Sunday, December 1, 2013

Last Call

FutureJacked has been dormant for over a year.  I've been occupied with life and work and frankly have had little to add than what you can find in the Socionomist, over on Mish's page, the Elliott Wave Theorist and other outstanding information sources.  I have looked back over the 1137 posts, been amazed by the over 140,000 page views, and all in all am pleased with the effort.  Though amateurish at times, this blog has helped me work through many aspects of the map I've been building to navigate increasingly treacherous terrain.  I continue to believe that we in the West are facing a full spectrum crisis and that the demographic, political, social, political, religious, and socionomic trends we are facing are not our friends.  I also continue to believe that those who are nimble, who can keep their heads while those about them are losing theirs, and who can keep lit the lamps of civility and reason during bouts of unreason and anger will sow the seeds for the next great wave upward in human achievement. 

That said, I have been turning my energies to other projects.  I will certainly return to writing in the future, but I believe it is time to pull down FutureJacked and regroup for the next effort.  If there have been any articles you have found useful over the years, please do feel free to archive them in some fashion.  I plan to delete the blog from Blogger before Christmas.

Many thanks to those of you who have followed this effort.  I hope our paths can connect in the years to come.

Regards,

Mike

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mad As Hell...

Those of us using Socionomics as a model to see what the future holds perked up a bit at this news story:

Vt. Man Accused of Crushing 7 Cop Cars With Tractor Due in Court
A Vermont man, who authorities say was angry over an arrest and used his tractor to drive over seven police vehicles, is expected in court.

State Police say 34-year-old Roger Pion (PEE'-on) was taken into custody in Newport on Thursday, shortly after he allegedly crushed the Orleans County sheriff's vehicles. Estimated damage was at least $250,000.

He was apparently mad over his recent arrest on resisting arrest and marijuana possession charges...

Anecdote or data point?  I can't say for certain, but this is not just anger, but direct violence against the law enforcement organs of State control. 

Until the markets "confirm" these types of outbursts with a significant drop, I won't buy in that the Bear is back, but if this is any indication of what is in store for the coming downtrend, well, it could get real ugly out there friends.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Superstitious Fund - the Perfect Fund for our World

A Superstitious Fund

Here is a fund for our times - A Superstitious Fund!

The Superstitious Fund Project is a live one year experiment where an uncanny algorithm or SUPERSTITIOUS AUTOMATED ROBOT will trade live on the stock market. The financial instruments it will be using will be spreadbetting on the FTSE 100.

The superstitious trading algorithm will trade purely on the belief of NUMEROLOGY and in accordance to the MOON. It will for example have the fear of the number 13, as well as generating its own beliefs and new logic for trading

Part of me wants to gently mock the premise behind the fund.  Then I recall my own trading record and will instead keep silent. 

My only comment is on the name.  Fifteen years ago I bet they would have dressed up their algo by naming it some mish-mash of the words "quantum," "long term," "strategic," and "Buffett" - using some sort of hedge fund name generator similar to the ones they use to put names on suburban subdivisions.  Instead, in keeping with a moodier time that should be a little more publicly tolerant of magical thinking, and, frankly, with some refreshing honesty, they just flat-out named it A Superstitious Fund.

Kudos to them for making it public and for their plan to post results.  Hell, that's more scientific than a lot of "science" that goes on today in a several disciplines that should know better.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Always Remember the Bureaucracy Doesn't Care

Sorry for the long silence.  This is mostly due to being incredibly busy at the day job.  It is funny, but not ha-ha funny, that I've never been busier working projects to a successful conclusion and planning new production expansion, while in the distance I see what I believe is an incoming asteroid of negative mood, hissing towards earth, ready to blast a hole in the best layed plans I might have.  Until then, though, I'll keep cashing that paycheck.

Then I ran across this story out of Tulsa and felt I had to comment on it:


Amazing.  Here is a woman actually trying to do something for herself.  She has tried to supplement her food supply by her own hard work.  She has tried to improve and manage her health using plants she grows herself.  She even educated herself on the local ordinances to make sure she was within code.

None of it mattered.

I have often suggested that you should acquire some high-quality gardening tools and plant a patch yourself.  It is a great way to be productive and to add the occasional healthy fruit or vegetable to your table.  In these sorts of rally periods, where those of us who are convinced we are headed off a cliff, these kinds of pursuits can help keep us grounded and hopefully make our households more resilient for an era when resiliency will trump the Cult of Efficiency.  Who knows, you may get bit by the bug and go on to grow much of your household's food to help conserve cash, or maybe you'll go on to help coordinate a community garden when times get tough, building up ties among your neighbors, ties which could prove far more useful in a post-Crash world than a survival bunker and cases of 9mm ammo.

Always remember, the Bureaucracy, especially that small but very vicious segment of the the Code Enforcers and Home Owners Associations dotting this fair land, hates you.  Period.  If you are trying to do something creative, to become even a little more self-sufficient, to step outside the norm, they will come after you with hammer and tongs.  If you wind up unlucky and in their cross-hairs, they will not hesitate to drive you to your death and, at the moment, there is little recourse.  They will ignore their own codes, they will ignore the law, and they won't be sanctioned by local courts.  There ain't no tyranny like local tyranny. 

The current rules structure, zoning laws, and the people enforcing them are made for an age that died with Lehman Brothers.  They want everyone to be shoe-horned into a suburban plot with flowers and a nicely mowed lawn.  They want strip malls filled with service "industry" businesses, they want to shake down local contractors on the side, they want to extort money from buildings underway, turn property over to their crony capitalist friends so they can come along for the ride, and in general, they want it all to be like it was in 1995.  They will roust the formerly middle class as they drop into poverty. they will enforce and stretch the interpretation of every ordinance they can to every inch they can get, to try and cram the world back in a box that has been blasted to pieces.  They will not like anyone who tries to make things more resilient, especially when it happens from private effort.

Be aware of this.  This too shall pass, but the Bureacracy will continue running their obsolete operating system for as long they can, and they won't care what or who they destroy along the way.  Because it will all be turning around soon and it will be just like the 1990's...

Friday, May 18, 2012

I ran across "The Gonzo Futurist Manifesto" via one of those odd stumbles that happen on the web while digging for something completely different.  Normally I would shy away from anything with the "gonzo" label on it.  One guy did gonzo, and he's dead.  But I'm glad I made an exception this time.  Justin Pickard looks like an interesting guy.

It's thought-provoking and worth your time as we continue to tip-toe along the edge of the plunge into What Comes Next...

From The Gonzo Futurist:

...In 2012, then, things reach a head. The world spins faster, accruing whole orders of complexity as the American Empire crumbles into a decidedly more interesting new world order. After twenty, fifty, or five-hundred years of globalisation (depending), we stumble across the threshold of (dis)integration, watch the Mayans emerge from their hole in the sky, and find out what we’ve won: transcendence or oblivion.

Well, that’s the scheduled broadcast. The looming reality is a lot less binary. In postnormal times, the world has both centrifugal and centripetal tendencies: transcendence and collapse; integration and fragmentation. History didn’t end with Fukuyama. Collapse contains the fractal seeds of transcendence. Things come together as they fall apart. Ours is not the flat world of Thomas Friedman, but the ‘unevenly-distributed’ future of William Gibson. It has contours...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change is Coming

Another long pause between posts.  These long levitation periods often leave me with little to say.  I don't trade them well and I am emotionally biased to believe the market should "see" how ugly the underlying fundamentals are and get back into the Bear Market business (knowing that socionomics has a lot to say about the true nature of cause and effect).  Add that combination of waiting for the next shoe to drop to a busy schedule and all of a sudden its been several weeks since I've tried to thrash out a post.  Oh well, that all changed when I finally tackled a stack of non-critical mail the other day and pulled out the May copy of Popular Science.

Drones Again

I read through the May edition and came across an article that jolted me enough to get a post up.  It hits on a topic I think will help drive the dysfunction I expect to see all around us when the Bear returns - the massive difference between reality and what people have been programmed to believe are successful patterns of behavior.  It came up under the topic of drones and the changing face of war, but I think it applies much more broadly.

The Human Element
Why Drones Won't Be Taking Over Our Wars Anytime Soon
By C.J. Chivers
...Those who train for this kind of warfare know that no drone yet exists that could handle such a scenario. The drone would have to be alert to all of these factors, relay them to a remote pilot on the other side of the world, and make corrections in the time required to react. Missions like these will remain the work of the same classes of aircraft—and the pilots and weapon-systems officers who fly with them—who have been flying these missions for decades. With each design cycle, drones will no doubt be further integrated into the busy mix of a modern military air campaign and maybe, eventually, into missions over hostile airspace with anti-aircraft guns and enemy fighters. But humans will be up there with them, flying old-school pilot-on-the-ejection-seat flights and calling the shots. As that day perhaps draws near, the limits on where drones can fly will remain. The MiG that punched that Hermes 450 out of the sky laid out a fact unlikely to change soon. When the skies turned violent, all the Hermes could do, in the end, was watch—even its own fiery end...

We've thought a little about drone technology this year (see The Tilting of the Megapolitical Balance? from February), so I won't rehash it here, except to say again, it is a hobby you should take up.

I am not cheerleading for an end to manned combat aircraft.  Hell, I am of the Top Gun generation and was tracking towards landing a slot at the Air Force Academy before my crappy eyes DQ'd me from what I had hoped to do.

I am not arguing against the points Mr. Chivers makes in this article.  In fact, I regard him as precisely correct.  Precisely, as in, where the technology stands today, and assuming most major wars will involve big nation-state armed forces standing up against one another, slugging it out.

I do think this is an example of the type of thinking you absolutely have to be on guard for once we begin to replumb the depths of negative mood.  Being precisely correct will be a debilitating problem for a huge percentage of people once we hit that inflection point.

Mr. Chivers comes at this from a very standard and accepted view of large-scale conflict.  There are clear-cut "good guys" and "bad guys" in this framework.  Your nation-state (the good guys) has objectives and wishes to impose its will upon another nation-state or "terrorist group" (a.k.a. non-state actors) to achieve a political end.  All very Clausewitzian and all going down the drain.

What if drone technology is not going to be designed for the things Mr. Chivers worries about, such as close air support?  What if the technology is going to be focused on extremely local violence or surveillance?  What if the future of war and violence is going back to armed gangs and mafias, groups flitting about the feet of the giant nation-states, focused on extracting information and extortion money from individuals or communities?

And what if the governments that run these massively expensive fleets of aircraft he describes in his article wake up one morning to a disintegrated bond market and crashing tax revenues?  What happens to the money for training, fuel, and maintenance of these Top Guns? How many Generals and Admirals are contemplating this scenario?

If I can launch a drone swarm for under $10,000, have that swarm pursue and then assault an individual through sheer kinetic attacks (dropping from the sky at high speeds with nothing more than a jumped up knife, for instance), what good does a Fourth Generation fighter jet do for the victim?  Or what about the potential for constant surveillance by both governmental and non-governmental agencies?  What is a hot shot pilot going to do for me when the skies can be filled with cheap drones that monitor all communications and steal my credit card information?

I think Mr. Chivers is precisly correct, much in the way French military theorists were precisely correct when they planned and built the Maginot Line.  They built their systems and validated their actions by the assumptions they chose - assumptions based on a world that no longer existed (but they had not yet received the memo).

Other "Battlefields"

How many other aspects of modern life fit this for most people?  How many people have seriously considered events such as the following:  

  • The seizure of all assets held in IRA accounts and the replacement of those investment portfolios with special bonds "sold" by the government for that purpose.  This would be backed up by Congress upping the penalty for withdrawal to 100%.
  • The pullback of U.S. military forces from the vast majority of overseas bases.
  • Means testing for Social Security and Medicare
  • Local governmental bureaucracies requiring citizens to "donate" labor or pay a set tax to help with the upkeep of local facilities
  • Middle Income Individuals being subject to small-scale extortion or kidnapping threats
  • The use of private military contractors to secure public areas and prevent locals or media from investigating events in those areas such as hazardous materials releases and no ability by local law enforcement to oppose this
  • In the grips of a credit crisis, your debit card and credit cards no longer function, loans which you have regularly serviced are called in with no warning, and you are prevented from withdrawing more than $300 from your account in cash each month.

All of the events described above have happened in both the U.S. and other countries.  Not all have happened in the U.S. yet, but...

This is not meant to be an exercise in fear-mongering.  I just want to drive the point home that a lot of very smart people are very convinced that their "map" of the world "is" the True and Right map that will lead to success.  Whether that map includes a very expensive college degree and loads of student debt upon graduation, or whether that map includes trust in the U.S. Congress to protect individual interests above Corporate interests, you can expect those people to be very disappointed when the worm turns.  What will these people do when confronted with "impossible" situations?  What kinds of politics will arise from that ferment?

What kinds of opportunities for success will you be able to see that others, blinded by fear and anger at the crashing down of their "world," will miss?

Embrace what is to come.  Even if you've planned as well as you can, bad things can still reach out and hit you.  Be mindful of it, but don't lose it if your plan goes awry.  Who knows what kinds of crazy policies will be imposed from above, or what kinds of dysfunction will bubble up from below?  Just know that life will still go on, that much of life will still be enjoyable (though probably very different), and that you can still act while others are frozen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Negative Mood Anecdotes


Argentina continues to be my favorite touchstone for what is to come for most Western governments and societies. After their debt collapse and currency devaluation a decade ago, followed by the seizure of private retirement funds, I think they are blazing a trail we'll see trampled down by many governments between now and 2020.

Here is some saber-rattling about nationalization of a key energy company using the language of scarcity and depletion (note that Ms. Kirchner's government says YPF has not invested "enough" into the sector to keep supplies sufficient to meet public demand. We'll see how government control, if it comes to that, will help with that. Between depletion, high costs for advanced extraction techniques and a high dose of bureaucracy, one can imagine the outcome. Add in some threats to retake the Malvinas and we would have a full-blown negative mood marker in play here.