Sunday, October 31, 2010


Happy Halloween folks.  I hope you enjoy whatever your day brings. 

This year, Halloween will be the third scariest day of the week.  Second is Tuesday, election day, and the scariest day will be Wednesday, November 3rd, when the Federal Open Market Committee has its meeting to (probably) decide on whether or not they proceed with Quantitative Easing (QE) or not. 
That the economists…can explain neither prices nor the rate of interest nor even agree what money is reminds us that we are dealing with belief not science.
-James Buchan, Frozen Desire (1997)
(h/t to Seeking Alpha

If they decide to do this, it's powerful testimony to the idea that, "our theory didn't work, so let's try it again, only harder!"  This will be the official second round of QE, although it has never really stopped.  Bernanke and the Fed claim that inflation is running under 2% per year (obviously, they have not gone grocery shopping) and they think printing more money out of thin air, thereby devaluing it, will just fix everything right up.   Never mind that our biggest creditor, the PRC, is already warning us not to - and backing it up with the opening rounds of a trade war.  I've commented on the inflation making its way into food and commodity prices already; recent numbers show the following increases this year

  • Corn: Up 63%
  • Wheat: Up 84%
  • Soybeans: Up 24%
  • Sugar: Up 55%
Since grains (including soy) are animal feed, how can that not cause the prices of poultry, beef and pork to rise? That's not all: there are several indicators that food may be in short supply next year, further increasing prices. 

Peter Schiff of EuroPacific Capital, one of the folks who predicted the mortgage crisis, is saying "QE2 Will Sink Just Like The Titanic". 

If they go ahead with QE2, it will be another attack on savers.  The whole idea is to get you go out spending again, which will just create another bubble that will burst like all the others ever have.   There are many reasons for the economic hole we're in right now, but the biggest reason is the Federal Reserve itself.

Here's the strange part: let's say that the stupid party wins really big on Tuesday.  There's a chance that Ron Paul may get the power to audit the Fed, and get to the bottom of some of the crap that's going on. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Project Underway

I've been a little quiet lately because I've been a little busier lately.  I have a new project underway, making an AR-15 from an 80% lower and a pile of parts.  Thanks to the fine folks at Colfax Tactical, I have a lower receiver forging on the CNC mill and I'm in the process of finishing the last 20% that makes the lower receiver functional. 

Why this project?  First off, as someone observed before, "ARs are like potato chips: you can't stop at one".  My main use for my AR has been remote paper punching, and I'd like to have another with a longer barrel (mine is 16").  A second reason is the answer to "why climb that mountain?".  I enjoy doing things in the shop, I have a CNC milling machine, a drill press and everything I need to take on this project, so why not?  Finally, under BATFE rules, the lower receiver is what constitutes a gun, and an 80% lower is not useful enough to be considered a firearm.  It's a paperweight which can be bought without an FFL transfer.  So for a few hours of work in the shop, you can turn a paperweight and a handful of springs and things into something very useful. Once you turn it into a gun, you don't legally need to put a serial number on it; it's probably easier to put a number on it than to explain to the nice officer why your gun doesn't have a serial number!
I elected to buy the optional fixture that Colfax sells, because this is my first one.  Perhaps if there are more in the future, I'll work with the raw castings/forgings.  The first step is to center the drilling guide over the area that will be hollowed out - this is the fire control pocket, where the trigger and safety are located.  This photo shows me marking the hole locations on my drill press.  Once that was done, I moved it to the milling machine.

Once it was on the milling machine, I immediately discovered that the work holding clamps for the mill wouldn't securely grab the fixture, so I had to go back over to the drill press and modify the fixture.  This clamp is holding onto a 1/4-20 machine screw that wasn't there. I had to drill and tap the holes for it to make the fixture usable to me.  There's one on each end. 

The first holes to drill out will become the trigger slot.  These need to have 1/8" guide holes through drilled, followed by a 5/16" drill, all the way through the forging.  All of the rest of  the marks will get 1/8" and then some get 3/8" holes drilled to "hog out" most of the metal.  A drill is pretty much the fastest way to remove metal, especially for a small, low horse power mill like this.  
Both of these pictures were taken while drilling (specifically, running a CNC G83 "Peck Drill" cycle), but the flash froze the motion.

That's the latest here at Castle Graybeard.  I'll update it as I move along.  For those interested in more info, besides commenting here or email to my blog account, you can find information at the CNC Guns forums, and main web site.  As far as I know, I'm the first person to do this on a Sherline mill.  Well, hybrid Sherline and A2Z CNC mill.

Edit:  10/30 2235   That dastardly typo gremlin edited my post after I put it up.  I swear that little guy gets me all the time. :-D  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Other Side

Frank, over at IMAO, (a very funny guy and place) embeds a video that we all ought to see.  I'll wait: it's only 2:49 long.  I don't want to embed that here and give the guy more publicity.  The anger in the comments is interesting reading in its own right. 

So his conclusion is that because one guy at a Rand Paul rally over-reacted and pinned someone down at their shoulder, the liberals should lay in arms and ammo for the riots that are to come from the "Rethugnant Ones" (real clever, that).  I have a couple of reactions to this: my first one is that his diatribe is demonstrably full of lies; first off, the guy who pinned the protester down  is being charged ( by the way, the protester, Lauren Valle, is a professional left wing activist who was probably trying to get assaulted to make Paul supporters look bad), and second off, for every right wing attack anyone with a few minutes and a search engine can stack up left wing attacks like firewood. 

My second thought is: you didn't think the coming North American War Games was going to be a merry band of three percenters against the leviathan, did you?  The battle space is much more involved than that.  Guys like this YouTube "Legend in His Own Mind" are the most visible version of the Mutant Zombie Bikers we've read about.  In fact, if you haven't read that link about just how prevalent this attitude is, you should.   

While not a pacifist, I'm not looking to shoot first.  Unless they pull up on my lawn or try to get in my doors; in which case "fortune favors the bold".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

News From Glorious People's Automotive Collective Number 1!!

A while back, I riffed about the Chevy Volt, the glorious electric car from People's Automotive Collective Number 1.  My point was that the car is extremely overpriced, and you'd really have to drive extreme amounts to re-coup the cost of buying one in saved gas, compared to a reasonable family car.  That puts it in the category of smug-mobile for the vast majority of people. 

Part of the selling of this car is that it isn't a hybrid.  Oh, no, monkey-boy, this is an All Electric Car.  That gasoline powered engine you see?  That's just in there to top off the battery.  Which is good, because although it is several thousand dollars more than the Nissan Leaf, which is entirely electric, it is around twice the price of a similarly sized hybrid car. 

It turns out, that's not exactly true.  Actually, not even remotely true.  A few of these are out for the reviewers to drive and reports are filtering into the press.  It turns out, the engine is used quite a bit. 
Volt engineers are now admitting that when the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack runs down and at speeds near or above 70 mph, the Volt's gasoline engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors. That's not charging the battery — that's driving the car. (emphasis added - GB)
At this point, it's a hybrid.  Remember that talk about it getting the equivalent of 230 miles per gallon?
Popular Mechanics found the Volt to get about 37.5 mpg in city driving, and Motor Trend reports: "Without any plugging in, (a week long trip to Grandma's house) should return fuel economy in the high 30s to low 40s."
The difference between 37.5 mpg and 230 isn't exactly subtle.

Car and Driver reported that "getting on the nearest highway and commuting with the 80-mph flow of traffic — basically the worst-case scenario — yielded 26 miles; a fairly spirited backroad loop netted 31; and a carefully modulated cruise below 60 mph pushed the figure into the upper 30s."
Essentially, all of the reviewers agree that mileage is nowhere near the stated numbers.  So now we find,'s a glorified Prius with the price tag of a BMW that seats only four because of a battery that runs down the center of the car.
Or as I said in my original comments, "So while it will work for many commuters (as would an electric golf cart), it still seems to be a $40,000 car with all the room and comfort of a $15,000 car."  Exactly what you get when a big, out of control government, takes over a  big, aging dinosaur of a car company.

The IBD article is worth reading.   Meanwhile, it looks like we have to continue to wait for those magical unicorn farts that will power the world.  Any day now. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sometimes The OpFor Shows Their Hands

Turns out the firing of Juan Williams was not just about Juan Williams, and seems to have revealed some of the OpFor plans. 

Tara Servatius at points out that the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, is part of that whole nexus of the FCC, the fraudulently-named Free Press/Joyce Foundation/George Soros, Julius Genachowski plan to take over the "distressed local news providers" and replaced them with NPR. Schiller displayed a little, um, premature congratulations:
Schiller could barely contain her rage at Fox News and at Williams last week, saying he should discuss his fear of boarding a plane with Muslim passengers with “his psychiatrist.” Those who understand what is at stake saw the Williams/Schiller dust up for what it really was – a declaration of war by one of the most powerful women in journalism against for-profit, non-liberal media. If Schiller and her liberal friends have their way, Fox and its viewers will pay the bill for her new government news network.
(The new government news service: Pravda means "Truth" and fits right into the NPR Logo).  The Townhall article is about twice the length of this piece, but worth reading.  Ms. Servatius goes on to say:
A May Free Press report describes NPR’s Public Media Platform as a first step in their plans for a government media takeover. The platform is in the early stages, and its purpose is to attract billions more in government funding. “We are going to strengthen and bolster our representation to Congress and to other entities that can help fund all of us,” Schiller told the NPR board in her 2009 speech about a public media takeover of news reporting.
All of this makes Schiller’s very public drop-kick of Williams far more than a hissy fit that got out of hand. It was a declaration of war against commercial media in general and Fox in particular. Who wins will be determined by what voters do at the ballot box in the coming years.
We should be thankful to Ms. Schiller.  Thanks to her hot tempered screw-up, Ms. Servatius has filled us in on what's going on, and we know to hound our newly elected representatives not just to cutoff funding for NPR, but also the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, all of it.  If she had kept her head, and kept Juan Williams on staff, the public cry for killing off NPR probably wouldn't have started at all.   

Monday, October 25, 2010

Take A Nerd Shooting

We could all do worse in life than to emulate Antonin Scalia.  In pretty much everything.

In this case, Justice Scalia apparently took newly appointed Justice Elena Kagan shooting.  (hat tip to Babalu).  Bravo. 

The witnesses saw Scalia at the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club, where he is a member, around noon on Wednesday of last week. He was with a woman who was noticeably diminutive in height, like Kagan, who stands at about five feet three inches. The witnesses, who got a very close look at the pair, say that the woman was the newest Supreme Court Justice.
Justice Kagan has a reputation for being rather strongly anti-firearms and I just have to applaud - and thank - Justice Scalia for taking her to the range.  I guess it's a commonly held belief that many anti-firearms hoplophobes are just not familiar with guns or the gun culture; they go through life without meeting or talking to any real people.  How else could something like the "assault weapons" ban happen?  They have to be completely ignorant of the guns and even the principles involved.  Perhaps she'll come to realize that the people who endure the hassles to carry regularly are the safest people to be around. 

I can hope, can't I? 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Economics 101

I was going to write something about Mega-ass-wipe Julian Assange at Wiki-Leaks, but I've been distracted by the disgusting mess that is our election cycle.  

Instead, the three postings at Restore the Constitution (the Sheeple, The Monkeys, and The Bad People)  got me thinking about the problems that come from having a population that doesn't understand the most basic ideas of economics.  Dan also has this story that made the recently-glued and almost-healed pieces of my exploded skull start to bulge again. 
“A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 67% of the American public not only supports the minimum wage but would like to increase it to $10 an hour.”
Read more:,8599,2026515,00.html#ixzz12xhaupNf
The stupid lawyer at Time (but I repeat myself) argues that the minimum wage puts more money in people's pockets.  It does, indeed, and it does them absolutely no good.  I find this whole idea that the minimum wage is a good thing has come up in many of the political races around the country.  People don't understand this basic economics.  I know my readership is more astute than the Sheeple or the Monkeys, but you may some day have to explain this to them.  

So let's say the minimum wage becomes $10 an hour.  What happens?  Every price goes up proportional to the increased cost of labor.  Every worker making between the current and new minimum wage - and plenty of others - costs more.  Some jobs go away, because the company can't afford to bring on a person for that price, other jobs never get created.  After a round of inflation because of the increased costs for everything, the person making minimum wage - if they are still working - is in the same place relative to everyone else as they started out before the wage change.  They have more dollars in their wallet, but everything costs more.

If you can make the minimum wage $10, why stop there?  Why not 20 or $100 an hour?  It's like taking every dollar in your wallet and replacing it with one that has bigger numbers on it, but every price tag in town gets bigger to match. Will we make the people on minimum wage wealthier by increasing the minimum wage?  Of course not.  We won't make anyone's lives better - unless some dopey politician wins a good office because of stupid people.  Minimum wage laws are based on the sloppy thought that says putting bills with different writing on them in your wallet makes you wealthier.  Ask the people in Zimbabwe, where they replaced bills that said one dollar with bills that say one billion dollars, and three eggs cost trillions of dollars.  The economy is not a pie that we divide up by deciding who gets which piece.  What we need to do is bake more pies, and the way to do that is by getting the leviathan's hands off the throats of the businesses.  Besides, at the rate the Fed is going, we're all going to be billionaires soon enough, and not have enough money for a loaf of bread. 

(Pic credit)
(and credit)
(pictures of pies because pictures of Zimbabwe currency are, frankly, not as easy on the eyes.  I'm hungry now)

BTW - the new Savages shoot very nicely.  The sights needed a little tweaking.  These old guy eyes need a scope! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Like Christmas In October ... Or Something

The Silicon Swamp is not a big city.  While it's not really possible to see one from our back porch, on the right kind of night it's possible to see the lights of the big city from the back porch, though.  (Those nights are are marked by a cloud deck over the whole state, typically around the passage of a cold front.)  I say that so you know we don't have a really good gun and sporting goods shop like Bass Pro or Cabelas* here in town.  The nearest Bass Pro is over "in the big city" and is a 2 1/2 hour round trip, not including time in the store.  There's a Gander Mountain another hour farther away, so I've never been there.

Back in August, our local Bass Pro Shops was running a pre-hunting season sale with a few low priced loss leaders.  What struck my eye was a Savage 64F rifle, a semi-automatic, magazine loaded .22 rifle for $110.  The ad had the magic phrases "Limited Quantities" and "One Day Only" to further peak my interest.  As part of our continuing training, Mrs. Graybeard and I are trying to arrange for an Appleseed weekend, so we need a couple of good .22s.  While you can bring any kind of rifle, for the two of us to bring anything bigger than a .22 has a serious cost disadvantage.  We only have one AR (at the moment) and even then, the thought of running through 500 rounds each at 35 or 40 cents per round vs. 4 cents a round makes the .22 that much more attractive.  My limited talks with folks who have done an Appleseed event says that most people bring Ruger 10/22s. 

So we made note of the day this deep discount would be available and waited.  And waited.  We set the alarm for right around dark-thirty so that we could make the hour-and-change drive in time to be there for their opening.  Even made it with 10 minutes to spare.  That's when I made my big, dumb mistake.  Instead of running directly to the hunting department, we stopped at "the facilities" first.  When we got to the counter, it looked like the local grocery store deli on one of the big Bowl Game days, or even Super Bowl Sunday.  I hit the "Take A Number" thingy and got a number for each of us - 83 and 84.  I looked at the deli sign.  It said, "Now Serving 49".  Aw, crap.  It looked like at least an hour wait (it was almost 2 1/2).  I should have gotten the number and then hit the facilities.  

Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock.  No, wait.  The Savage 64F. 

By the time they called our number, I had read the Hornady Reloading Handbook, (though not cover to cover) and the rifles were long gone.  The girl at the counter was nice enough to offer us rain checks, which really surprised me, then told us we were getting the last two rain checks.  So we waited.  And waited.  The first gun came in the week before my trip out west.  The second one came in this Wednesday.  It's almost like Christmas in October. 

Tomorrow we make the 150 mile (round trip) pilgrimage to pick up our new toys.  Sunday by 9AM we ought to be well into a box. 
Breakfast of Champions
*On our last day in Utah, we stumbled across a Cabelas store in a city called Lehi, 20 minutes south of Salt Lake City.  I could have signed over my paychecks and moved in.  It was way better than our local Bass Pro. There are no Cabelas in the entire southeast. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Juan Williams Firing

My regular reading list blogs are strangely quiet on the topic of Juan Williams' dismissal by NPR for exercising his freedom of speech. Michelle Malkin has an article; and I don't see anything in my usual reading.  Glenn Beck's new "news site", The Blaze has a decent coverage.

Let me say that I probably agree with 20% of what I've heard him say over the years.  I heard him talking about a book he wrote ("Enough") that sounds almost Bill Cosby-like in his concern for how black families are being destroyed by the welfare culture.  From time to time I've heard other things I agree with, but not often enough to get any real chance of regular agreement.  There are some left-side pundits who go from reasonable to Joseph Stalin when they get hired for a new campaign.  Kirsten Powers comes to mind as one. Williams always struck me as a guy who was a pretty decent human being, just wrong a lot. 

The point is, unless there was an iron-clad clause in his contract that he is not allowed to have personal opinions or not allowed to talk about them as a condition of employment (and nobody is reporting this) Williams should not have been fired from NPR for what he said in his interview with O'Reilly.  In this country, you are allowed to speak your mind.  The First Amendment's protection of speech is meaningless when everyone is saying the same things; it is precisely when that speech is controversial, or upsetting, that the protection is needed. 

This is yet another shining example of the intolerance of the left.  Or the influence of Dr. Evil, George Soros, and his $1.8 Million gift to NPR

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The DC Miracle Continues

Since the Heller decision, the rate of violent crime in Washington DC has been on a steady decline.  This is no surprise to members of the gun culture; we all seem to know that "More Guns = Less Crime" as the great Dr. Lott says. 

Dr. Lott has a column today on National Review talking about bias on the part of M.D.s in the New England Journal of Medicine. 
One of the articles, written by Garen Wintemute, Anthony Braga, and David Kennedy, makes the case for extending background checks to the private transfers of guns, arguing that “perhaps the principal reason for the well-documented failure of the Brady Act to lower rates of firearm-related homicide is that its requirements do not apply to private-party gun sales.” But they do so without providing any evidence that these or any other background checks reduce crime.  (emphasis added)
Remember just because it's in a science journal doesn't mean it's true.

Dr. Lott shows on his own page that DC crime rates, notably their terrible murder rate, have continued to improve in the second year since the Heller decision.  The murder rate in DC is down 35.5% from its peak in 2008.  All crimes in this chart are down.  No sane person can possibly make the argument that DC is a worse place now than it was before the gun ban was lifted. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inflation to Get a Boost

Last Friday, Chairman Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve Bank, made a very important speech.  More so than his typical speech.  It should be clear to anyone that all attempts to stop the current depression have failed.  We have unemployment on the national level of nearly 20%, when all discouraged job-seekers are counted, and the numbers are counted as they historically have been kept.  Shadowstats uses an algorithm like this and argues that the real national unemployment rate is around 22%.  In this plot, the red trace is the one you hear about on the news; the gray plot is the broadest measure of unemployment, and the dark blue is the best guess taking all of the known corrections and omissions out.  In places, this number must exceed 30%.  I'm hesitant to say much higher, but there are tent cities many places in America.  
So since the Fed has been running essentially zero interest rate since 2008, and that has only allowed the well-connected to borrow money for free and speculate with it, what can Helicopter Ben do? 

Well, fire up the helicopter and drop more money.  Ben says inflation is too low.  The official inflation number is close to zero.  Unfortunately, the Consumer Price Index does not include food and energy in it's "core inflation" that's reported.  Howard Ruff reports the following:
For example, Agricultural Raw Materials are up 24%, The Mineral Index is up 25%, The Metals Price Index is up 26%, Coffee is up 45%, Barley is up 32%, Oranges are up 35%, Beef is up 23%, Pork is up 68%, Salmon is up 30%, Sugar is up 24%, Wool is up 30%, Cotton is up 40%, Palm oil is up 26%, Hides is up 25%, Rubber is up 62%, Iron Ore up 103%. Those are prices at the wholesale level.
Remember the AOL Finance article I reported here about two months ago that said:
...(at Walmart) the price of a 32-ounce bottle of Windex household cleaner jumped 50%, a 12-ounce box of Quaker Oats instant grits climbed 65% and a 50-ounce container of Tide detergent rose by more than 50%
Inflation is what we expect from keeping rates low and creating money out of thin air, and we see inflation.  You can expect your grocery bill to be going up in the range of those numbers Ruff gives.  Everything is going to get much more expensive.  You will note that the reports earlier this week that social security was not going to pay a cost of living adjustment because inflation is so low.  How long before we see seniors starving?  How long until grandma and grandpa go dumpster diving? 

Nevertheless, the Fed says we need inflation now, so he's going to devalue the money supply some more.  His idea is to get you to go buy something before your money becomes worthless.   I don't understand why those highly exalted Ph.D.s at the Fed can never see step 2.  OK- so we go spend our savings; then what?  We buy a car or a TV or a refrigerator; then what?  Then we're in worse shape than we are now.  If nothing else, we create a short term bubble and long term price crisis like "Cash for Clunkers" did.  And Helicopter Ben is going to maintain the zero percent interest rates, because if the rates go up, the Federal.budget line item for interest on the debt goes up, and we have to sell more bonds.   Here's the thing.  Everyone knows we're doing this.  Everyone who owns dollars knows they're going to be worth less and less until they're worthless.  So they'll stop buying bonds at the current interest rate.

Over at the Economic Collapse blog, they make a good argument that this is just to bail out the bankers without saying the words "bail out".  They call it The Biggest Bank Robbery In History

Friends, I don't see a way out of this.  I've been beating on this drum since I started here.  Do your best to prepare. 
A balloon at the moment it pops (Ted Kinsman photo from here).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thankfully, It Wasn't That Bad

After a full day with no reappearance, it appears our war with the Security Tool was short-lived.  Mrs. Graybeard discovered you can kill the process while its starting by quickly applying a three-fingered salute as soon as XP showed her desktop, and getting task manager. 

We had been using some of the geek-friendly web sites and found some places to look for trash - sure enough, we found some trash to delete.  The actual executable was called 23397.exe.  I'm pretty sure at every infection it gives itself a random number.  There was a .lnk file we deleted, too.  Then we ran  SuperAntiSpyware, which found four other files hidden in out of the way directories in the "%UserProfile%\Application Data" tree and "%UserProfile%\Start Menu\Programs\Security Tool.lnk".  Once that handful of files was deleted, it was fine and has been so since around 2200 last night. 
This is displayed with the "always on top" property.  It spoofs your desktop, and cripples programs.  If  you try to run a virus scan or update, it blocks the net access so that it only looks like it's working.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


While we're not security professionals like Borepatch, I like to think we run a pretty good place here at Castle Graybeard.  We keep up with the Windoze updates, along with the updates to pretty much everything.  Since we've been working with computers since about 1978, we have been around the block a few times, and watch what we do.  We have and run anti-virus and anti-spyware tools.  Nevertheless, the scumbags have struck and we're tied up in removing a malware infection from Mrs. Graybeard's computer.

Ever heard of the "Security Tool" malware?  It hijacks your system and attempts to get you to go to some site and pay them money to give you your computer back.  I assume it steals credit cards, and so on.  Really nasty hijack.  Apparently spoofs the Windows desktop and intercepts everything you do to it. So far it's scumbags one and good guys nothing.

I've been saying for years that if I were on the jury, malware writers would get the death penalty.  No problems with that decision whatsoever. 

Back to our usual gloom and doom later.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Financial Armageddon Will Look Like

Like many people who think that financial hard times are coming, I have wondered if I'd recognize it was happening early enough to not be trapped by it.  That has led me to think about what it will look like when it happens.  It's not like the several days worth of warnings we get from the hurricane center, I think.  Will there be warnings, or will it happen all at once?  If you're away from home on a business trip, what are the chances you'll get back?  Is there something in particular to watch for, knowing that if you see it, it's time to get back home, or to lock down the shutters?  If you're planning to bug out to a retreat somewhere, but can't live there full time, how will you know when it's seriously time to get moving?

Let me begin by saying … I don't know for sure.  These are my best guesses based on years of studying this, with feedback and correction from reading others' thoughts. 

What would be the first indication that the poop was entering the fan's cage?  One of the most reliable warning signs would be a crisis in commodity prices.  As I remarked below, in The Economic Collapse is Inevitable - Government Collapse is Optional  the first sign would likely be a spike in the price of gold of 10 or 20% - more than $120 at today's prices.  The likely cause could be the economic minister of handful of places: say, China, the EU, Saudi Arabia, or Japan, coming out and saying they've lost faith in the dollar as the global exchange medium, and are switching to other things.  This has already happened in private.  China has been quietly getting rid of US bonds, using their vast resources of trade-unbalance dollars to buy gold mines, copper mines, aluminum mines and so on.  Brazil, Russia, India and China have started working toward the development of a substitute for the dollar, a "basket of currencies" called the BRIC - an acronym for those countries.

Another possible cause is if someone like Dr. Evil, George Soros, or a neutral but highly regarded investor like Warren Buffet, were to announce he had lost faith in the dollar and was getting out of it (Soros has all but said this already) it could cause a crash in the dollar.  Soros was involved in the collapse of the British currency and could conceivably push ours off the cliff.  Just as he justified being a NAZI collaborator who turned in fellow Jews for money by saying, "if I didn't do it, someone else would have", Soros probably feels someone is going to become incredibly rich by collapsing the dollar, so it might as well be him.  

And it could happen, basically, by accident.  The high speed trading that goes on now results in hundreds to thousands of trades per second.  What if a software bug causes it?  What if an oil tanker runs aground in the Houston channel, where all the American gasoline refineries are, or if the depots in Saudi Arabia are finally successfully attacked by Al Qaeda, causing the price of oil to spike?  Something causes a spike in a commodity, like oil or even copper.  The software that runs all of the trading in the markets today would then start selling other assets to convert to cash and take advantage of the commodity spike.  Treasury bonds get dumped, and since the Fed depends on a constant amount of that debt to fund the US, the Fed will then buy them.

It's important to note that during the minutes to half hour or so that this is going on and spiraling out of control, no human may witness it to intervene and stop it., one of the reliable sellers of precious metals, has an app for the iPhone that can get you the spot price of gold and a handful of other data on demand.  If you're at a desktop computer, you can check their website directly for the metal prices.  I believe they still give away a little app that sits in the Windoze task bar and reports those prices.  I check my iPhone app several times during the normal workday.  If gold spikes sharply, I'm literally going to get sick, so taking off sick won't be a lie. 

So what do you do?  Hopefully, you're prepared to "hunker down" at home or have plans for a getting out of Dodge, and a place to go that's ready for you.  This is the time.  It will be worth your time to hit the ATM and get as much out of your account as you can.  Cash might be handy to have to buy commodities - food, water, anything you need to fill your refrigerator and ammo shelf.  Top off your gas tank, and get food.  At this point, the stores will probably have the normal weekday crowds and there will be no unusual lines because only a very few people will know what's going on. 

How long it will be until real problems, like runs on stores, start?  I think that's harder to know.  It might take days for this to propagate to the rest of the market.  On the other hand, with virtually instantaneous linkage of banks around the world, money can be gone very quickly, and it might only take hours for stores and gas stations to start raising their prices.  Here in Florida, I've heard the law prohibits changing gas prices more than once a day.  Ferfal talks about periods in Argentina where store clerks went through the stores changing prices several times a day.  You read of constant price increases in Weimar Germany.

Prep time is over, the sh*t has just hit the fan. 

(Note while I was thinking about this and preparing the entry, I found this blog entry that has many of the same ideas, including a possible root cause.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Question for You Psychology Experts Out There

So what happens when a malignant narcissist gets insulted?
(White House photo - doing their part to feed the messianic image.  An excellent summary of some of the messianic imagery is here).

In the nearly two years since the election of Barack Hussein Obama, many commenters have remarked on his apparent narcissism and sociopathic tendencies (Charles Krauthammer was apparently the first).  With a sentence like that, it might be difficult for you to believe that I feel sorry for Mr. Obama - really.  He was left by his father at an early age, then abandoned by another father, and finally by his mother before being raised by his grandparents. Everyone knows that he was taken under the tutelage of Frank Marshall Davis, a communist.  His mother's and (genetic) father's ties to communism are trivial to document.  Everybody who cares to read about it knows these things.  Dinesh D'Souza's book "The Roots of Obama's Rage" seems to do an excellent job of deconstructing the psychological mess in the most powerful office in the world. 

Abandoned by father, abandoned by mother, shuffled around like excess baggage, and some writers have commented that they think young Barry Sotero was sexually abused.  How can someone going through that not be screwed up?  I feel sorry for the guy, but we can't waste time with that.  Now his problems are our problems, and the way he reacts to the insult of his agenda  being repudiated by the American people will set the tone for the next two years.  Mr. Obama is still the president for the next two years, so get the idea out of your head that this election changes everything.  To quote Dinesh D'Souza,
We are today living out the script for America and the world that was dreamt up not by Obama but by Obama's father. How do I know this? Because Obama says so himself. Reflect for a moment on the title of his book: it's not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. In other words, Obama is not writing a book about his father's dreams; he is writing a book about the dreams that he got from his father. ( bold added )
Think about what this means. The most powerful country in the world is being governed according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s — a polygamist who abandoned his wives, drank himself into stupors, and bounced around on two iron legs (after his real legs had to be amputated because of a car crash caused by his drunk driving). This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son is the one who is making it happen, but the son is, as he candidly admits, only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is being governed by a ghost.

How will he react?  Vanderleun says in this article:
Of all people Time’s Mark Halperin, tool and fool and formerly full-time Obama pegboy, writes, "The White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters." (note re: pegboy: I didn't even know they had a word for that!)
This man hates the culture that produced him and with reason. Far from reining him in, the coming destruction of the Democrats only frees him to get his hate on in a more direct and unrestrained manner.
Elected under the cloak of being a "uniter," this is a man whose one central wish is to disassemble the Constitution and the United States at the same time. When the oath was given, his heart said, "destroy, dissolve, and leave defenseless the Constitution of the United States, so help me Me."
With the likely numbers of positions in the house and senate that the Stupid party can claim back from the Evil party, the Stupids can still do nothing on their own.   If they succeeded in passing bills to repeal the health care bill or any of the other kilo-page bills, Obama would simply veto them.  With the intricate ecosystem of czars he has appointed, congress can be made completely irrelevant.  All government can be done by regulatory fiat.  That's the essence of what Cass Sunstein specializes in. 

So what happens when a malignant narcissist gets insulted?   They become filled with rage at the people who don't idolize them; filled with malignant anger at anyone who does not appreciate how wonderful they are.

God help us all.  And God save the Republic.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Did You Know That YOU'RE The Problem With the Economy?

As I use up my last couple of days of vacation, I've been sleeping-in to really, really late hours - like 8 or even (blush) 8:30 in the morning.  So today, while stumbling around and making my first cup of coffee, I turned on Fox News almost at the end of the Fox and Friends show (8:45?) to find Geraldine Ferraro saying the problem with the economy is that the common people aren't spending.  You ingrates are making His Worthiness, Obama, look bad.  The Beneficent Government has done so much for you, but it's all you (mild tone of revulsion) people who are messing up the economy. 

What horse crap.

When Steve Doocy, one of the hosts, said people are afraid; they're insecure about the future, about taxes going up, Ms. Ferraro said (as best as I can recall), "I've heard Obama say at least a dozen times that he wants the tax cuts to stay for everyone except the top 2%.  You talk about fear, my 16 year old grandson came up to me and was worried about all this debt that he hears about.  I had to tell him, 'Now, dear, there's no problem.  What you have to worry about is the top earners not paying that 700 billion dollars they owe'."  At this point, my head exploded, and I've been Supergluing the pieces together ever since. 
(Michael Ramirez, via

The first place to start with that pile of steaming crap is the whole idea that that tax money belongs to the government and not the people who earn it.  This is utter Marxism/Leninism, but a disgustingly common attitude.  The next thing to attack is that 700 billion dollar number.  That's imaginary - it's a projection based on econometric models of how much the economy will grow in the next 10 years.  Accurate?  Go back and find the models from 1998 and see if they predicted a global economic collapse in 2008.  If you don't mind, I'm not going to wait.  Besides, I did a whole posting on this pretty recently.  It's the Spending, Stupid.   Maybe you get their projected tax increase for the first year, 30 billion, which pays for their deficit for a couple of days.  As Margaret Thatcher so brilliantly said, "They [socialists] always run out of other people's money.". 

In a problem as big as our economic mess, there's always lots of blame to go around.  Certain bankers should be tried in court.  Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should be tried.  The heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, going back to around 1998, should be tried.  But the central problem is that Keynesian economics is failing, and the whole world is finding out the hard way that paper currency eventually returns to being worth what it's raw materials (paper and ink) are worth.  Even worse, digital currency returns to the value of a bit of memory storage. 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Administrivia:  Thanks to the Gormogons, I've found a new blog worth checking out, Professor Mondo  I didn't think I'd have much in common with a "medievalist at a small college in a small college town", but he's good.  This article on the Sally Struther's Government is wicked smart, and also funny.

And thanks to Professor Mondo, I find "Six Meat Buffet", a blog in the style of IMAO or The People's Cube.  

Many people refer to "web surfing", but surfing is too organized.  It's more like a ping pong ball in clothes dryer. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In Praise of Technology - Conclusion

The point of the couple of articles in praise of technology wasn't to just sit and say "wow, this is neat".  The point is that when the economy collapses and we are forced into small tribal structures, someone needs to know how to do stuff.  Someone needs to know how to get it working again.

That someone is us. 

We need to know how to build things, and how to fix things.  We need to have ideas of how to get many things going again.  And we need to know how to survive in somewhat primitive - or desperately primitive - circumstances. If you already can build a wood deck, for example, learn how to frame a house.  If you can drill and tap screw holes in metal, learn to weld.  Let's learn new things.  In addition to how to fend off the Mutant Zombie Biker hordes. 

I truly hope we don't have a total collapse of civilization.  My hope is that the society remains, but like that quote from Ferfal in the second part says, society gets coarser, crime gets worse, electricity gets spottier, and life simply just gets harder in every way.  Perhaps that's best case.  I have to admit that years of working in an air conditioned environment has made me almost dependent on it.  Even the hours I've spent out riding my bike or fishing or hiking (or whatever) hasn't prevented it.  I really need a cool room to sleep comfortably.  In the summer around here, temperatures can stay above 80 all night, or only dip below for a couple of hours before dawn (6AM).  I expect some tough times if energy supplies get really spotty.  I also expect that after a few days of not sleeping, I'll pretty much just pass out. 

Tuesday's Business Insider has a column by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics saying "The Fed's Zero Rate Policy is Destroying America".  He points out one of my (sounding like a broken record) points: the inflation they are pumping into the system is destroying "grandma".  Not just those who are currently retired, but those who are trying.

Last week The IRA traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the latest event sponsored by our friend Alex Pollock at American Enterprise Institute, "Living in the Post-Bubble World: What's Next?" We received a great deal of media buzz before and after the event, but the most poignant comment came in this unexpected and very disturbing letter from Dianna in Rockford, IL:
"I have no way of knowing if this message will ever actually reach you. Nevertheless, I want to extend a most sincere message of appreciation for one of the comments you made during recent participation in an American Enterprise Institute symposium. You are the only financial guru /analyst whom I have heard make any reference to the devastating impact of extraordinary quantitative easing on "grandma" and her carefully laid financial plans. Many middle class retirees have no generous government or corporate pension. We have had to plan and save prudently for retirement. Now, as we watch returns on CD's plunge from an average 5% to an anemic 1.5%, we also experience a plunge from a comfortable retirement into a state of severe "penny-pinching". You were correct...not only do we have to cut back on gifts for the grandchildren, we are also drastically curtailing many discretionary purchases, travel to spend time with family and so forth. I have heard NO other analyst speak to this impact on responsible retirees who thought they had done all the right things to prepare for the "golden years". It just felt good to realize that there is at least one individual who has given any consideration to this fallout from "Fed" policies."
If you are a saver, the Fed has crosshairs on you.  Your savings are going to be destroyed.  Again, they believe the way to save the government is to inflate the currency; you and I are just collateral damage.  Don't worry, they'll throw you a bone.  Or a strip of leather to chew on.  Whalen also predicts the collapse of the Fed in that article, but from legislation not from economic effects.  I have read the other way around, also.  Remember, this is the "richest" organization in the world.  In many ways the US government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Federal Reserve Bank.  Do you think they go down without a fight?  Do you think mere laws will do it?  They have already ignored court rulings and other legal decisions.  It seems to be one of those situations where no outcome is "good". 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stealing Our 401k Accounts - The Effort Approaches Climax

I've written here several times about the coming confiscation of our 401k plans (like here).  The effort appears to be ready to come to a vote in the lame duck session coming in a few weeks, after the elections.  Connie Hair at Human Events reports:
Democrats in the Senate on Thursday (edit to add 10/7/10) held a recess hearing covering a taxpayer bailout of union pensions and a plan to seize private 401(k) plans to more "fairly" distribute taxpayer-funded pensions to everyone.
It continues:
In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a "fair" pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions.  This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.
The politics of a lame duck session are strictly out of our control (as if they listen to us, anyway).  If your congress-critters have been voted out of office, they can do this as revenge on you, or out of loyalty to people who line their pockets, or out of fear of or loyalty to their party leaders, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.  They might listen to protesters out in front of the capital, but I doubt it. 

IMO, Civil War II started some time ago as 4th generation war.  It is largely cold and aimed at winning hearts and minds.  Is this theft going turn it into an open, "shooting war"?  I'm not sure I can envision a better way to do that, if that's the administration's goal.

Posters from the 2010 remake of Red Dawn (unofficial site, but the best I can find).  Instead of the Russkies,  this time it's the Chincoms.  Pretty amazing that they may well be preempted by the real deal.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Praise of Technology - Part 2

I changed the title of yesterday's post from the (IMO, awkward) "In Love With Technology" to "In Praise of Technology".  There's method to my madness.

For folks who get here through Google/Bing searches, talking about technology probably makes them think of things like iPods/Pads, smart phones, computers, Facebook/Twitter and other modern time wasters.  When I say this, though, I mean the whole rich infrastructure of modern western life.  Everything from indoor plumbing and excellent water treatment to commercial space launches.  Anyone who doesn't rank good public water supplies with the best of technologies has never seen cholera outbreaks, or seen children die from dehydration caused by diarrhea.  I praise it, I love it and I don't want to see it go.

Technology and energy consumption tend to go hand in hand.  I'm sure you've heard the Eco-NAZI quote that "the US consumes 25% of the world's energy but has 5% of the world's population", with the implication being that we are selfish pigs.  But energy is directly proportional to wealth, and (until the 2008 collapse) we produced roughly 25% of the world's wealth with 25% of the energy.  In any event, China is now the world's largest consumer of energy and the world's largest polluter, and I certainly don't hear any condemnation over their energy use. The simple fact is that we have a lifestyle dependent on the availability of energy to keep this wonderful infrastructure running and keep us producing.  Anything that jeopardizes that energy supply jeopardizes our life.

Most readers have heard the term "Peak oil"; if not, suffice it to say that the idea is that the absolute peak of oil production either has been or soon will be hit.  From here on, energy gets more expensive and our lifestyle is in jeopardy.  If there was a free market in oil, I'd say, "peak oil, schmeak oil - I don't care", because all that means is that as oil gets more expensive, other sources of energy will replace it; and it's not like oil hasn't been getting more expensive for the last 40 years, anyway.  Nuclear is the obvious choice for electricity production, and the shift to electric cars.  Behind that, the options raise steadily in price.  There is hope that Moore's Law applies to solar cells and that solar cells will be cheap enough to go into wide scale use within the next 10 years.  The fact that there is not a free market in oil (i.e., OPEC) means the price can do anything they can get away with.  In a free market, people will gradually shift from the more expensive energy to the cheaper one and balance the effects of peak oil automatically.  It appears to me that the administration's policies are intended to force us into paying more for oil to get us to make that shift before the market dictates it.  For either eco-NAZI or other fascist reasons. 

Readers of JWR's Survivalblog and some other survival literature tend to discuss complete collapse of civilization: The End Of The World As We Know It - TEOTWAWKI.  While there is always a possibility of a complete end, my personal belief is that won't happen.  I believe the most likely scenario is an economic collapse like Ferfal (Surviving in Argentina) describes here (I've highlighted things that I believe I've already seen in my travels): 
If lucky you’ll still live in that same house, Main Street will still be called Main Street, kids will still go to the same school, with a bit of luck and hard work you’ll keep your job… but employees may have to accept a 20% reduction in salary so as to save the company.  Your kid’s school will have fund cuts and some classes may be canceled, the infrastructure may suffer for lack of maintenance due to low funds. The school quickly looks dirty, clearly needing some paint and repairs. As time goes by Main street is full of holes and no ones patches them. Stuff at Walmart is now more expensive. Little by little the packages, cans and bottles start getting smaller (yet the price it higher than before) , you see less and less of those mega super value 50 unit packs. There’s less variety too, they no longer import or produce locally the expensive brands anymore. Too expensive to do so. Crime is getting worse too. Home invasions in towns where it had never happened before, even people getting kidnapped. As more senseless violent crime becomes more common and criminals realize that the poorly paid police, with not enough patrol cars, not enough gas and not enough manpower is just a shadow of what it once was, armed robbery slowly becomes a fact of life across America, and those that don’t want to accept it suffer the consequences.
The rise in prices and drop in package sizes is something I've already written about.  Nationally, we have already had municipalities (Oakland, CA, for example) tell their citizens that they won't pursue burglary and property theft, and an Ashtabula County, Ohio, judge told citizens to arm themselves due to a shortage of Sheriff's deputies.  

So here's a bit of future-trend prediction based on things I see coming.  Our tendency to have a "disposable society" is going to decline.  People will hold onto possessions longer, and wear them out.  A close friend from West Virginia had a great saying that sums this up:  "make it, make do, or do without".  That means a return, at least partially, to a time when more people made their own things.  On almost any weekend around town, you'd hear power tools going as guys would be making or repairing furniture or fixing their cars.  Inside, women would be making or repairing clothing.  If you don't already know: learn how to do these things.  Over the years, I've put together a pretty nice shop, with an assortment of woodworking tools, and small metalworking tools.  I have made many sets of shelves, a wall unit, and small wooden boxes.  My metalworking has largely been tools to help with other hobbies.  

There are potentially disruptive technologies coming.  The oldest is Computer Numerical Control, or CNC.  My metal working tools include a CNC metal lathe and CNC milling machine.  The tools are made by Sherline, except I rebuilt a surplus milling machine with parts from A2Z CNC.  These small machine tools can handle an item roughly the length and width of a legal pad (8 1/2 by 14") and a few inches tall.  They need to be used relatively slowly and gently compared to a full sized, full powered milling machine, but if the speed isn't imperative, you can let it work while you do other things.  The material isn't a large concern; I've milled wax, plastic, brass, aluminum, steel and titanium.  It is surprisingly entertaining to watch it make parts for you.  Of course, CNC is not restricted to metal working.  CNC Routers are very widespread, even Sears sells a CNC router made by Carvewright, and are changing the face of professional fine woodworking.

This is my small mill, capable of making extremely precise small parts.  

The next disruptive technology is 3D printing.  Commercial 3D printing is widely available, and prices are coming down.  They are probably priced where color laser printers were in about 1990; with some at $5000, and some are less, but still pretty expensive for home use.  There are home groups of open source collaborators (such as Reprap) trying to bring cost down and availability up.  3D printers are the closest things to a Star Trek replicator we have.  They can make plastic parts, which either can be used as is, glued up into larger plastic things, or which can be used to make molds for casting metal parts.  3D printers are widely used in industry, where they can make all of the parts used in a complex assembly to verify clearances.

I don't know how far off it is, but once 3D printing starts to get widespread, the days of importing cheap plastic junk from China are over.  You can print them yourself.  This has the potential to change global dynamics.

Of the two technologies, I consider CNC machining more mature and closer to most people's grasp.  They are not interchangeable, though, and some things are easier to do on a 3D printer.  The milling machine is subtractive; you start with a block of metal or plastic and cut away everything that isn't your part.  The printers are additive; they only put down the material you want.  It's easier to do hollow structures with a 3D printer. 

The technology to put tools like this into the hobbyist's shop is just another example of how widespread computing is changing everything.  Just another reason I want our technology to stay.

Edit: to fix problems with the photo, 10/11 1930 EDT

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In Praise of Technology

As I mentioned the other day, I was across the country from the Silicon Swamp, in Salt Lake City, to attend a professional conference.  For those who think the USA is over, an interesting perspective was seeing the graduate students from China and France speaking to each other in English - it was their only common spoken language (and, no, these were not foreign students in US schools - their papers credited their institutions in those countries).

Whenever I fly cross country, I'm impressed with the technology - and I work in aviation.  It's the most amazing technology we take for granted.  Every day, thousands of people sit in little seats hurtling at hundreds of miles an hour, through an environment that would kill them in seconds if they were exposed to it.  Aircraft travel predefined routes in the sky, often changing headings at imaginary cross roads up there - and they do it 24/7/365 with almost no concessions to weather (and no reliance on GPS, which will surprise kids and those who think navigation couldn't exist without their handheld GPS).  Civil air transportation has an enviable safety record, and is generally remarkably trouble-free, despite the occasional problems we hear of on the news.

But where I'm going (ha!) with this is more fundamental.  My schedule allowed for some sight seeing and with our first free hours out west, we headed to the Kennecott Copper Mine, also known as the Bingham Canyon Mine, southwest of the city.  This mine has been producing copper since 1906, over 100 years (!), and they have development plans out through 2020.  This one mine produces 17% of the US' output of copper. 
The scale in this picture is difficult to grasp.  At the lower left are a pair of the large dump trucks that haul the rock for processing, barely visible in the distance.  These trucks are monsters: they're about the size of a two story home, with tires over 12' in diameter.  While this shot doesn't show the whole pit, it is reported to be over 2.5 miles wide at the top and around 8/10 of a mile deep.  Plans for future growth extend it downward.  I am in awe of this operation. 

For a non-technical discussion of how this whole process works, go to the video, "From Ore to More" on the Kennecott website. 

As rockhounds, Mrs. Graybeard and I have vacationed in places where we can collect interesting rocks and crystals.  Among them was the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, home to some of the earliest copper mines in the US.  In this area, the copper was often found as "float" copper - nuggets of rather pure metallic copper.  In WWII, the Michigan copper was preferred because much of the copper in the area has a higher percentage of silver which aided conductivity.  Collectors sometimes find pieces of float copper that have a portion which is silver.  It boggles my mind that an operation like the Bingham Canyon mine can mine copper profitably while the mines in Michigan can't.

Piles of tailings dumped from the old mines - like this one near Houghton, Michigan - still yield copper specimens to collectors like us, half a century since the copper mines shut down up there.  There are local stories of huge pieces of float copper on the bottom of Lake Superior there, that are too heavy to retrieve economically.  That was when copper was $2.50 a pound.  Now, at over $3.50/pound, the result may be different.

A very interesting place to visit in Michigan is the old Champion or Beacon mine, near Marquette.  This field is strewn with literally tons of specular hematite, the highest grade iron ore there is.  That's what all the gray rocks in this picture are.  The story we were told was that this hematite had been mined and was being prepared for shipment, when the market crashed, or dipped badly, making it unprofitable to ship down to the steel mills in Pennsylvania to refine.  I know that at rock shows, a small piece of this will fetch a dollar or so.  In this place, you could park a pickup truck, load it with as much as you wanted and drive away.

Obtaining, and refining raw materials, natural resources, is the backbone of any technological civilization and the core of our advanced life. From time to time, you hear some alarmist say we're running out of metals.  If we were really running out of iron, do you think that field would still be there?  If we were running out of copper, do you think tons of float copper would be littering the bottom of Lake Superior?  When eco-NAZI baby killers protest mining and "tearing down the mountains" all they are doing is raising the cost and moving production elsewhere.  American companies are the best stewards of the environment on earth.  Didn't they look at the videos from the former Soviet Union after the collapse, and see the horrible pollution there?  Haven't they seen how bad the oil platform area is in Nigeria, where they have the equivalent of the Deepwater Horizon well blowout every few months?  When the propagandists behind the Story of Stuff complain that we're "stealing from the third world" materials "that are ours but somehow located on someone else's property", they are indicting themselves.

Mining is hard, hazardous work, but essential to anything beyond agrarian life. 

Look around you: everything you see that hasn't been harvested from the ground has been made.  The metals were mined and refined.  The first mechanical pieces were made by a machinist or tool and die maker.  The plastics were created from feed stocks that were mined or synthesized from others that were.  The wood was harvested and made into lumber.  Without this technical infrastructure we would soon be shivering in makeshift hovels.  I'm sure the eco-NAZIs would love it if large portions of the population died off, but I celebrate mining, refining and engineering.

Edit: 10/11 to change title. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nothing Says "Long Lasting Smiles"...

...quite like firing automatic weapons.  At least, as a hobbyist, when your life doesn't depend on it.  

Dear Mrs. Graybeard used to work with a woman who had an interesting phrase.  When she got married for the second time, she said, "I was a virgin in one position".  Similarly, we were both virgins at automatic weapons until yesterday.  As mentioned below, I'm on a temporary assignment far from home.  Salt Lake City.  And Utah has some pretty rational gun laws.

Just down the road from SLC is a town called Murray, home to a gun shop called "Get Some" Guns and Ammo.  While looking for something to do during some down time, we found out that they allow automatic weapons in their gun range as well as large bore rifles, and will rent either of those to you. 

We were able to shoot an FN P90, an Uzi, an HK MP5 and a MAC 11.  Just one magazine each, so it goes pretty quickly.  A couple of semi-automatic shots to get a feel for the gun, followed by a few short bursts, then one or two longer bursts, and that's all, folks!  Afterwards, we rented a Springfield EMP for Mrs.Graybeard to try out - and I shot a few magazines with it, too.  Nice little gun, although a bit too small for my paws. 
FN P90

We also visited Impact Guns up in Ogden.  This is the online gun shop I go to the most when I'm interested in something and want to get an idea what it costs.  A great, big, store.  They have a similar range arrangement there, too. 

Took quite a while for the smiles to dissipate. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

The 10:10 Videos

Pretty much all of the liberty-oriented portion of the blogosphere lit up over the British videos that featured a teacher executing students who weren't enraptured by the idea of reducing their carbon footprint.  Likewise, a stereotypical boss/manager executes employees who didn't salivate all over the idea of complying with the program.  You will note no discussion was allowed - perhaps the executed already led lives of extreme austerity; had already cut their carbon use to virtually zero, wore clothes made from recycled dryer lint they gathered at the city laundromat, and were so far "ahead" of the general population they didn't want to bother with another 10% reduction.  Never mind, just blow them up in place.

It is truly an eco-porn snuff film (HT to Borepatch).

A lot of really good comments are out there.  It is an obvious conclusion that leftist groups are capable of violence - they do it all the time.  Kevin at the Smallest Minority has a good summary in his Friday, October 1 column. In an analysis of the violence in Europe over the economic austerity measures, the number of violent incidents started by groups identified as left wing out numbered the incidents started by right wing groups 39:1. Borepatch brings out a few things worth reading about this whole sordid episode.

The only thing I want to add is not to forget the possibility that this whole stunt was done for the publicity.  The whole "make film, release it, apologize for it, swear you took it down" cycle could be part of trying to get publicity and fund raise.  If a lot of people demonize them, it will have the effect of making them more famous.  As they say in Hollywood, "Make them love you, or make them hate you, just make sure they don't forget your name".  This is how PETA operates, after all.  As an organization, PETA are the scum of the Earth.  The scum de la scum as the French would say.  They kill more pets than they help.  The stories of them euthanizing pets that they swore to put up for adoption are just so numerous that they can't be ignored.  When they do something stupid, like distribute comics of mommies killing bunnies to elementary school kids, badda-bing - there they are on nationwide TV News with free publicity and fund-raising from the mentally ill who think PETA is just wonderful.

Perhaps they want us to be outraged, because they believe the morons they collect money from will be happiest when normal, thinking people are the most outraged.

Edit 10/7 11:00 MDT to add link to Smallest Minority.  Thanks to Dave in the comments. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Economic Collapse is Inevitable - Government Collapse is Optional

This is a really hard thing to say, but I have come to the conclusion that economic collapse is inevitable as long as we continue on our current path.  When economies collapse, the host governments typically follow.  What replaces the collapsed government is usually a period of anarchy, from which "the meanest son of a bitch in the valley" emerges as the new leader.

The options for who takes over are two breeds of bad guys and the Freedom force who wants to re-establish constitutional rule of law.  The bad guys (as I see it) are the Marxists and One-World Government types who have been trying to establish global socialism for a long time and the Islamists who are trying to establish Sharia'h law everywhere in the world.  While they are essentially aligned right now, because they both see the end of the US as in their best interest, when real fighting starts, expect them to go at each other.  I can't imagine how the Islamists can align themselves with real atheists, and those who endorse or even favor homosexuality.  If you want to determine which of those are the most ruthless fighters, it's hard to predict.  No one doubts the Jihadis are mean fighters, but the communists did kill off almost 100 million people in the 20th century.  The good guys may be able to minimize their own casualties by working the two bad sides against each other. 

When I speak about One-World Government types, I'm including our current administration, many of whom advocate Maoist or Marxist ideals, and are on record wanting to "de-develop" the US.  It is possible that the administration has acted to put a structure in place to catch the collapsing US and replace it with a command economy.  The simple act of rolling the tanks around the White House and declaring martial law would do this.

Borepatch has an excellent article today:  The Panic of 1873 2011 that can give some additional insights.  Borepatch had a minor in history in college; I couldn't get away from history classes fast enough.  Believe him over me.
That said, I'm more optimistic for the USA than for Europe.  We already have a million people taking to the streets in a populist revolt against the clueless governing class.  There's at least a chance that today's Tea Party movement - the people who clean up their own trash after their rallies on the Washington Mall - will deal with this in the ballot box.
The sentiment that we're not voting our way out of this is so widespread that it hardly needs mention here.  Our country is running around 12% of GDP as deficits, beyond the historical collapse point of other countries (typically 10-11%).  Denninger shows this graph of deficit growth since 1993.  See "unsustainable".

This week has been a parade of news on things that just can't end well.  Earlier this week, it was leaked that Bernanke is trying to create inflation.  That means Zimbabwe/Weimar style hyperinflation and all the horrible things that follow from it are much more likely, and if you're a saver, they are going to kill you.  You're just collateral damage - so sorry, but if you're going to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.  The Fed is fighting the bond market.  No institution, no matter how big, and no matter how powerful, can fight the world market.  They are dooming us all.  Make sure you remember this guy, William Dudley, the head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, who wants to dump more stimulus into the economy and run that deficit spike even higher. 

The hardest part is trying to determine when the collapse could happen.  A good sign that it is happening is to watch the daily price of gold.  If gold starts going up a lot, like 10 or 20% in a day, it's over.  A warning sign, that would probably not give you enough time, would be if someone like George Soros holds a press conference to say he has lost faith in the US dollar and is moving his assets elsewhere. 

If you're a new visitor here - my traffic has been up quite a bit since my long article on the overgrowth of governments and regulation - you can read more about the professional opinions I've based this on by reading the series, "About That Whole Global Economic Collapse Thingy" in six parts.  Just use the Google search feature at top right.  Part 6 is below a couple of weeks, but on this page. 

Finally, blogging is likely to be spotty for the next few days to a week.  I have to take a business trip far from Castle Graybeard, and I won't know how good the connections are until I get there.