Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hamptons

Postscript note: This guy is not me. The photo is here for the guy’s forced smile, the image of the woman digging it, and for the blank stare on everybody else’s faces.

I’ve got an in-law cousin who has done well for himself in New York City. He’s a good guy who now owns some property in the Hamptons. He was good enough to provide us a house for a week; the wife was big on going. So here we are.


1. Men in their sixties wearing tight yellow biking shorts look like idiots. There have been three of these guys pass through in twenty minutes.
2. Men in their sixties with pony-tails can pull it off if they are biker-types, or truckers, or Willie Nelson. The ones with white socks and high-riding clean white pressed shorts at the coffee shop look like idiots.
3. The plastic to-go bags in this coffee shop are the same yellow-smiley face ‘have a nice day’ bags that a local ammunition dealer uses back home.
4. There are attractive women here. But there is nothing more disappointing than seeing a lady who you would like to think of as a example of a strong American woman, when you see her going over celebrity pictures in Us Magazine.
5. I’m ready to go back to Proleville where local zoning laws don’t ban McDonalds. Something isn’t right here.

Here’s a datapoint:

The popular Hampton Social concert series, which featured Prince, Dave Matthews, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and James Taylor at the Ross School in East Hampton, will not run this year. Warner Music Group, which bought Bulldog Entertainment, the Joe Meli-owned firm that created the concerts, for $6 million, lost $18 million on the deal, an insider said. “Warner was planning to take the high-end concert idea to Aspen, Dubai and Monaco but couldn’t sell tickets. The rich people they are targeting all have connections to get tickets for free, so no one was buying.”

Energy Review

First Law of Thermodynamics:
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

The internal combustion engine changed the world, starting around one hundred years ago. It has increased the human population four-fold by giving us things like factories and motorized transport. But the internal combustion engine is really just a method to burn through millions of years of solar power, as collected by chorophyll and retained in dead biomass. All that energy waited all that time for us to come and take it. Solar power-turned-oil is easy to harvest, as you just pump and burn it.

Boiling solar power down further brings us to the bedrock of life; the binding energy between nucleons. Binding energy is the energy that holds neutrons and protons together, creating atoms. Very light (Hydrogen, Helium) and very heavy (Uranium, Plutonium) atoms contain high levels of binding energy per nucleon per nucleon*. This binding energy can be released, creating a lower energy, more stable, mid-weight atom.

Ahmedinejad wants to release the energy from heavy Uranium atoms in the form of a 15,000 tons-of-TNT-equivalent bomb. Two generations ago, us Infidels figured out how to release the greater potential from hydrogen in the form of a 60,000,000 tons-of-TNT equivalent bomb. Sixty megatons is a lot of energy. That energy comes from stuff like water. This is what the sun does.

The only substitute for millions of years worth of a tiny sliver of the sun’s energy is to create solar power on earth, in the form of nuclear power. But sustaining our life expectations with nuclear power is much more technically challenging than simply burning oil. I don’t think that we’ll be able to pull it off before panic sets in, in large part due to environmental regulations.

Add Al Gore’s name to the list.

* This differs from my education, which taught that light and heavy atoms had low binding energy per nucleon per nucleon. But this doesn’t make sense to me now. If a nuclear event raises binding energy per nucleon per nucleon, then where does the heat come from? It seems to me that mid-weight atoms are inherently more stable, and require less binding energy. Maybe there is an energy other than binding energy that is released in a nuclear event. If anyone can provide an explanation, I’ll buy them a pizza.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thoughts on the Economy

There is a new Cabela’s in our region. It is magnificent and a testament to what humans can build and produce. There is the flagship Cabela’s, all of the adjacent tenant stores, and all of the other land developments eagerly awaiting the customers that this flagship brand will bring to their cash registers.

But when I go in there to buy some bullets, there are only a few customers at the checkout. Far less customers than at the local grocery store. I estimate that there are fewer customers in the store, on average, than there are employees.

This project was most likely conceived at some corporate meeting following the 2004 IPO. The funding was obtained shortly thereafter.

This Cabela’s, which I love, is a bank loan that will not be made full. It is a business model from another time, turned into brick and mortar a little too late. Cabela’s IPO’d at $29/share, and is currently trading at $11/share. Stores #27, #31, #32, and #34 are now ‘on hold’.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I feel better today about the future of the country than I have in a while. Scalia’s wording will give grounds to call illegitimate any future court that looks to overturn what happened today. Today was a good day for America.

A quick anecdote. Not all that long ago my roommates were gone for Marine Corps summer training. I woke up to noise in the adjacent room. I tried to wish away the noise in my semi-conscious state but it didn’t go away. At that point my mind entered tunnel vision and things began to move extraordinarily slowly.

There was a Winchester level action rifle by my bed. It is hard to describe how focused you become when making a fight or flight decision. My mind decided to call out my roommates’ name in a loud military voice, grab the rifle, and chamber a round in a loud manner to scare the intruder, if he was an intruder, or save face, if it was my roommate. I ran through the scenario probably three times in twenty seconds. Looking back at it the human mind is amazing.

And I acted. It turned out to be an intruder. He ran through the living room and jumped off the second story. The thing that I remember is how my hands were shaking after the encounter when I was talking with the police. I later learned that that was an effect of adrenaline.

In retrospect, what I did was risky because I was not proficient with the rifle I shouldered (it was my roommate’s). But it did engrain within me the importance of firearms. You never know when that time will come.

Well done Justice Scalia. Thank you.

Key & Kite

Lightening is the process by which little tiny electrons equalize themselves between storm clouds and the earth. An electron consists only of 0.0006 atomic mass units and has the relatively small atomic charge of minus one. Electrons are nothing.

All things come to equilibrium though.

Our economy and the political systems built upon it are not at equilibrium. The importation of 3rd world workers for cheap labor relies on the public funding of their carrying costs. A logical 3rd world father would bring his family to America because wages are $3/day in the 3rd world and over twenty times that in America.

But as our country is now broke, that public funding will evaporate. This will affect indigenous Americas as well as the new arrivals. I believe that there has already been a run on the banking system, evidenced by a missing $170 trillion, and that it is later in our little experiment than people realize. The geophysical limits of oil will likely be the last straw.

I believe that we may be witnessing an engineered breakdown of our society. It is time to be prepared for the new equilibrium. Preparedness includes food security, physical security, and financial security. Those making the big bets are counting on widespread dependency among Americans. I believe that they are making a bad bet. Storms can be magnificent.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet Madonna Constantine

Madonna was a Professor at Columbia University. Her scholarly interests include mental health issues of people of color in the United States and immigrants. She is the, ahem, author of a number of excellent papers including:

- Racial Microaggressions against African American Clients in Cross-Racial Counseling Relationships.

- Experiences and perceptions of multicultural counselling (sic) scholars: A qualitative examination.

- Examining the cultural adjustment experiences of African international college students: A qualitative analysis.

Madonna was the one found guilty of putting a noose on her own door and then blaming whitey. She was allowed to continue on with her academic career after that. More recently, she was found guilty of plagarism. She remained on the payroll for five months and is now finally gone. Severance details are not readily available.

It costs $46,095 for a student to attend Columbia University for one year.

Brick Oven Declares Housing Bottom

The April Price-Schiller Index is out. The following Cities registered price rises after a prolonged series of price drops:


The data lags by two months so we are likely already well into a price recovery.

Two notes:

The Price-Schiller Index is indexed in dollars, which means that actual real estate values are still going down as the Federal Reserve continues to print stunning amounts of money to keep the banks afloat. But your money is better off in dirt right now than dollars. If you can get a low-interest loan (6%), all the better.

Real estate values in Hispanic areas continue to drop. Brick Oven’s theory is that land values are directly proportional to the IQ of the population. Land values in Manhattan, gated suburban communities, and Tokyo are high. Land in Africa or downtown Detroit has essentially no value, because people with money don’t want to live there. Despite the fact that most Hispanics are decent people, land values in Hispanic areas will trend towards real estate values in the Mexican interior, which are low.

The best investment is agricultural real estate in white areas with conservative governments.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Q: Why is the FDIC buying ad space?
A: Because it wants you to feel comfortable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Look Out Below!

On December 29, 2007, Bill said this:

Moody recently downgraded MBIA from AAA+ to AAA+ (negative outlook). Critics argue that Moody is being easy on them in an effort to not be blamed if things fall apart. The same crooks who packaged the mortgage bundles are the same crooks who perform ‘due diligence’ on municipal bonds.

Municipal bonds are headed for a fall.

At the time MBIA stock was trading at around $30/share.

Today Bloomberg says this:

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- MBIA Inc.'s five-level downgrade by Moody's Investors Service probably will force it to make $7.4 billion of payments and collateral postings.

MBIA stock is currently selling at $5.59/share and is still overpriced. Later this year we will begin to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies. Bondholders will push their municipalities to file for bankruptcy sooner than later so that they have a chance to collect some insurance money from bond insurers before the insurers become insolvent.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Energy Mobility

Energy has to be moved for most uses. Early locomotives first hauled around wood, and then coal, to power trains.

A fixed source of energy, such as a nuclear power plant, moves the energy it produces along transmission lines to largely fixed users.

The challenge of the 21st Century will be to replace liquid fuels with the more complex process of utilizing fixed energy sources to move vehicles.

This could be advanced by a massive investment in electrifying railways and building nuclear power plants. But this cannot happen under our current form of government. So we, and those responsible for our predicament, will have to pay the consequences as the price of liquid fuels continues to rise.

It is entirely possible that the current system will break down faster than our ability to repair it. I believe that some good comes out of everything. As to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting Closer

A year or so ago, Brick Oven estimated that the overall real estate loss would be around $6 trillion (30% of $20 trillion) and that the bank’s share would be half, or $3 trillion.

At the time, Goldman Sachs estimated losses to be $300 billion. Then there were rumors of $1 trillion. Here, Paulson and Company are estimating $1.3 trillion.

The number is closer to $3 trillion.


Roadtrip lessons’ learned

1. Elko’s Stockman’s Casino is cutting back on the size of Jack Daniels given to 3-card poker players. Room rates are up to $45 from $29. Rumor has it (employee at another Holder’s property) that the chain is losing money with one exception. I love Stockman’s and wish it well.
2. Don’t expect too much from a $20 motel room (‘The Paradise’) in Ogalala, Nebraska. Like toilets that flush or made up beds, or things like that. And don’t underestimate the peace of mind that a sidearm provides.
3. A day spent with your parents is time well spent.
4. A Ford Focus, even heavily weighted down with 130k+ miles, still gets 39 highway mpg.
5. Most of America is not screwed up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill served in the army in both Pakistan and the Sudan, fighting against Muslims. During an encounter in Makaland, Churchill was in the vicinity of a surrendered British soldier who was surrounded by Pashtuns, and hacked to death with a knife.

I think Churchill understood Islam well:

'The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.’

This behavior is religiously sanctioned by 8:65-66:

O Messenger. rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.

For the present, Allah hath lightened your (task), for He knoweth that there is a weak spot in you: But (even so), if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of Allah. for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.

When Muslims are weak, they are allowed to beg (or claim victimhood). When they are strong, they are bound to kill, subjugate, or convert you. Churchill understood this. So did John Quincy Adams. President Bush is too weak at this point to accept reality.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wine Review: Wal Mart

All in all a great Saturday. Watched the City Attorney yield to the demands of the cutie management consultant and draw the cover of a magazine that he would like to see in ten years. His boss, the Mayor, is now a United States Senator on the City Attorney’s cover. The City Attorney thought the exercise was great. The Mayor bought it.

Turned in a letter defending an unfairly targeted man.

Got pissed off at a towing company who thought that they knew what was best for me and is now trying to charge me $20 for storage.

Met with an old friend, presented him with some good work, and got another job.

Drank beer with a truck driver.

I used to buy $15-$20 bottles of wine. None of them are better than this $1.97 stuff they sell at Wal Mart. They charge $2.99 for the same ‘Oak Leaf’ brand back east; which is a reasonable shipping charge.

Two and a half stars is good enough for me. $1.97 and a free sunset makes for a great evening.

The Real Jobs Report

Value Producing Jobs

Construction: minus 34,000
Manufacturing: minus 26,000
Professional and Business Services: minus 39,000
Retail: minus 27,000
Total Value Producing Jobs: minus 126,000

Value Consuming Jobs

Education and Health Care: plus 54,000
Leisure and Hospitality: plus 12,000
Government: plus 17,000
Total Value Consuming Jobs: plus 83,000

Community Organizer, Part 2

Jefferson is a fictional town. This is a fictional blog.

Welcome back. Please make sure your weapons are unloaded and point them at the ground. Military units through the ages in all civilized countries have ‘formed up’, or arranged themselves in ranks. The reasons for this are safety, ease of communication, the ability to group skills and equipment, a sense of camaderie, and a sense of order. We will do the same at the beginning of each training session.

So, please line up with each fire team standing side-by-side, each man one pace apart, as I am doing with my two assistants. Arrange your fire teams three-deep. Very good, you are now in a military formation. Your formations of three fire teams are what we will call your squad. Following training, please select from among yourselves squad and fireteam leaders.

There are two threats that we will prepare for:

(1) Disorganized threats, such as beggars and drifters. Jefferson does not have the resources to accommodate refugees and these persons must be turned away. All exceptions shall be approved by the Chairman. It is possible that these persons will be desperate and potentially violent. The Sentinel should direct these people to seek aid at Madison City Hall or to forage for food along the river upsteam of Jefferson. If the Sentinel senses a threat, fire three shots as both a warning and to signal the Distress Call.
(2) Organized threats, such as an approaching mob. It is anticipated that there would be advanced warning of an organized threat. Assuming advanced warning, we would muster and then deploy our forces along the tree lines in accordance with the planning that we will practice this afternoon. There have been stop signs posted 100 yards in front of the Sentinels. Threatening groups passing these signs or bypassing the Checkpoints would be considered an open enemy. In the case of no advanced warning, rely on your training and muster directly to your deployment station.

Nuclear Power

Writing today from the Western Command. The sun is coming up. I never get tired of Western sunrises and sunsets.

Potato plants and trees are nothing more than methods to store the sun’s energy. Same thing with oil, except that oil represents millions of years worth of stored energy.

The sun’s mass causes gravitational fields large enough to fuse hydrogen atoms together, releasing their binding energy. The sun is one big continuous thermonuclear explosion.

Meaning that I have a nuclear-powered brick oven.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Book Review: The Caine Mutiny

Excellent. I’ve read it twice and got more out of it the second time. I broke into it a third time, in an attempt to defend President Bush. My goal was to compare him with Captain Queeg; a limited man holding a thankless leadership position in a time of peace.

Wouk gives President Bush no quarter however.

Of course, we figured in those days, only fools go into the armed service. Bad pay, no millionaire future, and you can't call your mind or body your own…So when all hell broke loose and the Germans started running out of soap…who's gonna stop them? Not …Barney. Can't stop a Nazi with a lawbook… Meantime…who was keeping mama out of the soap dish? Captain Queeg.

The military then is politics now. The fatal flaw in the American system will be seen to be that our leaders are no longer primarily paid by us. Captain Queeq was paid by us and did his best. Captain Queeg deserved the respect that Greenwald gave him. I do not feel that same respect for my President.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Community Organizer" Part 1

Jefferson is a fictional town. This is a fictional blog.

Good morning and welcome to Jefferson Security Team training. Experts believe that the collapse we witnessed two days ago will result in a potentially prolonged period of instability. Local officials are concerned about the possibility of roaming bands of looters. We are a purely defensive organization, sanctioned by the Madison Police Department, that exists to encourage these bands, if they exist, to choose to avoid Jefferson.

Here is a map of Jefferson. We have established security check points here, here, here, and here, at every entrance to our community. Madison has agreed to temporarily abandon it’s public right away through Jefferson so we are, for now, a private gated community. Outsiders wishing to pass through Jefferson shall be directed to this detour. All exceptions shall be approved by the Chairman.

We know of no immediate threat to Jefferson. But we recognize that there is danger. The men manning the security gates shall be called Sentinels. Should a Sentinal encounter a situation that he deems threatening, the distress signal is this [bang bang bang]. Three shots of a shotgun. Upon hearing the distress signal, you shall arm yourselves and come to the assistance of the distressed Sentinel.

To maximize our effectiveness, we need to group ourselves according to our firearms. I’d like those armed with single-action rifles, such as bolt action or level action rifles by the elm tree. Those with semi-automatic rifles please gather in front of the bush, and those with shotguns, please gather in front of this maple. Those without a long gun, please gather behind me.

I have three rifles that I am willing to lend my neighbors until stability is restored. Does anyone else have spare rifles or shotguns that they would be willing to lend their neighbors until stability is restored? I thank you all for your generosity. People who need a weapon, please get with someone who is willing to share. Then gather with the appropriate group. Shotguns by the maple, single action rifles by the elm, and semi-auto rifles by the bush.

It is time for a break. Please return to your homes, gather your firearms, make sure they are UNLOADED and POINTED AT THE GROUND, and meet back here at 0930. If anyone is unfamiliar with how to check that a weapon is unloaded, please see me now.

Switching back to reality update.

Monday, June 2, 2008

General Order #2

Jefferson is a fictional town. This is a fictional blog.

General Order 2: Physical Security

Every able-bodied male shall meet at the sanctuary tomorrow at 8am for an organizational meeting.

Four security points with signage have been established at Culvert W, Culvert X, Bridge Y, and Culvert Z. This has been coordinated with the Police Chief of Madison. Immediately following the organizational meeting, these security points shall be continuously manned. Until improved barriers are available, motorized vehicles shall block the roadways at the four security points. Citizens of Jefferson may register with the Chairman for a pass to travel freely through the security points.

Non-residents of Jefferson, wishing to become Jeffersonians (those residing in Jefferson as of June 1st, 2008), may make application with the Chairman. Applications may be approved through the Council by a 4-1 vote. Prospective Jeffersonians shall have a sponsor and demonstrate themselves to be a net benefit to the community. Jefferson’s population carrying capacity has been determined to be seven hundred people, leaving one hundred and fifty slots open for new residents.

Persons wishing to perform temporary work in Jefferson, may make application with the Chairman. Applications may be approved through the Council by a 4-1 vote. Temporary workers shall check in and out at security points and may not remain in Jefferson past sundown and may not carry firearms.

Persons wishing to pass through Jefferson shall be directed to use Alternative Route A. Madison Police have authorized security personnel to use deadly force to enforce these regulations.

Jefferson’s distress signal shall be three shots. Upon hearing three shots, all able-bodied men shall arm themselves and muster to the point of distress.

Security drill shall be held at noon on Saturdays for all able-bodied men, not standing watch.

The Reason for Standards

I was once in charge of a large mechanical thing. My number 2 was a targeted minority, who was an idiot who had been promoted despite his destroying machinery by running it with no oil. A very powerful man tried to fire him and was told no. I was directed to cover for him. After I left, he made another stupid error that almost killed my friends. He was finally fired after that.

Terrese Edmonds died trying to talk on a cell phone while driving a train at the same time. She was speeding in her train.

One man told the Globe, "The whole cabin wrapped around her.... All I saw was a T blue shirt."

Here’s Terrese’s work with HTML. You have to scroll to the bottom.

"Yes but it wasn't my fault!!!! LOL". Ah, the age of oil.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I used to think that Ethanol made no sense. Ethanol makes sense to me now.

Ethanol is solar power, inefficiently converted into liquid fuel. Oil is also solar power, that was converted to liquid fuel over millions of years. Ethanol cannot support the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to, but it is a way to convert solar power into liquid fuel using nuclear power in the fermenting and distilling process.

The United States exports 180,000,000 tons of food each year. Assume a Nationalistic government to come to power in the years to come that will ban agricultural exports. Assume a 50% reduction in agricultural efficiency, so ninety million surplus tons.

My eight pound spaghetti pack contains 13,500 calories, an extrapolation is conservative because oils are more energy intense than grains. So our exports exceed 300 trillion calories. One gallon of vegetable oil contains 30,000 calories, probably a similar number to regular oil.

Yielding ten billion gallons of oil per year. At 42 gallons per barrel, that yields 240 million barrels. Which is 5% of our current refining number. Figure 8% with the addition of our oilseed output.

Not enough. If I were Warren Buffett, I’d be investing in a company that pioneered modern steam-powered locomotives, not insuring municipal bonds.