Archive for November, 2010


A Different Kind of Worrying

November 30, 2010

Marilyn grabbed me by the hand and ushered me quickly down the sidewalk. “Do not touch that child or even speak to her”  she whispered in my ear as she dragged me back to the car. We were inside and away before I could catch my bearings. I looked sadly back at the scene I had left behind.

There, standing on the sidewalk alone, was a little two year old girl. She had on a ripped shirt, ragged pants and no shoes. Read the rest of this entry ?


U.S. Corporate Profits Rose in Third Quarter –

November 23, 2010

A new report in shows that businesses in this country are making money faster than ever before. At the same time, they are not hiring anyone, so the effect is not seen at the local level. Here is a quote from the article:

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

U.S. Corporate Profits Rose in Third Quarter –

Why are they making profits but not hiring anyone?

1. They have found that with the Internet and overseas work forces, businesses no longer have to hire American employees to get the same amount of work done.

2. Much of the profit businesses are making is temporary, based upon the artificial influx of cash from the Federal Reserve.

3. Many of these businesses are actually foreign owned and have no obligation or commitment to the American public.



My 10 Favorite Pieces of Writing Advice

November 23, 2010

In no order whatsoever (that I can discern), here are the ten best pieces of advice I have ever received on writing.

1. A good writer uses verbs and nouns, and makes use of adjectives and adverbs only when necessary.

2. Honest writers admit they want others to read their writing. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves and is probably on some sort of medication.

3. If you can make a sentence (paragraph, chapter, book) shorter, and still say what is necessary, you should.

4. No one starts writing with their own style. Therefore, start writing by copying the style of those you admire most and avoid the style of those you admire not at all.

5. All good writers are good readers. Not all good readers are writers. If you can find out why one is true and not the other, you may be a good writer.

6. Never edit your writing until the first draft is done. Then, edit that draft until it allows no more editing.

7. Always write in the active voice.

8. Learn the rules of grammar, syntax and punctuation so you will know the perfect moment to break them.

9. There is no true work of fiction. Every novelist and short-story writer has some truth in every character, setting and plot device. Conversely, there is no true story either. We each store memories with our own bias, unable to see around us accurately, oblivious to that which others see.

10. The only way to produce good writing is to write a lot of mediocre material and learn how to make some of it good.


Navy Antenna Using Seawater instead of Metal – Technology Review

November 22, 2010

The Navy has developed a way to create antennas without using metal, ensuring that snooping radar cannot pick up their usage. I have no idea why this is useful to anyone, but I think it is so cool.

Navy Antenna Using Seawater instead of Metal – Technology Review.



Time to Switch

November 10, 2010

Three years ago, I counseled people who asked to buy gold because our economy is built on paper and nothing of substance. I personally moved half of all my investments into gold futures, gold stocks and gold mutual funds in order to hedge against inflation, deflation or stupid moves by the Federal Reserve.

I had one investment broker laugh in my face. Another one tried to talk me out of it, almost as if he were trying to talk me off a ledge before I jumped. I did it anyway.

From this article in the New York Times this morning comes this announcement:

On Monday, the president of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, surprised experts when he suggested the price of gold should be considered a financial yardstick, reversing 40 years of relying on paper currencies to store value in the international monetary system.

Deemed intrinsically valuable for thousands of years, gold has traditionally been a hedge against rising inflation and political or economic uncertainty.

But this time around, investors worry that the Fed’s move last week to pump $600 billion into the nation’s banking system, as well as a surge in borrowing around the world, will undermine paper currencies, making gold a refuge once again.

Over the last two months, the dollar has declined 6 percent against its principal peers, but gold has jumped 17 percent.

Don’t worry that you’re too late to hedge your investments. First, renowned investment broker, Peter Schiff, says that there are ten more years left in this gold run. He has been right for 2 decades on his commodities calls (being from the Austrian School of Economics, he is usually on target). Second, as I said yesterday, the best hedge against a falling dollar is to invest it in Missionary work where you will get treasures in heaven, where moths and rust will not destroy.

And neither can the Fed destroy what you give to the Lord.


Danger Signs in the Economy

November 9, 2010

UPDATE: I am serious. Read these after:

I will keep saying this until I start to see it repeated over and over in other blogs and news media outlets. Most of our nation’s financial problems are internally contrived and this bothers me on several levels: 1. Because I am not a conspiracy theorist or a conservative, if I can see it, it must be obvious; 2. I have to wonder why people with more brains than I are allowing this; 3. What will happen to the average person if this continues?; 4. What, if anything, can we do about it?

Let’s review the facts; again. The Federal Reserve prints all American money. Since we are not on the Gold Standard, the Federal Reserve has more subjective criteria it uses when it prints money. First, Read the rest of this entry ?


Econ 101 Teaching

November 3, 2010

I’m not an economic prophet, but everyone is saying the same thing: Later today, the Federal Reserve is going to buy up Treasury Bonds. “Big Deal” the guy on the couch watching basketball says. “Let them buy all they want” says the teen texting her friend on the other end of the couch. Just in case you don’t remember Economics classes in college, or were smart enough to stay away from them, here is the big deal in four easy points.

1. The Treasury Bonds are what the Government issues to pay their debt. People buy them up, so the government owes them money. They are pretty good investments…safe at least.

2. The Federal Reserve prints money. Our money – American money.

3. When the Federal Reserve buys Treasury Bonds, they are buying up debt, with money they are printing.

4. Other countries see this and conclude “America is buying its own debt with money it is printing. Let’s invest somewhere else”.

Scary huh?


Anatomy of a Reflective Moment

November 2, 2010

Don placed his hands over mine; mine were holding the knife-edged gouging tool. He eased my hands onto the handle and that moved the blade to cut gouges out of the wood. In a moment, I could feel the difference between what I had been doing (wrong) and what I was now doing (right). Don was a friend, skiing partner and woodshop teacher. I had asked him how he made such beautiful bowls out of hickory, walnut and maple. Instead of just telling me, he offered to show me first-hand. After several attempts, my bowls looked fit for storing nuts for a few squirrels. Deranged squirrels. Squirrels with no sense of style.

He then backed up and showed me how each cutting tool worked with the turning of the lathe. Then he placed his hands over mine until I could feel the rhythm of the cut. After that, it got so much easier. This is called Tactile Learning, and it is how I learned to play golf, to kiss and chop wood. By breaking something down into its component parts and understanding the mechanics, my mind can comprehend the inner workings of a complicated task.

I want to do the same thing with the skill of Having a Reflective Moment. To reflect is to ponder, search and plan. It sounds like a great thing to do – but how is it done correctly? A sloppy reflection is unhelpful and confusing, perhaps even destructive. So how do we reflect to bring about perspective and change in our lives? Here is what I do. Read the rest of this entry ?

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