Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I couldn't resist. After yesterday's post the cartoon on IBD was just too big a temptation. It captures my sentiments exactly. What has the government done that should give us confidence that they can handle any crisis? Regardless of whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats, the politicians that run the show give the appearance of a bunch of squabbling, spoiled children that should be spanked, not given the keys to the cookie jar. But then the cookie jar is pretty much empty now, so we are down to promises of future cookies. But as my mother used to say, "Tomorrow never comes." Obama will still be talking at his teleprompter when hell freezes over.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Beginning of the End ...

So now the gubment is taking over the automakers. Yup, that'll work all right! Where exactly is that in the constitution? This growing intrusion on the private sector that goes beyond all precedent and is just invented as they go along is already the beginning of the end. Where are the checks and balances when we need them?

Why does anyone think the government knows what it is doing? Bad businesses need to die and then perhaps something will rise from the ashes. The automakers have been raped for years by big labor as they make less and less appealing cars on the whole as witness the economic problems they have. What is the government doing that will improve anything? Prolonging the pain at great expense will only make the final collapse worse. Shoring up failure by robbing the taxpayer is not a way forward, but a recipe for economic collapse. The people who will pay the highest price are those on fixed incomes as the dollar inflates away their hard earned savings. It will likely make the Carter administration look like statesmanship, a towering, if distressing, achievement.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get a Stiff Drink Before you Watch This

This ought to scare the hell out of you. The question is what to do about it? If we do have this kind of economic collapse there will certainly be hell to pay. Well there's two hells in three sentences. I'm beginning to sound like an alarmist. I'm definitely more scared of this than global warming. We'll see how long it takes before some of the early warning indicators start tripping the alarm buttons so everyone starts to get it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is There Something Wrong With This Picture?

No it's not the famous global warming hockey stick! This is your life savings being put down a rat hole. Welcome to change that sinks hope. The culmination of American fiscal irresponsibility is in the immediate offing it would seem. You can't spend your way to prosperity by increasing your debt indefinitely. The emperor has no clothes and naked people are cold in the Winter time. So hunker down. It's going to be a long four years. Keynesianism didn't work back when Keynes was alive. It's based on false assumptions. We are not "All Keynesians now!" as Nixon said, we are all dupes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

My favorite market analyst is Peter Navarro who wrote a couple of good books and has a great audio course on investing called something like "Big Picture Investing." Peter has a newsletter he sends out to folks which is one of the best things for a great perspective on what's going on and the question he's asking this week is the one that has the market buzzing:"Has the bottom been put in?"

The short answer is probably not. We're likely still moving sideways. Perhaps a question that ought to concern us more is whether when we get finished moving sideways will we break out up or down. The general competence of the current occupants of Washington doesn't make one too confident that we know the answer. Peter makes the following comment about the Fed:
" Let's start with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke -- the Princeton guy. Loyal readers will also remember that when he got appointed, I predicted, quite presciently as it would turn out, that Helicopter Ben would wind up to be the biggest fall guy in history for Alan Greenspan. When I failed to anticipate is just how bad Bernanke would be in his own right."
He goes on to make a few more less than charitable but no doubt deserved criticisms of Bernanke.
Not only did the Princeton guy help create the massive housing bubble with his easy money policies. He has now set the stage for the most comprehensive debasing of our currency the United States has ever witnessed. The even bigger problem with the debasing of our currency is it's "beggar thy neighbor" nature.
He goes on to develop this idea of "beggar thy neighbor" but the bottom line is that it won't make us any friends and Navarro characterizes our policy as "insanity." That's probably high praise. It may well be worse. Meanwhile, the American people, not always the sharpest chisels in the chiselbox are getting a little torqued at the government's favorite remedy for everything ... tax more and blow the money on any crazy scheme that someone thinks up. Maybe insanity is exactly right. The T.E.A. parties are only just beginning. The question is still when the sideways travel ends will the market continue to collapse or not? Nothing gives me much confidence that I know the answer. Meanwhile perhaps we should not be creating more debt so fast.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dynabook: The Future Awaits

In 1968 Alan Kay first wrote about Dynabook. I remember reading about it and being quite excited about the concept. Since then I've watched as a number of what I call "Vision Projects" formed the basis for generations of dreamers. Among the early things I'd identify as vision projects would be the orbiting space station which was so beautifully conceptualized in Warner von Braun and Willy Ley's books in the 1950's. We didn't do it that way. It would have been better if we had. Perhaps we'd have the Space Colonies envisioned by Gerald O'Neill. O'Neill's vision project is the O'Neill Space Colony often referred to as L5.

Yet another vision project is Eric Drexler's nanotechnology as well as the Xanadu vision of Ted Nelson. Each of these is a dramatic goal, likely to only be achieved in the relatively far future. Dynabook is 40 years old and not quite here for example. But the Kindle 2, for example, and some of the notebook PCs that are out there are getting amazingly close even if we have not yet acquired the social infrastructure to make full use of the technology.

It isn't enough to have a vision though. You have to find stepping stones that move you towards the vision. I call those stepping stones Focus Projects. Each plays a role as a component, one more small step for man culminating over time in a giant leap for mankind.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Building the Future

The Heritage Foundation Interns

The future begins with the young. The child is father and mother to the man or woman.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tea Party Anyone?

March 15th there was a Tea Party in Cincinnati. Check it out! Among my favorites is the Debt Star using the Star Wars Death Star to symbolize it. It is time for the productive sector to demand their rights, which include not being forced to constantly fund the stupidity of others, especially the stupidity of government.

Do You Wonder What's Going On?

Wonder No Longer

The bottom line is simple: You're being robbed and lied to.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kindle 2 Rocks!

Well I broke down and bought a Kindle 2. I was thinking about waiting for a color display, but I figured that would probably be a very long wait so I ordered it from Amazon on Monday or so and yesterday it arrived. I had it charged up in no time and was downloading books to practice with it. So far I have a zillion works by G.K. Chesterton, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman, a couple of computer books which I uploaded as pdf files for the Kindle folks to convert to Kindle format and send back to me at ten cents a book. I also downloaded a copy of the Douay-Rheims Bible. Just all kinds of stuff out there if you're into classics. More contemporary stuff is more expensive but still cheaper than hardcover.

So far I'm thrilled with it. It is easy to read. I'd like a little more contrast but it's good enough. The Whispernet that lets you connect with the web is fascinating and adequately fast to do reasonable things. I think the pricing for newspapers is way too high given that they are much harder to read well in the Kindle format, especially the kinds of things that would interest me which would be financial data and graphs and things like that.

As a lark I uploaded one of my shroud papers but the transformation killed a lot of the pictures leaving them black blots -- so the conversion isn't perfect.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Be of Good Cheer!

Sometimes I think that I'm really a downer as I look over this blog. I suppose it's because I'm having some difficulty in figuring out what I should be cheerful about. By disposition I'm a very cheerful person. I believe in the absolute Divine Providence of God and the counsel received by Julian of Norwich that "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." I don't suppose that means all the time though or that there won't be travails between now and eternity.

I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis's The Allegory of Love which is not his most approachable book since it is one of those written in his capacity as a scholar of Medieval Literature, especially the 16th century. It's fun to read Lewis because he has such a clear mind and in everything he writes that clarity of thought seems to come through.

Today the stock market bounced 379 points on the DOW and that's nice. The pundits are always explaining why the market moves the way it does, but in general they really don't know. It goes up when more buyers show up than sellers and goes down for the opposite reason. There are lots of reasons to be depressed about the economy and the state of the nation. For me the biggest reason to be depressed about the nation is the lack of coherence.

I like clarity which is why I like Lewis. I like principles that hew to what Plato might call The Good and not the merely convenient or current advantage. I want my country to be good and principled and sound and a great many other things that I think it is not. The older I get the more I become convinced that most people vote only their selfish personal advantage. 40% pay no taxes but can vote. That's a travesty which will shorty end the American experiment if it continues. When the majority can just vote to take the goods of the minority which we're already doing to a large extent then it is over. It killed all the societies of the past and will kill ours too. A lack of wisdom is one of our besetting sins as a nation. We have no principles any more. It is all empty rhetoric and we have a rhetorician at the helm whose rhetoric is emptier than most.

But that brings me to my faith in Divine Providence. God will not be mocked, nor does a sparrow fall that He does not attend. He loves all of His creation and brings good out of evil. My confidence in that makes me an eternal optimist. "For all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Monday, March 9, 2009

How Long Do We Have?

Fiat money is only as valuable as the trust on which it is based. Trust is based ultimately on honesty and integrity. Those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. It might be sobering to reflect on the German hyperinflation of 1923 and ask how they got that way and whether the track we are on is really any different?

The problem is not so much that we are using paper money that is unbacked by anything but promises. That is not as different from gold or other precious metal backed currency as some might think, for that is also based on promises, the promise to exchange a certain amount of precious metal for a certain amount of paper. There is never really enough gold or silver to exchange for all the paper so it's still based on trust that the promises will be fulfilled.

What if you live in a society which increasingly celebrates liars and cheaters where integrity is scoffed at and honor is an empty word? What then?

What if the banks are told to ignore the ability to pay back loans and instead loan money to people who are poor credit risks so that they can buy houses that they can't afford? Suppose that banks that drag their feet are picketed and trashed by goons and hooligans until they submit? What if people who don't know very much economics (Why is that? The schools are dominated by a single politically correct perspective. Economics doesn't fit the mold.) and they are told that housing always goes up? It isn't true of course. A big balloon develops of worthless credit and the loans come due. What happens then?

Do you let all that bad credit and those who sustained it fail? or do you throw good money after bad and swell the problem with more promises from more people whose promises have been shown to be no good in the past? Where does it end? How far is down? Who pays in the end?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Papers from the Coumbus Conference

As a member of the Shroud Science Group I'm pleased to point you at the site where the papers given at the conference are available. The Shroud Science Group is a group of scientists, historians, archeologists and other sindonologists (students of the shroud) who are trying to understand this remarkable object.

The members of the Shroud Science Group hold various opinions about the authenticity of the shroud, about the processes by which the image and blood came to be on the shroud. Many favor authenticity, others are neutral on the subject and some no doubt believe the shroud is a clever human artifact. What unites the group is a commitment to scientific study of the shroud and not agenda driven bias.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Global Warming Mantra

Well the beat goes on ... The mindless character of the climate change debate is evidenced by the fact that new data that disagrees with the alledged consensus is ignored. This is, of course, not only not science, it is not even sane.

CNS News.com describes the openminded response of our legislators to new data NOT:
"The study, released on Jan. 28 by Kyle L. Swanson and Anastasios A. Tsonis, who are professors in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, found that the Earth has been cooling since 2001 and projected that due to “global variation” the climate would continue to cool for the next 20 to 30 years."

Now of course one article does not a tidal wave make. But notice is it an article about data. Data is what science is about, not opinion, not policy. "My mind's made up, don't bother me with facts" is the behavior that characterizes our legislators. The very fact of the data calls into question the fact of global warming. After a decade of global cooling the chicken littles will likely shift to global cooling and the imminent ice age. Who knows if that will make any more sense than the current mantra?
The short version: We don't know enough about weather to make all this noise. What we do know is that we've had multiple ice ages in the past and we've also had periods with much higher carbon dioxide levels than are here currently long before man was a factor. This suggests that all the current brouhaha is simply hooey.