Friday, September 30, 2016

Tweets (Mainly) on Archives

Medium: On Archivy (Occasional Writings About the Archive).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

After the Debate: An Assortment of Tweets

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

India vs. Pakistan, etc.

While people are blathering about Skittles and Brangelina, CNN asks, "Could India and Pakistan Go to War?"

Lighter but still substantial:

"Your Vote for Jill Stein is a Wasted Vote."

"Your Vote For Jill Stein Is Not A Wasted Vote."

Krugman vs. Johnson

"The Myth of Gary Johnson" by someone named Judd Legum.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One could say the same of her.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Is he suggesting Obama unilaterally made gas cheaper?

Kunstler: Slowly, Then All at Once.

Kunstler: Slowly, Then All at Once.

The staggering incoherence of the election campaign only mirrors the shocking incapacity of the American public, from top to bottom, to process the tendings of our time. The chief tending is permanent worldwide economic contraction. Having hit the resource wall, especially of affordable oil, the global techno-industrial economy has sucked a valve in its engine.

For sure there are ways for human beings to inhabit this planet, perhaps in a civilized mode, but not at the gigantic scale of the current economic regime. The fate of this order has nothing to do with our wishes or preferences. It’s going down whether we like it or not because it was such a violent anomaly in world history and the salient question is: how do we manage our journey to a new disposition of things. Neither Trump or Clinton show that they have a clue about the situation.

The quandary I describe is often labeled the end of growth. The semantic impact of this phrase tends to paralyze even well-educated minds, most particularly the eminent econ professors, the Yale lawyers-turned-politicos, the Wall Street Journal editors, the corporate poobahs of the “C-Suites,” the hedge fund maverick-geniuses, and the bureaucratic errand boys (and girls) of Washington. In the absence of this “growth,” as defined by the employment and productivity statistics extruded like poisoned bratwursts from the sausage grinders of government agencies, this elite can see only the yawning abyss. The poverty of imagination among our elites is really something to behold.

As is usually the case with troubled, over-ripe societies, these elites have begun to resort to magic to prop up failing living arrangements. This is why the Federal Reserve, once an obscure institution deep in the background of normal life, has come downstage front and center, holding the rest of us literally spellbound with its incantations against the intractable ravages of debt deflation. (For a brilliant gloss on this phenomenon, read Ben Hunt’s essay “Magical thinking” at the Epsilon Theory website.)

One way out of this quandary would be to substitute the word “activity” for “growth.” A society of human beings can choose different activities that would produce different effects than the techno-industrial model of behavior. They can organize ten-acre farms instead of cell phone game app companies. They can do physical labor instead of watching television. They can build compact walkable towns instead of suburban wastelands (probably even out of the salvaged detritus of those wastelands). They can put on plays, concerts, sing-alongs, and puppet shows instead of Super Bowl halftime shows and Internet porn videos. They can make things of quality by hand instead of stamping out a million things guaranteed to fall apart next week. None of these alt-activities would be classifiable as “growth” in the current mode. In fact, they are consistent with the reality of contraction. And they could produce a workable and satisfying living arrangement.

The rackets and swindles unleashed in our futile quest to keep up appearances have disabled the financial operating system that the regime depends on. It’s all an illusion sustained by accounting fraud to conceal promises that won’t be kept. All the mighty efforts of central bank authorities to borrow “wealth” from the future in the form of “money” — to “paper over” the absence of growth — will not conceal the impossibility of paying that borrowed money back. The future’s revenge for these empty promises will be the disclosure that the supposed wealth is not really there — especially as represented in currencies, stock shares, bonds, and other ephemeral “instruments” designed to be storage vehicles for wealth. The stocks are not worth what they pretend. The bonds will never be paid off. The currencies will not store value. How did this happen? Slowly, then all at once..

We’re on a collision course with these stark realities. They are coinciding with the sickening vectors of national politics in a great wave of latent consequences built up by the sheer inertia of the scale at which we have been doing things. Trump, convinced of his own brilliance, knows nothing, and wears his incoherence like a medal of honor. Clinton literally personifies the horror of these coiled consequences waiting to spring — and the pretense that everything will continue to be okay with her in the White House (not). When these two gargoyle combatants meet in the debate arena a week from now, you will hear nothing about the journey we’re on to a different way of life..

But there is a clear synergy between the mismanagement of our money and the mismanagement of our politics. They have the ability to amplify each other’s disorders. The awful vibe from this depraved election might be enough to bring down markets and banks. The markets and banks are unstable enough to affect the election.

In history, elites commonly fail spectacularly. Ask yourself: how could these two ancient institutions, the Democratic and Republican parties, cough up such human hairballs? And having done so, do they deserve to continue to exist? And if they go up in a vapor, along with the public’s incomes and savings, what happens next?

Enter the generals.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Some Links

(Update: I removed the tweet mentioning the book The End of the Vietnamese Monarchy and the tweet by Lillias White, singer. I added a few on kale guacamole.)

Merkel Suffers Drubbing in Berlin Vote.

"Merkel to drop 'We can do this' from her speeches."

Watching Wonder Woman last night with Leif Garrett guest-starring as twin singers, I learned of this song by him:

From the 1978 album Feel the Need (Scotti Brothers Records).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A PeakProsperity Interview with Kunstler

Why Kunstler seems to harp on money, finance, etc. He discusses the presidential race too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Plants

are doing well. I hope to take and post photos soon.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kunstler: Signs of Desperation.

Kunstler: Signs of Desperation.

Idiocy and mendacity are a bad combo in the affairs of nations, especially in elections. The present case in the USA displays both qualities to near-perfection: on one side, a boorish pseudo-savior in zero command of ideas; on the other side, a wannabe racketeer-in-chief in full command of her instinctive deceit. Trump offers incoherent rhetoric in opposition to the current dismal order of things; Clinton offers empty, pandering rhetoric in defense of that order. Both represent an epic national drive toward political suicide.

The idiocy and mendacity extend to the broad voting public and the discredited elites pretending to run the life of the nation. The American public has never been this badly educated and more distracted by manufactured trivia. They know next to nothing. Even college seniors can’t name the Secretary of State or find Switzerland on a map. They don’t know in what century the Civil War took place. They couldn’t tell you whether a hypotenuse is an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. Their right to vote is a danger to themselves.

The elites operate in their own twilight zone of ignorance, only at a loftier level, flying on wings of sheepskin. Submitted for your approval: Harvard wizard Kenneth Rogoff’s new book, The Curse of Cash. This is the latest salvo in the international campaign to herd all money into the control of central banks and central governments, supposedly to make central planning of the economy more effective — but really for the purpose of extending the fallacy that the mis-pricing of credit and collateral (that is, of everything) can save the current incarnation of crony capitalism, and more to the point, save the fortunes of the racketeers running it, along with the reputations of their intellectual errand boys. Henceforth, all “money” transactions would be traceable, allowing unprecedented power for authorities to regulate the lives of citizens.

It remains to seen whether the American public might be snookered into this scheme, which already has some traction in Europe. Of course, Europe is headed into some interesting political heavy weather of its own in the months ahead, and there is plenty of reason to think that even the docile people of Denmark and Sweden might eventually revolt against the central bank regime if they see the Germans do it.

Aggravating matters is the hyper-complexity of our current financial arrangements, much of it in the service of deliberately mystifying the masses. Does the public understand the rationale behind zero interest rate policy (ZIRP)? Not any more than they understand the interaction of gluons and quarks or the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is one of the abiding mysteries of our time, for instance, that a group like AARP, purporting to represent the interests of retired persons, has offered not a peep of pushback to ZIRP, which has pounded retired people dependent on savings into penury. Of course, this might be explained by the pervasive racketeering feature of our current national life: AARP is an insurance racket masquerading as a citizen interest group. Or, stretching credulity to suppose that AARP is honest, perhaps the org’s executives don’t understand that zero interest on savings equals zero income to savers.

Kenneth Rogoff tries to justify his war on cash by invoking two of the era’s favorite bogymen: terrorists and drug dealers. Cash, he says, allows this axis of evil to do its thing(s). This is a ruse, of course. If currency is eliminated, these outfits will turn to gold and silver, it’s that simple. And so will everybody else, by the way. The real reason to abolish cash and herd all money into central banks is to permit the authorities to confiscate it one way or another, either by unavoidable taxation or by “bail-ins” — declaring deposits to be “unsecured loans” that can be repudiated in the event of a financial “accident.”

The results are already in for this experiment: “money” becomes more and more dishonest, that is, it cannot be trusted to represent what it pretends to stand for: an index of account and a store of value. Its role as the basis of capital formation is so impaired that real capital (i.e. wealth) cannot be generated, meaning that none of the credit issued as “money” will ever be paid back. Zero interest rate policy eventually equals zero interest paid. “Money” based on loans that won’t be paid back loses its legitimacy. Herding all the “money” onto central bank computers only allows for more three-card-monte maneuvers to conceal the bezzle. It would be much harder to hide the destruction of value in circulating paper currency. Eliminating currency as a medium of exchange can only lead to the repudiation of “money” — which will beat a quick path to the repudiation of all authority. And there is your recipe for really suicidal political disorder.

One more thing this week: why exactly are America’s Clinton-invested political elites inveighing so strenuously against Russia and its president, Mr. Putin? The US has gone out of its way to provoke Russia militarily the past several years. We foolishly sponsored the revolution in Ukraine that has left it a failed state — and which prompted Russia to reclaim the Crimea, historically its own territory and the site of its strategically crucial warm water ports. We continue to run NATO war game exercises along Russia’s borders. We fly surveillance planes in their airspace and then act surprised when Russia sends up fighters to remind us where we are. We hold naval exercises in the Black Sea and wonder why the Russians buzz us. Are we out of our minds? How would we act if the Russians flew their planes over Catalina Island or held naval war games off Hampton Roads? Who does the US policy elite think they’re kidding?

These memes in financial and foreign policy are dangerously crazy and dishonest. They are doing a good job of making the US political establishment look like a claque of fools and outlaws, and laying a red carpet for the election of Trump, the fake savior… the apotheosis of the fabled Greater Fool.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Not This Year

One may or may not agree with the premise of this column, but I like that he points out the good in Johnson and Stein. It's a refreshing change from the countless posts about how clueless and bad they are.

Blood Sand

You made the right choice.

9/11, Fifteen Years Later

On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, what else can be said?

Construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower began in August 1968, and the South Tower in 1969. Extensive use of prefabricated components helped to speed up the construction process. The first tenants moved into the North Tower in December 1970 and into the South Tower in January 1972. Four other low-level buildings were constructed as part of the World Trade Center in the 1970s, and a seventh building was constructed in the mid-1980s.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Figuring Out Twitter Background Photos, Part 1

In case you wondered what was that photo Nancy Nall uses as the background for her Twitter. I knew it was a heavily-marked up page from a speech, then I figured it was an Obama speech about health care.

Obama Revisions."

The photo itself.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Aleppo Gaffe

"Gary Johnson's Aleppo Gaffe Is an Inexcusable Blunder, But Hardly Unique to Presidential Candidates."

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

CliFi and Other Things

A new genre, clifi (climate fiction):

U.S.-Russia Crosstalk.

U.S.-Russia Crosstalk.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Kunstler: A Pleasant Lull.

Kunstler: A Pleasant Lull.

A pleasant lull lies over the land where today fewer people labor honestly — and some labor gruelingly for too little — while a matrix of rackets sustains the illusion that our living arrangements have a future. Is Quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the minds of the millions moiling around their backyard barbeques? I applaud his refusal to stand for the national anthem, though not for the reasons he stated. Rather, because I’m sick of vulgar symbolism in a dark moment of a fraying culture that demands more than cheap talk and lame gestures.

In case you’re wondering, the reason we’re subject to all these repetitions of The Star Spangled Banner is not for love-of-country but something quite the opposite: the fear that its promises are empty. Ever wonder why every public official in the land has to wear a flag lapel pin? Should it be necessary for the president of the US to signal his devotion to duty? Wouldn’t we normally just assume this to be the case? No, it signals the widespread and generalized anxiety that the national condition is dire and that we don’t have the confidence or the clarity to face the challenges of the time. President Obama might as well wear a crucifix or a bulb of garlic in his lapel.

In this presidential election year especially, Labor Day serves as a sort of collective deep breath before the plunge into a season of political anguish. The number of potential voters disgusted with the choice between two clueless monsters of egotism must be epic. If WalMart held a sale on bullshit filters, they might stand a chance of turning a Q3 profit. Otherwise, expect economic performance to be increasingly frightening even if The New York Times and CNN continue to spin out tales of unicorns jumping rainbows.

Events, not personalities, are going to demonstrate where things are at in the late-stage techno-industrial crack-up at hand. The shamans at the Federal Reserve have exhausted their repertoire of incantations for levitating the financial markets and, more ominously, the value of the US dollar. The prankish god they serve has arranged things so that the very faith needed to sustain their illusory influence will run down the drain as November 8 creeps closer. They must be getting awfully nervous down at the Eccles Building.

The sudden bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Company [Link added by me.--P.Z.] ought to send shivers down the scaly spines of globalism’s cheerleaders. Fragility is everywhere in this unraveling network of gigantic, far-flung promises and obligations. The former middle class of America has lost its ability to absorb anymore smart phones or Kardashian brand Pure Glitz hairspray©. They’re pacing grooves in the faux hardwood floors of their McHomes through reams of unpayable bills trying to stave off the re-po squad while Grandma slips into a diabetic coma. These are the good folks who supposedly comprise 70 percent of the so-called economy, a.k.a. “consumers.” You can stick a fork in them — and maybe we’ll hear a few reports of that on Tuesday when the holiday barbeques smolder their last.

More concerning, though, are the conditions of the banks. When their true insolvency is revealed — which may coincide with the height of the election season — look out below. The bankruptcy of one measly shipping company will look like a zit on the ass of a diving blue whale as countless trade operations seize up for lack of confidence that they will ever be paid. Then what?

Then we are forced to pay attention to the actual dynamics now at work in the world. Or be driven crazy by our refusal to get with the program. I tend to think we’ll opt for the latter. We’re too unused to reality. We’d rather crash and burn than change anything about our behavior, or even our perception. Both Trump and Hillary are perfect avatars for this date with a hard landing. The disorder both of them are capable of inducing will be a spectacle for the ages.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Eddie Money feat. Ronnie Spector, "Take Me Home Tonight."

Released in August 1986 off the Can't Hold Back album, "Take Me Home Tonight" was Eddie Money's biggest hit, peaking at number four. It brought Ronnie Spector to a new audience. And its enduring popularity as an arena-rock staple means a rendition by some high-spirited young men in Tom Boggioni's neighborhood this Labor Day weekend annoys him no end.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Some Things

I've been growing a tamarind seedling over the past two months and repotted it yesterday. It might be several years before it matures and yields fruit, but it's nice to see it develop. Some other plants we have weren't doing that well till I built up the soil simply by putting fallen leaves in their pots.

Le Pen promises a referendum on the EU if she's elected president.

Barbra Streisand's new album Encore debuted atop the charts.

---Streisand’s real triumph here is that her numbers were entirely from sales, not streaming. She sold 150,000 CDs and digital downloads. Her streaming numbers were minimal.

Waking up early Wednesday, I turned on MTV and saw the video for this song, also called "Barbra Streisand", (which I've never heard of, and thought was new).

The Wall Street Journal: "Oklahoma Earthquake Felt in Several U.S. States, as Oil Wells Draw Scrutiny."

Temblor of 5.6-magnitude centered in area tied to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas drilling

USA Today: Oklahoma Quake Prompts Shutdown of Gas-Linked Wells.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Lull Between T.S. Madeline and Hurricane Lester

Hurricane Madeline was downgraded to a tropical storm and swept the island yesterday. There were heavy rains and high winds, especially in Waimea, Kawaihae, Waikoloa, and South Point (Ka Lae). Most of the town was closed as a precaution. Hurricane Lester is nearing the island. As of yesterday afternoon, it was a category three hurricane on a west-northwest path. Lester is forecast to weaken to a category one as it passes by the island to the north.