Wednesday, June 30, 2010

East Texas Doomstead

Anyone interested in a turnkey survival retreat, George Ure has his East Texas ranch up for sale - equipment and solar panels included:

George Ure Ranch Sale

It's not quite the Vivos Underground Shelter, but it looks like a nice place to ride out the storm...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Just Broke Dow 10,000! Oh, Wait...

Well, I put my increasingly worn Dow 10,000 rally cap back in the drawer today. Please continue to watch the DJIA 9850 level and S&P 1040. A significant break under those levels spells real trouble - in my opinion (this should in no way be construed as trading advice - this is just me discussing the markets used as a measuring stick for socionomic modeling purposes only).

NIL?

No incumbents left?

Seems like a radical notion to float before the upcoming elections given the track record of the politburoesque nature of incumbents getting re-elected. After a shakeup in the South Carolina primaries, some are starting to think that maybe, just maybe, we may be on the verge of a big shift in the political scene:

South Carolina: Outlier or National Precursor?
By Patrick Caddell and Kendra Stewart
The character of South Carolina has always been distinguished by one very important trait – preserving the status quo. Except for once in a blue moon when it does something truly revolutionary, like starting a civil war. In keeping with this character it has historically been most resistant to reform...

...So what is to be made of this month’s primary and run-off elections?

This past Tuesday represents a New Day in South Carolina politics. A conservative, Bible-belt state known for its past resistance to civil rights and its current lack of women in elected office (ranked 50th on this front) strongly supported an Indian-American woman for the state’s highest office and an African-American man for an overwhelmingly white Congressional district. Even more interesting in both cases these candidates were chosen by the Republican primary voters over white men representing the epitome of the South Carolina “good-ole boy” establishment. Beyond this, in the primary and run-off elections, we witnessed a wholesale dispatchment of some of the best known politicians of both parties and the selection of a number of improbable candidates, highlighted by Alvin Greene’s Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate...

The socionomic model tells us that when mood enters a negative phase, we can expect those holding office to get the blame and be removed, one way or another:

If mood declines at the rate and to the depths I expect, we could very well see an enormous ousting of incumbents this fall. We still don't know if mood will collapse before then - though I personally expect it - and political changes can be tough to call sometimes as we still aren't sure where the anger will be channeled, who the scapegoats will be and how the social and political structures will hold up under the pressure.

South Carolina may just wind up being an outlier if we continue to muddle along in this mildly net-negative mood phase, but should the markets head south, then all bets are off. For those of you planning a political career, now might be the time to start building those networks. 2012 could be your year...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Monday

Let's start the week off with a great quote from Jim Kunstler's jeremiad for the week:

...Earth to President Obama: there isn't going to be a next time. This time was enough to git 'er done. Wall Street - in particular the biggest "banks" - packaged up and sold enough swindles to unwind 2500 years of western civilization. You simply cannot imagine the amount of bad financial paper out there right now in every vault and portfolio on the planet. Enough, really, to sink any company even pretending to trade in things more abstract than a mud brick or an hour of labor. What's more, the cross-collateralized obligations between them are so vast and intricate that all the standing timber in North America could not be fashioned into enough pick-up sticks to represent the hideous death-dealing tangle of frauds waiting for the wing-beat of a single black swan to come crashing down...

Be aware of your surroundings. Enjoy the moment. Perhaps we muddle through the summer, drunkenly teetering on the abyss. The Collapse is coming, but angels watch over children and drunks and we as a nation have been on an historic bender for quite awhile now. Use each day to prepare yourself in some way - be it mentally, physically or with "stuff."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dummies and Risk

I can't figure out under which socionomic category to file this story:

DiNapoli sues BP over investment losses from oil-spill disaster
by Eric Reinhardt
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced today he has hired a law firm to represent the New York State Common Retirement Fund in a class-action lawsuit against London-based BP, p.l.c. (NYSE: BP).

The state-pension fund will seek lead-plaintiff status in the action that stems from BP's explosion and spill at its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico...

...The fund held more than 19 million shares of BP, valued at more than $1.1 billion, at the time of the explosion April 20, according to DiNapoli. BP's share price has declined by about 50 percent since then...

Should it be under anger, for the legal actions on behalf of a pension fund manager whose guts have turned to ice water as the "value" declines? Under magical thinking for this fund manager who thinks that stocks only go up, that return is not commensurate with risk and everyone lives in a world of magical unicorns and the money fairy defecates 8.5% returns on everyone, every year for all eternity? Or under WTF since we are back to another example of just how insipid, callow and clueless the "best and brightest" that are "in charge" of our financial institutions truly are?

So much to choose from...

h/t Zero Hedge

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rejection and Secession

One theme we can expect to see dominate world affairs in the coming decades is that of secession and revolution. This is fairly standard stuff called for by the socionomic model and there was a two-part study in The Socionomist on this very topic in the January and February 2010 issues.

It seems a rather pat formula - tensions, anger, xenophobia, polarization all increase as mood enters a negative phase. This can and will break down political and social entites built in times of harmony, goodwill and positive mood. It can be relatively civilized (see the breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia) or it can tortuous (witness the disintegration of Yugoslavia and, a century and half ago the attempted move towards independence by the Southern portions of these currently United States).

However, it wasn't until I ran across this article in the Sunday Times that another model presented itself - large political entities making the conscious decision to cut loose smaller components once the "carrying costs" of holding them in union become too high.

Jeremy Clarkson: Surgery to solve the deficit – cut off Scotland
As we know, the country is in a terrible mess, and as a result, the head of every government department has been told to go away and implement cuts.

This all sounds very sensible but because I’m a television presenter, I know it won’t work...

...You are no longer performing liposuction on fat. You’re cutting away at bone and muscle. Important stuff. You are bringing it in on budget but the finished product won’t stand up. Think of it, if you like, as a hospital with no electricity. It’s still a hospital but it’s not much use if the iron lungs don’t work...

...Obviously, I would suggest the Department of Energy and Climate Change because it’s silly, when times are tight, to have a whole ministry attempting to manage something over which humankind has no control. It’d be like having a Department of Jupiter.

But the climate change department is relatively small, and cutting that when you are a trillion in debt would be like trying to solve a £50,000 overdraft by not having your hair cut any more. No, Cameron and the shoeshine boy need to lose something big and I believe I have the answer: Scotland.

Let us examine the benefits of this. In the last election the Scottish National party, which wants independence from England, took nearly 20% of the vote in Scotland. Add this lot to the non-voters who also want to go their own way and you realise there is significant support north of the border for Hadrian’s Wall to be rebuilt...

Now, I do think Mr. Clarkson is being a bit tongue in cheek in his efforts to illustrate just how massive some of the cuts are going to be in the United Kingdom in the coming months and years, but his "modest proposal" did spark some intriguing thoughts.

This would be like the U.S. cutting loose Florida because oil spill cleanup costs become too vast and the drain on Medicare and Social Security becomes too great. Unthinkable? It certainly would be to most - during phases of net positive social mood like the one we in the U.S. have been in since Appomattox.

What if the economic situation got so bad in a variety of countries that a central government used an existing, even if marginal, "independence party movement" as an excuse to boot out a member province/state in an effort to save the core provinces/states the expense and drain on the economy? What if, instead of fighting tooth and nail to keep an empire together, these governments decided to conduct "spin-offs" and toss portions out into the geopolitical marketplace? There would be many security and economic factors that would inform such a calculus, but the net answers might favor dissolution in some cases.

Imagine a U.S. that enters a severely "isolationist" period after an economic collapse. Would it be unthinkable to cut loose Hawai'i if a few bombs got set off by an independence-minded group? Yes, unthinkable today, but who knows what the future will bring? And if I am the leader of an independence group, wouldn't I want to play up the benefits to turning my particular state/province loose? I'd play up the welfare and defense costs, downplay the benefits and add it to the mix of negative mood and economic collapse. Who knows what sort of beast might emerge from that stew?

Just a thought as you scan the headlines in the coming years...

Friday, June 18, 2010

BP is Clueless

I continue to watch in stunned amazement as BP continues its campaign of begging to be the #1 scapegoat for the coming storm of anger that will accompany the next wave down in mood and markets. Seriously, these are the best and brightest that the international elite produce in the "best" schools and "best" corporate training programs? Really?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Say It Out Loud

Say it out loud with me: "British Petroleum, a foreign corporation, responsible for a massive disaster, is hiring mercenaries to serve on U.S. soil to prevent exercise of the First Amendment by local news agencies."

Now I think I have a shred of emotional understanding of what helps fuel MEND.

More on the Mechanics of Handling the Breakdown


Here is an intriguing talk by Paul Romer on his efforts to establish "charter cities" in impoverished nations. If the folks over at Elliott Wave International have the wave count correct, that category of nation will soon include nearly every country on earth.

The Atlantic has an in-depth article on this as well:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty
by Sebastian Mallaby, The Atlantic
...Elegant, bespectacled, geekishly curious in a boyish way, Romer is not the kind of person you might picture armed with a two-handed flanged mace, cutting down Slavic marauders. But he is bent on cutting down an adversary almost as resistant: the conventional approach to development in poor countries. Rather than betting that aid dollars can beat poverty, Romer is peddling a radical vision: that dysfunctional nations can kick-start their own development by creating new cities with new rules—L├╝beck-style centers of progress that Romer calls “charter cities.” By building urban oases of technocratic sanity, struggling nations could attract investment and jobs; private capital would flood in and foreign aid would not be needed. And since Henry the Lion is not on hand to establish these new cities, Romer looks to the chief source of legitimate coercion that exists today—the governments that preside over the world’s more successful countries. To launch new charter cities, he says, poor countries should lease chunks of territory to enlightened foreign powers, which would take charge as though presiding over some imperial protectorate. Romer’s prescription is not merely neo-medieval, in other words. It is also neo-colonial...

This is the exciting part of the coming collapse. There will moments, when the chaos looks to be at its worst or the poverty to be so deep and vast that seemingly nothing can reverse the fall, that hard decisions made by strong leaders will shape the recovery to come. Who knows what the political and social landscape will look like when we start rebuilding, but charter cities could certainly be a part of that solution.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More BP

I continue to track the BP oil spill catastrophe because I think it is the perfect story to absorb much of the coming anger this year. Check out this clip over at The Oil Drum of an interview with Matthew Simmons that I recommend watching.

If BP truly is not getting out the whole story (which appears to be the case from the size of the spill and from the nature of these very large underwater plumes) they are going to be crucified over the coming months and years as the truth leaks out.

Brittle Security

This is a few days old but worth commenting on. A few days back a large federal office building was evacuated when a package of decorative eggs was suspected to be an explosive device.

The incident, while a limited inconvenience, is a glaring example of what I regard as the "brittle" nature of how security is currently handled in the U.S. By brittle I mean that the systems and incentives put into place to "guard" infrastructure are set to "trip" at a very low level. This is justified by the legal pressures of potential lawsuits, the trap of regarding more guards, guns and restrictions and a general attitude that bad things should never be allowed to happen anywhere at anytime, as if the Savior State could ever somehow implement that. By always defaulting to an extreme response, you actually build up a complacency that could pave the way for true tragedies down the road (the Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome).

The three factors cited above feed ravenously on the negative mood that the socionomics model tells us is consuming much of the world. Expect more of this as angry individuals and groups can easily leverage this low-threshold of extreme response by sending their own "suspicious" packages, constantly disrupting operations at large facilities - all without the hassle of real explosives or other agents.

In the end, it will feed another aspect of negative mood and that is the decentratilization of many functions of governance. Instead of a single office building or office park with thousands of employees confined in an easily disrupted central location, we will see a diffusion of authority (de facto at first, de jure later), a radically down-sized and dispersed employee base and continued attempts by angry groups to disrupt what remains of large and obvious symbols of central control.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pessimism

I've been out of town at a conference, come back and have missed a lot, apparently. If you want yet another example of negative mood, check out this New York Times editorial:

Should This Be the Last Generation?
By Peter Singer
Have you ever thought about whether to have a child? If so, what factors entered into your decision? Was it whether having children would be good for you, your partner and others close to the possible child, such as children you may already have, or perhaps your parents? For most people contemplating reproduction, those are the dominant questions. Some may also think about the desirability of adding to the strain that the nearly seven billion people already here are putting on our planet’s environment. But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself...

The author tries to keep a positive spin at the end, but a year or two hence, stuff like this might possibly be the norm in philosopical circles.

More posts to come after I get caught up.

h/t Mike Ruppert on the article.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remain Calm, All is Well



Over the weekend, let's keep an eye on some of the bigger fault lines out there:


Surfing the Wave of Negative Mood in a Lifeboat

Here's another shining example of how negative sentiment is growing and unfolding. Mike Ruppert, who has been pounding the drum of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization for some time is lauching Collapsenet next week.

From the press release:

May 21, 2010 – CollapseNet ™, a long-anticipated new effort from internationally-recognized author, lecturer and activist Michael C. Ruppert, will officially launch on Tuesday June 8, 2010. The site will be a first-of-its-kind effort to promote the rapid and focused sharing of information between millions around the world who are preparing for the collapse of human industrial civilization – The Lifeboat Movement...

...The collapse of human industrial civilization will bring with it a host of unforgiving challenges including the breakdown of governments, economic collapse, the end of fiat currency, massive civil unrest, displaced populations, permanent blackouts, infrastructure failures, fresh water shortages, famine, war, widespread disease and suffering. The tragedy of Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico has drastically reduced what time there is to prepare and forever changed the global playing field. It has unleashed an immediate host of unforeseen and unforgiving new challenges...

If negative mood is as far advanced as I think, Collapsenet should meet with strong success.

It sounds like something worth looking into even for those who may not believe that we'll lose Industrial Civilization but just see a massive collapse and reordering of the social, agricultural, manufacturing and political landscape that paves the way for another wave of progress... several decades or a century hence.

Check it out. For those (like me) worried about the brittle nature of how the U.S. feeds itself and of the nature of the supply chains altogether, there may be something here for us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

As an aside

Every now and then the blog goes dark for awhile as I work on various stuff in my day job. One of my recent projects has been to work on a patent I co-authored a few years ago on a device to produce medical isotopes that normally need a nuclear reactor - without the reactor. This week we finally got the licensing deal done.

AMIC Signs Exclusive Global license for "Sub-Critical System" to Produce Mo-99
KENNEWICK, Wash., June 3, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation ("AMIC") (OTCQB:ADMD), a company engaged in the production and distribution of medical isotopes, is delighted to announce the execution of an exclusive world-wide license for patented technology for a 'sub-critical system' relating to generating clinically relevant quantities of radioisotopes
(including Mo-99)...

We are working to secure funding for the prototype now. Heck of a time for a pink sheets company to be asking for money, though. The initial prototype runs looked great. Here's hoping the coming Wave 3 down can hold off for another month or two...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Senators Begin Sharpening Their Knives

BP is one screwed pooch:

BP Should Suspend Annual Dividend, U.S. Senators Say
By Jim Efstathiou Jr.
June 2 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc should suspend its annual dividend until clean-up and liability costs from its leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico are known, two U.S. senators said today.

A payment would be “unfathomable” until the cost is tallied, Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Charles Schumer of New York said in a letter to BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward. BP will promise to maintain the 56-cent-a- share annual dividend this week, the Times of London reported today without citing its source. BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams declined to comment on the newspaper report. BP paid $10.5 billion in dividends last year, according to its annual report...

If/when this happens - what impact would that have on pension funds and folks relying on dividend income from BP? I wonder what the effects on British pensioners would be?

The Queen's oil company is caught between a pack of rabid senators on one side desperate for a cause that can distract angry voters from their own simpering incompetence, a continuing calamity in the Gulf on the other side, and is hamstrung by public relations failures like the gone-viral-on-Facebook quote (if it is accurate) from Randy Prescott where he states "Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp."

I still believe this event could galvanize an odd alliance between enviromentalist groups, pro-gun Southerners and politicians at all levels to dismember BP. The potential for the anger to spill over into violence is quite real and if we see mood collapse, along with the stock market, then the need for scapegoats will intensify.

What is the over/under for the length of time before we see BP's U.S. assets nationalized? Six months? Nine?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Great Quote

Here's a gem from John Michael Greer as he ponders a World After Abundance and the lack of vision being shown by most as we approach the coming Great Collapse:

That’s the problem, ultimately, with driving headlong at a brick wall; you can stop by standing on the brake pedal, or you can stop by hitting the wall, but either way, you’re going to stop.