Monday, 12 November 2012

09:24 – We did a Costco run and dinner with Mary and Paul yesterday. Neither of us needed very much, so it was a short run. We picked up a fresh supply of Coke for me, a couple of things I needed for kits, some stuff Barbara needed, and an extra couple or three weeks worth of canned food.

I can make a good excuse for my incorrect prediction that Romney was going to win in a landslide. Around here, it sure felt like the Democrats were in deep trouble. While the Democrats made gains or at least broke even in most of the other 49 states, North Carolina turned sharply right. This was the only battleground state won by Romney, but that was the least of it. We elected a Republican governor, replaced several Democrat US representatives with Republicans, and flooded the North Carolina house and senate with Republicans–it’s now almost 2:1–giving the Republicans a veto-proof majority in both houses. Republicans also dominated the other statewide races and at the city and county levels. Finally, the Republicans control the state supreme court, all of which makes North Carolina among the reddest of the red states. Don’t expect gay marriage or marijuana to be legalized here.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina government is busy burning down our nearest state park. They started an (un)controlled burn on Thursday at Pilot Mountain state park, intending to burn less than 200 acres. The fire has now burned more than 800 acres and is still not under control. It’s supposed to rain this evening and tomorrow, so perhaps that’ll help.

I’m working on kit stuff.

10:56 – Hmmm. The fustercluck in Greece continues, with no resolution in sight. Basically, the problem is that Greece is completely bankrupt, with huge outstanding debts, and no one wants to pay for them. The Troika–the EU, the ECB, and the IMF–are now bitterly divided on this issue. The IMF insists that it will not kick in any more money until Greece’s debt is somehow made “sustainable”. Meanwhile, the EU and ECB categorically refuse to take losses on the Greek debt they hold because their electorates, primarily the German people, would crucify them for doing so. So, the situation as of now is that the IMF is refusing further funds and the EU/ECB is refusing further funds. Neither of them is willing to budge.

The IMF has the whip hand. Their debt is senior to that held by the EU and ECB. So, at this point, the most likely outcome is that the IMF will walk away, leaving the EU and ECB holding the bag. The EU and the ECB are unlikely to throw good money after bad. It seems likely that the Greek debt that comes due this week will be paid off by an accounting trick. The ECB can allow Greek banks to increase the percentage of Greek bonds on their books, allowing the Greek banks to purchase the worthless bonds that Greece will issue to rollover those coming due. But in reality that translates to the ECB lending Greek banks yet more money that will never be repaid, so the question for Germany becomes whether it’s worth throwing away a few billion more euros to buy just a little more time. That’s the same situation Germany has been facing, and so far they’ve decided to throw away the money each time the situation has arisen. What Germany (Merkel) really wants is to put off the crash until she runs for reelection next autumn, but that’s becoming increasingly costly. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Merkel finally decided to bite the bullet and say enough is enough. If that happens, Greece goes completely belly up this week. If Merkel decides to pay one more time, Greece will totter on for a few more weeks.

Here in the US we have the upcoming so-called “fiscal cliff”, which the MSM describe as moderate tax increases coupled with dramatic spending cuts. In fact, it’s no such thing. It’s large tax increases coupled with spending increases that will be smaller than they might otherwise have been. No one, including the Republicans, is talking about actual cuts in spending. Why bother. They’ve dug us into a hole so deep that there’s no getting out of it. Might as well just continue digging. Our economy can’t get deader than dead.

The government figures on debt are even less trustworthy than their figures on inflation. I don’t even bother to keep track of what the government claims our debt is. Something like $17 trillion IIRC. In reality, as I’ve said before, if you calculate our debt honestly, including off-budget items, unfunded commitments, and realistic demographics and NPVs, our actual debt at all levels must exceed $100 trillion. I’ve seen credible figures claiming it’s well over $200 trillion. As Everett Dirksen famously said, “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money”. And we’re talking about debt levels four or five magnitudes higher. A billion dollars is more than $3 for every US citizen, man, woman, and child. A trillion dollars is $3,000 each. The $17 trillion the federal government admits to is more than $51,000 each. The real debt is almost certainly at least $300,000 per citizen and may be twice that. The obvious outcome is that those unfunded commitments aren’t going to be honored. Or they’ll be honored at face value with grossly inflated dollars. Either way, it’s not going to be pretty.

I’m working on kit stuff.

14:26 – For those of you who don’t read the comments…

It all makes sense now: Gay marriage legalized on the same day as marijuana makes perfect biblical sense. Leviticus 20:13: “A man who lays with another man should be stoned.” Our interpretation has just been wrong for all these years.

42 thoughts on “Monday, 12 November 2012”

  1. Took a trip out west last week to scatter my aunt’s ashes. Made it into a small vacation visiting Vancouver Canada, Port Townsend (to scatter the ashes), La Push Washington where clouds obscured the night sky and Seattle Washington. The URL is case sensitive.

    Some pictures at

    One more item to accomplish with my aunt is the final tax return. Should be fairly easy and technically does not have to be filed but I will anyway.

  2. Should be fairly easy and technically does not have to be filed but I will anyway.

    (Sorry for your loss.) True, but it could head off trouble in the future, as it tells the IRS that she’s passed away.

  3. I suspect the IRS already knows having been informed by the social security office and the VA.

    There is nothing to be sorry for, but thanks anyway. Her death was a long time coming and was in fact welcomed. She was not living but merely existing her mind long ago ravaged by dementia. Six years in assisted living, four years in a nursing home, the last couple of years spent sleeping with the occasional diaper change and feeding.

    I have been filing her returns for the last 10 years even though technically none was required. Her income from retirement was much less than the minimum to get taxed and her SSI was known to the IRS and below the taxable level. Every return was zero owed from either perspective. The filing just completes the journey. And closes any possible nastiness from the IRS.

  4. It all makes sense now: Gay marriage legalized on the same day as marijuana makes perfect biblical sense. Leviticus 20:13: “A man who lays with another man should be stoned.” Our interpretation has just been wrong for all these years.

  5. Here’s a link to a recent article on the unfunded liabilities.. They don’t multiply it out, but rather show per-person debt of $550,000. The multiplication comes out to $165 trillion.

    Here’s another report that includes many European countries. Unfortunately, the figures are several years old; most of the financial stuff seems to be from 2004/2005. Nonetheless interesting! The figures are presented as “present value of future liabilities as a percentage of the present value of future GDP”. The US value is 8.2%, which is essentially identical to the EU average of 8.3%. Germany is at 9.2%, Greece at 10.9%. As usual, Estonia is in the best financial position of any country within the EU.

  6. I’ve been thinking about the inflation thing. Especially after reading Pournelle’s website. and .

    Realistically, the inflation is probably running 1% per month on hard goods right now. Maybe 2% per month for some. That means the price for something that you buy for $1.00 this month will be $1.01 next month. Or, the worse case, the good will be smaller, like the Houston Chronicle which just reduced its print width from 13 inches to 11 inches. Or the canned meat that just went from 8 ounces to 7 ounces and has the audacity to claim “now better than ever” on the label. I just do not see it worth the extra money and storage space in order to purchase tomorrow’s goods today.

    However, the other side of rising prices is that the suppliers tend to go out of business as they cannot pass their price increases onto their customers. So next month, when you go to the supermarket, there are only 3 brands of kernel corn rather than the 4 brands they normally carry. Please, please, please let that dying brand be Del Monte and not Green Giant. So you might need to hoard in order to have your favorite brands for a time period.

    So, how do you hoard XXXXX store stuff for the long term? Storing gasoline requires a container able to contain pressure up to 3 to 4 atmospheres. Otherwise gasoline that is allowed to vent goes bad in 3 months or less depending on the ambient temperature and sun loading. I would really like to have 200 gallons of gasoline in my backyard right now in an old 250 gallon propane tank. All canned food dies within 3 years and who wants to eat 200 cans of pork and beans after the troubles are over? Of course, one can buy $10,000 of dried food that is good for 25 years but have you ever tasted that crap?

    And electricity is the biggest question of all. Without electricity, our economy will grind to a halt in three days or less. Most utilities don’t carry three days of diesel for their pumps, much less a week or two. We found out in hurricane Ike here in the Houston that over half of the diesel generators for the municipal water districts did not even start when the entire area lost power. That means no water pumps, no natural gas compressors and no gasoline pumps.

    Or is better to go buy all the buns and ammo one can right now so that you can take food and water away from the hoarders? Or just enough guns and ammo to protect one from the hoards of people that will be looking for food, guns and ammo? I really do not know the answer to these questions.

  7. ^”buns and ammo”^”guns and ammo”

    Sigh. Old eyes and the large floater in the right eye is really messing with me.

  8. Old eyes and the large floater in the right eye is really messing with me.

    Floaters can be eliminated. I had a vitrectomy done with both eyes. The rational for doing so was the vitreous gel was pulling on the retina so I had the gel removed. It also got rid of the floaters. Really a fairly trivial procedure that can scare the crap out of you, especially when the eye hemorrhages and you go blind for several days in the eye. But it all turned out quite well.

  9. I was surprised the other day when a friend who doesn’t really expect things to collapse in our lifetimes mentioned that they had guns to defend themselves if worse came to worst. Their primary defensive weapons are a 12 gauge for him and a 20 gauge for her. I said, “Yeah, but what about ammunition?”, expecting he’d say they had 25 or 50 rounds per gun. He said they had 500 rounds per gun. I said, “Yeah, but how much of that is buck and slugs?” He replied, “Some is birdshot, but quite a bit of it is buck and slugs.”

    Given that nearly all of my friends are really smart people, I don’t know why I’m surprised when they turn out to be sensible.

  10. Ray: Because of dust on my glasses and not because of floaters in my eyes, I read that as “I had a vasectomy done with both eyes.” Yah, I’d want to have both eyes open when deciding on having a vasectomy.

    RBT: You’re approximately the only person I’ve seen to use “if worse came to worst” correctly, rather than “if worse came to worse”.

    Lynn: Hie yourself over to . They have discussions of all those issues and more. Regarding food storage, I have some cans but mostly dried — beans and rice, other grains, some home made pemmican, and so on. It keeps approximately forever, but I keep it from getting too old by taking the old out of storage when I buy new. Also, even if food is “too old” and “not very tasty”, it beats the hell out of eating nothing.

  11. I read that as “I had a vasectomy done with both eyes.”

    Well, I have been called a “dick head” before.

  12. Reacting to the Patraeus affair, literal, I directed all my women friends to burn their computers in their fireplaces and do not ever again email each other.

  13. Mary Chervenak, on the other hand, showed up to vote on election day wearing her “I voted early” sticker from the last election. Heh, heh, heh.

  14. RBT: Was she at least given the hairy eyeball until “2008” was noticed on the sticker?

    OFD: As usual, Fred Reed seems to be making a couple of valid points in amongst the bullshit, paranoia, and outright wrong-headedness. And, as usual, the bullshit, paranoia, and outright wrong-headedness is so overwhelming that it makes me question my own conclusions because he agrees with something I already thought.

  15. As far as I remember, there were no dates on the I Voted Early stickers. Mary didn’t mention it, but I suspect no one cared.

  16. Fred and I share remarkably similar/overlapping experiences over the decades and wrongheaded and paranoid he may be and I may be, but we don’t pull these out of thin air or anyplace else. I disagree with him on moving out of the country and esp. on moving to Mexico, of all places, but to each his own. I also suspect he is probably not a traditionalist Latin Rite Roman Catholic convert from Anglicanism like moi. Mainly a pissed-off and frustrated ol’ country boy, ex-grunt and newspaper reporter/writer. I grew up in the burbs west of Boston and went to grad school but am still pissed off and frustrated and an ex-grunt.

  17. Been wasting some serious time on when I should be debugging a really nasty code problem. OK, I have decided that all I need to do stock up on is guns, ammo and chocolate: “Just followed a car this evening with a license plate frame that said “Just Put Down the Chocolate & Nobody Gets Hurt” and I thought of this topic. Had a discussion with my boss when he asked if I was one of those beans, bullets and band aid guys. I told him that I just planned to stock up on chocolate. A woman who was there agreed that after a couple of months without it, she’d turn over all her husband’s supplies and guns for chocolate.”

    I think that the gloom and doom people really, really need to watch “The Walking Dead” series. I have never seen anything so realistic where everything just goes so fraking wrong every time these people turn around. Now they are trying to clear the zombies out of an old prison so they can live there. Nothing can go wrong while 8 people take out 300+ zombies, right? I can barely stand to watch the shows now, they are so dark.

  18. Just come to Texas. I’ll swear that half of Mexico’s citizenry lives here now. Go to any construction site or get anything worked on in your house, hopefully you can communicate with at least one guy. My Spanish sucks but I am up to about 50 or 60 words and a lot of pointing at stuff. I think Fred could move here and still be somewhat happy, especially in the valley.

  19. Been wasting some serious time on

    Haha! I just totally suck. I not only admit it, I proclaim it.

    A chunk, but not a big enough chunk, of my stores is spices and other luxuries. I haven’t stocked up on tobacco because I live in NY and the tax is ridiculous, but I’ll ask my sister to bring a bunch from NC next time she visits. I don’t have chocolate stored, either, because it goes bad after a while and I’m concerned about critters getting into it — supposedly air-tight food storage containers are all well and good, but I can smell ten pounds of chocolate stored inside and must assume that critters have better noses than I.

    As for Fred Reed, his implicit claim that the European system is capitalism done right is naive. The Europeans had a significant economic boost from the Americans, both in the US paying through the nose for bases and in being able to devote a much smaller slice of their economy to defense because the US had them covered. Lately they’ve been deficit spending as badly as we have in order to support their “wonderful” health care.

    I’ll bring up the metric I’ve been using for years: ignore the bleaters. Watch the people voting with their feet. Watch the big-money professional investors. Sure, there’s some flow of Americans to Canada or to Europe, but from what I’ve seen, most of them were moochers going for the free health care, often because they have no useful skills with which to get a job providing health benefits. (Not that I’m in favor of the health biz mess we have in the US.)

    Fred Reed’s constant banging on one facet of a complex problem, and drastically misrepresenting other issues (eg, it wasn’t the US military that decided to invade the Middle East; that was a political decision), calls into severe question every one of his assertions and therefore the conclusions he allegedly reaches. Read him for entertainment if you like, but don’t make any decisions based on anything he writes.

  20. “Of course, one can buy $10,000 of dried food that is good for 25 years but have you ever tasted that crap?”

    I ordered a sample from Daily Bread. ChiliMac. Yum. As good as any Crat/Trat/MRE that I ever had. The kids approved, too. Costco also sells some 25-year freeze dried stuff on their web site. I think a big chunk of your stash should be freeze dried for the shelf life. You’ll need some cans if the water runs scarce. Rotate the canned goods in and out and leave the freeze dried for the real Barackalypse.

    I didn’t ask for a rep from Daily Bread to come by. That’s how they sell, come to your house for a demo, then try to get you to buy a years worth for your family. I’ve read in some prep forums that they aren’t too pushy and will work with you to buy smaller amounts at a time.

  21. What numbers are you using when you declare Texas a taker state, Lynn? The reason I’m asking is that I think every state is a taker state. It’s the miracle of deficit spending. I think you need to compare how much of a taker Texas is (proportional to payments or to population) against how much of a taker other states are. And I haven’t seen anything like trustworthy numbers all nicely tabulated. (And I don’t want to do the digging myself under the assumption that someone else has done it and I just can’t find it.)

  22. brad wrote:

    “@rick: ow, stop it, ow…”

    Come on you two, none of that stuff here. This is a family forum.

  23. Yah, Fred was wrong about Europe and a couple of things but he and I agree more than we disagree and I find him very entertaining as well.

    Mrs. OFD, by the way, is tonight in McAllen, TX, for a week of work. She has a bit of Spanish and we both dig locally ground Tex-Mex spices, which she will bring back by the bag.

  24. Because I saw a stat recently that 40% of jobs in Texas are min wage or thereabouts and all their kids are on CHIPS. Plus we get a lot of retirees here due to zero income tax. And did I mention all the immigrants?

    You know, you may be right, all states may be takers now. With the feddies approaching 50% more spending than income, wow. wow. wow.

    Dollar bills may be cheaper than toilet paper in a couple of years. Just not as absorbent.

  25. BTW, I use toilet paper pricing to measure inflation. The TP index. TP requires quality raw materials, lots of labor to gather same and lots of energy to convert from sawdust into paper. And lots of water (blue gold!).

    Five years ago, I was buying the Charmin soft TP super pack at Sam’s Club for $13. Five years before that it was $10. It is now approaching $20. 54% inflation over the last 5 years. 30% inflation for the previous 5 years.

    Do I see a geometric curve here? Anyone for 100% inflation over the next five years? 200%?

  26. Hey there’s always leaves, pine cones and corncobs. And don’t kid yerselves; we’ll be lighting our doobies and wiping our asses with Franklins.

    Speaking of doobies, that might be a field to get into; I’m also looking at distilling various beverages though I won’t be partaking myself. And don’t forget trade and barter goods; ciggies, booze, ammo, fishhooks, it’ll be great! Like the Ye Good Old Days on the ‘merkin Frontier!

  27. I just figure to wipe my butt with a small dog if the paper runs out. It’s not like small dogs are useful for anything else. Actually, I need to b) stock up on various paper products but first a) build a lockable supply room to keep my blasted wife from raiding the emergency supplies.

    It continually boggles my mind: my wife grew up in Mao’s China, with food shortages as well as shortages of every other damned thing. Yet she refuses to think about preparing for things falling apart, or even for the US going deeper into depression. Or even for a prolonged power failure. Stocking up on food and medicine and such now, while we’re employed, would seem to make basic sense. But, no, we won’t have to worry about disaster because it’s never happened and therefore never will happen. Or something like that. I confess the logic is difficult to follow. Bottom line, I have to keep most of the supplies in my office, where I can make sure they’re not raided. And I don’t have the room in here for a carton of toilet paper.

  28. And don’t think for a nanosecond that when you are proved right they will acknowledge same.

    We’re concentrating on bulk items for now; flour, cornmeal, rice, beans, pasta, sugar, salt, etc. and picking up canned goods when on sale, like tonight, Campbell’s tomato soup and the chicken-and-noodles were a buck a can at the local market. We will be hooking up with veggie and meat CSAs, also, since we now have a freezer for the latter, and I plan to learn canning myself. Raised-beds in the spring. Small attached greenhouses on our shed out back.

    I’ll have to hook up with the Mohawks and Hell’s Angels up this way for discounts on bulk ciggies and booze, though. Actually they’re further over to the west from here, upstate Vampire State, way north of SteveF down in the Vampire State tropics.

    I take it growing up in Mao’s China has pretty much been lost down the old memory hole once arrived here in the land of the big PX, eh? I have seen the phenomenon before; and its opposite; old fart vets who return to SEA and live there like princes real cheap on their pensions. Thought about it myself once or twice a long time ago but got hooked up again with an American, herself hailing from upstate NY originally. Glens Falls, Gateway to the Adirondacks. She believes in buying stuff as cheaply as possible and haunts secondhand and bargain joints. If and when she calls shortly, I will remind her to bag some nice Texas spices and chiles.

  29. My libertarian anarchist pal Billy Beck linked to this earlier: (the zombies are already here, he sez)

    “The teen also admitted that “this is really going to mess me up in the future.”

    Yo, Jake, you done missed yo calling, young dude; we needed you in the cities to pop the right targets, chump. I like your style of understatement, though; has flair.

  30. Funny, I find Fred’s latest column to be one of his better missives in recent times. While he tends to lots of adjectives, his points are all pretty much dead on: Obama or Romney, both lead to disaster. Europe is not, in fact, Socialist (with a bit ‘S’), although the politicians here still couldn’t balance their own checkbooks, much less their respective national budgets.

    Texas: I count myself a Texan, having been born there, gone to school there, and having probably too many relatives there. Problem is, there are at least three versions of Texas: There’s the cussed, independent “Don’t mess with Texas” stereotype (damn it, don’t remind us that “Don’t mess with Texas” was originally an anti-littering slogan). There is the stone ignorant Texas found in small towns that thinks high school football is a blood sport, thinks any war is a good war, love-it-or-leave-it rah rah America. This latter is the Texas lots of my family belongs to; the ones that told me I was unpatriotic to question why the Shrub felt so compelled to invade Iraq.

    Finally, there is the third Texas comprised of all the wannabe Texans, who are actually damned Yankees (in Dallas) and Californians (in Austin). The Yankees only care about making money, damn the ethics. The Californians bring the failed liberal politics that bankrupted California and intend to try again, because their intentions are pure. By now, these two groups outnumber all the other Texans put together, so they are the real “new” Texas.

    I didn’t mention the fourth Texas, the recent hispanic immigrants, because they generally just want to get on with life.

  31. Nah. Current evidence strongly suggests that Caucasians were the first Americans and that the illegal immigrants who migrated here from Asia wiped them out thousands of years ago.

  32. I mentioned that bit about original European colonists recently and the very possibility was shot down. “That’s just what you’d expect white people to say.” and similar comments. Because, after all, evidence is not to be counted unless it fits the dialog.

  33. According to Mittens weren’t the original inhabitants of America dark skinned Israelites?

  34. Stop it, stop it, youse guys are killin me here!

    Here’s the real deal: white mofos originally settled North America and Europe and China, the whole northern hemisphere. Then Asian types migrated north and messed everything up. Some of them intermarried with the Lost Tribe of Israelites and moved to Utah, where they are now breeding with space aliens.

    Yeah, any evidence of us hated white mofos being here first or in the western provinces of Red Chiner just won’t be examined by anyone seriously; it would screw up too much the usual suspects have invested on several levels. And that’s even before we get into how the southern Sudanese had their math and science and engineering stolen from them by those damn Greeks. Or the narrative where women really ruled the earth 500,000 years ago and then the damn patriarchy took over and fucked everything up.

    I swear these people should be cartoonists or comic book writers.

  35. I don’t think you’re quite right there, OFD. Area 54 is in Nevada, not Utah, so there must be some travel between states. Maybe some kind of visa program for little green men. If only I had magic golden glasses I’d be able to read the secret government documents about the program.

  36. Eh? Are you hinting that “Atoz” is an acronym for Alien Type of Zoophyte?

    By the way, I spazzed above. The second sentence should have been “… so for your breeding theory to be correct there must be some travel between states.”

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