Saturday, August 29, 2009

Storm's a brewin!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just got this one scanned...another from the trip up to Oklahoma with Guy and Pam a few weeks ago...this is on Hwy 70 between Madill and Durant 67, Ilford Pan F+...

Financial Crisis Called Off

Whew, what a relief! Everybody from Ben Bernanke and a Who's Who of banking poobahs schmoozing it up in the heady vapors of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to the dull scribes at The New York Times, toiling in their MC Escher hall of mirrors, to poor dim James Surowiecki over at The New Yorker, to - wonder of wonders! - the Green Shoots claque at the cable networks, to the assorted quants, grinds, nerds, pimps, factotums, catamites, and cretins in every office from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the International Monetary Fund - every man-Jack and woman-Jill around the levers of power and opinion weighed in last week with glad tidings that the world's capital finance system survived what turned out to be a mere protracted bout of heartburn and has been reborn as the Miracle Bull economy. Our worries over. If you believe their bullshit. Which I don't.

All this goes to show is how completely the people in charge of things in the USA have lost their minds. They seem to think this mass exercise in pretend will resurrect the great march to the WalMarts, to the new car showrooms, and the cul-de-sac model houses, reignite another round of furious sprawl-building, salad-shooter importing, and no-doc liar-lending, not to mention the pawning off of innovative, securitized stinking-carp debt paper onto credulous pension funds in foreign lands where due diligence has never been heard of, renew the leveraged buying-out of zippy-looking businesses by smoothies who have no idea how to run them (and no real intention of doing it, anyway), resuscitate the construction of additional strip malls, new office park "capacity" and Big Box "power centers," restart the trade in granite countertops and home theaters, and pack the turnstiles of Walt Disney world - all this while turning Afghanistan into a neighborhood that Beaver Cleaver would be proud to call home.

By the way - and please pardon the rather sharp digression - but does anybody know if they buried Michael Jackson yet? It's only been a couple of months. And, if not, is that the stench now wafting across the purple mountains' majesty from sea-to-shining sea? Isn't it a little indecent to keep the poor fellow waiting? Or is a really surprising comeback secretly planned, with product tie-ins and all?

America loves the word "recovery" as only a catastrophically sick society can. "In recovery" is the new universal mantra of loser individuals and loser nations. Everybody in the USA is in recovery. Even Michael Jackson (he may have given up on somatic activity but, on the plus side, as the Rotarians love to say, he's quit using drugs for once and for all, and the magazines have stopped publishing photos of him taken after 1990, when he turned himself into something out of the Hammer Films catalog).

To sum it all up, the US economy is in recovery. Paul Krugman says that we'll soon realize that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing. He actually said that on the Sunday TV chat circuit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would really like to know what you mean by that Paul, you fatuous wanker. Do you mean that the Atlanta homebuilders are going to open up a new suburban frontier down in Twiggs County so that commuters can enjoy driving Chrysler Crossfires a hundred and sixty miles a day to new jobs as flash traders in the Peachtree Plaza? Do you mean that the Home Equity Fairy is going to wade into the sea of foreclosure and save twenty million mortgage holders currently sojourning in the fathomless depths with the anglerfish? Do you mean that all the bales of deliquescing, toxic "assets" hidden in the vaults of Citibank, JP Morgan, Bank of America, et al, (not to mention on the books of every pension fund in the USA, and not a few elsewhere) will magically turn into Little Debbie Snack Cakes on Labor Day weekend? Do you mean that American Express and Master Card are about to declare a Jubilee on accounts in default everywhere? Do you mean that General Motors will produce a car that a.) anyone really wants to buy and b.) that the company can sell at a profit? Are you saying we get a do-over, going back to, say, 1981? Did we win some cosmic lottery that hasn't been announced yet? What's growing in this country besides unemployment, bankruptcy, repossession, liquidation, gun ownership, and suicidal despair? In short, are you out of your mind, Paul Krugman?

The key to the current madness, of course, is this expectation, this wish, really, that all the rackets, games, dodges, scams, and workarounds that American banking, business, and government devised over the past thirty years - to cover up the dismal fact that we produce so little of real value­ these days - will just magically return to full throttle, like a machine that has spent a few weeks in the repair shop. This is not going to happen, of course. It is permanently and irredeemably broken - this Rube Goldberg contraption of swindles all based on the idea that it's possible to get something for nothing. And more to the point, we're really doing nothing to reconstruct our economy along lines that are consistent with the realities of energy, geopolitics, or resource scarcity. So far, our notions about a "green" economy amount to little more than blowing green smoke up our collective ass. We think we're going to build "green" skyscrapers! We're too dumb to see what a contradiction in terms this is. The architects are completely uninterested in the one thing that really is "green" - traditional urban design - and most particularly the walkable neighborhood. That's just too conventional, not special enough, lacking in star power, not enough of a statement, boring, tedious, so not cutting edge! We blather about high speed rail, but you can't even get from Cleveland to Cincinnati on a regular train - and what's more amazing, nobody is really interested in making this happen. All we really care about is finding some miracle method to keep all the cars running.

What we've been seeing is nothing more than a massive pump-and-dump operation in the stock markets, most of it executed by programmed robot traders, with the trading nut provided by taxpayers current and future. These shenanigans add up to new risks and fragilities so extreme that the next time a grain of sand catches in the exquisite machinery they will sink the USA as a viable enterprise. We will end up discrediting not just capitalism, but also the idea of capital per se, that is, of deployable acquired wealth. As this occurs, of course, events on-the-ground will give new meaning to the term "reality television."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blythe in downtown at sunset...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here's a thought!

Food Shortages Coming to America???

Crops - north central Texas...

they need some water!...

California and Texas – America's two main food producing states – are experiencing severe, ongoing drought. California is suffering through a 4th straight year of horrendous water shortages, which has impacted every single crop it produces. See California's Vital Role in Food Production for an eye-opener of what this states brings to your table.

Parts of Texas are experiencing the worst drought ever and fears are surfacing that it may be here to stay. Extreme drought is impacting everything that Texas produces. Marketing economist Dr. Mark Welch expects drought to cut Texas' corn crops by 45%, sorghum by 69%, and wheat 62%. Cotton fields are so dry they're being abandoned. These aren't the only foods in trouble. Vegetables, horticulture plants, peaches and their world famous pecans have also taken severe hits. April freezes wiped out some Texas grapes leaving wineries in tough shape.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Anh and Sang...a few weeks ago...
Air pollution watch level Orange in effect for today...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Food Shortages Coming to America?

August 22, 2009
By Holly Deyo

Since penning this piece three days ago, a few more interesting details have come to light. In response to news of Iowa hail crop damage, one Millennium-Ark reader shared that her friends in the Hawkeye State also saw total destruction of their corn. Additionally, they have "already sent their bulls and pigs off and are not planting the usual late crops. They are convinced of an early winter and are preparing for it."

Along the line of crops and gardens, besides the eastern states dealing with tomato and potato blights, I can't tell you how many people have written that their gardens just didn't fare well this year. No one is able to put his or her finger on the exact cause, but folks here in Colorado and around the nation have seen fewer veggies and fruits, or in some cases, plants failed to produce any vegetables at all.

While most of our veggies grew well, jalapenos, peppers and corn were the sorriest we've ever seen. For a hot pepper addict, this is really sad news. Ditto for the rotten performance of Rocky Ford cantaloupes, which are some of the sweetest to be enjoyed. Conversely, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and squash went nuts. Fruit and veggies everywhere, and the rest of the plants put out normal amounts.

Weather has just been screwy, which has a lot to do with this problem. Plants don't know what cycle they're in.

Here it is just a month away from fall and one of our pear trees has put out blossoms this week! (photo top right) Now the Fuji and McIntosh apple trees are following suit (photo left). However, plums are ripe for picking this weekend.

Our mums, which don't usually flower until late August at the earliest, started flowering a month ago. These are truly a first and yet more signs that plants' growing cycles are absolutely messed up.

In recent days, numerous stories detail crop and livestock damage. Drought, floods, hail and freezes have bitten our foods, but whatever the cause, the result is the same — destroyed or damaged food supplies. These ultimately lead to higher store prices, shortages and in more extreme circumstances, rationing.

California and Texas – America's two main food producing states – are experiencing severe, ongoing drought. California is suffering through a 4th straight year of horrendous water shortages, which has impacted every single crop it produces. See California's Vital Role in Food Production for an eye-opener of what this states brings to your table.

Parts of Texas are experiencing the worst drought ever and fears are surfacing that it may be here to stay. Extreme drought is impacting everything that Texas produces. Marketing economist Dr. Mark Welch expects drought to cut Texas' corn crops by 45%, sorghum by 69%, and wheat 62%. Cotton fields are so dry they're being abandoned. These aren't the only foods in trouble. Vegetables, horticulture plants, peaches and their world famous pecans have also taken severe hits. April freezes wiped out some Texas grapes leaving wineries in tough shape.

Drought in Wisconsin has pushed farmers to the edge and where it hasn't destroyed crops and livestock outright, crops are at least 3 months behind. In Iowa, hail losses try farmers' hearts.

To the north, the story is the same. Some Canadian farmers expect to harvest only 20-25% of their usual yield.

And don't forget livestock... At least 40% of Texas’ cow herds live in exceptional or extreme drought areas. Little or no hay has been baled this year and cattle are suffering. Farmers have been forced to sell underweight animals because there's no grass in the fields. In July it was deemed "critical" that Texas receive serious rain to maintain their animals. Now a month later, still no rain. This massive moisture blow has also affected goat, sheep and horse herds as well as honey production.

Wyoming's herds have thinned by 300,000 head. The crulprit? A decade-long drought.

Canada too, feels the harsh impact with farmers struggling through the worst drought in 50 years and forced to sell their herds. Ditto in Argentina except their animals are dying before they get to market. Cuba and Guatamala are also experiencing food worries.

The UK Telegraph writes that El NiƱo Threatens Food Shortages. Longer-term consequences are detailed in Global Starvation Imminent as US Faces Crop Failure. While we are not at this point now, grouped together, current news stories paint an unsettling picture.

We are a global community depending on other countries' imports and exports. The US has many long-standing contracts promising to deliver millions of tons of grains and meats to other countries. Pakistan, India, Africa and China – all very large countries/continents – have trouble growing enough food in normal times. Due to drought, they are in terrible shape. These are countries that regularly buys US foodstuff. What happens when are own supplies are in jeopardy?

If mainstream news has one big fault, it is in leaving a mass of unconnected dots. We read a story here, miss a headline there, skip news for a day or two and we're out of the loop. We fail to grasp the big picture. Conversely, news providers get caught up in an attention-grabbing story and proceed to beat it to death for days; e.g. Michael Jackson, John Edwards' love affair, Madonna's bulging biceps (does she or doesn't she use steroids?...)

Unfortunately there's nothing sexy about drought or floods so it often takes back seat to these juicier stories. However, whether Michael Jackson was bald at the end of his life or not, in the long run, will have little to do with your personal well-being and survival.

In light of these stories, take serious stock of your food storage inventories. With possible sugar shortages hovering around the corner, make bulk purchases. Sam's Club still has 25 pound bags for $13.75.

With cattle being sold off early, expect beef prices to plummet before the big hike when farmers have to replenish their herds. Instead of a Christmas present that may soon be forgotten – the big day is just 4 months off – think about buying a freezer and stocking it with bison and beef. This will keep your family well-fed long after a gift is tucked away.

Look at your grains. Have your thought about how many foods contain wheat, corn and rice? One or more are in nearly every packaged food from candy and soft drinks to cereals, baked goods and snacks, packaged dinners, deli meats to pet foods and animal feed.

Read this article as a heads-up to purchase what you need now for the months ahead and pack safely for long-term storage. Packed properly, these foods will keep you well-fed years down the road and "your grocery store" will be no further away than your pantry. You'll remember your cleverness of foresight should H1N1 quarantines become a reality.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spent a little quality time over at Cadillac 2nite...Quinten and Allan were in the house...most excellent tunes! Most excellent service!...

Buzz and company were rockin the Cadillac last night! Fun place to be!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ticket 2 Ride was in the house at Cadillac last night...great show!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Britons defend their health care from US criticism

LONDON – Britons reacted with outrage Friday at American criticism of the country's health care system and defended their cradle-to-grave medical coverage on Twitter, television and in the tabloids.

Right-wing attacks on President Barack Obama's health reform plans have struck a nerve in Britain, where residents broadly take for granted their universal coverage under the state-funded National Health Service — and look askance at the millions of Americans without insurance.

"Land of the Fee," declared the Daily Mirror in reference to the United States' high-charging health model. The London newspaper called the "lies and distortions" being circulated in the United States about the National Health Service "truly sickening."

"Jaw droppingly untruthful," said the British Medical Association's chairman, Hamish Meldrum.

"NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death," Prime Minister Gordon Brown tweeted. "Thanks for always being there."

Even British health campaigner Kate Spall — who criticizes NHS failings in U.S. television ads produced by Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a lobby group that opposes Obama's plans — declared that the group had misled her and was distorting her true views. Spall's mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment.

"There are failings in the system but I'm not anti-NHS at all," Spall told the British Broadcasting Corp.

"I help the vulnerable patients in our country that come to me for help, those that have been denied treatment," she said. "So the irony is, the people that are falling through the net in the U.S. are patients that I would support anyway."

Britain's opposition Conservative Party is distancing itself from its maverick member of European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, who has criticized the NHS on U.S. news programs.

Conservative leader David Cameron dismissed Hannan as having "eccentric views."

In an e-mail to Conservative Party workers published on his blog, Cameron said millions, including his own family, were grateful for NHS-provided care.

"Just look at all the support which the NHS has received on Twitter over the last couple of days," he wrote. "It is a reminder — if one were needed — of how proud we in Britain are of the NHS."

The NHS, founded in 1948, is the cornerstone of the United Kingdom's welfare state.

About 12 percent of the UK's 61 million residents have private insurance, but the vast majority rely on state-funded emergency care, surgery and access to family doctors. Even those who complain about the system say they want it improved, not dismantled.

British officials acknowledge that their system has been struggling to cope and faces a 15 billion pound ($24 billion) deficit. Hospitals are often overcrowded, dirty and understaffed, which means some patients do not get the care they are promised.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More from the weekend shoot in Oklahoma...

A fun excursion to say the least!...

Hunky Dory

Whenever the herd mentality lines up along a compass point leading to "permanent prosperity," or a yellow brick road lined with green shoots, or something like that, I tend to see the edge of a cliff up ahead. We are now completely in the grips of the deadly diminishing returns of information technology. The more information comes to us about How Things Are, especially from TV, the more confused or wrong the conventional view gets it.

A broad consensus has formed in the news media and among government mouthpieces and even some "bearish" investors on the street that "the worst is behind us" in this tortured economy. This view is completely crazy. It will only lead to massive disappointment a few weeks or months from now, and that disappointment might easily transmute to political trouble. One even might call the situation tragic, except a closer look at the sordid spectacle of what American culture has become -- a non-stop circus of the seven deadly sins -- suggests that we deserve to be punished by history.

The reason behind this mass delusion is not hard to find: it's based on wishing, especially the wish to retain all the comforts, conveniences, luxuries, and leisure that had become normal in American life. These are now ebbing away in big gobs for most of the population -- while a tiny fraction of the well-connected pile on ever larger heaps of swag, enjoying ever more privilege. Those in the broad bottom 95 percent were content as long as there was a chance that they, too, could become members of the top 5 percent -- by dint of car-dealing, or house-building, or mortgage-selling, or some other venture enabled by easy credit and a smile. Those days and those ways are now gone. The bottom 95 percent are now left with de-laminating houses they can't make payments on, no prospects for gainful work, re-po men hiding in the bushes to snatch the PT Cruiser, cut-off cable service, Kraft mac-and-cheese (if they're lucky), and Larry Summers telling them their troubles are over. (If I were Larry, I'd start thinking about a move to some place like the Canary Islands.)

Too many disastrous things are lined up in the months ahead to insure that we're entering a new phase of history: The Long Emergency.

Government at every level is worse than broke.
Our currency, the US dollar, is hemorrhaging legitimacy.
Inability to service old debt at all levels or incur new debt.
Bad (toxic) debt lurking off balance sheets everywhere.
The housing bubble fiasco is far from over.
Commercial real estate fiasco just getting started.
Unemployment rising implacably.
So-called "consumers" unable to consume consumables.
Crucial energy import supply lines fragile.
Food supply subject to energy problems and climate abnormalities.
A world full of other societies who would enjoy watching us fail and suffer.

When The Long Emergency was published in 2005, I said then that the greatest danger this society faced would be its inclination to gear up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs -- rather than face the need to make new arrangements for daily life. That appears to be exactly what has happened, and it didn't happen under the rule of some backward-facing, right-wing, Jesus-haunted crypto-fascist, but rather a "progressive" party led by a dynamically affable young man unburdened by deep cultural allegiance to Wall Street. Barack Obama has been sucked in and suckered. "Change you can believe in" has morphed into "a status quo you will bend heaven and earth to hold onto."

Whatever else you might think or feel about Mr. Obama's performance so far, this strategy on the broader question of where we go as a nation pulses with tragedy. What's remarkable to me, to go a step further, is the absence of comprehensive vision -- not just in the president, but in all the supposedly able and intelligent people around him, and even those leaders not in government but in business and education and science and the professions.

History is clearly presenting us with a new set of mandates: get local, get finer, downscale, and get going on it right away. Prepare for it now or nature will whack you upside the head with it not too long from now. Attempting to maintain anything on the gigantic scale will turn out to be a losing proposition, whether it is military control of people in Central Asia, or colossal bureaucracies run in the USA, or huge factory farms, or national chain store retail, or hypertrophied state universities, or global energy supply networks.

These imperatives are so outside-the-box of ordinary experience right now, that to drag them into the arena of politics can only evoke blank stares or nervous giggling. But whether we like it or not, these are the things that will really matter in the years ahead -- not whether General Motors can ever make a profit again, or what Target Store's sales figures are next quarter, or whether the latest high-rise condo-and-gambling complex in Las Vegas will be successfully marketed.

Here, in the dog days of summer, it seems to me that the situation in the USA is so fundamentally bad, so unpromising, so booby-trapped for failure, that I wonder if there has ever been a society so badly deluded as ours. We're prisoners of our wishes, living in a strange dream-time, oblivious to the forces gathering at the margins of our vision, lost in a wilderness of our own making.

Anything can happen now. I certainly wouldn't rule out international mischief as we arc around into fall. The air is so full of black swans that the white swan now seems like the exceptional thing. Whatever else happens, it sure will be interesting to see the public's reaction to Wall Street's announcement of Christmas bonuses. The folks at Rockefeller Center better be thinking about getting a fireproof tree.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Some black and White from the weekend...

Coming a newstand near you!

The magazine for all those "Git er Done" folks!!

Marathon shooting spree this last weekend...spent a couple of days in and out of Oklahoma checking out some sights...