Saturday, January 31, 2009


OIL RISES, OIL FALLS
The History of Oil Meets the Perfect Energy Trifecta

by Jim Puplava


January 28, 2009
Note- A long read on future energy ( oil) problems.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

History lesson of the day

Origin of The Finger
(This may or may not be true but it is told repeatedly....so here you go)
In 1415, Henry the V took his army of around 6,000 men across the English Channel and into southern France. After cutting trees and preparing large pointed sticks, Henry marched his army northwest for 17 days and over 270 miles. With only one day's rest, the mighty force was haggard and exhausted by the time they reached the flat land between the forest of Agincourt.
The French army, consisting of 25,000 troops, 15,000 of which were mounted knights in armor, arrived on the evening of October 24. Their army was a mishmash of Frenchmen from all over the feudal country. It rained hard that night, and both armies were soaked to the bone my morning. Most French knights slept in the saddle so as not to sully their expensive and ornate armor.
On the morning of October 25, the French and British armies were salty and ready to fight. Henry moved his troops slowly up the 1/2 mile wide passage between the two forests of Agincourt. By 11 Am, the French commanders were still bickering over tactics and whether or not to charge all the while the British were within 400 yards of the French.
Now what made the battle of Agincourt so interesting was the introduction of the Welsh long bow. This weapon could dismount a rider at 300 yards and with top notch arrows, could pierce armor at close range.
The French King had heard of the longbow and smugly claimed that when the fight was over, he would cut the bow finger from every Englishman in France. As the long bow was made from the yew tree, it took great strength to draw the bow back and without the middle finger, this would be impossible.
When Henry had his troops within bowshot of the French, he loosed the first of many volleys of arrows. The French, caught off guard, charged with half their forces. The Duke of Orleans barely made it 200 yards before his knights broke and ran under a hail of deadly wood and steel. Many of the knights sank into the mud and were trampled as the horses and frightened soldiers pummeled them into a fine paste.
Those knights that did make it to the British front lines were let upon by unarmored soldiers carrying short swords, who plunged their blades into the joints of the French armor. All this came after a great number of horses were impaled upon the huge pointed sticks the British had placed in the ground in front of them.
At the end of the day, the French had lost some 10,000 men, and the British mourned only 500 dead. In one day, the Hundred Years War had turned and the long bow had successfully defeated the myth of the invincible knight in armor.
The French nobility stood horrified on a hill over looking the battle when the Englishmen in mass turned to face them, middle finger held high for the French to see.
Shakespeare went on to glorify this battle, and the French, to vilify it. For the next 100 years, every lad over the age of 6 in Britain was required to be instructed in the firing and maintaining of the long bow.
In response to this, the French began cutting off the index and middle fingers of all British men caught in battle or on French land, thus removing the digits that allowed the firing of a bow. This is where the British tradition of waving two fingers at someone as an insult arose. And, the very American middle fingered salute or "the bird," is a descendant of this. As the feathers on the arrow were made of pheasant feathers, the saying “Giving the bird” soon arose.

http://history-world.org/Agincourt%20and%20the%20finger.htm

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Warning: More Doom Ahead

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4591

“Because the United States is such a huge part of the global economy, there’s real reason to worry that an American financial virus could mark the beginning of a global economic contagion.” – Nouriel Roubini, March 2008

Personally, I'm waiting to clean up and buy some new toys....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quote of the day

President Woodrow Wilson

A great Industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the world no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men.

I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country.

(President regretted signing into law the Federal Reserve Act)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Song of the day

Cats in the Cradle

A child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad. You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?"
"I don't know when, But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?"
I said, "Not today, I got a lot to do."
He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?"
"I don't know when, But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?"

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?"
"I don't know when, But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Harry Chapin

Saturday, January 10, 2009

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES 20th CENTURY & BEYOND
by James Quinn
January 5, 2009

http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/quinn/2009/0105.html

This is a long editorial piece but his writing really helps to pull together some of the "events" that swirl around us every day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I, Pencil

I, Pencil
By Leonard Read
web posted October 1997

I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery-more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe; a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me — no, that’s too much to ask of anyone — if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an aeroplane or a mechanical dishwasher because-well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realised that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the USA. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye — there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labelling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser. Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the states to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill’s power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation from California to Wilkes-Barre!

Complicated Machinery

Once in the pencil factory — $4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine — each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop — a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood-clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself — it contains no lead at all — is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth — and the harbour pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow — animal fats chemically reacted with sulphuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions — as from a sausage grinder — cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all of the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made, a beautiful yellow, involves the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labelling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black? My bit of metal — the ferrule — is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the centre of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there is my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulphur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy, and the pigment which gives “the plug” its colour is cadmium sulphide.

No One Knows

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field-paraffin being a by-product of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the in first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realise that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies-millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human masterminding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolise, you can help save the freedom mankind is unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand — that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding — then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free men. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once a government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognises that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of a faith in free men — in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity — the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “masterminding.”

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony, galore; it’s all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard — halfway, around the world — for less money than the governments charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organise society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How many countries can you name in 5 minutes?

Use the common, English name. Spelling counts. Has to be a sovereign nation, so Scotland and England don't count, etc...

The timer begina as soon as you land on the page so get ready before clicking. I got 38 but had blown 35 seconds before I started.

http://www.jetpunk.com/quizzes/how-many-countries-can-you-name.php