Friday, October 24, 2014

They Tried to Prog My Aunt's Funeral

This is a personal post so you can stop reading if you don't care to read ramblings on dealing with death. I had an aunt who called me monthly. I had an aunt who sent me care packages in college loaded with candy that made my rich friends envious. I had an aunt who would talk to me about anything. I had an aunt who made it a point to spend time with, welcome in and get to know my wife. I had an aunt who commented on every damn Facebook picture or video upload of my kids. I was lucky enough that I had all of that in one woman. I am from a big family full of aunts, some great and some meh, but I lost my favorite. She died in July. I was thinking of her this week when the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" was on the radio in my car, and I heard my son singing back up with a little "woo woo" in time. I instinctively thought how she'd laugh at that. Everyone grieves differently and at different paces. This is part of it for me.

My aunt had no kids but poured her heart into her nieces and nephews. My sister and I were incredibly close to her because we were the oldest grandkids, and knew her when she could walk. We both spoke at her funeral. To show how perverse people are politically now, my aunt in charge of organizing speakers told my uncle, and thru my sister me, to lay off the religious stuff because my dead aunt wasn't into organized religion. It's a funeral. If someone speaks, be thankful they shared you idiots. That side is way too left, but "just win" left unlike my aunt who was so far left that her leftness and my rightness met at the "burn the system down to start anew" point. My sister took the comedy angle, while I played the sentimental. I wasn't going to lie, and neither did my sister. I loved my aunt dearly but she frustrated me so much. She had major flaws and made some bad decisions, and she would point them out for those of us younger than her to not do. She was in a biker gang out west, had done God knows what horrible things, and yet, always found a moment to send me a letter, a post card or a box with Fool's Gold in it, and always signed "Love you". When she finally kicked her drug habit and moved home, my sister and I were so happy. I told stories to explain to our family just how much she and I shared, but I wasn't going to pretend my Harley riding, jailbird, night owl aunt did not exist 25 years earlier. I filled the eulogy with special stories. One was training my kid to say goodnight and her nickname in time for her birthday, which with his speech delay and my secrecy was a pleasant shock for her that brought her tears of joy. There were two stories I couldn't share; I'll put them here as this blog is really for my mental release.

I couldn't share with my family the fun of being in a big family is that when a crisis hits, you see the informal networks. My sister's wedding reception table seating was like a Twitter network diagram because of who likes who and who hates who at that moment. In a big family, you can tell relatives to flip off because there are 5-10 other siblings to go buddy up with after that. My dad grew up dirt poor, and just about every dysfunction (substance abuse) or positive stereotype (hard working strivers) you associate with a poor upbringing is found in one or the other relative. My aunt and I, despite being a generation apart, were a major conduit of information. It was a back channel for approaching problems. About 8 years ago, she caught on that a younger cousin of mine, who was 13, might be gay. I had that suspicion, too. One dinner she talked to me and my wife about it, and voiced a specific concern, "with how much her mother made gay jokes, I don't see her accepting X. You're both young, you know gays. How'd your friends' parents handle it". I gave her the "things are different now" speech, and mentioned that the final confirmation of it hits anyone hard. I also said that if it happens, we still let X know that we love her, and she is still family. My aunt made a crack about her own problems in the past and people accepting her back. Years later, my cousin came out, and thanks to a decade extra of Hollywood brainwashing, it's all "super-awesome" and my cousin's parents' attitude about gays in the '80s and '90s is down the memory hole.

The other story, I had actually written into the eulogy. When I came to that part, I told them I couldn't read it because it came true and had hit me too hard. On the night I picked up my wife's engagement ring, I had a business dinner, so I had to get the ring right after work then go to the meal. As dessert came, I got a call. It was my aunt. She was in tears. I told her where I was and asked for 5 minutes. I hung up, said my good-byes to my business guests, and then spent an hour in the parking lot of the Cheesecake Factory in Burlington, Massachusetts. It wasn't a call aunts and nephews should have, but she and her husband were going through hard times (lost job, money, health, etc.). My aunt had poor health due to very poor lifestyle decisions she made and her smoking habit. I hit her with it. I told her how I was proposing, hoping to elope and that I worried she "would not live to see my children". She was in her late 40s when I said that to her. Now my aunt ended up dying a week before I brought my baby girl home to meet the big family for the first time. From the moment I heard the news of her death to when my wife arrived with the kids in Maine, I thought of how that worry came true.

When my relatives tried to prog the funeral, I thought, " Who did she call in her dark times? Not your spirit warrior prog self. Me. One of the few Christians". It's my relationship with her to share with them at that moment. They were fortunate to hear it. I am thankful for the time I spent with her. I am still angry that she missed out on my kids. I'm angry that I saw it coming and she knew that I saw this coming, but she could not kick her final habit. I will eventually let that go. Willpower was not her strength. It will sting for the near future as my kids do little things like drum solos to Pink Floyd songs or just being a 6 month old night owl that make me think of her. That pain will go away. She'll become a wild character for my kids to learn about, and for them to know that she loved them even if for a short while.

She loved Halloween, so I'm thinking of her because she loved the family costumes we have come up with (this year, it's all four of us). My aunt went out west for several years, raising hell yet always finding time to send my sister and I something. After she lost a leg, she sent a postcard that had a picture of a tombstone that said, "Here Lies the 1 Legged Bandit". She wrote on the back "Bastards have a spot picked out for me!". Always signing that she loved us. When she came back, we wondered how she'd be with us and were very happy to know the letters were real, the feelings were true, and it was what helped bring her back. She is part of why I believe in redemption, and giving people a second chance. Despite not believing in organized religion, she had seen enough to believe in the soul and that there was something out there tying us together. I know not everyone has kids. Some can be self centered, and some can make an effort to connect. After calming down and cleaning up, my aunt made a great effort to connect and love. I hope that at some point in all of your lives that someone unexpected can love you in an unexpected way.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Racism Stories Sportswriters Avoid

The media loves to talk about race. Loves to only talk about it in ways that fits the official narrative. Evil whites, oppressed blacks, nonexistent Asians and Hispanics, and nothing ever changes from 1865 unless it is a good white doing something for an oppressed black (sorry Asians and Hispanics, you don't exist to journalists). Sports writers love a good race story. The great white hope (boxing), the great black hope (quarterback), why aren't there any blacks in baseball, breaking color barriers are constant stories. One story that never gets explored is "why are blacks so racist when it comes to sports".

Just in the last month, two interesting news leaks or quotes have been out there that the media is delicately handling and not taking a moment to analyze or dig deeper. This is in comparison to the deep dive of American racism from leaked Richie Incognito texts that when fully revealed, show Incognito to be not the horrible racist the media portrayed him as and hinted at Jonathan Martin's agent knowing the media would portray it one way. Rookie Nik Stauskas said, "I understand that I'm a rookie and I'm white, so people are going to attack me at all times". After the Percy Harvin trade from the Seattle Seahawks, it has leaked that some players in the Seahawks organization feel Russell Wilson isn't black enough. Keep in mind we have a black president so white he makes Bryant Gumbel look militant.

The Stauskas comments have not created a firestorm of soul searching by NBA writers. The Russell Wilson comment is not putting blacks under the microscope for the concept of black enough. Stauskas is an NBA player voicing the idea that a white will have special focus from other players. I deliberately linked to the NY Daily News article because that writer, in true liberal fashion, managed to avoid the issue of black racism entirely and turn it into a way to talk about white racism. I tip my hat to the mental gymnastics that essay forced him to perform, and the fact that he will have to wake up knowing he is a whore in the service of progressive politics not a sportswriter. How many white kids shy away from basketball due to black behavior? How many American white males over 6'6" as a percentage of population are in the NBA compared to European white males over 6'6"?

Wilson's dilemma is sad. It is partly sad due to the accusation being a slight echo of the "cornball brother" comments about RG3. RG3 was a bit conservative and had a white girlfriend that he married before knocking up. Blacks once again question the blackness of someone, not due to genetic black lineage, but due to not conforming to behavioral norms. Could a single sportswriter connect the two and maybe, just maybe, expand the idea out to the broader cultural problem of black dysfunction? Nature and nurture work to mold people, and if NFL quarterbacks will get the "you are not one of us" treatment for having white friends or being well spoken, what chance does your black friends kid have if he wants to do well in school?

These are simple questions. White kids probably do avoid some sports. It's not all of them, but at the margins. Professional sports like anything elite are a giant funnel. Fewer kids going in means not as many will come out at the end. Let's reverse this. If a liberal is going to tell you that simply the institutional legacy of slavery that ended 150 years ago can affect a modern black kid's SAT scores, why can't tribal aggression on the court influence a white kid to put the ball down? If a million dollar quarterback will get questioned about belonging, any kid can and most kids will want to belong to the crowd. Trayvon and Michael Brown both had dads in their lives, but something happened where they still felt the need to shake down convenience store owners, steal stuff at school, charge cops and/or fat neighborhood watch guys. Let's not talk about that though. Only Southern white coaches can be racist. Everyone knows that.

Cross posted at SWPL Sports Review

The Perfect Retro Horror Film for Our Era

The whole world changes around you. You're the only one to notice the change, and no one believes you. This is the premise of one third of all Twilight Zone episodes. It is well used in the 1950s classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The film is a classic science fiction, horror film that holds up well for a variety of reasons. My wife fully expected a 1950s movie that would be borderline Mystery Science Theater 3000 cringe-worthy. She was surprised and enjoyed it. I have watched it multiple times, and appreciate the flick. It is helped by having only one recognizable face (the lead) and being in black and white. Invasion holds up well also because it is focused on the story and less on the effects. It is also a postcard of an America long gone. Let's think about the Invasion because sometimes it does feel like we are living in the movie today. 

Invasion was an adaptation of a science fiction novel. It differs from the book with less action fighting aliens, and less involvement by the FBI, but this was probably due to the limited budget and maybe a focus on the human element. Invasion is set in the small, fictional town of Santa Mira, California, with the small town farming feel to it combined with Main Street USA at Disney for the town center. It is set up as a frame story with a man raving about weird shenanigans. The madman is Dr. Miles Bennell, and this is his tale. Dr. Bennell returns home after being away for a while to some towns people he knows well complaining that their loved ones just ain't right. Something is the matter, but it is hard to point out. It is like they are another person, but everything appears normal. A second doctor, Dr. Kauffman, assures our hero that this is just mass hysteria, like a flu going around the town. Dr. Bennell has a love interest, Becky, a smoking hot brunette divorcee, and Dr. Bennell is divorced himself. They were college lovers, and there is plenty of flirting but it is cute 1950s kind of flirting. They even go out for a date to go dancing. "Dad, there were places people could go for dinner, drinks and classy dancing?" The film takes a turn when Bennell's friend Jack has a "thing" with his features in his home just lying around. They investigate the oddity. When Bennell returns Becky home, something she said and her father tinkering in the basement sends him back to investigate her cellar. He finds a duplicate of her in a cellar compartment, dunh-dunh-dunnnnnnnh. 

He calls the authorities, who come to find no duplicate, and the duplicate of his friend Jack (Jack's wife is played by young, bright eyed Morticia Adams) was just a madman killed in a barn later. Later Bennell finds pods out back that hatch not fully formed duplicates of him and his friends. They try to call the state capitol and the FBI, but the phone operator is one of them and won't put them through. Bennell sends his friends to make a run for it, and he and love interest try to recruit his nurse. She is one of them too, and they are installing the pods near the regular people to take over! There is a fight and they make a getaway. Eventually they get cornered by the authorities, and yes, they turned his friend Jack into one of them. See, the pod people come from spores in space, and they replace you, but you don't quite feel it. In fact, you don't feel anything. Feelings are gone. You are calm, cool and rational. No more conflict or stress. Why love? Love just leads to conflict. They place pods nearby, but the Doc has a few tricks up his sleeve. He and Becky overpower the trio. Straightforward action scene that feels more realistic than today's jump cuts and fast movement ADD scenes. Becky even helps Dr. Bennell take the trio down, but not in an obvious "this is some girl power" way, just simple strategy and fighting. 

The lovers make a run for it through the hills with pod people following. In the end, Becky falls asleep and is replaced by the pod person (vague on the replacement mechanism). She changes but not before sexy Becky says, "I don't want to live in a world without love or grief or beauty, I'd rather die". It is actually a touching scene, because they are alone. It's just them holding out. She changes though as she just could not stay awake. They get you in your sleep. Dr. Bennell must go it alone. Bennell eventually gets caught in traffic at night with the famous "You're next" scene. Do the authorities believe him? Come on, this is the 1950s. He is proven correct, and not mad, and the FBI is going to come in to tackle the problem. The pods may be on the move, but the FBI is on the case now. Aliens, watch your back. 

I would recommend this just for the black and white alone. Black and white has one major advantage over color: playing with shadow and light. There are shots in this movie that use shadow in a great way to convey menace, fear or get your attention. In color, it would not be possible. In black and white, light can appear where there should be no light source. Watch Strangers on a Train for the love canal scene to see shadow in black and white used to perfection. Another great example of this black and white advantage is in Schindler's List when the kid jumps into the outhouse toilet. It's obviously dark, yet when he is down in the crap, there is a perfect circle of light on him to show how he is alone and the other kids in the crapper don't want him there. There should be no light, but this is the beauty of black and white. Powerful. If you consider film one of the arts, black and white can be when film is deployed at its best. This film holds up better than other '50s sci-fi or horror because there are no special effects beyond the pods and the hatching of the pods. This is about a story, a mind switch. The story's power and fear helps Invasion hold up better than every "man in a rubber suit" or "pie plate flying saucer" movie. 

The wonderful thing here lost on many people is that the hero still trudges onward and does not give up despite having nothing personal to save. The '60s would also change film where rebels and flipping the old order for a loop would be portrayed heroic. In essence, that is the core message of Pleasantville that was set in the '50s but made in the '90s. If Invasion were made in the '70s, the heroes would have committed suicide, died, or been defeated. Amazing coincidence, Invasion was remade in the '70s and that is exactly what happened. The futility of any heroic effort was a theme to '70s flicks that Star Wars pushed back into the cellar. Even made today, there would have to be some personal reason the hero trudged on (a kid, his lover, etc.), unlike Dr. Bennell's sole purpose of fighting on for himself and to warn society. Bennell was part of something that he wanted to preserve and save. He was facing long odds, but he was not going to give up. He was going to try despite every pod alien telling him no, telling him he'd be better converting and telling him that it was inevitable. Audiences in 1956 identified with that obligation. After all, many of them were war veterans who had grown up in the Depression. Newer films' heroes need that personal reason, because we 21st century people need that reason. Being atomized, individuals seeking self actualization does not create selfless heroes to take out aliens when you have nothing left to protect. 

Something not lost on viewers of today is the obvious messaging, but here's where the horror goes deeper for us. Academics look at this and discuss the elements of fear of subversion but harp on the echoes of McCarthyism and hysteria. Normal human beings look at this and see this for what it is, those dirty commies could be next door and you would never know because they look and talk like us but there is something off about them. The fact that the FBI is called in as a reliable force is a signal for us normies since the FBI was the sole USG entity that even attempted to go after Communist infiltration on our shores in that era. The horror is that we have academics willing to push the McCarthy angle and disregard the slap you in the face obviousness of commie invasion. Our academics are the pod people. They see McCarthyism as a hysteria in this film when really the characters with the hunch something is wrong are correct, which is like McCarthy but not the meaning they want to assign McCarthyism.

Our invasion is ongoing. Just think back to your family members telling gay jokes 20 years ago, and listen to them prattle on how much they support same sex marriage now. They will practically exile you if you are not carrying the HIV blood stained rainbow flag. "But but my dad... he's the same... same look, same voice, same memories... he was against the Iraq war on principle but now he supports droning anything Muslim that walks and overthrowing Middle East dictators... he just loves gay guys now, not romantically, but he'll fight to the death for them to marry... he doesn't even know any gay guys! Worst part is that he won't even admit that he has changed. I'm not goin' mad am I, Doc? He changed overnight and is not the same person!" The Overton Window that moves left and sucks in your loved ones still leaves them behind intact except something is off. But you're not changed, and they won't admit it. In fact, when you try to tell them anything about the change, they look at you weird and say "yeah, well we evolve, man". 

You cannot even discuss the obvious changes because the pod people stop you. Simply looking at the avalanche from our borders should stop anyone cold for the rapid changes. Look at Invasion's setting. Santa Mira is a slight change from the real life Santa Maria, California but is the stand in as the town was used for exterior scene filming. What has happened to quiet little Santa Maria that was a cute All-American town in 1956. There was an invasion. Looking at the 2010 census, the town is now 70% Hispanic, and that is up from 47% in 2000. Roughly 45% of adults now have less than high school for educational attainment. They vote much more reliably Democrat now (Gore 47% in '00, Obama 57% in '12). Crime has popped up a bit after 2000, so the generational decline Pinker discusses is not being felt here. Santa Maria's invasion was an invasion of squatters. Guess the body snatchers got to them after all. 

The America in Invasion is lost. Nothing ever stays the same, change is always constant. The body snatchers walk amongst us, but at least now they have visual markers to signal their status, making it easier for us than Dr. Bennell. The mind virus that is progressivism is a horror, and it could happen to you. You could be next. Your lover... your kids. The subversion promises the gift of no more conflict, no more worries, no more struggle. It is a lie. It is a cheap bribe. Remember, Becky says she wants grief, not just love and beauty. Struggle, pain, enduring and overcoming are what make us human and what make us whole. Those trying times develop your soul. That is what Dr. Bennell and Becky were fighting off, the removal of their souls. Keep your wits about you, and fight. Dr. Bennell saw everyone he knew and cared for replaced, but he still trucked on to warn others. You might feel alone, but you're not. There are things worth fighting for, and you do belong to something greater than yourself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Oddities at Kenema Hospital in Sierra Leone

American panic over ebola has subsided a tiny bit. The government has responded with plans to get the military involved for rapid responses to new cases, limited airports that will take passengers from infected nations, an ebola czar and beefed up screening process. It all seems half assed. America still only has 117 hospital bed units that can handle level four contagious diseases. Even a spread to 150 people would be a major problem for our medical system. Things do not appear to be going well in west Africa either as case numbers still rise and officials claim more are dying, but the dead are just hidden now. Conspiracy theories are running wild now because of massive distrust in the USG, the locals involved and the connections between USG-ebola-ground zero. The Kenema hospital in Sierra Leone is a focus for west African anger and has odd connections to the USG.

This is not a conspiracy theory. This is just to lay out some odd stories and facts about the Kenema hospital, which is right near ground zero along the Guinea-Sierra Leone border. The Kenema hospital also has a research facility attached to it. The Kenema hospital was a partner in the Viral Hemorrhagic Consortium, based in the US, because of its specialty in handling Lassa Fever. They have expanded their research to include ebola. The research is done is a special, unattached building with specific protective protocols to prevent contamination between the hospital and the research facility. Kenema expanded research to include other hemorrhagic diseases, including ebola, and just in January had received a deal worth $140 million with the Department of Defense and the pharmaceutical company Tekmira to conduct trials (Phase 1 style) for an ebola vaccine. Do vaccines sometimes get tested on people in devious manners? Yes. Do third world countries have worse health infrastructure? Yes. Has this new ebola virus even overcome first world hospital protocols? Yes.

The Viral Hemorrhagic Consortium is a new creation. It was started in 2010 after Tulane University received a five year $15 million contract from the NIH. The focus was on Lassa Fever due to its possibility as a biological weapon. From day one, Kenema hospital has been a part of the consortium due to its proximity to so many infectious hemorrhagic diseases. What is interesting is how the money the Kenema hospital received for various contracts did not improve their containment capabilities. Besides proximity to disease sources, why put such a risky research facility in an area where people have an odd understanding of modern medicine sometimes still using traditional mystical ways? Whether improperly blamed or not, the hospital was a source of frustration for locals as the ebola outbreak happened. This is the Sierra Leone hospital that required military protection as the locals blamed it for the virus spreading and rioted. Supposedly, a mentally deranged nurse spread a rumor that the facility was infecting people with ebola. The facility is now abandoned. The odd coincidence is that new cases of ebola in Kenema have dropped to almost none. This is after cases exploded in the summer time.

This is not to blame the outbreak on a medical research facility. That is straight out of Resident Evil. There is enough confusion and misinformation out there about what is going on or went on in west Africa. A main point is that this ebola virus is different, is mutating different, and is spreading differently. There could be absolutely nothing to the Kenema research facility and ebola or there could be a connection. Transparency would be appreciated. There is probably nothing to this. The overreaction by locals is most likely just a scapegoat moment for a disease that is horrible and has no cure. The problem is that we will never get an official explanation or revelation and this little research facility with shoddy looking buildings will become part of a west African myth about the outbreak of ebola in 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How They Keep Enterovirus 68 Numbers Down

"You know your child might have that enterovirus that is going around. Wellllllll the test for it takes time and there is no antibiotic or special treatment for it. It just has to run its course. Just check for wet diapers and make sure your baby is hydrated. Thanks, buh-bye."

That is the gist of how the doctor talked to my wife when she brought our daughter in for a really weird emergency a few weekends ago. My daughter had an eye irritation. Wife brought her to the clinic. She was around plenty of sick kids there. She developed what seemed like a cold, which my wife caught as well. A few days later, my daughter was acting funny. Her breathing was off. We put her down for a nap, then she woke up crying, shaking and running a fever. She felt cold to the touch and her lips and hands were purple. I run warm, so I held her, but she quivered away. Her temperature got to 102 at the hospital, but it eventually came down. She came home, and the worst had passed. She slowly got better. My wife kept coughing for a few weeks.

That weekend doctor speech flew under our radar until that little boy died from enterovirus 68. I share this just to say, whatever the case count is for enterovirus 68, it is a massive undercount. They are probably getting away with this because there is no cure, it is a lot like the flu and rarely does it kill. They can keep official numbers down to the high risk kids; those with asthma or bronchial problems. It would be incredibly bad optics for our CDC if the enterovirus was running rampant through the nation while they are suppose to be the knights in medical suits to protect us from ebola.

People might also ask about how this virus that rarely happens has had a massive outbreak in the US this fall. People might also wonder about the tales from doctors and nurses that tell of government officials criticizing them for publicizing any medical problems with the little kids who somehow made it up from central America through Mexico to the US completely without the aid of adults. People might also find that those types of viruses are common in Latin American countries that are the source of these parentless immigrant children. At least one politician noticed it, but he's just a xenophobic right winger. Nothing to see here, move along.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Oil Weapon Can Backfire

The oil weapon has a long history. It pre-dates the 1973 oil embargo. The oil weapon was first used when the US placed an oil embargo on Japan in 1940. This set the ball in motion for war in the east as Japan had two years worth of oil stored. A Pacific with different European powers, America and Japan all having interests was replaced with an American dominated Pacific. The oil weapon is making a comeback now in a weird repeat of an urban legend from the '80s. Geopolitical battles involve many different types of weapons, and in the age of American military dominance, will force others into other competitive realms. Per recent reports, the Saudis are pumping oil with no regard for how low the price goes in hopes of punishing both Iran and Russia. This has the chance for major blowback and unintentionally wrecking the petrodollar system.

The price of oil is dropping like a rock, which is partly due to supply and partly due to trader manipulation. With the full force of the printing press backing trades, the FED can fiddle with the price of oil if it wants. Besides that, economic activity is clearly stalled or looking shakier than official statistics show. Supply of oil is still going strong, so we have more oil than demand. The Saudis do not want to cut back, which ahem, makes no sense given their repeated claims before that the world should get used to $100/barrel oil. With a drop in the price of oil, it ruins the balance sheets of Russian, Iranian and every single other nation that depends on oil revenues for government expenditures. Russia and Iran need high oil for their governments, but Russia's debt to GDP ratio is incredibly low, so a temporary deficit situation could be easier to weather. This looks like a poorly planned and public version of the '80s Reagan administration-House of Saud deal to pump up supply while the US reduced consumption to flood the world with oil and destroy Soviet balance sheets, bankrupting and ruining the USSR.

This is poorly planned because history is not a perfect repeat cycle. Right now, the US is far more leveraged in all regards. The US Dollar system itself is in a weaker position. The Saudis also have to maintain a high price of oil for their own peasant pacification programs, and a Saudi prince has expressed his displeasure with this. Other petro-states are in a similar bind. No entity is a monolith, and the Saudis are no exception. The Saudis also needed the US more in the '80s. There is another quirk at play. As I wrote before, the US petrodollar system has been boosted recently by the massive jump in oil production through the shale plays. The stabilization in our oil import bill gave our global financial efforts some credibility. If oil drops from $100 to $70, how many shale rigs shut down? How much production goes away? How many shale firms running on massive cheap debt go under? If they go under and production drops, our import bill will rise even if the price drops because how many companies will restart or re-drill since well depletion is so quick? It might not happen if the knock on effect of shutting down shale production creates a problem for the dollar and interest rates.

That is the core of the problem. The US elite may be getting to clever by half by resorting to this old weapon. The move will hurt Russia and Iran. The move will hurt Saudi Arabia in return. The move may hurt the US balance of payment issue and cause further concern by others that the dollar is not secure. Interest rates are tanking again, so maybe the lords of the universe have a bit more time to hoodwink the world out of more loot and maintain control indefinitely. It is an oddball coalition for Team America both domestic and foreign. America has interests, not allies or enemies, and the American regime's interests is maintaining control. That is also the interest of different ruling cadres for our allies, so how far are the Saudis willing to go before they have to roll the tanks out again on their people? The tools are the same, but the environment is different now. All things come to an end. All regimes fall. This one is no different.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

China Can Deploy Sanctions Too

There has been much trumpeting of US sanctions against Russia for uhhh, gays, uhhh Ukraine, uhhh the Crimea, whatever the excuse is for a nation resisting American borg assimilation. Russia has made nice with China to the tune of hundreds of billions in economic deals. If not soon, when China fully confronts the US, someone will write a "Who Lost China Part Deux" column. Forgotten will be moves in the '90s that allowed for China to have more independence and American self inflicted wounds, and Putin will get some credit for seeing the Chimerica split. Sanctions go both ways, and not just with Russia's counter-sanctions on imports. China recently hit an American ally, Australia, with a pretty stiff coal import tariff.

Australia is not to be laughed at as an ally. It is an important commodities producer. It is part of the Anglosphere. It has also participated in each military engagement led by the US after World War Two (including Vietnam). America has a military presence there, and has a long history of cooperation with the Australian military. They are an important Pacific partner. They also have had a huge housing bubble, sucked in tons of Chinese money the last decade, and have been feeding the dragon with raw materials for a long time. Australia has invested immense dollars and resources into developing their coal sector to meet Chinese demand. China hit them with a 3% import tariff on coking coal and a 6% tariff on non-coking coal. China had been shifting coal import sourcing already, but this stings Australia's mining sector. If you think this is worldwide on China's part, they gave Indonesia a nice exemption for coal imports since the Indonesian coal is cleaner. Not hard to piece together the fact that Russian natural gas could further reduce China's use for Australian coal.

The global chessboard truly is a big board with many players and different moves. While the dominant player for now, America and her allies have weak spots and can be subject to pressure just like Russia and China. Australia's commodities boom has strengthened their currency, has fed the housing boom and boosted their consumer sector. With the leverage in place in Australia, it would not take much of a reduction at the margin for foreign commodity demand to pop their entire bubble economy. After all, the US financial crisis of 2008 was started because by late 2005, we had run out of greater fools to buy homes in sand states and the Ponzi buyers had lost the asset inflation power to sell for higher to cover their borrowing costs. We are just in the phase of sanctions and minor trade war moves. Looking at moves on the back pages, and not just from the regime's propaganda shills, is a good indicator of who exactly is hurting whom.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Open David Lynch Thread

After writing about David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, I thought I would leave this post open for any comments on what you would consider his best work. I do not have many comment droppers, but you lurkers are invited to leave a quick suggestion or explanation for what you consider his best film or work. I have not seen everything he has done, but enough to be familiar with the probable works selected. 

I'll take your comments and paste them into the blog entry with your name to identify your choice.