Satiating arrogance

To: America
Subject: Work

Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke says that in the next decades the USA will “have to reallocate resources towards manufacturing and other export industries” to make payments on assets owned by foreigners.

Put that in your pipe. [very bottom of page, Financial Times]

A forgotten use of oil

Peter Pond, YankeeFive hundred miles north of Montana is the Alberta Tar Sands, site of a booming oil economy that is changing the industrial structure of western Canada.

But there had been a previous economic boom in the area.

First Nations Cree used the sticky surface deposits of tar to waterproof their canoe. When Peter Pond arrived in the 1770s, he quickly created a new commodity for traders and boat builders across North America.

“Peter Pond stalked into the hall, a pack of dogs at his heels. The gray-haired giant had not shaved in weeks, his buckskins were stained, and he was badly in need of a bath.

“But his natural dignity was overwhelming. He ate a large venison steak, a platter of bear-bacon, and a moose liver. He insisted his dogs be given fresh meat, too.”

From the Peter Pond Society:
Peter Pond (1740-1807) made the first maps of North America west of Hudson’s Bay. The European frontier was his trading post on the Athabasca River near today’s oil sands projects. [area wiki]

While a co-founder of the Northwest Company, Pond had inspired Alexander Mackenzie to become the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean overland across North America in 1793. Thomas Jefferson’s famous Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the Pacific in 1805.

Incidentally, as well as fur pelts another principal frontier product was making pounded meat called pemmican, longer lasting and more nutritious than today’s jerky. Flattened by pounding with stones and mixed with fat, the dried meat was a food staple for decades, commanding top prices and diverting the use of tallow from the candle market. Trading posts aggressively bartered for pemmican supplies using liquor, tobacco, powder, balls, knives, awls, brass rings, brass wire, blue beads and trinkets. [An insightful story of frontier pemmican here] An odd use of frontier animals was spreading beaver tail fat on a canoe to lubricate its speed in the water.

NB:

My great grandfather is honored as a ‘Royal Canadian Gentleman Adventurer of the Hudson Bay’. While giving steps and river journeys across then wilderness from Tennessee, Nebraska, Minnesota, the Dakotas and the provinces Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, he looked for lands where folks could settle.

The story I remember from my grandfather is his father’s pride in discovering the waters, land for crops, and ridges of good defense near the land now known as North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

In those mid-1800s, think a moment why a good name for a settlement would be North Battleford. Telling fellow pioneers of a place in the wilderness where its lands will feed you, he also said it will help defend a likely battle and you may escape at a place to cross the river.

As we garrison the globe

Surge this:

The Pentagon’s growing coziness with fundamentalist evangelical religious groups.

…this imperious contagion of constitutional triumphalism

….this fanatical Dominionist Christianity

…swept like a tsunami all the way through 737 US military installations

Lost plane wrecks in Nevada

Parachute for small planesEach day a plane wreck has been found while searching for adventurer Steve Fosset over an area twice the size of New Jersey.

“Over the last 50 years more than 150 small planes have disappeared in Nevada, a state with more than 300 mountain ranges carved with steep ravines, covered with sagebrush and pinon pine trees and with peaks rising to 11,000 feet.

“FAA inspectors will be sent to each of the newly discovered wrecks to identify pilots, yet the report states that no human remains have been found at any of the six crash sites discovered so far.”

[story at clumsy Yahoo News]

Scrooge arrives early

Hoarding is not a good thing. It seems smart at first blush to buy early and buy extra, but it harms dozens of supply chain vendors and requires distended investment to bring inventory levels back to normal.

After a few decades ‘hoarding’ cheap goods from China, the negative effects may be coming home. Mark Kleinman writing for The Telegraph warns that China wants to ruin Christmas this year by dramatically lifting prices.

Citing price increases in the DIY tools sector, Mark reveals that as China’s modernization increases its costs, manufacturers are asking for higher prices across the board.

But don’t rush out to buy Christmas presents. Save your cash for next year. Costs are rising worldwide.

An interesting sidebar in this story is China’s effort to save production costs by moving factories to Mexico!

Where credit hides

In a Labor Day post, I pointed to Jeb Bush the Younger practicing as a Washington lobbyist for the buyout sector, The Buyout Whisperer.

This short update points out that while the ‘little guy’ failing to make mortgage payments is being blamed for economic hiccups around the world, the real credit squeeze is likely from the hundreds of billions steered into taking public companies out of regulated stock markets. The Times tries to explain:

[Upcoming are] $380 billion of loans and bonds to be laid off from leveraged buyouts and other private-equity deals at a time when the markets have shifted sharply against them.

The crisis has led to a big change in interest-rate expectations.

New era of war games

Chinese military hackers have prepared a detailed plan to disable America’s aircraft battle carrier fleet with a devastating cyber attack, according to a Pentagon report obtained by The Times. offensive computer operations as “critical to seize the initiative”

http://bulletin.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=292619

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/tim_watkin/2007/09/the_world_left_the_us_behind.html

Rugby. The next global game?

NZ All Blacks Rugby TeamBet on this:
The back half of this man offers as much charisma as his rugged good looks, yet both sexes will tell you that what’s enjoyable about Rugby is fast action, willfulness and strength.

Rugby leagues around the world are banking on increasing popularity.

New Zealand is fighting a 20 year battle for the Rugby World Cup, counting toward their victory by the hour on their team site All Blacks. But New Zealand is also fighting $1 million, $10 million and $50 million salaries offered by French and English teams to lure talent from its national clubs.

Pumping revenue across Europe and the Pacific, rugby appears to be the next great spectator sport.

Today’s meticulously groomed star rugby player is haunted by a dozen journalists, agents from Nike and Adidas, and a bevy of consultants to improve management and performance. Physiologist Alain Berthoz teaches players how their brain functions during a game, how it quickly estimates trajectory of the ball and how to improve its visual responsiveness.

While some New Zealand players are enthralled before a game in an aboriginal Maori dance, the spiritual side of rugby may not be the ingredient that’s attracting enthusiastic crowds around the world. Rugby may be a barbarian game played by gentlemen but its also a modern game increasingly enjoyed by all.

Zapping threats from our blood

Blood filtering is rapidly changing.I can see it all now. A future medical device hung on our hip like an iPod that filters our blood and body fluids using precision nano-tech to obliterate dangers and fill our tank with wondrous benefits.

Replacing traditional blood filters, which appear to be from Frankenstein’s lab in this photo, the ‘med-iPod’ of the future will trickle our circulation to zap unwanted cholesterol, HIV and AIDS virus, the flu, spores and bacteria.

On the way back to our body, we’ll add oxygen and enriched gases, cell nutrients, DNA-derived disease markers and updated stem cells for age related organ, bone marrow and muscle repair. And why not tweak our memory and wit?

How far fetched is a ‘medical filter pod’?

Michael King at Rochester University is proud to show a quick animation of blood cells that seem more like boulders rolling along as he filters out cancer cells and ‘harvests’ stem cells.

Canadians take a spoonful of a patient’s blood, add oxygen, zap it with ultraviolet light, warm it up and and put it back to impressively improve the outcome of chronic heart failure.

A John-Hopkins team uses a low-power laser beam with a pulse lasting just fractions of a second to rid blood of dangerous pathogens, including the viruses hepatitis C and HIV. Lasers penetrate the water surrounding the pathogen and will vibrate a virus into oblivion.

Altitude electricity

Spinning blimp grabs high wind powerSee the blimp?
See the height of the blimp?
See the wing foils on the blimp?
See the cable around the wheel on the blimp?

This blimp spins where the wind blows.
The cable spins a power generator on the ground.

And the wind just keeps blowing and blowing and blowing.

If this seems silly, why is one of the top energy executives in the world quitting his day job to help bring Wind Power Anywhere™ to market?

“You have the opportunity here to electrify 2.1 billion people without electricity. If you have electricity at the village level, you can have vaccinations, refrigeration, water pumps driving water out of wells, an Internet connection, cellular power sites — you can link it up to these $100 laptops that children could find in these developing regions of the world. All that’s missing is electricity.”

Our leader before

Stop believing in authority. Believe in each other. vrzine #31“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments.

“Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Army chief condemns War on Terror

General Sir Mike Jackson, BBC photoA headline we will not see in the United States says General Sir Mike Jackson condemns the ‘war on terror’.

He’s the recently retired head of the British Army.
[profile at BBC, at wiki, at UK Army]

He’s in the news around the world, with some controversy.

So ‘the global war on terrorism’ equates to a war on means, which makes little or no sense. Our objective – our end – must be the physical and intellectual defeat of Islamic fundamentalism as a threat to us.

To this end, the means certainly include the use of armed force, but also, very importantly, engagement in the battle of ideas. It is here that the US approach is inadequate: it focuses far too much on the single military means. Nation-building and diplomacy are fundamental to demonstrate the advantages of political and economic progress.

He’s a soldier revealing success and error in global military policy.

Washington’s planners seemed not to have learned from British experiences in Kosovo and Bosnia. The waste of our accumulated knowledge of how to manage post-conflict situations is a tragedy.

We had a very good man inside the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq after the collapse of Saddam’s regime until an elected Iraqi government was ready to take over: Major General Tim Cross, who had run our logistics in Kosovo. Tim’s reports were alarming: “This is a madhouse,” he was saying, “the situation is terrible.” Tim had been with the Pentagon planners before the war and he had been saying then that they hadn’t got their act together.

There’s so much criticism excerpted from his new autobiography.

The American administration that had come to power in 2000 under President George W Bush took a very different approach to foreign policy from its predecessors. Bush surrounded himself with neoconservative thinkers, who viewed the world in more aggressively ideological terms. Among these was his powerful Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

The ”neocons” took the view that victory in the Cold War had demonstrated the superiority of American-style democracy, and that with American encouragement this model could spread across the world.

Unlike the Clinton administration, they were ready to intervene in other countries when they believed that US interests were at stake. The Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and especially his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, pursued radical neoconservative policies aimed at reshaping the world in the American image.

He’s blaming Donald Rumsfeld for the political and military errors that led to a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq.

There was great tension between Rumsfeld and his senior generals, particularly the army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, who had been fighting a rearguard action against Rumsfeld’s desire to slim down the army. Rumsfeld felt that the army was too cautious, too resistant to change and too unwilling to take risks. I believe events have shown him to be wrong.

In my view, Rumsfeld is one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq. He rejected the advice given by his generals, while at the same time discarding the detailed post-conflict plans prepared by the State Department.

[The Telegraph story]

The Buyout Whisperer

Jeb and George Bush with their Baptist votersLittle brother Jeb Bush, pictured here stumping Baptists with his big brother, may run for President some day but I cannot imagine the name will help.

Currently he’s part of a new push that’s quadrupled their lobbying from $1.4million to more than $5.5million to lure favors in Washington.

Taking time out to hone his skills, Jeb’s activities promote the buyout sector which takes companies private, avoiding shareholder and securities rules, and thus operating further from public scrutiny.

[link] “Lehman Brothers has appointed Jeb Bush to its ‘private equity advisory board’ in the latest attempt by a buyout group to influence Capitol Hill. A less tarnished name from the Bush legacy, cousin George Walker is an operator in bank assets and hedge funds.

Over 254 contributions from partners at private equity firms have been made during the presidential campaign including Apollo Management, The Blackstone Group and The Carlyle Group, and Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital.

The article reports that Mitt Romney is the most popular candidate among buyout houses.

Adding my comment:
Far from conscientious – and drawing down far more cash and credit than the recent sub-prime mortgage blip – purchasing public companies is another fashionable excess where our public capital is concentrated in too few hands with too little restraint.

I don’t like muckraking about political or business elites. It sours my spirit; steers my sensibilities too near spongy land. A stronger effort is always to post news and events that build ideas and assist learning. But we live in an era of populist journalism where annoying dirt about a candidate or a global player is seldom published as if it may blemish an author’s witty style, a pundit’s noisy theme or threaten corporate media sales rates.

As if a pioneer trapping on the vast internet, I’ll post a story that is ignored but pertinent or hidden but important. It’s good to learn about the activities of owners, candidates, executives, consultants, staff, and the ‘whisperers’ of policy that luxuriate too easily behind the scenes. One day I hope we will learn to challenge their motives as well as their deeds.

The smell of money

On the way to smell-enhanced films and software, MindHacks points to olfactory manipulation in the retail store.

“Men don’t like to stick around when it smells feminine, and women don’t linger in a store if it smells masculine,” says Spangenberg, who led the research and has been studying the impact of ambient scents on consumers for more than a decade. Spangenberg says this most recent study underscores the importance of matching gender-preferred scents to the product.

“Both men and women browsed for longer and spent more money when a fragrance specific to their gender was used to scent the store atmosphere.

“Scent marketing is a viable strategy that retailers should consider,” says Spangenberg. “But they really need to tailor the scent to the consumer.”