Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Slow-Witted Man

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."
Leo Tolstoy, 1897

This quote appears on the first page of Michael Lewis' new book, "The Big Short". It just was delivered to my office. It looks like a good read and is getting a lot of good press.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sierpinski's Triangle and The U.S. States

In February 2009, I made a post referencing Sierpinski's Triangle for a theory on the fractal nature of this calamity. The New York Times reports today about "the state of the States":

"California, New York and other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink — budgets that will not balance, accounting that masks debt, the use of derivatives to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay. And states are responding in sometimes desperate ways, raising concerns that they, too, could face a debt crisis. New Hampshire was recently ordered by its State Supreme Court to put back $110 million that it took from a medical malpractice insurance pool to balance its budget. Colorado tried, so far unsuccessfully, to grab a $500 million surplus from Pinnacol Assurance, a state workers’ compensation insurer that was privatized in 2002. It wanted the money for its university system and seems likely to get a lesser amount, perhaps $200 million. Connecticut has tried to issue its own accounting rules. Hawaii has inaugurated a four-day school week. California accelerated its corporate income tax this year, making companies pay 70 percent of their 2010 taxes by June 15. And many states have balanced their budgets with federal health care dollars that Congress has not yet appropriated."

The entire article:

The Evolution Towards "Apart"

Another example that during a declining mass social mood, cooperation declines in perfect alignment.

"Google Inc, the world's biggest search engine, has been in a two-month standoff with Beijing over restrictions on the Internet and Google's claims that it and other companies were hit by hacking from within China. The company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, said last week he hoped to announce soon an outcome from talks with Chinese officials on offering an uncensored search engine in that country of 384 million Internet users. Many experts have doubted China's ruling Communist Party would compromise on censorship, and on the weekend the Financial Times reported the talks had reached an impasse and Google was "99.9 percent" certain to shut its Chinese search engine, "Our forecast has always remained firm that once Google announced it would not accept censorship, then it was nearly impossible to imagine a scenario either where Google didn't act on that or the government accepted their position," Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting, told Reuters. Marbridge Consulting is a Beijing-based company that advises on China's IT and telecommunications sectors." Source: Reuters

My buddy, Bubbalew, continues to profess that during these difficult times, the "one world government" is going to take over. I believe that the opposite is ALREADY occurring. We are moving apart. Organizations like the European Union are in the process of "fragmenting". During an upward trending mass social mood, we make peace and sign peace treaties. We form cooperative organizations during these times and merge currencies. Now, the tide has shifted. Keep an eye on the EU. As Greece, Spain, and others continue to feel "the pain", their partners in the EU will continue to ask "why are we being dragged down by them?". In the US, you might hear similar rumblings with respect to states like California and Michigan. As stated prior, look for prior "cat fights" to reignite. I still find N. Ireland as an interesting one to watch due to the "Christian vs Christian" aspect of it.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here Come The Crazy Folk

"The Michigan-based Christian militia group raided by the FBI over the weekend is preparing for battle with the Antichrist, according to a Web site purportedly run by the group.  'Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,' reads. 'The only thing on earth to save the testimony and those who follow it, are the members of the testimony, til the return of Christ in the clouds. We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren't. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming.'"
Source: Fox News

"The mob will get even more angry. Beware of the angry white American man carrying the Bible."
Random Roving - January 1, 2010

From Rave to Flash

I remember back in the 90's people talking about "rave parties". It was a spontaneous party where a location would be selected and rapid calling would produce an instant party. A great example of the scalability of networks and their "nodes" and "connections".

This week the new term "flash mob" is making the news. Utilizing our latest and greatest technology, kids are using the same instantaeous approach to gather a group, but this time, the goal is unrulliness and mayhem. Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love, seems to be the emergent "flash" city. Kind of ironic isn't it? It gets better. The mayor's last name is Nutter!

"City officials took to the street Saturday night to combat the social networking phenomenon flash mobs, which are causing increasing concerns in the city. Mayor Michael Nutter, District Attorney Seth Williams and other elected officials strolled South Street at dusk Saturday night, spreading a zero tolerance message. 'Come out, have a ball, behave like you have some sense,' Nutter said. The Philly Family Fun Tour came a week after South Street was overrun by hundreds of teens, resulting in reports of beatings and vandalism, a handful of arrests, and early closing of some stores. It was the third flash mob since February. Officials hope recent flash mob-related arrests will prevent people from participating in the future. 'Hopefully, the fact that 29 have received felony convictions will deter others from receiving texts and showing up, damaging property and hurting people,' Williams said"
Source: NBC

"In 2003, a group of people gathered at the Toys ‘R Us in Times Square and jointly stared at a giant electronic toy Tyrannosaurus Rex, then dropped to the floor and started screaming. Rob Walker, in an Aug. 4, 2003 article in The New York Times Magazine, called the incident part of “a fad.” But Mr. Walker also noted it was a “fad worth paying attention to.” His take on the “flash mobs,” that it was all in fun, was prevalent for about seven years. As he described it, it was an assembly of the “well-wired folks who gather suddenly, perform some specific but innocuous act, then promptly scatter.” In 2003, “well-wired” pretty much meant cell phones, pagers and Web sites. Today, we are much more connected and faster at sending information — or rally cries. Twitter, Facebook, foursquare and text messaging allow for anyone to send messages to everyone in minutes. And, in turn, the scene has become less benign and “innocuous.” A front-page article in The New York Times on March 24 by Ian Urbina on flash mobs in Philadelphia noted that these days the gatherings “have taken on a more aggressive and raucous turn.” And now the trend has spread to the suburbs — specifically, our suburbs. By all appearances, the incident on Saturday, March 20, where perhaps as many as 500 young people suddenly gathered on the streets of South Orange, was part of this new phenomenon of flash mobs gone wild. The event was noted in Mr. Urbina’s article, which also mentioned a similar fiasco in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, on Nov. 3, when mobs and violence marked the technology-generated gathering of thousands of young people in Brooklyn for a wings special at a restaurant chain (the chain was the victim, not the perpetrator)."
Source: NY Times blog

This generation of kids are starting to organize. First it was the college campuses, now just random chaos. Mass social mood engulfs all ages.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Social Justice

"On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that "social justice," the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a "code word" for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice."I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!'"
Source: Politics Daily

The dude has gone just plain crazy!
Here's a different perspective:

"Fr. David frequently spoke and wrote about the need to recall the social justice tradition of Orthodoxy, a tradition that he observed in the Church Fathers adamant response to the poor – such towering saints as Basil the Great, who founded not just a house of hospitality but a city of hospitality. He saw both in Dorothy Day and St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris as models of sanctity for the church today. In our talks during the last days of his life, he would return again and again to his hope that something similar to the Catholic Worker movement would take roots in the Orthodox Church, perhaps along the lines of Emmaus House."
"Father David Kirk's Legacy of Hope", In Communion

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sinclair's Latest View of The World

''Let us not forget the reality that the US has plunged into levels of debt that we could not have previously imagined; nationalized healthcare has been met with fierce resistance nationwide; States are now litigating the demand for its citizens to sign up and/or be fined and imprisoned. TARP bailouts and stimulus spending have shown little positive effect on the national economy; unemployment is unacceptably high and looks to remain that way for most of a decade; legacy entitlement programs have ballooned to unsustainable levels, and there is a seething anger in the populace. The reality is that the financial crisis in the US now construct in the form of state failure exceeds any problems in Europe. Perspective is now in the marketplace, but reality will carry the day in terms of trend. Gold will trade at $1650 and better. The US dollar is no safe haven from anything.''
Jim Sinclair, Gold Market Analyst ( March 25th)

3 Strikes, You're Out

Reading about the British Airways strike over the past week made me realize that organized labor strikes don't occur that much anymore. The last significant one that I remember was when The Gipper defeated the air traffic controllers. I quickly had the Google Elves do some research, and sure enough since 1980 (the beginning of the SuperSizeMe Era), strikes have basically been nonexistent....interesting. Does the British Airways strike signal a "change in trend"? The tea partiers probably think so. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A New Look

563 posts ago, I was on GMAIL one night and hit their link for BLOGS. Within 10 minutes I had a template completed for a blog. A few moments later, the first post was live. Pretty cool technology.

Google announced some new design tools today, so RANDOM ROVING has taken on a new look. Check it out. Test the new SEARCH tool. Use that COMMENT box and post some feedback!


Eating Ice Cream In The Forest

Boy, the angry mob just got more angry this week. "Obamacare" set off the latest fireworks. As our VP said, "This is a big f**king deal!". Way to go Joe.

To state once again, being non-partisan, one can analyze a situation with a non-biased and unemotional perspective. The emotions are riding high these days. My email box is "on fire" the past few days with emails about Hitler, the collapsing US empire, and some cute little tales about kids running for office by promising ice cream.

So my question is, "does anyone think for themselves anymore?". All I hear from friends, associates, strangers, and the yahoos on TV is regurgitated political garbage. Does anyone actually research anything and form their own opinion? I can tell you exactly what a Republican or Democrat will say today. I'm not sure if "sheeple" or "zombies" is the best analogy.

As predicted on election day, President Obama will be the fall guy. A 28 year cycle has come to an end and someone has to hold the "hot potato". The fear is just amazing. Can you imagine if Obama passed the Patriot Act??? Wow. The Hitler emails would be ten fold.

Dubya was smart. He created the great "boogeyman" to scare the sheeple before he passed the Patriot Act and invaded the richest oil region in the world. Herding mammals "come together" when in fear. Once tightly together, selling these initiatives was easy. Most don't even know what the Patriot Act is or allows because they were hiding from the boogeyman when it quickly passed through our governing bodies.

Why didn't anyone protest that Dubya created the least jobs per year than any president in the last 11 presidents?

Over Bush's two terms, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 28%! Over eight years, you not only didn't grow your retirement account, but you lost over a quarter of it. So, again I ask, "where was the tea party?".

When Bush left office, the US had $55,000,000,000,000 of unfunded liabilities! That's 55 trillion! He left us with record debt. Where was the tea party? You might want to make the 32.5 minute investment again:

Passing legislation for healthcare is a little more challenging. How do you create a "healthcare boogeyman". The "haves" already have coverage, so they risk losing something. Obama didn't take my advice to complete some short passes first!

Where is the Wall Street boogeyman? There has not been one change in the SEC rules since the meltdown. Amazing isn't it? Where are the teaparty protestors? I guess that they were not Madoff or Stanford victims. Why doesn't Sean, Ann, Glenn, and Bill throw a tea party asking for changes in the SEC? You don't want to know the answer to that one.

Well folks, stay calm and realize that there's more to come. Keep "the cycle model" in mind when you watch the news at night. If you know the "hurricane is coming", you won't be surprised and panic. It's time to distinguish the "forest from the trees".

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sipping Tea

The Huffington Post reports:

"Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock. Preceding the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse. A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a 'faggot,' as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident. But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s. 'It was absolutely shocking to me,' Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. 'Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday... I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins... And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.'"

"As this cycle continues downward, it will be important to know what you believe in. You will be challenged to stand up for what you believe in whatever that is. When you see the cowardly hooded white man on horseback heading down the road, what are you going to do about it?"
Random Roving, "The Man Under The Hood" - November 9, 2009

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Seed of Benefit

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
Napoleon Hill

p.s. Pookie, how do you like this one??

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Oracle of Healthcare

Buffet on CSPAN elaborating on his perspective of the healthcare crisis.

BUFFET: We have a health system that, in terms of cost, is really out of control, and if you take this line and you project what has been happening into the future, we will get less and less competitive. So, we need something else. Unfortunately, we came up with a bill that really doesn't attack the cost situation that much and we have to have a fundamental change. We have to have something that will end the constant increase in medical cost as a percentage of GDP.
BECKY QUICK: Then, are you in favor of scrapping this and going back to start over?
BUFFETT: I would be -- if I were President Obama, I would just show this chart of what's been happening and say this is the tape worm that's eating at American competitiveness, and I would say that one way or another, we're going to attack cost, cost, cost, just like they talk about jobs, jobs, jobs in the economy. It's cost, cost, cost in this side. That's a tough job. We're spending maybe $2.3 trillion on health care in the United States, and every one of those dollars is going to somebody and they're going to yell if that dollar becomes 90 cents or 80 cents. So, it takes -- but I would try to get a unified effort saying this is a national emergency to do something about this. We need the Republicans, we need the Democrats. We're going to cut off all the kinds of things like the 800,000 special people in Florida or the Cornhusker Kickback, as they called it, or the Louisiana Purchase and we're going to get rid of the nonsense. We're just going to focus on cost and we're not going to dream up 2,000 pages of other things. And I would say as President, I'm going to come back to you with something that's going to do something about this, because we have to do it.
QUICK: Just focus on cost or focus on cost while insuring more people?
BUFFETT: Well, yeah --
QUICK: Is there two different problems?
BUFFETT: Universality -- yeah, I believe in insuring more people, but I don't believe in insuring more people until you attack the cost aspect of this.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Spicy Game of Chicken in Thailand

Things are heating up in Thailand. The New York Times reports:
BANGKOK — "Antigovernment protesters shut down parts of the Thai capital on Monday but appeared a long way from achieving their goal of forcing the government to step down. Shops and offices in the northern outskirts of the city closed for the day as convoys of red-shirted protesters converged on a military base that had become a sort of field headquarters for government leaders, including Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The relatively high turnout by protesters, who call themselves the red shirts, has underlined divisions in Thailand between the rural poor and the Bangkok establishment as well as the enduring popularity of the billionaire tycoon, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup. The strategy of the red shirts appears to be to disrupt the functioning of government for as long as possible in the hope that the prime minister blinks. “It’s a game of chicken,” said Gothom Arya, director of research at Mahidol University in Bangkok. “They are saying, ‘We will bring you to the edge and see who falls first.’ ” "

As I posted a year ago, we're Talkin' Bout A Revolution.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Serenity Now!

I'm off to the Carolina mountains for some fresh mountain air!
Have a great week. We'll chat on 3/22.

"Serenity now"
Cosmo Kramer

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lets See How Far We've Come

Yeah well I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well I guess we're gonna pretend
Let's see how far we've come
Let's see how far we've come

"How Far We've Come", Matchbox 20

This mania just can't keep going. Richard Heinberg in "Peak Everything", his follow up to best seller "The Party's Over", focuses on peaks in many categories: population, food production, climate stability and fresh water availability. We continue to be in "peak everything" mode. The psychology, the driving force behind it, still seems to be in denial. Our populace exhibits a strong sense of entitlement. "We deserve this!". Do we?? I guess that our enablers, the Chinese, still think so.

The outstanding public debt as of March 9, 2010 is 12, 559, 323,108,363.

I'm still dumbfounded by the linear thinkers that just can't grasp the fact that, yes, the party is over. We have to get back to normal historical levels for everything. As a country, we represent 4% of the world's population, yet we consume 25% of its resources. That "ain't" right. Not only is it wrong, it's unsustainable. A continued trend in this direction can only lead to major conflict. Our worldly neighbors just won't stand for it. Everyone wants and deserves a piece of the earth's "pie".
The chart below summarizes "how far we've come".

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Martenson's Latest Thoughts

On many occasions, I've encouraged everyone to watch Chris Martenson's "Crash Course" presentation.

Here is a summary of his thoughts from his latest report:
• Nations around the world are insolvent and on their way to bankruptcy, a fiscal crisis, a currency crisis, or all three.
• World markets are currently interlocked to a troubling degree.
• A falling currency is always a cross-border event.
• The German DAX, the Dow Jones, and the FTSE 100 charts are nearly indistinguishable.
• A bigger trigger than Greece will be needed to set off the next round of global trouble.
• The UK is a highly qualified candidate for that role; Japan is also a likely possibility.
Expect the unexpected. The future is going to change suddenly and rapidly.

Entire article:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CEO Magic

This one is an eye catcher!

"The CEOs and directors of the failed companies, however, have largely gone unscathed. Their fortunes may have been diminished by the disasters they oversaw, but they still live in grand style. It is the behavior of these CEOs and directors that needs to be changed: If their institutions and the country are harmed by their recklessness, they should pay a heavy price – one not reimbursable by the companies they’ve damaged nor by insurance. CEOs and, in many cases, directors have long benefitted from oversized financial carrots; some meaningful sticks now need to be part of their employment picture as well."

Berkshire Hathaway Report - March 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Responsible Leadership

Here's Warren Buffet's position on running a company in a responsible manner:

"We will never become dependent on the kindness of strangers. Too-big-to-fail is not a fallback position at Berkshire. Instead, we will always arrange our affairs so that any requirements for cash we may conceivably have will be dwarfed by our own liquidity. Moreover, that liquidity will be constantly refreshed by a gusher of earnings from our many and diverse businesses. We have long invested in derivatives contracts that Charlie and I think are mispriced, just as we try to invest in mispriced stocks and bonds. Indeed, we first reported to you that we held such contracts in early 1998. The dangers that derivatives pose for both participants and society – dangers of which we’ve long warned, and that can be dynamite – arise when these contracts lead to leverage and/or counterparty risk that is extreme. At Berkshire nothing like that has occurred – nor will it. It’s my job to keep Berkshire far away from such problems. Charlie and I believe that a CEO must not delegate risk control. It’s simply too important. At Berkshire, I both initiate and monitor every derivatives contract on our books, with the exception of operations-related contracts at a few of our subsidiaries, such as MidAmerican, and the minor runoff contracts at General Re. If Berkshire ever gets in trouble, it will be my fault. It will not be because of misjudgments made by a Risk Committee or Chief Risk Officer."
Berkshire Hathaway Report - March 2010

I shared my limited knowledge regarding derivatives a long time ago. Jim Puplava's radio show has been a constant source for knowledge in this area. This prophetic piece was written ten years ago.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quinn's Woulda Coulda Shoulda

James Quinn's list of "woulda, coulda, shoulda":

"The country had a chance to prepare for this Winter by:

  • Forging consensus regarding the problems we face.
  • Preparing our governmental institutions for the challenges ahead.
  • Political leaders bluntly describing the issues before us, stressing duties over rights.
  • Developing community teamwork to solve local problems.
    Treating our youth as a national priority.
  • Preparing elders for the sacrifices and unfulfilled promises in their future.
  • Reducing government and personal debt.
  • Conserve military resources for the long road ahead."

The entire article:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Mega Ponzi Scheme

"In our view, in the not too distant future, the interest payments on the outstanding national debts in the overstretched ‘developed’ nations will become so large that their central banks will need to create money just to keep the Ponzi schemes going. When that happens, the game will be up and we will probably experience a total breakdown of the fiat-money experiment. At this stage, we do not know when the day of reckoning will arrive but we do know that all Ponzi schemes ultimately collapse under their own weight and this one will be no different."
Puru Saxena

Entire Article:

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Cog In The System

"Medieval man was a cog in a wheel he did not understand; modern man is a cog in a more complicated system he thinks he understands."
Nassim Taleb

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fighting Gravity

"History does not have a rewind button. Secular Winter has arrived and the country couldn’t be less prepared for the challenges ahead. The government and the governed enter this highly dangerous period weakened and fragile. The short-sighted economic choices and deferred fiscal decisions will collide with peak oil and uncontrolled globalization to inflict a horrific resolution to this Crisis. The gravity of our situation cannot be overstated. As politicians and the mainstream media play pretend games of recovery and false optimism, the country hurtles closer to the abyss."
James Quinn, "The Burning Platform"

The entire article:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Rooting of a Stampede

"One of the most dangerous aspects of this bear market rally is that virtually no one believes or understands that we are still operating within the context of a much longer-term secular bear market. Once this becomes obvious, the sheeple will begin to panic and the stampede will take root. This is in part why Phase II declines prove to be even more devastating than the initial Phase I decline."
Tim Wood - February 26, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Farewell To An Angel

My family lost a dear friend yesterday. Edna died at 96 years of age after battling congestive heart failure. Like her entire life, she fought hard until the end. In 1978, she entered my family's life as an "angel" and provided support, joy, and hope at a time of need. With a smile on her face, she lived her life in a "white man's world" and always held her head high.

When Katrina was approaching New Orleans, my 74 year old mother called and said that her and Edna were going to "weather" the storm out together. I had to intervene and tried to get both of them to safer ground. Edna, stayed behind in her little house catching water in a bucket as it poured through her roof. Two days after the storm, she ventured out to get some groceries. She returned to the police blockade five minutes after curfew and they turned her away. Fortunately, she found someone to take her in for the night. One day at the grocery, she was paying for her bill with the plastic card that all people were given after the storm. She couldn't figure out the machine and the frustrated young girl behind her yelled "haven't you ever used one of those before?". Edna kindly turned to the young lady and said "No I haven't. I have worked my entire life up to the age of 80 so that I could buy my own groceries."

In the 80's she decided that the Mormom church needed some more "color", so she walked in the temple and said that she wanted to become a member. They agreed and Edna became a mormon. She became a fixture in her church providing tireless hours of volunteer support. She filled her car many times with donated items. She drove that little Camry until her 95th year. An independent woman always on a mission.

Edna was a proud, hard working, joyful person till the end. She never was bitter. She never felt sorry for herself. She loved everyone. She will be missed.

Selfish Manipulation

"The album is a snapshot of the era in which we live as we question and try to make sense of the selfish manipulation going on around us, whether it be the government, religion, media or frankly any form of authority.”
Billie Joe Armstrong - Green Day