's often been said that the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  In this case, that proved true.


    Wow! The Webb space telescope images the Pillars of Creation


    Courtesy of the BBC, here's a wonderful image of the Pillars of Creation in the Serpens constellation, taken by the Webb space telescope.  Click either image for a much larger view.

    And here's a comparison between the Hubble space telescope's view of the Pillars (on the left) and the Webb's greatly improved and much sharper view (on the right).

    From the report:

    Webb, with its infrared detectors, is able to see past much of the light-scattering effects of the pillars' dust to examine the activity of the new-born suns.

    "I've been studying the Eagle Nebula since the mid-1990s, trying to see 'inside' the light-years long pillars that Hubble showed, searching for young stars inside them. I always knew that when James Webb took pictures of it, they would be stunning. And so they are," Prof Mark McCaughrean, the Senior Advisor for Science at the European Space Agency, told BBC News.

    The M16's pillars are being illuminated and sculpted by the intense ultraviolet light from massive nearby stars. That radiation is also dismantling the towers.

    Indeed, if you could magically transport yourself to this location today, the pillars are very probably no longer there.

    We only see them because we're looking at them in the past. The light that Webb detects has taken 6,500 years to reach its mirrors.

    There's more at the link.

    Seeing wonderful images like that reminds me of how very, very small and insignificant humankind is, in comparison to the vastness of the universe.


    Doofus Of The Day #1,096


    This tweet speaks for itself.  Clickit to biggit.

    And when it does, what will you eat?

    Verily, the mind doth boggle . . .


    Wednesday, October 19, 2022

    Money over the past 10,000 years or so


    I recently came across an investment service called Epsilon Theory.  They have an enormous range of articles and reports that are among the best-researched and easily understandable of any that I've read anywhere else.  I've taken up their (limited) free subscription offer, and I recommend it to you as well.

    I found their article, published in early October, dealing with the British banking blow-up and titled "A Brief History of the Past 10,000 Years of Monetary Policy and Why Last Week Was a Big Deal", to be an excellent summary of money and monetary policy.  I sent it to several people who hadn't had much exposure to issues such as monetary policy, and they uniformly reported back that they'd found it easy to understand and it greatly simplified the subject for them.

    Here's the beginning of the article.  I've added the links embedded below.

    In the beginning, someone with a business wanted money from someone with money.

    There are two and only two voluntary (i.e., without the threat of physical violence) ways of doing this. In exchange for the money, the person with a business can promise the person with money a share of the future economic activity of the business, or they can promise to repay the money in the future along with more money. In general, we call the former promise “equity” and the latter promise “debt”, and people with money have been collecting these promises from people with businesses since money was invented. These collections of promises are called “investment portfolios”.

    About a nanosecond after money and equity and debt were invented, the business of facilitating these transactions was invented. Today we call this business “Wall Street”, but of course it goes back thousands of years, way before there were things called streets. The business of Wall Street consists of two and only two things: thinking up news ways to create a transferable share of some future economic activity, and thinking up new ways to borrow money today for a promise to repay that money and more in the future. We call the former activity “securitization”. For example, equity promises are securitized into “stocks” and debt promises are securitized into “bonds”, which makes the sale and resale of these promises sooooo much easier. We call the latter activity “leverage”, which is just a ten-dollar word for borrowed money.

    Every bit of financial innovation over the past ten thousand years or so – all of it! – has been in service to one or both of those two activities: securitization and leverage.

    There's much more at the link.

    I highly recommend this article if you find yourself wondering what's going on in our financial markets, why the economy is tanking, or why the Federal Reserve is doing what it's doing.  By the time you've read the whole thing, you'll understand far more than most of our politicians!

    Frankly, one simply can't keep one's head above water in today's economy unless one understands the effect that money and monetary policy have had, are having, and will continue to have on our nation.  This article will give you enough of a foundation, expressed in very simple terms, to do that.


    The food situation, here and worldwide


    This blog post is not, repeat, NOT designed to make you afraid, or scare you into "prepping" if you're not already there, or anything like that.  Its intention is to simply present facts, and let you make up your own mind what you need to do to prepare for the shortages that are coming.  In the USA, there will undoubtedly be shortages of some food groups, and much higher prices for others;  but we're fortunate to live in a country that is more likely than others to produce enough food to keep most people alive.  In other parts of the world, that's anything but the case.  Genuine, worldwide famine is now being forecast by the United Nations and other authorities, and they're not joking.

    In the first place, understand that the vast majority of foods available to us are produced by corporate conglomerates who will produce what the market most wants.  That's how they make their money, after all.  That means those products with limited customer demand will almost certainly be downplayed in favor of others that are more popular.  Therefore, those with special dietary needs (e.g. gluten-free food, those who use specialized agricultural products such as A2 milk, those who follow paleo or carnivore diets with a heavy emphasis on eating meat) are likely to find harder times ahead than most of us will face, and much higher costs, too.  Therefore, if you fall into such groups, you should be planning right now to build up your supplies of those ingredients/foods, so that you have a cushion if their supply becomes restricted.

    Corporate "Big Ag" will also produce what their political masters tell them to produce.  Note the World Economic Forum's emphasis on eating insects rather than meat.  There are already national campaigns to popularize insect protein at the expense of meat, and companies are getting behind it.  What's more, the United Nations' Agenda 2030 calls for a 30% reduction in land used for agriculture (with an inevitable concomitant reduction in the amount of food produced).  The Biden administration's "30 by 30" conservation plan envisages something similar for US land use.  This does not bode well for feeding the world's population . . . unless the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines produce a significant rise in the death rate, as some are already observing and/or predicting.  That's a topic for an article on its own.

    To give you an idea of this political and corporate pressure to produce what's most in demand, rather than more specialized foods, and what's "politically correct" rather than popular, here's a chart provided by Dr. Robert Lufkin a couple of months ago, showing 11 companies that control 70% (i.e. more than two-thirds) of the processed foods we eat.  Click the image for a larger view.

    Much of the more specialized or limited-interest foods on the market are not produced by these conglomerates, but by more focused smaller companies that can cater to smaller markets.  In the event of severe agricultural shortages, I would not expect such smaller companies to be able to continue, because their access to raw materials will be drastically curtailed.

    Here's another look at the "Big Ag" problem, this time from the relatively liberal, left-wing ETC Group.  Notwithstanding their political orientation, they provide a valuable service in investigating the food industry (among others) and bringing to light important concentrations of power and influence.  They call their list "Food Barons 2022".  The chart below comes from page 7 of their report.

    Do please read the small print in the above image (clickit to biggit).  The implications of such concentration are frightening.  (For example, if BASF in Germany shuts down, as the company has already said may happen if natural gas supplies grow any tighter there, just look at how much of the market would be affected by that.)  As always, forewarned is forearmed.

    With that concentration of corporate power in mind, here's a lengthy (almost half-an-hour) video from Meet My Neighbor Productions, which describes itself as "a grassroots movement to educate, inform, and help protect agricultural producers".  In other words, it's concentrating on actual food producers - farmers, ranchers, and those who work on the production rather than the processing and consumption side of agriculture.  They list many videos on their site, which are both entertaining and informative;  if the subject interests you, I highly recommend going to their Web site and browsing the list of what's available.  Kudos to this husband-and-wife team for building up such an educational business.

    In this video, Charlie Rankin describes what he's observed on the ground, in farms across the nation, so far in 2022.  It's not a news aggregation from reporters in some big city - it's what his own eyes have seen, and what he's heard in person.  He puts that together with news from other sources to describe what he expects to happen in the US agricultural sector over the next year or two.  It's not good news, but we need to hear it in order to know what to expect.  I do highly recommend that you take the time to watch it, and consider your own food position while supplies are still relatively freely available.

    Consider that Mr. Rankin is focusing on agriculture and ranching in the USA.  As other countries run short of food (because the fertilizer shortage is worldwide, and without enough fertilizer, many countries won't be able to produce enough food for their populations), they're going to turn to the USA to buy what they need:  and, if they offer enough money, our producers will export to them rather than supply the local market.  (This is already happening in the natural gas market, for example:  don't think it won't spread from there.)

    That, in turn, will affect domestic prices.  If a producer can get, say, $10 for a bushel of widgets by exporting them, but only $5 per bushel on the domestic market, guess where he's going to sell his widgets?  The government may try to control that by restricting exports, but in that case, the producer has little incentive to produce more.  He'd rather save money by not investing in a less profitable market.  Thus, overseas demand will affect US prices.

    I hope this blog post has given you some idea of what lies ahead.  It certainly motivates me to get ready for it as best I can.


    Are you, or will you soon be, dependent on pension income? If so, READ THIS.


    Epsilon Theory has published an in-depth review of Britain's financial crisis over the past couple of weeks, as its major pension funds were pushed right to the brink of bankruptcy by a liquidity crunch that threatened to take the entire British banking sector down with them.  The crisis was averted - for now - by some very rapid fancy footwork from the Bank of England, but it's still looming, and may rear its ugly head again at any time.  What's more, the British financial crisis was no more than a foretaste of what might happen in many advanced economies at any time - including the USA.

    Epsilon Theory concludes:

    The real problem is that every pension fund in the world has implemented some sort of Wall Street securitization/leverage concoction, intentionally designed to make the managers look good in their quarterly reviews, intentionally designed to use short-term leverage against long-term obligations, intentionally designed to use the math of the past thirty years to obfuscate the risks of a regime change not found in the past thirty years.

    Wall Street has infected some pension funds a lot with their words of riskless return through the magic of securitization and leverage. Wall Street has infected some pension funds a little with their words of riskless return through the magic of securitization and leverage. But Wall Street has infected ALL pension funds.

    Because that’s what Wall Street DOES.

    I have no idea where the next [fiscal] insanity will come from.

    All I know is that leverage is being repriced, globally.

    All I know is that this global repricing of leverage is a wrecking ball around the world, through both interest rates and currencies.

    All I know is that what we saw happen in the UK last week is the first shock, not the last, and all the massive pension funds and asset owners who have turned themselves into shadow hedge funds, full of swaps and leverage through the sweet whispers of Wall Street Wormtongue, will be our undoing.

    There's more at the link.

    I highly recommend reading the entire Epsilon Theory article for an excellent overview of why this crisis happened, and why it may happen again.  It's a clear and present danger for every one of us, particularly those currently living on a pension or expecting to have to do so in the not too distant future.

    In this case, forewarned may not be forearmed, because there isn't much an individual can do about this mess.  However, we can prepare for hard times as best we can, and position ourselves to ride out storms in the short to medium term.  Longer-term . . . well, that's going to need wholesale reform in the credit markets and stock exchanges of the world.  Whether or not that will happen (or be allowed to happen) is anyone's guess.


    Tuesday, October 18, 2022

    A very, very good point


    Regarding calls for a Constitutional Convention to "rectify" our current political problems, Karl Denninger observes (emphasis in original):

    [A convention] will do nothing until and unless it includes the willingness of the States to back the requirements of the Constitution with whatever force is necessary for it to be obeyed, Supreme Court, Executive and Congress be damned.

    But..... is there anything actually wrong with the Constitution that isn't within these lines now?

    All the examples cited in this article are already violations.  This is akin to screaming that rapists will be stopped by passing a second law making rape illegal.  Why would you believe the rapist will be deterred if the first law was ignored?

    If you're not willing to back up the law with whatever force is necessary for those subject to it to decide that obeying said law is a better idea than breaking then whatever you pass is of no value whatsoever.

    Indeed demanding that [we] write more words on a page is nothing more or less than a naked attempt to deflect attention from the fact that the States have every right and in fact duty to enforce The Constitution (as do the people) right here and now, and yet those who have no interest in the actual Constitutional boundaries in fact have a very-clear pecuniary and political interest in promoting both false hope and lies.

    Don't fall for it; demand that those talking about a ConCon first enforce the existing Constitution to the letter and then, and only then, will you consider permitting them to change that which, when executed as-written, proves to be deficient in some form or fashion.

    There's more at the link.

    I couldn't agree more.  A Constitutional Convention under our present circumstances would simply give hotheads on both sides of the political aisle an excuse to bloviate, try to insert "poison pills" in the revised Constitution to frustrate the other side, and generally build on our present disorders to make them worse for everybody.

    Let's instead enforce the existing provisions of the Constitution (particularly those that restrict the powers of the Federal government), get back to what our government should be, and only then worry about changing things further.  It's a far simpler, easier, cheaper, and less complicated solution . . . but each side has so many axes to grind by now that it's sure to be rejected.  Neither side wants to give up the power it's grabbed for itself, constitutionally or otherwise.