Oil & The Economy Collide

“There are too many ugly balance sheets,” warns one energy industry analyst, adding simply that “the group is not positioned for this downturn.” While the mainstream media continues to chant the happy-clappy side of lower oil prices, spewing various statistics about how the down-side of low oil prices is contained and the huge colossal massive tax cut means everything is awesome for America, the data – and now actions – do not bear this out.” – Zero Hedge

We all knew oil was an Achilles Hell. We all knew the economy was an Achilles Heel. Funny how we now see the two colliding. The currency war is really starting to come out of the shadows now.

What’s Your Threat Score? Green, Yellow or Red?

Crunching all the database information in a matter of seconds, the Beware algorithm then assigns a score and “threat rating” to a person — green, yellow or red. It sends that rating to a requesting officer.

For example, working off a home address, Beware can send an officer basic information about who lives there, their cell phone numbers, whether they have past convictions and the cars registered to the address. Police have had access to this information before, but Beware makes it available immediately.” – Reuters

George Orwell was just 30 years off. I’ve assumed this for years, but now we all know that the government is actively monitoring everyone for pre crime profiling.

What bothers me (second) most about this domestic surveillance is that it’s ineffective for catching the smartest criminals. Those folks have probably also assumed that this technology has been available for some time; so they’ve already learned to hide their activities and only publish ‘green’ behavior online – masking their real intentions.

Law abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment rights (or just spewing their opinion) are the folks that would trigger a system like this and be labeled ‘red’.

So while law enforcement focuses on the ‘red’ loud mouths, the truly dangerous people are free to carry out their evil plans – theoretically speaking.

Photo above of Tom Cruise in Minority Report by 20th Century Fox. Photo below from the movie 1984.


Asteroid Awareness Day slated for June 30, 2015

A central focus of the event was the release of a 100x Declaration, calling for the hundredfold increase in the detection and monitoring of asteroids. Lord Rees read the declaration, which resolves to “solve humanity’s greatest challenges to safeguard our families and quality of life on Earth in the future.” – Astronomy.com

A rumor is emerging from the online doom & gloom community. Apparently, as the story goes, a large asteroid is scheduled to impact the Atlantic Ocean somewhere northeast of Brazil, at about the same time as Asteroid Awareness Day.

Before you go out and build yourself a bunker, remember this story comes to you from the same folks that brought you news of the 2012 doomsday. So until any real evidence is presented there is no need to panic.

But this is not a call to go back to sleep.

What to do?

Change is a constant, and things have been pretty stable for America for the last 50 years. Many people also seem to think that exponential growth is normal. If you’re bad at math, you might even believe that exponential growth can be maintained exponentially.

At some point, some catalyst for change is bound to knock that exponential curve back down and we’ll need to rethink how we live and adjust. The problem is that when you’re atop an exponential curve (think cliff), its a long way back down to normal (think bottom of cliff).

The pressure to seek equilibrium is also so great at the top that the chances of things changing in a snap are greatly increases. So no matter the change event: asteroid impact, economic downturn, energy crisis, war, etc… the chance of change on the horizon is higher the higher we go.

Those of us that are prepared to downsize, live more sustainably and self-sufficiently, will find it easier to traverse the distance between the top of the cliff and the bottom.


Rumors that Ferguson Residents are Arming-Up

Law enforcement in the Ferguson area are preparing for potential protests and riots following the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown investigation, which is expected sometime this month.Talking to “St. Louis Coptalk” forum, a supposed police officer in the Ferguson area issued a warning to others in the community to “protect” their families with firearms.Many posting in the forum expressed fears that demonstrators will take to the streets regardless of the decision made in the Aug. 9 shooting death of the 18-year-old by officer Darren Wilson.” – CBS St. Louis

I’m pro self-defense and Second Amendment – but this is very concerning. The first round of protests in Ferguson, Missouri were relatively peaceful. But now we keep hearing little news blips that Ferguson residents may be arming-up.

The problem with this is that without training a population suddenly armed is not necessarily safer. Firearms are great personal defense tools, but tools require training and practice – especially ones that can deliver deadly force.

This news also hints that this round of protests may turn violent. We can also be certain that the National Guard and law enforcement are aware of the rising threat of firearms and will come to the streets prepared for that contingency.

This whole Ferguson thing seems to be really spiraling out of control. Hopefully it turns out to be nothing more than a media circus.

What to do?

If I lived in a place about to explode I think I’d do a few things:

  1. Enhance the passive defenses of my home. This might even be to shore up a single room to use as a safe room. Walls are not bullet or fire proof but with a little effort they can be retrofitted. I’d expect more firebomb & handgun use in a riot so the bullet proofing would not need to be extreme since handgun rounds have less penetration ability than rifles. Exterior fireproofing and window protections should be the top priority since that threat can be much more dangerous than stray bullets.
  2. Prepare a better first aid kit in case someone gets shot.
  3. Store extra food and water just like one might for an earthquake or storm.
  4. Have a way to keep warm without the grid since the weather has turned so cold.
  5. Have an exit plan to evacuate if things turn really bad. A full tank of gas and a place to go via side roads might be a good start.


Short Note on Facing Vulnerabilities

While shows like this serve as fear p*rn for some; they also illustrate some of the core vulnerabilities of our civilization. Look around your home at all the things you depend on like the water, power, natural gas, flushing toilets, etc. Do you rely on these things, or are they only there for comfort? What would life be like if these things were gone? Do you have a back-up plan?

Most folks dismiss questions like this because they assume the chances of a wide-spread calamity is unlikely. But did you know that large corporations ask themselves these questions and write-up business continuity plans to prevent disaster when unexpected occur? Prudence and planning isn’t paranoid… it’s what people who live strategically do every day.

Facebook Kills Social for Profit – Transforms into Facebuck

Facebook will change the news feed to decrease the number of blatant promotional messages people see… The move essentially devalues the posts brands push out from their Pages, which may mean more paid advertisement revenue for Facebook.” – Facebook To Companies: No More Free Ride FB – SFGate.

What’s happening? When you ‘like’ something on Facebook it doesn’t mean you want to ‘follow‘ or ‘subscribe‘ anymore – it now essentially triggers the collection of interest meta data so Facebook can show you more relevant ads.

If I owned any Facebook stock, I’d sell immediately. This is not financial advice, just what I would do.

Why? No, no, not for ethical reasons – although those would be valid. My main reason would be that these new policies effectively kill the social aspect of Facebook. If some centrally managed profit-minded master algorithm controls what I see on Facebook, then the experience is no longer social. It’s managed.

Conversely, if I follow an individual or business on Twitter, all their posts are delivered to my home timeline unless its true spam. It’s left up to me to unfollow folks that post stuff I think is junk. People that make noise are naturally tuned-out as others chose to unfollow them.

Today Facebook manages the experience, not the people, so it’s no longer a truly social site. It’s a centrally managed content delivery platform that learns what people like and then delivers the appropriate content including a high percentage of advertisements that look like followed content.

This approach will eventually kill Facebook if the trend continues. When people realize that they are no longer receiving what they want to see, they will leave.

Facebook management is likely attempting to manage this potential exodus by monitoring user activity versus ad levels. But any centrally managed system ultimately fails – just like our managed and manipulated economy. While central management can produce results for a period of time, it ultimately fails because it’s not a natural system that constantly seeks a sustainable balance.

People, on a truly social site, is a natural system of sorts. It’s the human (natural) element constantly seeking balance through selection that leads to a successful social balance. In other words people get what they want because they choose to see it.

Many investors won’t initially see this transformation from Facebook into Facebuck as a problem. They will see the initial spike in profit and cheer. These people are also steeped in the centralist mindset, preferring central management to natural balance via free market virtues.

Eventually they’ll wake up to the reality that something is wrong when people begin to leave Facebuck. They’ll probably blame the way the system is centrally managed, but I suspect they’ll never blame the centralist culture itself. For that awakening they’ll need a stronger signal.

What to do?

  • If you’re a social media professional using Facebook as a marketing platform, be prepared to pay more, More, MORE – and immediately begin to diversify your development of channels including reverting back to old-school SEO and email marketing.
  • If you’re a Facebook stockholder – be warned. Watch the trends closely for the looming collapse and sell before your investment becomes a statistic.
  • If you’re a avid Facebook user, notice how your timeline is changing and how you see fewer posts from friends and pages you follow. Check out Twitter again and up-and-comer Ello.
  • If you’re a social media startup entrepreneur looking for an opportunity, see this critical flaw in Facebook’s monetization strategy and don’t replicate it. Choose instead to allow people to self-select and embrace a decentralized, crowd-sourced, content delivery strategy; and choose a monetization strategy that enhances the user experience instead of one that replaces it.
  • If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, consider giving users a true ‘follow’ or ‘subscribe’ button. This will allow you to continue on your path while giving users a mechanism for opting-into content they always want to see in their timelines. Then, jump-start an ad network to rival AdSense. This will allow you to monetize the traffic that leaves Facebook and partner more closely with content creators. Instead of alienating bloggers and corporations by forcing them to pay to play – turn on the revenue tap, let the traffic flow, and collect ad revenue as people come and go. Just be sure to build that ad publishing network that can coexist with AdSense, and you’ll have bloggers and content creators lining up to join. The icing on the cake would be to share content publishing best practices with page owners. Revealing this secret sauce would help content creators optimize their campaigns from the start and reduce noise. In other words if people are told that a  certain behavior will benefit them, they will do it – just tell them and in practice they will see.

I’m not opposed to Facebook becoming more profitable. I just think most folks can’t see their own centralist bias – and how in the end it destroys. Our cultures pendulum has been swinging toward the centralist side for some time, and we see the resistance and limits to the trend building. I think this is really the core reason companies like Facebook make decisions like these… it’s a cultural trend thing.

At some point they’ll see something is not working and look for a change. The only true change would be to change the paradigm, in this case think decentralist again, and avoid trying to fix the current paradigm.


It Looks like the Bubble May Pop… Again

Here are just two data points hinting at big potential movement in the real estate market. Sounds like the click of seat belts to me… buckle-up buttercups.

Royal Bank of Scotland Plcs RBS.L securities unit will now exit its U.S. mortgage trading business after originally planning to shrink it by two-thirds.Exiting mortgage backed-security, commercial real estate and commercial mortgage-bond sales and trading “is a necessary part of repositioning our US business,” an RBS spokesman said in an emailed statement.” – Reuters

…billionaire Tilman Fertitta [issues] …dire warning about the state of the “crazy” US real estate market, which he believes set for an imminent crash… That, and his take on inflation: “There is huge inflation going on right now.” – Bloomberg TV via Zero Hedge

Meanwhile from the rising East we hear the clink-clank of stacking gold bars. I don’t read this as economic war preparations – that’s been going on for a long time. To me it just sounds like more seat belts clicking.

Just as China is buying ‘cheap’ oil with both hands and feet, so Russia, according to the latest data from The World Gold Council (WGC) has been buying gold in huge size. Dwarfing the rest of the world’s buying in Q3, Russia added a stunning 55 tonnes to its reserves, as The Telegraph reports, Putin is taking advantage of lower gold prices to pack the vaults of Russia’s central bank with bullion as it prepares for the possibility of a long, drawn-out economic war with the West.” – Zero Hedge

If you mix in all the news about the world walking away from the U.S. Dollar for trade it’s clear… the global economy is gearing up for a reset – again.

What to do?

  1. When it pops, don’t panic. Many of us woke-up the last time the bubble popped. I suspect more folks will follow soon.
  2. Have a transition plan that includes shelter, food, work. Think of this plan as a bridge over the ravine the powers-that-be dug with their artificial stimulus and market rigging.
  3. Consider extreme downsizing – like a small or tiny house.

Someone Dumping Gold Futures

Tonight, with over 13,000 contracts being flushed through Gold – amounting to over $1.5 billion notional, gold prices tumbled $20 to $1151 its lowest level since April 2010. Silver is well through $16 and back at Feb 2010 lows. The USDollar is also surging.” – Zero Hedge

Might be a good opportunity to buy physical gold and silver. I bet the Chinese are cheering since they’ve been buying it by the ton and are in for the long haul with the physical stuff.

Day 32 of Ebola in the USA: Narratives Collide

The Spanish government said it is concerned that terrorists could use the Ebola virus as a biological weapon against the West. A close eye is being kept on online chat rooms, where such attacks are reportedly discussed among jihadist groups.” – RT News

I was wondering when the leading fear narratives in the media would collide, and now they have. Since Ebola news has dominated the media we’ve not heard much about the Islamic State… well I suspect that’s about to change.

The Spanish Government has, in a very public move, let the world know that they have reason to believe that the Islamic State is considering weaponizing Ebola.

In other recent news, ECDC reports that Ebola can be transmitted by droplets, Canada is suspending visa applications from Ebola affected nations, and researchers have shown that the Ebola virus may be able to live on glass in low temperatures for up to 50 days.

So I repeat this bad news not to amplify the fear mongering… but to point out that the trends show this is may cause panic and more uncertainty.

What to do?

  • Tune out the noise, listen for the trends.
  • Realize that the underlying net effect of all this… if true… would result in the destabilization.
  • Work toward building backup plans that can help you through hard times.


Flying Car: Example of Why the Acquisition Paradigm Is so Powerful

The thirst for more knowledge, achievements, advancements, etc drives the human race today, but it’s a double-edged sword. The bright side of putting acquisition above everything else is achievements like this flying car by AeroMobil. The dark blood-stained side are the wars we fight for economic strength & stability. Can we have the light without the dark? Can we balance our greed and lust for acquiring more with everything else? Can we put balance over acquisition and still achieve amazing things like this flying car? I hope so, because if we can we will reach the stars.