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Stretching Your Resources In Uncertain Times

Stretching Your Resources In Uncertain Times

money public domainWith the cost of everything going up and the future uncertain, stretching your resources and re-purposing items becomes more of a necessity. I am always looking for new ways to get the “max for the minimum.”

Some recent posts here reminded me of some of these things.  My grandparents and parents were a young family when the great depression hit. What kinds of things did they do to make ends meet when things were expensive or scarce?

Unfortunately, many of them who went through this period in time are no longer with us. However, I remember a few things they did or heard of them doing, that now, looking back, were obviously brought about by the times they lived in. Even after times improved somewhat, some still stuck to certain ways of doing things. Old habits are hard to break.

Hunting and gardening were basically a given back then. Most everyone outside the city limits did one or both of this along with bartering services for goods. A little carpentry or plumbing work for a couple of chickens.

I remember my grandfather mixing his old used motor oil with a little bit of kerosene and spraying the underside and inner fender wells of his pick up truck just before winter. He claimed it helped protect the truck from incurring rust damage over the winter months. Getting more serviceable years out of the truck.

I am sure environmentalists would have a cow over this nowadays, but it was a way of taking something that didn’t appear to have any usefulness left ,and yet, finding one more use for it. The county used to spray old used oil to keep the dust down on dirt roads during the spring and summer months. Don’t see that happening anymore.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Honey, I Broke the Markets

Honey, I Broke the Markets

“Donald Trump looks like the villain in a movie where the hero is a dog.”

– The internet.

Which four letter word still has an amazing capacity to cause offence, anxiety and aggravation ? In the world of investment, that word would have to be
R-I-S-K.

Do we even have a workable definition of what it means ?

Author Guy Fraser-Sampson, in ‘The Pillars of Finance’, points out that before the Second World War, financial thinkers had a somewhat humbler perspective on the subject:

“..while before the War there was eager discussion as to what risk might be, and whether it was the same thing as uncertainty, there was total agreement that whatever it was it was probably too complex an animal ever to be fully understood and, in particular, that it was incapable of mathematical calculation.” [Emphasis ours.]

The American academic Frank Knight published ‘Risk, Uncertainty and Profit’ in 1921. As he wrote, some forms of uncertainty are measurable. There is, for example, empirical observation with regard to the occurrence of a number of discrete outcomes, such as the rolling of dice.

Then there is ‘true uncertainty’, such as the chances of a house in a particular area catching fire in any given year. The probability of dice throws is capable of mathematical calculation – albeit the outcome is still not guaranteed – whereas the chance of a house burning down is not. In relation to fire insurance, we can only use statistical inferences drawn from prior observation.

“The import of this distinction.. is that the first.. type of probability is practically never met with in business, while the second is extremely common. It is difficult to think of a business ‘hazard’ with regard to which it is any degree possible to calculate in advance the proportion of distribution among the different possible outcomes. This must be dealt with, if at all, by tabulating the results of experience. The ‘if at all’ is an important reservation.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Imagine If Exxon Had Told the Truth on Climate Change

Imagine If Exxon Had Told the Truth on Climate Change

Like all proper scandals, the #Exxonknew revelations have begun to spin off new dramas and lines of inquiry. Presidential candidates have begun to call for Department of Justice investigations, and company spokesmen have begun to dig themselves deeper into the inevitable holes as they try to excuse the inexcusable.

(Worst idea: attack Pulitzer prize-winning reporters as “anti-oil and gas activists”)

As the latest expose installment from those hopeless radicals at the Los Angeles Times clearly shows, Exxon made a conscious decision to adopt what a company public affairs officer called “the Exxon position.” It was simple: “Emphasize the uncertainty.” Even though they knew there was none.


Sowed Doubt about for Decades: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/22102015/Exxon-Sowed-Doubt-about-Climate-Science-for-Decades-by-Stressing-Uncertainty 

Gold & War

Gold & War

QUESTION: Does war boost gold prices?

MM

ANSWER: No. The only impact that war will have on gold is confined to either prolonged inflation or the uncertainty of the victor — the hedge against government survival. War by itself is a non-event. Gold will rise ONLY when there is uncertainty because the currency of the government will not survive a loss or a win if it is Pyrrhic victory.

NeroSesJanus

So be careful. The gold promoters will tout that gold will soar if a war takes place. They did that with Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s. But war means nothing unless there is a rise in uncertainty as to who will win or the cost changes the economic trend in a Pyrrhic victory. The Romans closed or opened the door of the Temple of Janus for whom the month of January is named after based upon the existence of war. When the doors were closed, there was no war, so political uncertainty did not exist. When Rome was at war, the doors remained open as a symbol of political uncertainty. So this is a very familiar concept that has ancient roots.

Gold rose in value expressed within the local currency of any nation where its future existence came into question in both World War I and World War II. Capital will also attempt to move away from wherever the crisis might be. So war in Europe and the dollar rises. The Cuban Middle Crisis and the dollar declined as capital fled to Europe. Just because there is war somewhere, which there often is, has no impact upon gold unless your country is impacted with respect to confidence.

Progress in an Uncertain World

Progress in an Uncertain World

Strong Towns is often accused of offering doom-and-gloom diagnoses of problems but being light on solutions. “You don’t tell us what we can actually DO to fix our insolvent cities,” goes the response. “You’re just so negative all the time.” This is not true, but I also don’t think it’s true that these criticisms are made in bad faith.

Rather, I think we have articulated a vision of what should be done to build Strong Towns, and done so in great detail. But that vision is heavy on experimentation and small-scale risk-taking (with potentially great rewards). It is heavy on civic engagement and grassroots action. And it is notably light on technocratic policy interventions: to the extent we talk about policy, it’s often about what policy makers should NOT do, not what they should.

There is a good reason for this, and those with a technocratic mindset (i.e. that the problems of cities will be fixed by top-down, data-driven policy tinkering) would do well to consider it.

The City as Ecosystem

Chuck occasionally has called mathematician and risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb the “patron saint of Strong Towns thinking.” I strongly urge anyone who has not read Taleb to pick up his books—Antifragile if you’re only going to read one, but also Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. They are deeply intellectual and cross-disciplinary, but not overly wonky: accessible and entertaining for non-academic readers.

The central thesis of Taleb’s work is that complex systems are inherently unpredictable and prone to “Black Swan” events: unforeseeable and unprecedented cataclysmic changes. It’s not that we haven’t figured out yet how to completely predict their behavior; it’s that it is far from even mathematically possible for us to do so. Think of a natural ecosystem. Global weather patterns. The stock market. The human body. A city.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

FOURTH TURNING – THE SHADOW OF CRISIS HAS NOT PASSED – PART FOUR

FOURTH TURNING – THE SHADOW OF CRISIS HAS NOT PASSED – PART FOUR

In Part One of this article I explained the model of generational theory as conveyed by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning. In Part Two I provided an overwhelming avalanche of evidence this Crisis has only yet begun, with debt, civic decay and global disorder propelling the world towards the next more violent phase of this Crisis. In Part Three I addressed how the most likely clash on the horizon is between the government and the people. War on multiple fronts will thrust the world through the great gate of history towards an uncertain future.

War on Multiple Fronts

 

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe –The Fourth Turning

The drumbeats of war are pounding. Sanctions are implemented against any country that dares question American imperialism (Russia, Iran). Overthrow and ignominious imprisonment or death awaits any foreign leader questioning the petrodollar or standing in the way of America spreading democracy (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt). The mega-media complex of six corporations peddle the government issued pabulum about ISIS being an existential threat to our freedoms; Russia being led by the new Hitler and poised to take over Europe; Syria gassing innocent women and children; and Iran only six months away from a nuclear bomb (they’ve been six months away for the last fourteen years). Hollywood does their part with patriotic drivel like American Sniper, designed to compel low IQ unemployed American youths to swell with pride and march down to enlistment centers, located in our plentiful urban ghettos.

The most disconcerting aspect of Fourth Turnings is they have always climaxed with total destructive all-out war. Not wars to enrich arms dealers like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, but incomprehensibly violent, brutal, wars of annihilation. There are clear winners and losers at the conclusion of Fourth Turning wars. Leaders mobilize all forces, refuse to compromise, define their enemies in moral terms, demand sacrifice on the battlefield and home front, build the most destructive weapons imaginable, and employ those weapons to obtain victory at any cost.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Anxiety and Interest Rates: How Uncertainty Is Weighing on Us

Anxiety and Interest Rates: How Uncertainty Is Weighing on Us

Anxiety and uncertainty are weighing on individuals even where the overall economy is growing.

Some of this angst is the fallout from advances in information technology. The Internet, ubiquitous computing, robotics, 3-D printers and the like are wonderful advances, yet they may also be personal threats: For some, the technologies may eliminate our jobs or potential future jobs, or make them less lucrative. For others, they may bring new riches.

Even people with moderately high incomes have reason to be uncertain. Some college professors, tenured or not, might lose their jobs in the face ofmassive open online courses, while others prosper from them. Lawyers might find less demand for services that can be supplanted by computerized legal research tools. News and entertainment media have already faced huge technology-related job losses.

Such fears are not measured by the usual consumer confidence indexes. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index reached its highest level since 2004 in January. But this index, and others like it, look ahead only into the short term and report about perceived aggregate conditions rather than individual risks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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