Friday, July 11, 2008

IndyMac is dead, Jim

Fuck, had I thrown this rumor out there in this afternoon's post, I'd look creepy level precognitive. Then again, they've been reportedly circling the bowl for a while, with the signal to noise ratio jumping this week.

2nd largest US bank failure in history, FDIC will need 4 to 8 billion US$ to fix this one, approximately 10,000 customers with the bank had uninsured deposits.

Fuck me running.

It's a long way down.

The week is closing with a double whammy. This could be a touchstone week; one we will be able to look back on in the upcoming months and years as the week where the tide turned. The real law is being laid out for us and the true nature of our government is crystal clear.

We started the week with our government providing us with the facts of how the laws of the United States really work. There are two sets of rules and laws in this country. One, which applies to the citizens and another, which applies to government and corporations. We have to follow our rules; they have no rules.

By giving the telecom industry total immunity for their complacency in spying on American citizens the government has told us loud and clear that our rights are nothing but a shadow. We have ”rights” as far as the government deems we deserve them and none of them are absolute. The telcos are immune because they were/are in effect, agents of the government by allowing the alphabet agencies into their COs.

I swear, if I could ditch the phone and an Internet connection and all means of communication other than face to face, I would. Why make it easier for the masters to keep tabs on me? Why add more of my data to their database? While I don’t subscribe to the philosophy of removing one’s self entirely from “the grid”, I do believe on lowering your footprint in the grid. Then again, a void of information on a person could, in itself, spark even more curiosity on their part.

Based on this outcome with the telcos, don’t be surprised in the upcoming years when you live down wind of a toxic energy plant, spewing God knows what into the air, and they have immunity from the government for polluting your air because the government deemed it vital. If the government deems it necessary, tough shit for you and me. You and I aren’t the shareholders in this country and we cannot command resources the government deems vital.

The double whammy is rearing it’s head this morning. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been clinging to life for months, today the shit is hitting the fan in regards to their financial health. Rumors are flying, with even Charles Schumer piping in, that the feds are set to take control of both. When this happens our national debt doubles at the least…least.

What happens if this occurs? We fall off the cliff we have been toeing. All shares of stock in Freddie and Fannie would be worthless with shareholders getting jack shit in return, and who owns this stock? Every financial institution in America. Think the Bank of America buys stocks in $100 blocks? Hell no. They buy stock, bonds, commodities and derivative packages in blocks of hundreds of millions of dollars.

If this happens our government will take every mortgage under these financials into their portfolio. You will be paying your mortgage directly to the Federal Reserve. If this happens our government will double the national debt overnight and the value of the dollar will plummet. Think gas is high now? Wait until these fuckers bail out Freddie and Fannie. Think food is outrageously priced now? Just wait. The dollar and all treasury bonds will truly be Monopoly money at this point.

Who gets fucked? Everyone. Worldwide fucking. The largest owners of US Treasuries are China and Japan, bye bye Asian market values. The majority of OPEC nations peg their currency and the price of oil to the US$, their inflation skyrockets and the price of oil in dollars will inflate like a puff adder about to be stepped on. This snake will bite us all.

Pissed off because the Arab nations have been burning through money like it was cheap generic cigarettes? Don’t worry, they were spending dollars for all these years and Dubai bought the Chrysler Building with those same worthless dollars. If you own the largest pile of horseshit in the world, you might have a lot to spread around, but in the end you own a lot of horseshit.

What happens if Freddie and Fannie collapse with no government intervention? A lot of the same. The government will still take receivership of their assets and try to sell the crap to other financial companies, or like the Bear Stearns sweetheart deal, they’ll fund someone to take over the pieces of the pie that once was Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. We still pay for it, national debt still skyrockets and the dollar still plunges in value.

Time to put on that scratchy old 7” mono copy of Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date”, brace for the fall out and wait for the music to end. It is coming.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Titties, guns and Butts County. The Eldrin fuckin' Bell redux.

I was looking at my logs Monday evening and found myself scratching my head as to why so many people were searching for and landing on my entry about Big Brother’s Little Helper, Eldrin fucking Bell, from last year. Sometimes an old post will get numerous hits out of the blue, sometimes because of events in the news, but usually for no apparent reason. It’s like a flock of people just appear for no reason and then disappear. Then I caught last night’s 11 O’clock news and found out why so many people were looking for blog entries on Bell, starting as early as Saturday night.

Apparently Eldrin was at a private 4th of July party on Saturday, thrown by a titty bar baron who lives down in Butts County. No pun intended. While at this party Bell fucked up his thumb and it appears that rumors started flying that he (or someone else?) had shot off his thumb. Now it appears he just burned the shit out of it while shooting an unspecified large caliber handgun at the titty bar magnate’s indoor shooting range.

Before I go any further, let me get a couple of stories out of the way before addressing Big Brother’s Little Helper. I’ve been to a titty bar on two occasions in my life. Both times I was with my best friend of almost 25 years. This guy used to sell cheap jewelry to strippers in Philly from the back of his car when he was 18 years old so his perspective on the whole titty bar thing is completely different than mine. The guy is a riot and he’s actually an amazing guy, even though he thinks titty bars are a hoot. His name is Mike.

The first time I ever went to one of those joints was back in the early 80’s, long before they became “gentlemen’s clubs”. Back then, they were dangerous dives with dangerous patrons and they employed dangerous women who looked hard from the road they had traveled. So here we are in this titty bar in Pensacola, Florida; five of us in total and we are all young sailors. I was sitting between Mike and one of my favorite all-time wild men, a guy I worked with whom I’ll ID only as Steve.

Steve was a wild fucking mess of a bastard and one of the greatest free spirits I’ve ever known, he ran with total abandon through life. God bless the Steve’s of this world for they make the daily drudgery of existing more colorful, exciting and interesting. One time he lost a brand new rented Iroc Camaro in Ft. Lauderdale during Spring Break. The ship we were all crewmembers of made port visits to Ft. Lauderdale every spring and on one occasion Steve rented an Iroc while we were there. Dude walked down the brow of the ship one afternoon and suddenly realized he didn’t know where he parked the car. In fact he realized that he didn’t remember how he did get to the ship the night before or what he had done after about 5PM the night before. Lost a brand new, 1987 model with the T-top, rented Iroc. Gone baby. Lost. Forever.

So here is Steve, sitting to my right at the end of the dancing area. This dancer came up to me, looked down while she was shaking the moneymakers and I noticed that she had crossed eyes, tattoo’s on her tits and was wearing a gold lame bikini. Unlike Bob Dylan, I didn’t look a little bit uneasy and she didn’t bend down to tie the lace…of my shoes. I just stared at one of her eyes, beer bottle frozen half way between bar top and my lips. She sensed no dollar tips were coming from me so she sauntered over to Steve, who I now noticed was leaning on the bar with both elbows, that Wildman gleam in his eyes and a big grin on his face. “Oh boy..” I thought.

Mike is sitting to my left and talking with one of the guys he worked with and I’m staring straight ahead at the distant wall. The next thing I know the stripper screams and I look to the right to see Steve right at the tail end of something that I’d never seen before. As she was shuffling away I could see this large shiny streak of saliva running up the crack of her ass and Steve was cackling with that killer laugh he had. As the stripper bent over in front of him, Steve related to us later, he licked her from somewhere in the vicinity of the taint all the way up to somewhere close to her tail bone.

The stripper chick was also moonlighting as a biker chick and guess who was playing pool on the other side of the titty bar? Yup, the boyfriend and members of the motorcycle gang he was with. Back then; bikers weren’t stockbrokers or even guys who made a good living doing general contracting construction work. Back then, bikers were rough bastards who used to slit people open with knives and date strippers. We were in deep shit.

Long story short, we escaped with a few minor pushes and shoves and only a punch or two thrown by the bikers. Steve had given us a brush with death all because he thought it would be great fun to lick a cross-eyed stripper’s ass crack. I miss crazy ass Steve and often wonder what became of him through the years.

The second trip to a titty bar came a year or so after Dave Attel had a show on Comedy Central where every week he would traipse around a different city, showing what happens there at 3AM. He had visited Atlanta and showed the world the joys of the Clermont Lounge down on Ponce. Mike was visiting and he simply had to see the bar where the bartender crushed beer cans with her tits and see the mother and daughter strippers. This time we got out without danger of being shiv’d by a biker but middle age had robbed us of much of the rambunctiousness of our Navy days. Still, it was an experience to be had.

With the stories out of the way let me say that while I don’t think those types of clubs return something worthwhile to the community, I certainly will back up anyone’s choice to own, visit or work in one. It’s all about freedom of choice and letting people make their own decisions in life. Hey, if you can find no inner light, no sense of self-realization or sense of human decency from our existence in this temporary and ethereal realm, go for it and enjoy Tammy on the center stage. Besides, it’s only a fucked up rationalization of human sexuality and lack of love for themselves or their fellow man that drives people to such places. It’s not like they are doing something that destroys communities and lives, like selling heroin to 8 year-olds or becoming a politician.

So, Eldrin fuckin’ Bell is at the palatial estate of this titty bar mogul on Saturday and he fucks his thumb up while shooting a gun. Let’s go a few layers deeper here. While I have never been to a party thrown at the palace of a titty bar empire owner, I do expect there would be several things I could count on if I did:
1) There will be lots of expensive booze to drink for free. (Or maybe it’s rotgut placed into Top Shelf bottles?)
2) Got Cohibas? Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
3) Like easy women with big fake boobs? Plenty of those too.
4) If I’m someone who the titty bar owner wants to curry favor with, or show appreciation for, I can expect to have wild and naughty sex with a (several?) of his employee(s). i.e…the girls who show their titties.

Look, I’m not saying it’s cool, I’m just saying that if I’m supporting and backing a titty bar owner in a county where the sheriff is 100% against this guy’s business and that sheriff is my enemy…Well…I’d be expecting his employees (the strippers) to provide me with some lovin’ I can’t get at home…if you know what I mean.

You can say I’m a bad person for saying that but hey, I’m not in that position and I am not looking for that and I am not condoning it. I’m only telling you how these sort of things sometimes work out in the real world. No one in their right mind backs a titty bar owning scumbag, lowlife bottom-feeder unless they are getting SOMETHING in return, even if said titty bar looser is an enemy of your enemy. It may be illegal to offer or take a money bribe but if your bread and butter is the exploitation of women, you don’t even need to worry about the dreaded “B” word. Just send the more impressionable and easy of the girls over to give away a free blowjob and you are all set.

I’m not saying Eldrin fuckin’ Bell is getting stripper blowjobs for his support of the low life strip club vermin. What I’m saying is if he’s at a 4th of July party, that is invitation only for the mucky-mucks, with all those young and sexually free women around and free booze is flowing like the river Jordan….what in the fucking hell is Eldrin doing wasting his time shooting fucking guns for fun? Seriously, is Bell into some sort of weirdo power trip thing where the only way he can pop usable wood, is after he fires off some rounds at the shooting range? Why isn’t he in some hidden bedroom, getting really funky stripper sex while guzzling straight from the Chivas bottle?

Man, Eldrin. Go back to making seriously fucked up analogies of George Orwell’s novel and fucking with the public’s expectations of privacy and stay away from the titty bar gun range. Use your thumb for more useful purposes like resting inside your rectum.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jane Goodall needs to study us.

Two of the distinct advantages to living in a big city are the variety of people you meet and the fantastic odds that you will see some of those people freak out while in public. Don’t get me wrong, small town America has it’s fair share of dingbats who wig out at the slightest perceived slight. But living in the big city compresses even more people into stressful conditions that evoke the freak out episodes on a much more frequent and intense order.

There are three main reasons why you should never go ape shit in a public place:

1) The cops might show up and throw you in the hooskow for being a nut.
2) You really look like an asshole.
3) Folks who see your tantrum WILL tell their friends and family what they saw and your own freak out might get back to you, Friend of a Friend style.

Most instances of asshole behavior in the city just get ignored, or brushed aside as part of daily life. For example:

“He couldn’t get behind me in this lane so he cut me off to get on the off ramp AND he gave me the finger when I honked my horn. What an asshole.”

“She wants to argue with the customer service desk monkey because she can’t get her freaking laptop to connect to the hot spot at Starbucks. Jesus Christ…”

“They think it’s fun to blast their music at 3AM on a Wednesday morning after getting home drunk from a night at the club. Must be nice to not have to worry about getting to work in the morning.”

Same shit, different day, different city. That sort of thing doesn’t really draw a bit of attention in any town, no matter how big or small. But big city freak-outs, thrown by big city freaks, on a big city scale, can be impressive. The best stick with you and become stories that you pass down from friend to friend and co-worker to co-worker. They become legends in their own right.

A few years ago I was in Publix. I was heading down the cereal aisle to get grits or oatmeal or Lucky Charms, whatever it was that I needed. I became aware of “something” happening down the aisle because of yelling and the blurry peripheral vision of movement by a rather large man. When my attention focused I spied the “Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons, freaking out. “46 cents! Another God Damn 46 cents! I’m sick of this greed!” Dude was slamming boxes of cereal into his shopping cart and I do mean slamming them. He threw two in like he was John Smoltz, freezing a batter with a quick moving fastball. “Greed! Greed! All this GREEEDDD!” and he was slamming one box into the side of the cart, over and over until it split open and Cocoa Puffs sprayed just like in that scene in Flashdance, the one where Jennifer Beals’ body double sprayed water off her body while writhing to music, making this-then teenage moviegoer a very aroused young man. I was awestruck by this beast of a man.

So, as he tossed the remains of Cocoa Puffs into his cart and high heeled it out of the aisle, I followed in hot pursuit. I simply had to see what happened next. It’s a bit like watching an action movie. You simply wait for the next action sequence. I get to the end of the aisle and Comic Book Guy has moved directly to the checkout line and he’s got no one in front, so he’s slamming crap onto the conveyor. “Sir, sir! Please don’t throw your food.” The checkout lady was begging. Dude was mumbling and slowing down with the hardcore slamming. I guess he sensed he was walking a line between checkout and County lockup for a couple of hours. I didn’t hear everything that was said, but he made it out of the store and I got to see the lady at the checkout providing classic relief.

With one hand on her hip, weight shifted to one foot and an up curled lip sneer, I could hear her “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” sounds from 10 feet away as she watched him leave the store. She looked my way for a brief moment, locked eyes with me and I saw the words floating in her head, “What an asshole!”

Another favorite is my best impatient yuppie on the interstate story. I was stuck in morning rush hour traffic on 285 one morning. This was after we had several days of serious soaking rain and the DOT had been doing some work in the section of road we were on. It’s stop and go traffic. The kind that takes 20 minutes to go one mile. I’ve got the radio going and sipping my coffee, thinking of how deep the shit is going to be for me getting to work late that morning and it suddenly occurs to me that the person behind me is laying on their horn. Not honking or tooting it. They are laying on it in long blows.

So I look in the rear view mirror and see a visibly flustered guy. The dude suddenly scoots off into the shoulder and as he’s going by I can see he’s calling me the child of an illegitimate consummation of love. He shoots onto the gore separating 285 and a surface street onramp and cuts off another car, disappearing into the distance and beyond other cars in front of me. “Wow, what an asshole.” I thought.

Traffic creeps ahead and a few minutes later I come to the point where the onramp has merged with 285. Up ahead, on the soft shoulder, which has been drenched with pouring rain for days and is now a mud bog, I see the guy who just went berserk behind me. His gorgeous maroon BMW sedan is resting bumper deep in mud, wheels spinning furiously and going nowhere. By time I get window to window with him I can see he’s on the cell phone and yelling like a mad man at someone, arms flailing. What an asshole, indeed.

So, where am I going with this? What is the point of this post? It’s a simple reminder to all of us to chill out over the day-to-day bullshit and not freak out in public. If you are going to go ape shit let it be for something worth going ape shit over. Go ape shit over the economy, the war, the failed leadership of this nation. Go crazy when you talk about how it’s like playing Russian Roulette every time you go to the grocery store to get food to feed your family. Don’t go into a rage because your latte wasn’t mixed just so by the Barista monkey. Don’t act like you have fire ants eating your rectum because the line at the post office is 12 people deep and you don’t even have your Delivery Confirmation slip filled out when you do get to the front of the line.

The difference between being an asshole and having a legitimate gripe isn’t always in the way you present your case or even about the context of what you are bitching about. The difference is in how the folks around you perceive your actions. Yes, you may be totally pissed off that you can’t get that wireless router to work, but then again, most of us have dealt with the same problem and we know the problem wasn’t Customer Service monkey related, it was the monkey looking in the mirror causing the problem.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So, tell me. Why do I need this Frigidaire?

Spare cash. How many of you have it right now? Raise your hand if you have some…boy, not a lot of hands. The period of time we are entering is something we shouldn’t fear, but we should be very cautious, concerned and level headed. If everything goes to hell and the powers that be flush the toilet, we will all sink. This power is in their hands, not ours. Keeping your head above the water while we circle the bowl is the key. Can we keep up with inflation and can we keep our heads about us? Can you do those things?

I’ve mentioned in many posts in the past that we all need to re-evaluate how we live and how we survive on a daily basis. The way we shop for the necessities of life such as food, and how we get from point A to point B are examples. Some of it is just simple frugal living and some of it is just common sense. The chances of more drastic and desperate changes are possible if you read the tealeaves.

Economists have been giving a lot of conflicting reports on the health of the economy over the past few months. The same economists who just 6 months ago were telling us the housing crisis had “bottomed out” are now saying they don’t understand why the American public is so “negative” toward the economy. Eleven months ago, the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Mr. Edward P. Lazear said, “We believe that the economy is back on track” and that the economy was “recovering and robust”. Just last week the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) warned investors that there is a 25% chance of a total crash of the stock, bond and commodity markets within the next 90 days.

The eggheads, waterheads, knuckleheads and greedheads that comment on the state of economic affairs we find ourselves in today, are the same people who led us to this point. None of them can tell us the truth of the matter since the truth is rarely factored into their equations. Get them all into a room and ask them if de-coupling has occurred. They don’t know who’s lying, who’s covering up and who’s hedging a bet or trying to cover a short.

If it weren’t apparent to you when New Orleans drowned, let me clue you in. We are all on our own. Big Daddy isn’t going to step in and save our collective hides. Big Daddy is taking care of himself and will be protected no matter which way the wind blows in the upcoming shit storm. The rest of us Joe 6 Packs will get by as long as we have clarity of thought, and put thoughts into action with a deliberate purpose.

If you have flour, beans, spices and seasonings in your pantry; if you can cook from scratch and don’t mind eating small portions where nutrition is the emphasis. You will survive the worst. If you don’t mind riding a bike, doing manual labor or fixing it yourself; foregoing career for a living wage and having multiple irons in the fire for earning money. You will survive the worst. If you can do those things and have the balls to run in the opposite direction that everyone else is running, you have an opportunity to create the foundation of wealth.

What I am saying is that we have not seen this sort of harsh economic outlook for generations. The prepared will not only survive, but will flourish. Too many people are desperately trying to maintain a lifestyle that they could not sustain in the first place. One by one those people are falling off the cliff into financial ruin. The rest of us are cutting corners, and using those proceeds to prepare ourselves for the upcoming months and years. Until cash as we know it is dissolved into some other form of currency, cash is still king. Those FRN’s will still buy goods and services. Fools are dropping cash into precious metals right now. The demand is high, the cost is high, they are paying with a devalued dollar and they don’t see that. The speculation for food and oil futures isn’t so much a cash cow of the wealthy, as it is a last ditch effort for the worlds financial houses to cover their losses right now.

Go back in history, find the people who made the foundations of their wealth in troubled financial times and you will see the path through this. When everyone is selling, you should buy. When everyone is running to the car lot to buy a hybrid, sit tight on your own car. When everyone is trying to dump their McMansion in the burbs, look at renting, renting to own or buying an unaltered, un-remodeled ranch house. When everyone is grabbing Bisquick and instant rice off the shelves, buy powdered milk, instant potatoes and dry beans. Go against the flow, you’ll pass a lot of scared herd occupants who have no clue of where they are heading.

If you are an “outsider” or have lived an alternative lifestyle for decades, the world is about to come to your level of existence. Be prepared for questions from the newbies. If you are an old hand at thrift stores and yard sales, be prepared for the former Saks Fifth Avenue buyers invading your territory. If you are about to enter our world, leave your attitude and upscale lifestyle stories at the door. We won’t help you with advice if you come to us acting like assholes. I’ve been seeing yuppies acting haughty in the very places they loathe but now rely on to survive.

I hit yard sales and thrift stores every week. I’ve been doing this since the 80’s. Over the years I have picked up antique and vintage furniture for pennies on the dollar. The only new pieces of furniture I have are the mattress I sleep on and the vintage styled La-Z-Boy in my living room. I pay for my gas, food and most of my utility payments every month by selling things I have bought over the years at these sales. I’m saving my best stuff for brighter days, just as I did in the 80’s and 90’s.

The difference between my past yard sale and thrifting experiences and today is that the best stuff is harder to come by than it once was. That will be changing very soon as the folks who paid outrageous money for some things 10 years ago, are trying to dump them in a down economy. I’m waiting for all those Deco armoires that people bought and made into home entertainment centers, to flood back on the market. They think they’ll get $600 for them, just like they paid for it in 1998, but they are in for a surprise when dealers tell them, “You ruined it when you cut a hole in the back to run electrical wires. I’ll give you $50 for it.”

I’m already seeing northside suburban women horrified to learn that the Jadite they bought in 2000, because Martha Stewart had it, is actually worth 1/10th what they paid for it originally. They have no concept that Anchor Hocking made a TON of Fire King and the Jadite line just isn’t rare. It’s actually a bit eye opening to see an educated and apparently intelligent person, look tight lipped and terse when someone walks away from a $160 Jadite compote. I actually saw that at a yard sale. Another dealer who was there with me told her she was being optimistic on her price and said he would give her $15. When she acted mortified the rude bugger told her she shouldn’t try to run an antique store from her garage as he walked back to his van. I wouldn’t have said it, but it was pretty darn funny to see and hear this exchange go on.

Just a few weeks ago I was digging through several boxes of records in someone’s driveway on a Saturday morning. I bought one record for $0.50 and passed up oodles of 1950’s Columbia Masterworks LPs priced at $5.00 each. I asked the owner why the other records were five bucks and the one I found was two bits, the guy said the others were old and you could sell them on eBay, the one I had was new and everyone had it. I gave him two quarters and walked away with a copy of the banned cover version of the “Some Girls” album by the Rolling Stones. How the dude missed the actual value of that album, and how it came into his possession are beyond me. At least it’s now in the collection of someone who knows what they have.

This is the new direction we are heading. Folks are getting desperate, think they can sell things they bought at an over-inflated price for the same price or better, and get pissed off when dealers clue them into reality. The new direction is that anger is building and we have an abundance of over-inflated egos and sense of self in a lot of our fellow travelers. A lot of people bought into the lie that the American Dream is owning stuff and moving up some ladder to more stuff in a bigger house every year or two.

The American Dream, in my mind, has always been the freedom to choose which direction you want to take in life. No guarantees, no promises and if you are willing to take the risk, no safety net. Success has been a greatly distorted word in American society. Success has become a word meaning riches and possessions. Success in my definition simply means raising yourself above your conditions or situation. A man or woman who tries to start and run an honest business, but fail, are successes in my book. They tried, they took the risk and they gave it a shot. The final outcome isn’t always as important as the actual act of trying to make a go of it.

By the end of summer as we feel the first cool winds of autumn arrive, the ladies who are selling some of their mementos of their days at Brown and a $160 compote, the man with the Columbia Masterworks LPs with split seams, the folks who had a condo foreclosed on and are trying to get rid of the damaged Armoire, will begin to sense that a cold winter and bills and upcoming holidays are looming. They will sell those possessions to pay the bills. The good stuff always gets sold first. The crap gets pulled out later. Unfortunately, the folks who had good money and spent it on crap are selling crap. They don’t even know what the “good stuff” is because they never knew in the first place.

All the while, we have been picking up their Mercury Living Presence and “Shaded Dog” S1 pressing RCA albums for a buck here and there, a quarter each on a good score. The folks with climate-controlled storage are snagging pieces of Heywood-Wakefield at used Broyhill and unfinished furniture prices. Now the pawnbrokers are changing their names and MO. They advertise on late night TV, rent commercial space in trendy zip codes and call themselves “Gold Services”.

Too many people, who are being dragged down in the depths of this economic upheaval, are doing so because they never understood the true value of education. What I mean is that for all of my life the value of education has been stressed to a point where it becomes a droning noise. The value of that education was earning a better living; at least that is what we were told. I agree with that statement but too many of us have ignored the true gift of education. That gift is the ability to learn and hone the skills necessary to research, study and evaluate data. Even some cat working the Starbucks cash register, who has an MFA in Drama should understand how to research and prepare for a part in a local theater. Those skills can port over to the “real world” but few people placed an emphasis on honing that skill. Now, we have a nation of highly educated people who don’t know the difference between propaganda and news, or the difference between fact and opinion.

It’s no wonder we spent so many billions of dollars on NASCAR collectables, DVDs sets of crappy TV shows and a plasma screen TV for kitchen viewing of the Today show. If we don’t know the difference between junk investments and investments into things with intrinsic value, how can we complain about the state of our economic affairs?

The great sloughing off of quick money has been going on in earnest for well over a year, we still have a long way to go before we hit bottom. Grab their crumbs as they fall to the way side as they will find their way back up again after things hit the cellar. Keep your head about you. Don’t fall for bullshit propaganda. Think about what service or goods you can provide to earn a living. Identify the things of real value in your life and learn to tell the difference between those things and the things that are truly valuable. Always remember that your loved ones are the most valuable part of your life.

Take the best advice I can give you as we move forward through and past this. If you want to follow trends and be fashionable, you are going to pay an inflated price for that fashion sense. Once the trend meets it’s apogee, values plummet till they find their perigee. Those fashionable things won’t rise in value until they begin their cycle to their next apogee; and if you factor in inflation and a lower sales base, that apogee will be smaller than the first. This applies not only the material things you buy; they also apply to the financial institutions we all depend on to operate efficiently in the background of our lives and they apply to the central components of our daily lives.

What I am saying is that we all need to think twice before we take drastic action in our daily lives. That gas guzzling SUV you bought in 2006 might drain a C note from you every week at the gas pump, but is it cheaper for you in the long run to ditch it for absolutely no resale value and take on another 5 year car payment, with a big maintenance expense for the battery around the time your car will be paid off? Is it worth dumping another $35K on a new car from now until 2013 when gas might reach $250 per barrel? If gas is $8 per gallon, how much is that damn hybrid still going to cost you at the pump? How much will groceries cost?

Pump and dump. The trendmakers are pumping the hybrid cars, the dump happens after they reach the end of the line with that meme. They did it with the land yacht SUVs. They did it with the McMansions. They did it when they sold us on re-education as an advantage of NAFTA. They did it with Reaganomics. They did it with winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese. They did it over and over and over and we always bite the hook with the big fat worm. We need to become the proverbial Eskimos and let the trendmakers become the refrigerator salesmen.

“So, tell me. Why do I need this Frigidaire?”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where have all the good times gone?

Payday comes and you are thrilled the floater checks are covered and you hit the grocery store and gas pumps on the way home from work. You sit down and look at your checkbook and hardly anything is left. It’s going to be a hard two weeks until the next payday and a year ago it wasn’t like this.

It’s costing you $9 or maybe $18 per day to pay for gas to and from work, so you think this is to blame, but then you think about the few sacks of groceries you bought and those cost you $75 when a year or two ago they would have only cost you $45, so you think the food is to blame. Then it hits you.

Food is higher because gas is higher, and food is also higher because there is more demand for corn and rice and wheat and soybeans and now there is a shortage. Corn is more in demand for ethanol production, which was supposed to offset rising oil costs and make the fuel cleaner to burn but now it’s driven up the cost of food, food is in short supply and gas went through the roof anyway.

Fuel is higher because the dollar is far weaker than it was even 6 months ago and the people who have true wealth are moving their money into commodity speculation, so they are driving the cost of a barrel of oil higher and higher. Demand is still high for oil and refinery capacity has been decimated since the late 90’s when the big oil companies were given the green light to merge unabated.

Your monthly bill to pay for gas in the car has skyrocketed, the bill for natural gas in your home has skyrocketed, and the electric companies are chomping at the bit to sack your earnings too. Water bills are rising, food is getting expensive and in short supply, insurance keeps going up year after year.

How have your earnings looked over the past 8 years? If you charted it out in a graph you would most likely see two big dips and a flat or slowly rising line between the two dips. Earnings have not only failed to keep pace with inflation, the average and median incomes of US workers have actually fallen. Your spending power is not what it was in 2000.

No one in the government dares even say the truth; we are in a deep recession. Economist eggheads flutter around the subject without saying it but some brave souls in the ether world of economics have been saying we are in an immense recession. Slowly but surely, some are leaning their language toward the big “D” word, the word that no one dares write or say in such circles.

On April 1st of this year the stock market rallied like crazy. The cause was an email from a respected economist who’s opinion is regarded like God’s truth. His outlook was Rosy Jack and upbeat and the market responded. Then the truth got out, his email, all comments in the writing, were an April Fools joke. He was being a sarcastic fucker like your humble blogger and the moneybags on Wall Street took off on a wild spending spree.

So, I have to ask you this question. Who and what really controls our economy? It’s not wise and learned men and women, for if they did the April Fools rally would have never happened. The cyclic dependencies that have brought us to this precipice would not have been allowed to operate had wise people been at the helm. What really controls our economy? Is it optimism? Greed? Blind luck?

I can’t answer those questions; I don’t have the foggiest clue.

Economics is a strange creature. Off and on for more than 20 years I have followed economics as an occasional, novice spectator. I’ve read various reports, books, journals and it’s all led me to a point where I see economics as a multi-headed Hydra. No precious gemstone could be cut with enough facets to equal the number found in economics.

Every now and then a small door will open and then shut just as abruptly that will lead me to a new realization of what is going on behind the scenes. The drive mechanisms of the economic bus are mysterious. These can be large or small revelations, some occur just by looking into the past.

If you sat down and read as many volumes as you can find regarding the touchstone moments of economics over the past 100 years you would have a heavy reading list and dear God, is it ever boring. It would take years to read the main books and journals, assessments and deconstructions, editorials and academic research. In the end you would be no closer to understanding the real foundation of economics. You would, however, keep seeing the same façade to the subject. Credit, payment of interest and control of resources. Those are the three subjects that maintain the façade.

Take the 1971 events where Nixon told the world to pack sand as an example. Credit in this case would be Federal Reserve notes and the valuation of currency. Interest on credits would have been the US gold reserves. Control of resources is the gold stockpile and the valuation of currency. It never changes. Credit. Payment of interest on credit. Control of resources. Thirty-seven years later and it’s still about those three subjects, only the players and the medium of credit and resources have changed.

Maybe the unrest in the economy is natural; perhaps it is not. I don’t know. I do know a few things. Level heads will prevail if and when things get messy. Level heads do not lie down on the floor and throw a tantrum. Level heads do not go out and try to assert some sort of flawed alpha type personality trait. Level heads do not wonder where the good times have gone and ask what they should do now.

Do you own a bicycle? If not, get one on the cheap through Craigslist or at a yard sale. Do it pronto. Get spare parts for it too. Do you own a small backpack or a large duffel or Navy sea bag? If not, get those items pronto. Do you know how to make a crystal radio? Download instructions on the web and try it out and commit it to memory. Do you own real work clothes, a real pair of work boots and the ability to snuff out your ego? If you say no to any of those things, get busy on them. You will need all three.

Did you ever talk to your older relatives about the Great Depression when they were alive? If you did, you better start plucking the wisdom from what they told you. If you have no idea what they did to survive that event, here is the short answer. Be prepared and ready to do whatever it takes to survive from day to day. I’m not talking about rioting and causing mayhem. I’m talking about being prepared to work for pennies and be so afraid of letting that money out of your hands that you are willing to go to bed hungry at night, for many nights, over many years.

Could you go to bed on an empty stomach after a hard day of manual labor and know you will do it again tomorrow if it means your child or elderly family member can have one small bowl full of mush? Would you be prepared to do that? Do you even know what mush is? Find out what it is and learn how to make it.

Are we heading down that path or am I just a crazy old paranoid fool? Maybe, maybe not. I do know this. We have not seen the bottom of the economic woes in this country; we are not even close to being able to see the bottom. We have only begun to start our fall into the hole.

In one regard money follows a rule in physics. Money, like water and electricity and high pressures, will follow the path of least resistance. In the case of money, the path of least resistance is the path that will yield the highest return on investment. i.e. the payment of interest on an investment. Water will not flow uphill, electricity will flow through copper wire instead of steel cables and a failed seal on a vacuum chamber will always allow a higher pressure to enter the chamber.

Real money, not like what you and I have, will always move along to the next area to speculate, causing a bubble. This bubble ratchets up demand for that ‘thing’ and drives the prices to un-naturally high levels for that ‘thing’. Credit and real estate were speculated upon and a bubble formed. Prices inflated well above the intrinsic value of those things and rose many times higher than historical prices and what inflation could provide. The bubble is leaking; the higher pressure is entering that chamber. The path of least resistance is taking the money to food stocks and other commodities like oil and precious metals. When those have once again been pillaged beyond the last drop of interest, the money will flow out to another speculative bubble like water from a broken dam.

30 years ago the purchase of a house was a safe bet. You could expect a nominal increase in value over time along with the rise of inflation to provide you with a decent profit when you sold ‘if’ you made a wise purchase and kept your home maintained. Take a look at your county tax commissioner’s website and look at the graded and assessed build quality for homes. Check out the number of new homes that are only graded as Good when compared to the number of homes 40 years ago that were built to a higher quality standard and get an Average rating. There is your value in a McMansion. Only a Good rating for quality of materials and construction on your McMansion with a mudroom and Jack and Jill bathroom while a ranch house in the same neighborhood, built in the 1960’s is better constructed with better materials. Yes, infill was a bright idea. Actually, it was a bright idea for the speculators who made a killing on the gullible and the folks who misinterpreted the “American Dream”.

If you think a 20% or 30% drop in home values is the bottom, think again. This market has another 30% in it at the least. Look at the historical values of homes before the speculation began and you will see a modest increase yearly to compensate for inflation and demand and that is all. The ‘value’ of homes over the last 30 years has been driven by speculation and when there was no driving force to raise speculation the financiers created a credit bubble to facilitate a house speculation bubble.

We are still waiting for the Alt-A bubble to begin crumbling, we are waiting for the Put Option ARMs to begin resetting, we are still waiting for the credit markets to shrug off the excess credit load with write offs. We are still waiting for the fall out from lack of cash flow that will affect commercial real estate and retail far more than the credit collapse. Remember, right now we are seeing only the early effects of a so-called credit crunch. The credit was based on ether. It was money that never existed in the first place and a massive block of the economy was being driven by this credit. When credit is gone only cash is left.

When the cash is devalued like we are seeing now, inflation really sticks it to those who have cash. When credit is gone only those with cash can maintain the economy and when uncertainty and fear permeate the economy you won’t let a penny out of your hands unless you really have to. This is the direction we are heading toward. Cash did not keep the failed and failing companies alive, credit kept them afloat. Cash did not put people in million dollar McMansions, credit put them there. The credit is going away and the speculators are looking for cash only resources such as oil and gold and corn and wheat and soybeans.

I’m not saying the end is nigh, I am saying that we all need to be prepared and we all need a plan. I’ve got a bike, work clothes, some food socked away, some cash and no qualms about letting my ego take a kicking just to make enough money to eat a bowl of rice and beans or some sort of pancake concoction. Are you willing to do the same thing?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Three Steps To Heaven

In 10 days, on the 17th of April, a milestone will pass which few outside of a narrow swath of subculture enclaves in the American south and mid-south will memorialize here in America. The date marks the 48th anniversary of the passing of Eddie Cochran. Since my teenage years I’ve had a longtime fascination with Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and the rest of the rockabilly artists. The ill-fated 1960 tour of England, which took Cochran’s life and forever changed the dynamics in the lives of passengers Gene Vincent and Sharon Sheeley, seems to have morphed into nothing more than a footnote in the recent progression of popular music. This has less to do with the importance of the tour or the importance of those 3 people and it has everything to do with the evolving nature of the corporate popular music scene in America.

The winter of 1960 found Cochran, Sheeley and Vincent touring England, to a newfound and appreciative audience for the two rockers. Sheeley has been relegated through time and less appreciative writers, to being forever known as Eddie Cochran’s girlfriend at the time of the accident, but she was much more than that. Sheeley made a name for herself as a songwriter in the 50’s having penned hits for Ricky Nelson and Brenda Lee. She was collaborating with Eddie at the time of his death and had already co-written one of his hit songs in the States. It is one of those ‘what might have been’ questions to think of what a long-term collaboration between the two could have created. Cochran’s music was evolving along a path, which I believe is not far from the direction that Buddy Holly was taking before his early death in a frozen Iowa field. Had Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly lived the direction of the American pop culture scene would have been radically different.

The impact of Cochran and Vincent on today’s music can be seen indirectly if you trace influences of those who came after them, but it can be seen directly if you know where to look and how to look for it. On the subject of their influence with other musicians you have to look no further than the British Invasion bands. Every member of every one of those bands cite both artists as having an enormous impact on their decision to become musicians, and for many of them seeing them perform on this tour is cited as one of if not the single most important touchstone moments in their musical careers.

There are few instances where a specific tour or concert or performance has had a direct impact in the upheaval of popular music, less than a handful have actually been the primary driver for cultural upheaval in America. The Beatles first appearance on Sullivan is, of course, one of the most notable of these events. Punk had a double dose of this in 1976 and 1977 when the Ramones and Johnny Thunders toured England. If you look back at every one of the early punk acts from England they all cite these two tours as the point where they turned on and the first performance of the Sex Pistols in Birmingham, as famously shown in the film 24 Hour Party People, was a breaking point for the English punk movement. Henry Rollins likes to tell his own story of seeing the Ramones in a DC club and every person who he was with that night in the car leaving the show started important bands. The Cochran and Vincent tour of England in 1960 was one of these moments in music history.

Looking back almost a half a century with eyes tainted by corporate music and corporate radio makes it difficult to gauge the works of the early rock pioneers. What seems quaint now, almost comical at times, is to look back at something that was genuinely dangerous and had the ability to alter the perspectives of the teenage mind. Many of today’s teenagers, especially the white, middle class kids, who listen almost exclusively to rap artists; have absolutely no concept that the idea of so called ‘race music’ was considered dangerous to white America. To them it may seem laughable but this was a deadly serious topic in the 50’s. Remember that in the summer of Emmitt Till’s horrifying death; segregation was the norm and in that year of 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested and Bill Haley and the Comets were immortalized in film with Rock Around The Clock’s release. This was just 5 short years before the death of Eddie Cochran and Elvis was still unknown outside southern music circles.

In April of 1960, the American pop music scene was undergoing a taming and polishing by the corporate masters. Elvis had already been neutered by Columbia Records and the Army. Jerry Lee Lewis was clinging on the fringes of music after the debacle following his marriage to his 13 year-old cousin. Little Richard was no longer dropping not-too-subtle hints at his sexuality to audiences and was instead singing secular music in churches. American teens were not being led astray as they had been in the 50’s, the game was closing and the powers that be had done a good job of stemming the tide. But we are talking about music and the undercurrents of culture…it is impossible for them to seal off every avenue of creative expression. In England, the ripple effects of the American music scene were just beginning to cascade across their shores.

Imagine for a moment that you live in that time, as a teenager. You may have started a skiffle band and were becoming slightly more confident in playing a banjo or some cheap guitar, a guitar that is so poorly made that the strings sit more than a ¼” off the fretboard…but you still keep playing and learning how songs are created, their structure and the hidden language and meaning behind music. Onto your scene drops Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and a wave of music being imported from America and almost all of it has happened, under your radar, for years before they got there.

Now you are grooving out to Elvis, Buddy Holly, a mysterious style of music called the blues, sung by wild voiced and wild strumming guitarists. There is music about death and infidelity and loneliness and pain and uncertainty and it’s all against a backdrop of wild joy and youthfulness. This speaks to you, literally and figuratively. Somehow there is light coming from the deadly songs about alcohol; somehow there is wicked fashion and unspeakable style in their clothes, their language and their vocals. You see them for the first time at some theater in England and you see something wholly dramatic and American, you see the stage presence and the performing styles that are so unknown to you that your entire life changes in the blink of an eye out of some natural reflex.

Without this tour and the ending of Cochran’s life, we still would have had the Beatles and the Stones and The Who and The Kinks, but they would have been different, less effected by the artists they saw in that winter, 48 years ago. Jimmy Page would have still joined the Yardbirds, most likely, and Led Zeppelin would have still ground out their retelling of the American blues masters’ songs, but something would have been missing. Everyone who ever tried to play a Keith Richards riff would have still tried it, The Replacements would have still tried to be the Faces and the Stones, The Minutemen would have still adored The Who and Creedence. The Pixies would have still written weird songs and Kurt Cobain would have still offed himself at the worst possible time. Every miserable, smirking male vocalist in a band today would still be trying to sound like Eddie Vedder and that awful singer from Creed. But something would have filtered through this matrix in a different manner without Cochran and Vincent inspiring the beginning. The formula would have been altered.

Would The Who’s ‘Live At Leeds’ had such a signature song as Summertime Blues had it not been for Eddie Cochran? Maybe they would have been satisfied with playing Fortune Teller as their big cover song of the show? But then, would the blistering cover of Young Man Blues been so vicious without the input of Summertime Blues?

Would Elvis have made himself into a sex symbol for a second time had he not worn that black leather outfit in the ’68 special? Would Jim Morrison had worn those leather pants or would the Ramones worn leather jackets if it were not for Gene Vincent making that outfit his signature look? Maybe, maybe not. I seriously doubt that Michael Jackson would have thought up the single glove look on his own and that was also a direct steal from Vincent. But of course, Gene took liberties with his singing style by listening to Elvis.

Would low grind songs cook over onstage if Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps had not shown everyone how to properly do it onstage when they did Be Bop A Lula? Maybe they would have, after all, James Brown did it with his stage show and a cape. The trick of taking one of your hit songs, slowing it down more and more during the verse and playing with the audience until you kick them in the balls with the chorus and some massive power of sound can be heard in live performances all across the Rock genre. Even Tom Petty made the live version of Breakdown much better than the studio version by employing this trick. Gene Vincent was the master of it, even if he didn’t invent it. Jerry Lee was wowing audiences with this when he broke out and in fact his shockingly great European TV appearances in the 60’s show him doing this like it’s second nature and it smokes.

We stand where we are today because someone or a group of people, in the past, led us to this point. Knowingly or unknowingly they spun us down a new path and spiraled off into their own universes. Eddie died. Gene tried to carry on but his health failed him. Sharon continued to write hit songs but the spark and connection she had with the early rock pioneers was lost as the music industry changed.

So where do we stand now? How did we get to the point we are now, where music is just thought of as a free file to load onto an iPod? Why does the herd still lead the trends of youth and why do kids with such incredible savvy and insight and with access to information that should empower them, still not ‘get’ the past and how it actually relates to their life today? How and why does radio still play the same shitty 2 dozen songs when we have hundreds of thousands of songs from the past 50 years to listen to? Want to know why? Really know why?

Music is inherently dangerous as a medium of expression. It doesn’t take money to make music, it doesn’t take money to promote music and it doesn’t take money to disseminate music. Music is, at it’s most basic level, a form of communication. The rhythms, the lyrics, the stories, the emotions and the actual act of performing songs are communication at its purest level. Dangerous messages aren’t always explicitly told in song, they are usually cloaked as something else and peek into your mind on a different level, once there they work on your subconscious and that is incredibly dangerous to those who hold power. This Land Is Your Land is one of the greatest American songs, ever. Woody Guthrie’s greatest gift to humanity comes in the form of that song. Look at the lyrics not with the eye of the average American but through the filtered lenses of the people who truly hold the reigns of power and you will say, “Uh oh.” And all of this subversion is offered up in an easy to know Baptist hymn, ‘When The World’s On Fire’ so you’ll know how it’s supposed to be sung.

Music has a way of seeping through the cracks and controls put in place by our corporate masters. When Napster first hit the scene I thought it would herald a new direction since all the recorded music to date could be easily accessed by anyone. With the flow of thoughts and ideas and inspiration I honestly believed the new revolution, to steal from Pete Townshend, was about to take place and music would lead us there. It didn’t happen and it won’t happen with file sharing and it won’t be happening until there is another, more fundamental sea change in American life.

Music is not a file on your computer. Music is not a tradable commodity like the pictures you took at your birthday party or of your friends when you were doing Jell-O shots on Spring Break. Music isn’t an overly compressed and void of dynamics world of sound, it has depth and variables. Your music doesn’t define you; it’s the other way around. Music is not a snapshot of who you are that is broken down into bits, music is a complete canvas of massive dimensions, telling many stories and you aren’t in all of those stories. It doesn’t fit on an iPod and no matter how large your collection it doesn’t fit on the shelves at home. Other than the philosophical teachings of Christ it may be the greatest support tool a person can have in their home.

Music is like math; it is a universal means of communication. Music has an advantage though as you don’t need to be able to count to ‘get’ it and even the most abstract musical ideas can be comprehended by a person with no formal training. Even if you have no formal training or even care about music as being more than background noise, you can still hear something, by someone, that will make you happy or tap your toes.

Music is our gift from God. Music, in my opinion, is proof that God exists.

The powers that be did not cause the crash that killed Eddie Cochran. They didn’t hide Gene Vincent from the public. The powers that be didn’t unleash the Beatles, to usher in decade and cause unrest among the teens. The powers that be made money off them, loads of money. They did, however, alter the music scene to lessen the impact of wild spirits like Elvis and Jerry Lee and Gene and even Wanda Jackson. They did this to make the ‘product’ more compartmentalized, predictable, sellable and less unstable. Artists like Beatles and Nirvana slipped through the cracks, their true nature unknown to the powers.

Now I know someone is saying this doesn’t make a bit of sense. Why would a company try to limit their market share and limit the variety of musical acts they sell? It doesn’t seem smart in the game of making money. Well, the short answer to that is artists like I have described cannot be controlled by the corporations and sooner or later they infect the minds of their fans and the next thing you know there is chaos on the market.

Think of it this way. Artists like Elvis and Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins started on small independent labels, in this case, Sun Records. They were absorbed into the larger corporate labels but their influence and the influence of Sam Phillips spawned generations of new labels and new artists, each bringing with them new perspective on what has come before and what they want to bring the world. This evolves over time. From the time that Eddie Cochran died until Greg Ginn founded SST Records, only 18 years had passed. From SST Records an entire generation of influential artists became realized and some of them lived, not just talked about, doing everything without the support of corporations or their support mechanisms.

“Paint your own picture. Write your own book. Start your own band.” That was the battle cry of The Minutemen. I’m sure many of the suits laughed at this idea, the smart ones would have looked over the rim of their glasses and understood they have a problem if that sort of idea gets around too fast. This is the thought process that has navigated behind the scenes in corporate America for decades and decades. We stand at the point where it has been perfected. The corporations not only control what you see and read and hear, they control all entry to these areas of communication. This was the threat imposed by the Internet. If enough artists took advantage of the medium and the technology, the corporations would be left out of the loop. The Internet is dying because of corporate governance and greed, the seed of creativity and DIY ethic is lost even with tools lying around that artists can really use.

There was a time when a 4-track recorder could make demos but they weren’t capable of dynamic and highly professional recordings, and they were expensive. Today, a kid with a PC and some software can make music that is dynamic, polished and they have no filtering of a producer or engineer who may steer them in a more commercial path. A guitar, a USB connected device, software and a microphone and you could become the next Jeff Buckley or George Harrison or James Brown. You could shake the tree of music and watch the nuts fall from the branches. This is what the labels and multi-national conglomerates did not want to happen.

They dumbed all of us down. It started in the 50’s when they took away Elvis’ mascara and marginalized Jerry Lee for marrying a 13 year-old cousin. They dumbed us down some more by dumping sub-standard pop to compete with highly polished pop in the aftermath of the British invasion. They took us down a notch further when they signed any band with a synthesizer and funky clothes in the 80’s or any band with a lot of hairspray and a guy playing scales on a Super Strat. They kept clearing the breech by making the dirge and pain of Grunge into a fashion statement to be bought at your mall. They eroded the direct finger pointing and calling out of Ice T and NWA by telling every suburban kid that it’s all about the Benjamins and sex and dope and nothing more and that all is well as long as you don't call the powers that be for their bullshit. That is shit the kids today should have known better to pursue simply because they are more worldly than we ever were.

The corporate masters want us dumb, they want us compliant and they want us to stay in our place and do what they expect us to do. This is why the exchange of music over the Internet, coupled with inexpensive and powerful recording software and dirt-cheap musical instruments didn’t deliver a musical revolution. Quite frankly, we don’t have it in us to rebel or stand up. Too much snarkiness to cut through and the ‘serious’ musicians don’t get the dope and babes that the dumbasses get.

Gene Vincent died for nothing, and in pain. Eddie Cochran died for nothing in an English hospital. Their deaths were and still are tragic. Their lives…perfect. They lived for something and left an inspiration that created much more than they were able to create in their short life spans. Somewhere there are two beautiful souls singing, one strumming a gorgeous Gretsch guitar with hot pickups and an amp full of warm tone. The other is wearing a black leather suit and looks ready to steal your girlfriend if you aren’t careful. Godspeed to the souls of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Camp will break soon enough

The season is just around the corner and I'm feeling the itch for another year of ball games. As I get older, I feel grateful to see another season of baseball start up. It is comforting and a wonderful way to pass time, even if you have the game droning on an AM station while you work. The crack of the bat is always a good way to snap back into reality.

No waxing nostalgic and going all George Will on you. That would be a cop out. I present instead a list of the 10 worst things to ever happen to baseball:

10 – The strike of 1994/1995

It is amazing that when bad things happen in life, no one blames the Devil for being himself, they swear at God for not stepping in. The owners and the players both took the rap for this when it happened but time has festered against the players in the eyes of casual and diehard fans alike. The owners were still pissed over the collusion fiasco and the players were pissed over the salary cap proposal. Both sides dug in, the owners decided to start withholding millions of dollars slated for the players association and the fight was on and we didn’t get a World Series in 1994. Scabs were brought in for the 1995 spring training and only a court injunction got the players back on the field.

Fan sentiment for the sport is still waning as a direct result over this episode. The feel good story of the McGwire-Sosa home run chase helped in the healing process for a brief while but the recent steroid scandal has killed that buzz. If the strike were the Buddy Holly plane crash and the Maris home run chase were the Beatles on Sullivan, steroids are Altamont. Sympathy for the Devil, anyone?

9 – The Yankees of the 90’s

David Wells’ flabby ass in pinstripes. Roger Clemens’ two-day stubble in pinstripes. Wade Boggs in pinstripes. No, wait. Wade Boggs riding a horse in pinstripes. Scratch that, make it Wade Boggs wearing pinstripes, while riding a sway back nag around Yankee Stadium and a New York cop is the one holding the reigns, after a World Series victory. No further explanation needed. The only thing more stomach churning is the typical Mets fan originally from Long Island but relocated to Atlanta and keeps talking up the Santana deal like he’s sitting in the bleachers at Shea. Even mooks like that can’t top the dominance of the Yankees in the 90’s as being a bad thing for baseball.

8 – Segregation

Can you imagine the numbers that Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Page alone could have racked up if they hadn’t been limited to just the Negro Leagues? No segregation means there wouldn’t be a separate exhibit in Cooperstown ‘honoring’ the Negro League players today as just a sidebar to baseball history. There would be no what if questions. They would all be in their rightful place alongside Feller, Ruth, Cobb, Wagner and Mathewson; treated as equals and the legends would be even larger than they are now. Dear Lord…the legends that would have been created and the fables of their feats. It’s staggering

Aaron could have been signed to a contract 1 to 2 years sooner, and his career might have started as early as a mid-season call up in 1952 instead of starting with the ’54 season. Looking at his first two seasons in the show, Aaron could have added as many as 300+ hits, 40 homers and 175 RBIs to his career stats if the league had not been segregated. Henry was a ball player we will never see the likes of again.

7 – The Tragic Phenom/Precautionary Tale/Would’ve, Could’ve Nexus

Tragic Phenoms – Tony Conigliaro, Lyman Bostock, Thurman Munson.
Precautionary Tales – Denny McClain, Dwight Gooden, Darryll Strawberry, Bob Welch
Would’ve, Could’ve – Mark Fidrych, Nick Esasky, Roy Campanella.

6 – Intraleague play
The joy and novelty of seeing the “other league” and how it compares to “your league” is diminished to nothingness because of this hair brained scheme. The World Series is watered down even more. The Crown Jewel looses a bit more of it’s shine.

5 – The loss of the blue collar fan at the ball park

Get yourself to a game these days and the fans are dressed in their Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew and Docker slacks. They read the latest Oprah recommendation in their club level seats, dine on cuisine and cut business deals in the suites. Virtually no one scores a game from their seat and even fewer seem to know how to do it at all. They leave by the seventh inning stretch because of the long drive back to the cul-de-sac in the burbs. They turn their faces into a look like they’ve eaten a lemon and smelled a fart when someone calls the shortstop a real horsehit cocksucker wearing pink lace panties, who ought to be providing oral service for a fee to the sailors down on the pier, rather than disgracing their beloved palace of green grass with their lackadaisical work ethic and absent talent. They call security in to toss out the bohemians with potty mouths and faint hint of body odor.

There was a time when men wore suits to the ballpark but not because they were businessmen; that’s just what men wore every day in those long ago times 40 and more years ago. They drank warm beer, chain smoked Chesterfields and nickel cigars in their seats, ate hot dogs slathered with onions and kraut and yelled obscenities at the shortstop for not turning that double play, which would have ended the inning instead of giving those other rat bastards wearing visiting team’s grey flannels a chance to score 3 runs off a tired and dogged pitcher. Don’t get them started on that pitcher. The fan’s mother in law has a better curve ball than he does and she can stare down a man better than you would believe. She’s got gas and that bum doesn’t even have air left in that 2 bit arm of his. Cleveland raped us with that trade.

I wish I could go to a Braves game again and hear the fan in the row behind me calling the Met’s outfielders a circle jerk of chimps and baboons, lacking a pivot man or a director, and wondering who would clean up the mess the primates left behind on the field. Or inviting the umpires to a semester or two at a school for the developmentally challenged; of whom they came from a questionable husbandry of species and doubtful parental legitimacy. Instead I hear Larry the salesman telling Vance the salesman, how the new marketing VP on the 8th floor has some tight connections since she is a Wharton alum, in between the both of them bitching about not being able to take the boat out on Lake Lanier because of the drought and how awful their hedge’s are performing in their portfolios. I want to turn around and smack Larry and Vince in the nose and mouth while calling them Yankee cocksuckers who need to go back to Long Island because their mothers are driving the prices down for the other street walking whores. I want my fellow fans to join in with furious shouts of ,”Goddman right! I’m sick of you fucks. Go back home in Alpharetta and let the men watch the goddamn game.” As we drag them through the stands and out to the main concourse of the Ted, both lose their Itallian loafers, which we toss at them after stomping them with our workboots and well worn Chuck Taylor hightops…black, faded and worn from years of wear. “Fucking Larry and Vance…don’t drag your sorry ass back here unless you want more of the beat down.”, we shout as they crawl away to the Gold parking lot to find their Hummer and Benz and drive home.

4 – The ascendency of Rotisserie Baseball and the decendency of intelligence

These days people think that looking at a box score will tell you that Ichiro went 3 for 5 last night against the A’s. That isn’t how you read a box score, kids. Yes, Ichiro’s stats for the night are there but if you know how to read a box score you’ll be able to recreate the game as it was played and you would know that the two times he didn’t get a hit were with men on base and one man in scoring position.

My Grandpa taught me how to read a box score when I was still in Elementary School and was too young to stay awake long enough to hear or see the west coast Braves games. With his imparted wisdom and knowledge I could get the next day’s newspaper and recreate the game in my head and on paper with a pencil. I knew that Roland Office’s 0 for 4 performance at the plate wasn’t for naught, that one of those outs was a sacrifice fly in the 5th inning to bring Cheney across the plate with the winning run. Roland was the hero of the game and he let his batting average dip so we could score a run and win the game.

Put away the spreadsheet’s for a few minutes and read the box score the way it is intended to be read and you won’t make mistakes like you did the year you had a failed hunch that JD Drew was going to bust out.

3 – Rookie Card syndrome

Sports Memorabilia should actually mean something other than how much it’s worth in terms of dollars and cents. Back in the early 90’s I was browsing an antique store and had the breath taken out of me by an old Textile League uniform for sale in a glass booth. I’d never seen one before in person and I have studied the Textile Leagues of Georgia for about 30 of my now-41 years on this earth. I know former players on a personal level, some who went to the bigs and the old Southern League, some have passed away and some are still alive but very advanced in age. It was a small uniform for a player on the old Lindale Georgia team, blue, and in beautiful wool complete with stirrups. Price tag said $500.00 and I felt betrayed by my passion and the wind came out of my sails. A piece of history, meaning so much to one person (me) for it’s history and symbolism, reduced to a sum a half a grand, which was almost as much as two week’s worth of my labor as a skilled tradesman at that time. I’ve never seen a Textile League uniform since that day and probably never will again. God only knows where that old Lindale uniform wound up.

The expense of buying things that have no obvious intrinsic value may be determined by demand and the vague whims of men, but the true worth of things can be found elsewhere. My hope is that uniform and the rarest trinkets of the sport are not losing their stories at the expense of financial speculation while they sit in safes and containers.

2 – The stroll to first base and taking away the inside corner

Few things have altered the attitude of the sport as the acceptance of a hitter strolling down to first while admiring their towering home run. Few things have enabled that attitude change as the league’s policy to take away a pitcher’s right to dominate the inside of the plate and knock a player back.

Back in the day, if you gazed at a big homer there was an unwritten understanding that the pitcher, who was being shown up with such disrespect, was fully within his right to park a fastball between the shoulder blades of either you or one of your teammates. Possibly both depending on how lovingly you watched the old horsehide sail into the bleachers.

This kept the “look at me” factor to a minimum, maintained a certain level of diplomacy on the field and it kept kids from looking like spoiled little brats when they emulated their heroes on the field of their Pony League game. When I was a kid, we wanted to hustle and play rough, hard and fast like Pete Rose. We wanted intensity and focus like George Brett had. We wanted to be the kid who held back the tears over a split lip and a shitload of blood pouring out when they got hit in the mouth with a ball because when Freddie Patek got spiked in the ’77 AL Championship series, he didn’t miss a beat and went back on the field to play short with a torn sanitary and stirrup sock, both soaked in blood. Schilling wasn’t the first bloody sock player to roam the diamond and Patek’s clutch playing after that awful spiking to the shin wasn’t turned into a feel good Good Morning America fluff job by the media. Patek got some camera time before the inning started and got called a tough cookie with guts and fire by the NBC announcers. After that, he played the position and didn’t even wince. We wanted to be Patek because he was tough. By God, Freddie Patek was exactly what a man was supposed to be when he played baseball.

Now days, if a batter doesn’t get the ball in his power zone and the ball comes within 2 feet of his thigh, he’ll stare down the pitcher like he’s John L. Sullivan ready to go 80 rounds. These pussies couldn’t turn on one in their wheelhouse if their lives and their baby’s mama’s lives depended on it, and getting plunked in the wallet with a 95mph fastball goes from being a free shot at stealing second in revenge for a sore ass, to becoming a shot at bowing up and puffing your chest out like the pitcher had the balls to steal the tampons out of your wife’s purse.

I wish to God that Drysdale, Gibson and Grimes were pitching today. There’d be a whole bunch of batters with sore backs from being hit by pitches and sporting black eyes from being hit by the pitchers.

1 – No more Name Game

Other than Chipper Jones, who in the league has a baseball sounding name? No one. We need some guys with names like:

Chief Bender, Waite Hoyt, Nap Lajoie, Connie Mack, Tris Speaker, Rube Waddell. Satchel Paige, Enos Slaughter, Orlando Cepeda, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Goose Gossage. Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom, Joe Rudi, Nellie Fox, Jimmy Foxx, Robin Roberts, Cesar Cedeno, Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain, Burleigh Grimes, Rabbit Maranville. Rube Marquand, Kid Nichols, Ducky Medwick. Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Pepper Martin, Honus Wagner, Three Fingers Brown, Dazzy Vance.

There is a zip to names like that. Those sound like ball player’s names. Those names sound like Old Style beer and popping gloves and pepper games where someone takes a baseball in the throat because they didn’t move fast enough. Those names sound like they can handle themselves on a high and tight fastball. Names like that can turn a double play and make it look like workmen doing ballet. Names like that scream for a 20 point headline.

When your name is Rube, no one will bat an eye if you cuss out a fan because you are hung over and they keep razzing you about last night’s extra inning loss. With a name like Goose or Catfish, no one will think twice if you get caught in bed with three flight attendants by your wife while you were on a road trip to Cleveland. Hell, it’d be expected of you to horse around. If they call you Pepper, no one will expect anything less from you than a damn good game and a dirty uniform when the day is done, and when your day comes to retire, men with fists the size of hams will tear up and say they always liked you, felt a certain kinship with you. No one says that about guys named Drew or Todd or Jeremy.

Guys with the name Nap or Tris don’t get invited to White House functions. Guys named Burleigh don’t wind up bare chested in Cosmo or with a long line of silicone enhanced strippers out for a quick buck and some Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for their effort. Guys who answer to the name Rabbit aren’t going to wind up on TV, mugging smug for you to buy their new line of designer clothes, Rabbit Gear for the New Urban Sophisticate. If you sign the checks with the name Dizzy, Daffy or Dazzy; you never have to worry about paying for your lunch for all your days on earth because the Rotarians, Lions Club and Jay Cees are always looking for a knee slapper over their roast beef and a story for when they get back to the office.

You’d never plunk a cat named Chief in the earhole unless you wanted the field mopped up with your ass. Only a fool would mosey down to first base after Satchel gave up a pop fly with the wind blowing out and you lucked into a dinger. He’d kill you the next time you stepped up to the plate. Hearing the PA announcer call out the names Slaughter and Grimes would add a serious tone of danger. Slaughter wouldn’t walk to the plate to 5 seconds of a Madonna song, Grimes wouldn’t have anything to do with a bad Bon Jovi song. No musical introduction is needed for those men…the name and the reputation would say all there is to say.

The good ole days were good not because we were all innocent and goodly. They were good because men acted like men and they did what men do. They worked. They had personality. They were tough. We wanted to be like them whether they were baseball players, movie cowboys or the guy who drove the fire truck and had forearms bigger than Popeye. They were men and you could not wait to grow up and be a real man too. The worst thing that ever happened to baseball, in the long run, was mistaking youth for childishness and immaturity. Sooner or later the brats and babies will spoil the game. They did and we let them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Client 9

While the media falls over themselves for the sex angle in the Spitzer case, the real story is being ignored. It makes good copy to report the Governor is going down in flames for some paid fucking, it’s even better on the hypocrisy meter since he’s busted prostitution rings. It’s not good copy to get into the financial disaster that awaits us and Spitzer was hip deep in brokering deals to prop up the bond insurers market.

Ambac, one of the AAA rated bond insurers on the verge of losing it’s rating and being a huge domino in the already falling world economy, was ‘saved’ last week after more than a billion USD were pumped into it in a deal headed by Spitzer. Ambac’s stock from yesterday looks like fingerprints at the scene of a crime. A spike in price shortly after the bell rang followed by a huge drop, before news of the Spitzer fuck-fest hit the street. Ambac went down 23% before the bell rang. Spitzer was brokering more deals in an attempt to save the bond insurers.

What happens when these bond insurers go tits up? It’ll be worse than the ongoing sub-prime crisis. Those insurers were there to back the banks for losses from a variety of disasters all of which are looming larger on a daily basis. What else ties in with these insurers? Everything under the sun from hedge funds to 401k investment portfolios, who have loads of money sunk into them for ‘security’. They are among the items traded in portfolios for these kinds of investments. Look at your 401k plan and look for the plans that focus on ‘safe’ investments, there you will find them lumped in with muni bonds, T-bills and other low interest ‘safe’ investments.

When the dust finally settles, Client #9 may be the side bar note that reminds us all where it really picked up steam. Time is a major liability in this economic landscape and we just lost a bunch of it with Spitzer’s bust. The powers that would benefit from a larger meltdown of the financial system have just gained time on their side with his bust.

So I can’t help but wonder…did Eliot Spitzer’s trail of Wall Street blood lead to this or did he lose his bona fides with a certain group of players because he decided to play a different game? Did he lose his usefulness to a group of people or did he become a threat to them? Of course the Feds say they were alerted to Spitzer as an ancillary target stemming from an investigation into large sums of cash being moved. Of course they are going to tell us that. All I can say is that I am sure the NSA was having a ball peering into his voice and data stream for quite some time.

The IC is linking everything about us into neatly packaged containers in their databases. Public officials have got to be targets of their monitoring simply because they are keeping tabs on their own players. They know what the weaknesses and strengths are for their own people. I have not doubt that sitting somewhere, on some server, in Ft. Meade is a matrix which the IC community can run and see what methods they can use to force a person to toe the line, and what method they can use to remove one of their people.

I think Spitzer’s downfall wasn’t his love of hookers…it was some agent or DBA within the Intelligence Community.

Friday, March 7, 2008

If you unfold a street map, you can never refold it in the same way again.

It’s been weeks since I’ve made an entry to the blog. Not because there haven’t been news stories that are pertinent to the subjects I discuss or for a lack of thoughts on the world around us. The reason is simply time management and outside interests.

Of all the things that keeps me going every day, dragging my beleaguered ass into the office to make more money for someone above me in the income food chain, isn't one of them. Having and maintaining a day job is what it is; a way to pay bills and advance down the professional road as far as I wish to take that road. Being paid wages for labor and services rendered is enough for most people and to those who do it and ask for nothing more, my hat is tipped to you.

What gets me up and keeps me going every day is the knowledge that once I am done with the 9 to 5 white collar job, I can go home and focus on the jobs that I do to make extra money. The work that I do for me, and my own benefit, are what keeps me going. Up until recently I looked at the home based business process as just a way to help pay bills and get me through the rough spots that modern life throws all of us. Now, I am in the middle of one of those life-changing phases that strike folks like me from time to time.

After I left the Navy in 1992 I began a cycle of working a wide range of jobs and trying different professions, not because I couldn’t maintain a single job, but because my mind is prone to jumping to new interests at an alarming rate. In the first 5 years after rejoining the civilian world I worked construction, been a full-time student, worked as a machinist and did testing in an R&D shop for a company in the alternative energy field. I’ve been in the IT industry since 1997 and have plied this trade in 4 different industries; hospitality, mechanical services, marketing research and credit card processing. I’m about to move in a new direction and this one is going to be strange and interesting.

There is a certain critical point where your perception of what you have been doing and what you perceive to be a potential new career, flips. Like an iceberg rotating itself to maintain it’s mass in relation to the earth’s gravity and it’s own buoyancy, this is the point where all things are heaved over. Even the most simple and mundane things such as driving down the road become filtered through a new set of eyes and you no longer see things the way you did before. Now I see opportunity where I once saw ‘nothing’ and the way I used to think in this area seems overly simplistic.

This is not to say that I am moving away from the blog. I will still comment on the events and news that connect to Conspiracy Theory and the High Weirdness subjects. I’m only saying that for the time being, maybe until late summer or early fall, my posts will be far less frequent. I hope you will still stay with this blog as I do foresee many things worthy of comment and I humbly appreciate the positive and kind words I’ve had from so many of you who have “stumbled” onto this blog in the last year. I will still post, I will still rant and rave, I will still call out politicians on their bullshit. I will still do what I have always done, just in smaller doses.

Change is never bad when it is welcomed and comes on your own terms. Some people spend their entire life changing but never seeming to make headway. Making headway in this old world is all about following the paths that you see fit to follow. One of the people I link to from this site and have mentioned before in previous postings is the artist Mack White.

Mack has recently retired from his job at the University of Texas and is pursuing his work full time. The university job, he has written about, paid for his support through the years so he could continue to create. Now he has retired from that position and his work, his own energy and his own direction is his focus. Mack should be very proud of the route he is taking. Any creative soul who stays on their path and does what it takes to maintain that outlet is one worthy of praise.

That is the kind of change I am talking about. Following the path that you create, the path you see illuminated and the path you know is true. While my new path isn’t going to follow a creative endeavor it is still one that I will be proud of when I get to the next turning point. God only knows where that next turning point will come from and what it will be.

So, for the time being hold on to your hats and don’t delete that bookmark for this blog. It isn’t curtains for me. I still have thoughts and weird subjects to mine. It’s time for me to adjust to the new surroundings, get my bearings and call back to you from the wilderness from time to time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Helpful hints for the regular guy if faced with a radioactive and toxic spy satellite.

I realized last night that with all of the senior officials of our government being out of the country for the satellite shootdown, and the quiet approach by FEMA, that someone needs to give the average American some advice on what to do if this thing comes down in their back yard. Now, I’m no rocket scientist, health care professional or NSA spook, so take these bits of advice with a grain of salt.

What you should do if the satellite falls in your back yard:

Run like a scalded dog.
Run very far away.
Run very fast.
Don’t look back.
Screaming at the top of your lungs is optional.
Run so fast that the soles of your shoes begin to smolder.

What you should not do if the satellite falls in your back yard:

Don’t poke around the debris field with a stick.
Put visions of YouTube fame out of your head.
Don’t put pieces of the wreckage in your mouth, even if they do look like Charms Blow Pops.
Don’t call your cousin to come over to take pictures.
Don’t let your hounds sniff around the wreckage.
Don’t say, “Lookie what I found, fellers.” when the Army arrives.
Don’t tell your kids that Santa finally made it to your street and he left a jungle gym out back.
Don’t think about how much money you are going to make at the recycler.
Don’t call NASA or the NSA, cover the mouthpiece of the phone with a handkerchief and say, “I’ve got something you lost…fer a million, billion, jillion dollars I’ll give it back to ya.”
Don’t call 911 and tell the dispatcher that you’ve got a crashed UFO in your yard.
Don’t blame it on Osama.
Don’t sit in front of the TV watching the Fox news report coming from a helicopter camera and tell your wife, “Damn if that don’t look a lot like our place.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wow. The sky really is falling!

If you’ve followed this blog for a given length of time you know that I love analogies. The more absurd the analogy the better and every time I turn around the Government gives me more material for new analogies. This Thursday the Navy is going to try to shoot down one of the NRO’s spy satellites. This is a satellite the spy agency at first told us is nothing to worry about, even though it’s loaded with about 1000 pounds of highly toxic fuel and, if that weren’t enough, somewhere between three quarters of a pound to almost a pound and a half of plutonium. So, now the Navy gets to “test” it’s new missile defense shield system on this bus sized beast.

Folks, Imagine you are sitting in your apartment and there is a knock at the door. You open the door and there is your neighbor with smiles for you and a slightly sheepish look on his face. “Hey, I hate to bother you but I just wanted to let you know that if you see a snake in your apartment you should get away from it and come see me.” You ask your neighbor why and he says, “I’m a snake collector and one of them…well…sort of got out and I can’t find him in my apartment, so I’m afraid he’s going to show up unannounced in someone’s apartment. He wouldn’t have slithered away outdoors since it’s winter and too cold.” Your neighbor leaves with the reminder, “DON’T go near the snake if you see it, just come get me. Okay?”

Away your neighbor runs and you are flipped out over the snake news. A few days later he knocks at your door again wearing snake boots, heavy protective clothing, carrying a shotgun with bandolier strapped across his chest and a pack of insane and fierce ferrets in a box. “I have a plan for getting the snake. Can I come in for a bit?” Now your neighbor tells you he needs to kill the snake because it’s just too dangerous to allow a surprise appearance. “Look, I hate to tell you this but it’s a deadly black Mamba that got out. He last ate a few weeks before he turned up missing and I think he’s hungry, pissed and aggressive. I need to set the ferrets loose and dig around for this thing and kill it.” You ask if it’s safe to be in your apartment and your neighbor tells you, “Um…yeah…sure. Just sit down and do what you normally do at home. Oh, and if the snake slithers out in front of you I need you to yell for me immediately.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what our government is up to these days. There is a highly toxic bus soaring out of control over our heads, which also houses the latest and greatest electronic spy secrets the NRO can lift into outer space. Something has spooked (no pun intended) the spooks so badly that they have let the cat out of the bag with other alphabet agencies and the danger posed by this is so great that the Navy is going to shoot it down.

Let’s be honest, the government doesn’t really care if toxic substances poison 100% of the world’s population. Even recent history shows that they lied their asses off about the levels of toxicity in the World Trade Center debris and dust clouds. Before that we have above ground atomic bomb tests, the spraying of biological pathogens on the city of San Francisco and we still have a massive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons sitting in bunkers, still not destroyed. The government isn’t worried a bit about people dying if this thing crash lands smack in the middle of Times Square or even on an elementary school in Somewhere, USA. To paraphrase Stalin, one dead person is a tragedy, a million dead bodies is a logistics challenge.

So why are they all hot to trot at shooting this thing down? Is it the equipment onboard that has them shaking like crazy? Are they afraid the thing will wind up in the middle of China, spilling secrets willy-nilly like a missing Los Alamos hard drive? This would still be a lousy “real world” test of the missile shield defense system since the parameters of the test would be uncontrollable.

I have to wonder if there are not other secrets onboard this craft that the government does not want the world to know about? I have to assume that the NRO’s satellites have a defensive system onboard with several sub-systems and ancillary systems supporting the mission. A “gun” system would of course be needed to disable or destroy anything that is trying to destroy the satellite. I doubt it’s a real gun with ammunition that packs a high kinetic kill capability, due to the weight issues of carrying a magazine of high-density slugs. An energy-based weapon would be more in line with I assume it would have and it also makes me think there may be more plutonium onboard than first mentioned. I’d say the pound and a half, while quoted as the high end, is actually on the low end.

I assume it would have an electronics package for target assessment, target assignment and weapons tracking. This would be a big loss to the spy agencies if it fell into foreign hands, as it would give them the blueprint for jamming the defense systems. I also assume it is carrying the most recent mods for the actual surveillance payload. The imaging system is perhaps far beyond what any of us can imagine and there have been hints before that the newest generation of these satellites can see through dense material. In other words, it can see through walls and roofs. I have always assumed they have advanced these systems to a point where they can actually pick up sound as well.

Let’s keep an eye on this one, it could be interesting and even if the Government says all was a success and the satellite was shot down and is now sitting in harmless chunks on the bottom of the Pacific, I’d still be suspicious of what has actually occurred. Consider a news story that just came to light yesterday with the Dallas DA’s office announcing the release of 15 boxes of secret info about the Kennedy assassination. In the more than 40, and approaching 50 years since that stockpile has been sitting in a vault, every Dallas DA had decided to keep those documents and their existence, a secret. If the Dallas DA’s office can keep a secret squirrel stash of over a dozen boxes of evidence after the millions of man hours, maybe even billions, spent by researchers and enthusiasts to study the Kennedy Assassination, we have to automatically assume the Feds know far more than they are letting on. We can apply this same knowledge to our current governmental agencies and personnel.

Keep looking to the skies…keep looking.