Monday, November 30, 2009

Prisoners to the System

As the Climategate scandal continues to unwind, a few thoughts on how these (pseudo?) scientists were hoisted by their own petard.

The main trap that Dr. Mann, et al, fell into was that they got into Big Boy power politics using science as their claim to legitimacy. Their claim that "the science is settled" on climate change and then their efforts to help promote major government restructuring to deal with it made them big players on the world stage. They seemed to relish the role as gatekeepers of policy and information and were ruthless in their treatment of those who disagreed with them.

Others who dive into power politics use claims as masters/mistresses of "family values" or as populists or as people who are "tough on crime" or their position in a religious hierarchy to bolster their claim to having that special something that gives them the background and know-how to lead and make policy. The problem is that whatever cover story you use, you have to at least play lip service to the underlying principles of that cover story if you can't actually live those principles.

Religious-based authorities are vulnerable to scandal if their private behavior turns out to not match up with their rhetoric on good behavior. Populists are vulnerable to getting co-opted by the "system" and the massive corporate funding that goes with it. Family values types have a little more leeway than religious-based authorities, but not much.

Science has its own set of rules. Science demands transparency in both source data and methodologies. It demands that others be able to reproduce that work and it demands a level of honesty and integrity of a much higher level than most other professions are held to.

Dr. Mann, Dr. Jones and the rest of their Team probably started off a reasonably good scientists - but apparently the intoxication of power politics and their anger at the skeptics (who, by the way, have not always played by the rules of good science either) led them into the swamp of data manipulation, obfuscation and, possibly, outright fraud (we'll see as the data are gone over in the coming months). When, say, a populist gets science wrong, that is usually not too damaging to his or her credibility. When a scientist is shown to be a petty hack and someone who plays fast and loose with the data, this undermines their claim to legitimacy, sort of like a bishop that is outed as a closet atheist. Using the claim of science requires one to behave as such. When "scientists" are shown to be politicians first, data manipulators second and scientists third, their legitimacy erodes like a sand castle facing the incoming tide.

What next?

This will add fuel to the fire on the climate debates, but in the end could wind up helping the cause of science, though at the expense of some nice political careers. Anything that adds to transparency is a good thing, in my opinion.

This story also holds meaning for then entire governing class in the United States. Much of the legitimacy for government from the local level on up is based on promises of a high level of material well-being, good transportation infrastructure, affordable gasoline (either cheap prices or a "good" job) and 500 channels on the television set. As the great bear market erodes all the underlying deliverables for legitimacy, watch for more leaks, for more database hacks and for the crowd-sourcing of efforts to show the political class as incompetent.

What might follow in the wake of the de-legitimizing of the current system holds both fear and promise. Should be a wild ride getting there.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'll be traveling quite a bit and posts will be light until next week. I think mood has held up well enough that there hopefully won't be any nasty surprises over the next week or so and we can all digest our turkey in peace.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mass Mood and Climate "Science"

The breakdown of social mood into negativity, anger and polarization helps breed an attitude of resistance to authority and a questioning of old beliefs.

The mandarins who have been at the forefront, pushing "solutions" to "Anthropogenic Global Warming" have long blasted critics as "global warming deniers" and as foolish individuals who don't understand that the "science is settled."

Well, the rhetoric has esacalated to an insurgency with the hacking and release of a batch of increasingly embarrassing information on just how climate "science" was performed by the "top" minds in the field. The following links are just a few of the places to watch this massive unraveling of an Establishment consensus:

Watts Up With That?

Climate Audit

The Air Vent

Note how the tactics of the anti-AGW proponents the match up well with John Robb's thesis of Open Source Insurgency Through Software Tools. Within days of the hack, the data were released, a searchable database of the massive numbers of emails and documents had been established and opened to all with an internet connection and the crowd-sourcing began in earnest.

Worse for the Al Goristas - the anti-AGW camp has a catchy slogan to hang their hat on: "Hide the Decline" - bad news for them as the marketing of that slogan will take on a life of its own.

From a socionomics point of view, this is not at all surprising that it occurred as this bear market rally begins to run on fumes. From a straight-up science point of view, transparency of the source codes and data sets are long, long overdue. From a legal point of view, some of the "scientists" appear to be pushing the limits and might even be obstructing justice when it comes to fighting FoI requests in the U.K.

The pro-AGW and anti-AGW camps of climate science have long been at war. Looks like the anti-AGW just dropped a multi-megaton thermonuclear warhead directly in the heart of the pro-AGW camp. We'll see how the pro-AGW camp responds. I expect they will only succeed in embarassing themselves.

By the way, this is a minor prelude to what I expect to happen with finance companies and wealthy families when this bear market rally dissolves into the next leg down of the Great Collapse.

Take notes folks, this is like the Spanish Civil War for the coming huge war on the elites that is brewing in the socionomic stew of anger, high unemployment, xenophobia and recrimination.

UPDATE: OMFG, I'm still laughing at this one. Hide the decline, folks...

h/t Watts Up With That

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Food for Anger and Conspiracy Worries

Why in the world did the cops go all Waco on this guy? Talk about fanning the flames of conspiracy theorists everywhere...

...unless, of course...

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Worries for the Coming Bear Era

The new issue of The Socionomist is out and the lead article holds up one of the dark demons of the past for us to think about as the West sleepwalks into the Great Collapse. Amazing research. Depressing as well as gripping. Looks like I'm going to have to start keeping up with DNA advances and the use of genetic testing as a way to keep an eye on things. My Google News topics are getting crowded...

A Socionomic Study of Eugenics: Will You Make the Cut?
by Alan Hall, The Socionomist, November 2009
...Most people think that the world has banished eugenics to the trash heap of bad ideas. But mounting evidence suggests that declining social mood will produce stronger expressions of dehumanization and social control than did even eugenics. There are three main reasons for this view: 1) Social mood clearly regulated the history of the eugenics movement in the United States and elsewhere. 2) The Wave Principle warns that the deepest bear market in social mood in 300 years is in progress. 3) Today's ideological undercurrents are similar to those of the early eugenics era. Now, as then, many intellectuals are wildlly optimistic about advances in genetics and fearful of impending social crises...

If the socionomic thesis is correct, and so far it has proven a very useful model, then the templates we as a society use to create the future may be as much Gattaca as Mad Max or Silent Spring.

Mr. Hall's discussion over a possible fusion of the environmental movement with a new genetics movement hits home as I have long believed that one of the hallmarks of this Great Bear Market is going to be a radicalized environmentalism that will burn to the ground much of the industrial materialism of the recently dead Supercylce Bull Market.

I Have Seen the Future, and it is Bankrupt

"I looked as hard as I could at how states could declare bankruptcy," said Michael Genest, director of the California Department of Finance who is stepping down at the end of the year. "I literally looked at the federal constitution to see if there was a way for states to return to territory status..."

A state looking to reorganize its relationship to the central government? Interesting.

I had expected more secessionist tendencies at this point than we have seen. Granted, we have a long way down to go, but an initial desire for Uncle Sugar to take back California as a territory (and, I assume, take on its finances? I am not versed on how territories operated. Hmmm) to make all that ooky debt go away and save California from her self-inflected pain is not the craziest thing I've seen come out of their debt crisis.

h/t Calculated Risk

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Peak Oil and Rock Music

The bright men and women over at the Socionomics Institute are well-known for finding relations between measures of social mood and everything from hemlines to movies.

Well, the Peak Oilers have gotten into the game as well with a fascinating chart at Overthinking It that contrasts oil production in the Lower 48 with Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

The Hubbert Peak Theory of Rock, or, Why We’re All Out of Good Songs
Overthinking It, 23 September 2009
Many rock purists and music snobs (myself included) often lament the quality of most modern pop/rock music. “Music these days is so trite and derivative,” they say. “It’s just been downhill since the 60’s and 70’s. Those were the days.”

A few years ago, Rolling Stone magazine added fuel to the music snobbery fire with its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. Anyone casually paging through the list would notice that the bulk of the list was comprised of songs from the 60’s and 70’s, just like the music snobs always say.

I, however, wasn’t content with the casual analysis. So I punched the list into Excel, crunched some numbers, and found an interesting parallel between the decline of rock music quality and, of all things, the decline in US oil discovery and production...

Peak oil. This huge bear market about to roll over. Now, song depletion. Rough times ahead for sure...

h/t The Oil Drum

Monday, November 9, 2009


In a sign (to me) that despite what the algos and taxpayer-financed banksters that are helping drive this rally higher think, mass social mood is decidedly negative and becoming darker every day.

That someone with Mike Ruppert's history could get so much favorable press and that this documentary could score as well as it did in Toronto screams out that something big is coming.

There is a growing audience out there is ready for ugly truths, for hard times, for disaster, for a Collapse.

Congrats to Mike.

Violence on the March

Yes, there will always be wars and rumors of wars. That said, it only takes a few percentage points more worth of violent crime to cost society huge amounts in terms of lives, costs for security, militarization of the police, draconian laws that wind up crushing the economy through restrictions and taxes.

The media is going to play the "lone gunman" refrain for quite awhile, I think, but there is more to it. Much more. Social mood is turning and Lind's Boomerang Effect thesis gives a dark foreshadowing of what we face in the coming years...

Seattle police: Suspect in slaying of officer is 'lone domestic terrorist'
(CNN) -- A suspect in the shooting of a Seattle, Washington, police officer is also believed to be behind the bombing of four police cars, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said at a press conference Saturday.

Christopher Monfort, 41, remained hospitalized in serious condition after being shot by officers during a confrontation Friday...

...Police named Monfort as a suspect in the Halloween night killing of Officer Tim Brenton, who was shot while sitting in his patrol car. A student officer was injured in the attack.

Investigators also suspect Monfort in the October 22 arson of four police vehicles with homemade explosives, Pugel said...

...Investigators found improvised explosive devices and two weapons, including a military assault rifle, inside Monfort's apartment, Pugel said. The suspect's car had not yet been searched....

Note how they are referring to Monfort as a terrorist - not a crazy gunman.

And let's not forget the potential for violence on a larger scale. This is almost certainly the tried and true ploy of whipping up a war frenzy to distract from problems at home, but it bears watching:

Chavez steps up Colombia war talk
from the BBC
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged his armed forces to be prepared for possible war with Colombia amid growing diplomatic and border tensions.
...Venezuela blames the tension with its neighbour on closer military ties between Colombia and the US.

Colombia says US forces are there to help in the fight against rebels and drug traffickers.

"Let's not waste a day on our main aim: to prepare for war and to help the people prepare for war, because it is everyone's responsibility," Mr Chavez said during his TV and radio show Alo, Presidente.

Mr Chavez has also ordered 15,000 troops to the border, citing increased violence by Colombian paramilitary groups.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Bogota, Colombia, says that normally such declarations would not cause alarm, but because of the current tensions there are fears of a possible spark on the border which could lead to further violence...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Must Reads

John Robb has a new set of links that are all must-reads, in my opinion. Take a few minutes and check them out.

For those of you keeping tabs on the building anger and making notes for the future show trials, pay special attention to the story about how Goldman Sachs got more H1N1 vaccine doses than Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

How can these bankster playerz be so blind? This is pouring gasoline on dry tinder and dancing on the woodpile, lit matches in hand kind of stupid.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some Good News

Good news on the innovation front. Another example of the vast potential to blow open the doors of innovation during the coming Bear Market. Lot's of smart men and women out there doing big things. Fun to see advances in a "market" that has always been dominated by government structures.

Rocketeers Win $1 Million in Lunar Lander Contest
By Tariq Malik, Managing Editor,
A California-based team of engineers has snagged a $1 million NASA prize by winning a pitched competition to fly homemade rockets on mock moon landing missions.

Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif., successfully flew its rocket Xoie (pronounced Zoey) twice within a set time limit to qualify for the top Level 2 prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, a NASA-sponsored contest to build mock lunar landers.

The Masten team beat longtime front-runner Armadillo Aerospace, a Texas-based team led by video game developer John Carmack, with precision flying on Oct. 30 that gave their Xoie vehicle the best landing accuracy of the multi-month competition. An award ceremony is set for Thursday in Washington, D.C....

There is much "doom" on the horizon for a lot of entrenched elites and interests. It certainly isn't all "gloom" though.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Week of Free Planning and Investment Resources

Elliott Wave International is hosting another "Free Week" and giving total access to their financial forecasting products for the next full week. These are not "teaser" reports, but the same stuff they charge hundreds of dollars to access. Most of you already take advantage of their work, so you know the score. If you have not taken advantage of EWI products before, now is the time.

Caveat: The usual - I am an EWI affiliate. If you sign up for the free EWI Club then I get a small credit, same if you buy a subscription. If you do not agree with this or find it too commercial or offensive, then please go ahead and go directly to the Elliott Wave International site (instead of clicking a link from my blog) and access Free Week from there. This information is too important to ignore - especially at this juncture in the financial markets. Take advantage of this offer, whether I get credit or not. Yes, in my opinion, arming yourself with this information is too important to get caught up in worrying about who gets credit for what and how.

For those skeptical of using the Wave Principle to help model the future, now is a time to stress test it for yourself.

From EWI:

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Founded in 1979 by Robert R. Prechter Jr., Elliott Wave International (EWI) is the world's largest market forecasting firm. Its staff of full-time analysts provides 24-hour-a-day market analysis to institutional and private around the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Individuals Swimming in the Mass Mood

Here at FutureJacked, we burn many a byte discussing the nature of "mass mood" or "social mood" and the huge waves that, according to the socionomics model, propel humanity along the herky-jerky path of excess and retrenchment that can be mapped out using the Wave Principle.

Theory and the many useful action items that can be derived from that theory aside, always remember that the individual matters most. The individual can wake up a bit and recognize his or her situation, he or she can estimate what the Crowd is doing and which particular cliff that Crowd is rushing towards.

And the individual can act.

Whether it is a Jewish family exiting Germany in the mid-1930's with diamonds sewn in the cuffs of their clothing or individuals making the decision to act in the face of rampant violence and establish some sort of civic peace or whether it is a man who sees financial madness about him and chooses to exit before the inevitable crash - individuals can make choices and act in the face of this creepy fog known as mass mood and they can pave the way for a brighter future.

Well, as the very bright mind that calls himself the Epicurean Dealmaker reminds us, individuals can also look out over the terrain and see the world they have helped create, the world in which they have thrived, being torn down by those they regard as mob-driven fools - and they can make a different type of decision. These individuals can decide that if regulators and demagogues want to burn down their world - finance, in this case - then why not pour gasoline over the most explosive parts of the system and drop a match on that son of a bitch.

Character Study
by The Epicurean Dealmaker

I have argued elsewhere at length that the bulk of commentators and regulators confronting the Panic of 2008 and its aftermath put far too much emphasis on the supposed causal effect misaligned compensation incentives had on these events. While these no doubt added to the problem in some instances, for the most part the focus on banker pay is poorly judged. Some of this error can be laid at the foot of natural envy, but some of it can be attributed to a fundamental misreading and simplification of the investment banker's character...

...These people are dangerous because they are smarter than you, because they are smarter than any regulator likely to be sent to control them, and because they hold in their hands the map and the controls to the vast and intricate system of pipes and valves which undergirds the global economy. Give them any reasonable set of legal and regulatory constraints—more stringent than the recent past, by all means, I implore you—and they will happily adapt and innovate around them in the future. Push them, and box them in, and reinstate Glass-Steagall if you must: they will grumble, but they will get over it.

But can you imagine what would happen if you pressed them too far? If you tried to turn the entire financial industry into a bunch of unionized, rule-bound clerks? These are personalities who do not go gentle into that good night. All you would need would be for one or two of them to decide they would rather watch the world burn than crawl into a hole.

And believe you me, you do not have enough water to put out that fire...

I might take issue at how much smarter some of these Wall Street playerz are than me, especially if you were to recall the atrocious state of underwriting that they helped foster in their psychopathic focus on obtaining riches and outscrewing the competition - but I will totally concede that there are many genius SOB Wall Street playerz who are feeling the pinch and all it would take would be a few to decide they wanted to pull the temple down with them, crushing their "enemies" to death along with themselves.

Mass mood is darkening. Very intelligent men and women who lord over the nexus of finance that allows the division of labor that keeps 300 million Americans alive and kicking to function are being pursued as criminals for behavior many of them regard as totally legal. All it would take is one or two to succumb to the anger and divisiveness that negative mass mood encourages to have ourselves a good old-fashioned market shitstorm.

Just a thought. Take the Epicurean Dealmaker seriously. He is in tune with the mood of the Wall Street playerz.

It also makes you wonder how in the hell we allowed ourselves to be boxed into a system in which all it takes is some incompetent underwriting and a few years of massive liquidity injections to put the whole system of finance, production and distribution at risk and at the mercy of maybe less than 100 individuals on Wall Street. Shit people, when we design nuclear reactors we always make sure the system is self-correcting, easy to shut down and does not allow for individual error to lead to catastrophic meltdown or a major reactivity event. You'd think that we would regard our system of finance with at least as much respect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Socionomics: Nonfiction Psychohistory

For you SF fans out there, Asimov's psychohistory concept is a compelling vision of what a discipline such as socionomics might some day provide.

For those of you just wanting a way to more accurately chart the murky waters of the coming dark days of the Great Bear Market, socionomics can at least provide you with the tenor of the coming times and a method of judging when to pull back and later when the time is right, what to invest your time and resources into - and why.

As an example, take a look at this graphic from the November issue of the Elliott Wave Financial Forecast:

Courtesy EWI, used with permission

Goldman is already becoming the scapegoat (and with very good reason, I might add) for the coming decline. Make sure you don't become collateral damage - either through ruined investments, ruined careers or dependence on financing from outfits like Goldman Sachs. Socioniomics gives a framework to explain what is coming and at least provide you with the kinds of events that will decorate that chart twenty years from now. Extrapolate this to other industries and you begin to see the value of the practice.

If you are in investment banking, this should give you pause. This young Bear Market we find ourselves in will be of an order of magnitude more intense - and that means a more intense reaction to High Finance and a correspondingly worse fallout.

If you are into investigative journalism, or aspire to producing documentaries or are wondering what professions to enter into, that graphic tells a different tale.