Tuesday, June 30, 2009

End of Quarter Roundup

The big stories (but not the only stories) here this past quarter have been the Swine Flu outbreak and the economy.

For some personal notes, we have been having some record breaking heat here in the middle of Texas, and this may go down as one of the hottest summers on record. South and west of me, the ranchers are in dire straights and the cities have begun to restrict water use because of drought conditions, but it really hasn't affected me personally, yet. I have been reading a book on the heresies of the "prosperity preachers" and will be doing an initial review of the book shortly. (I still plan to do one more article on the "Year of Biblical Living")

GEEK ALERT: Despite being written for a general audience the next two paragraphs are quite technical in nature. If you are a non-geek, simply ignore the terms you don't understand, and you will still get three quarters of it.

My search for new software goes on, but I have decided to use an Open Office spreadsheet for my check book register. If you are looking for good FREE office software, Open Office is my recommendation. Not yet perfect, but getting there. And so many offices now use Excel or some other spreadsheet for a general purpose tool that I recommend almost everyone learn to use it. (More on that later.)

For a Personal Information Manager, I have settled on EPIM, which has version 3.02 out. Support for Win2K is not expected to go on much longer, but the authors patched it for Win2K compatibility for this version. Now to find some good journal keeping software.

Now for some notes on my writings for the past three months: I have managed not to publish and then update any posts, but one of my political posts generated some worthwhile remarks.

I do a lot of my writing by commenting on other peoples blog entries, here are some of the more significant comments.

Home Prices May Be Lost for a Generation
The linked to story here is worth reading

Economy to Shrink for "Some Time"
or "Obama's pep talker gives dismal review"

While I did not comment on this one,
it is a real good read about how some
big banks are gaming the mortgage mess.

I think I actually do more writing as comments
on Combat Effective than anywhere else.

Automakers, Bailouts, and Greed

Cowards and Sheepdogs

Dead Pirates

Daily Bad News - Should we freak out?

Mortgages Cramdowns and Contracts

Recovery, or Bear Market Rally

The Conflict between good and Evil,
the Bible and the Scammers

Conservatives don't Make Themselves Heard

Inflation, and Where does Money Come From

The People of the CombatEffective Crowd

Long winded Discussion of Political Wind shifts

The ongoing Economic Crisis

Just some political BS here

Just some economic BS here

Blue-Ray - the expensive
new toy - will people eventually buy it?

Opening up a discussion on the Happenings in Iran

A contrast on possible TARP bailouts

And there you have it. If there is any doubt, not only does this let people who use blog following and blog reading software keep up with stuff that doesn't show up on those tools, but it also ups my "update count" by one, with a lot of links. Kinda cheating, but kinda useful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

opposing traffic in the economy

Last month I said I might make a monthly entry here on the subject of the economy, and even thought it has been less than a month, I have been chomping at the bit to make this next entry.

This economy is presenting many serious paradoxes that will act like pitfalls over the next several years (actually, forever - but in a few years, some people will catch on, and compensate).

First, there is a slight up tic in some of the market indexes. Don't be fooled. As I stated on Combat Effective (ninth comment), corporations are not us. They can experience some gains without any benefit to the public at large.

Second, I have been asked why the price of gas has been going up. It is going up because demand is continuing to be high. Normally this runs up the price in May and then through June and July, the price drops a few cents. It isn't dropping this summer. In fact it raised about a dime since the end of May, and looks like it will raise another dime. But US gas consumption is mostly flat, so what is this rise all about? China.

The Chinese economy (repeatedly called "cash rich" in the media), is surging ahead with some early growth, and (as you can see from another article) they are moving to secure vital resources to insure future growth.

While we may be at the bottom (even the G8 is talking about this) , real recovery is looking even further away. Currently, there are a lot of forecasters expecting gold and the Euro to remain near flat, the pound to take a slide and the US economy to turn around. (Indeed, the dollar and pound may have already both taken a slide this past week, but it is too early to tell.) Of course, they are partially correct, and partly because in the short run, economic forecasting is somewhat a self fulfilling prophesy. But this is one prophesy that may backfire for the public at large.

Much of what looks like gain for the US economy falls into two broad categories. Increases in spending, much like an unemployed person going on a spending spree because he got a job interview. He doesn't have a job, but he feels better so he goes out and spends more money that he does not have. Second, there may be a lot of repositioning of corporations to take advantage of improving conditions in China and some other third world economies. Neither of these are good for the US public at large.

As a couple of final notes, I previously stated that unemployment wouldn't likely turn around for a year, and housing for at least two years. Well, on further thought, I would double that. Expect the job market to be dismal for at least two years, and housing prices to be down for at least four. Nothing has really changed, except my view of the timeline.

How do I get my view of the timeline. Not real scientific (I don't spend enough time on it to get any more science into it), but I look mostly at the interest rates on 6mo, 1yr, 2yr, 5yr and 10yr bonds. In (not very) recent history, they have been around .45, .9, 1.9, 2.9, 3.9 percents. respectively. I watch for trends in deviations from those numbers. In more recent times, the interest rates on the first three have been going down, and the interest rates on the last two have been steady. Therefore, I expect meaningful gains somewhere between 2 and 5 years.

As for gold, still overpriced. But, maybe a good idea anyway. If you can buy some, and hold it for at least 4 years. Of course, this entails a great deal of security, both of your financial position, and physical security. I am discussing physical gold coins, and therefore you have to have a place to store them. I would still recommend other durable things. By durable, I mean lasting more than ten years, so that rules out almost anything electronic. My choice is hand tools, but there may be other things too. A good bicycle should last more than ten years, except for the tires. You get the idea.

Well that is it, until next month.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bible and Heresy

I have been neglecting Bible study for the past few months. It happens from time to time for one reason or another, coupled with my work schedule - which rotates, so that it is hard for me to attend Church regularly.

I guess God wanted to get my attention in such a way that I would want to get back on track, and I am fortunate that he decided to do it in a somewhat pleasant way. Books. First, a catalog arrived with a somewhat intriguing title. Christianity in Crisis in the 21st Century. Well, I will admit that even then, I didn't really jump up and grab on. But it caught my eye with its description of preaching that undermines true biblical teaching.

Then came a second book. I order books from time to time, so from time to time Amazon sends me lists of books I might be interested in. "Jesus Interrupted." I won't link to it, since it appears from the description to be Complete Heresy. What is worse, I noticed that in May it made it to the top of the best seller list in the category: Bible and Other Sacred Texts, subcategory "Bible Study." Ok, so it is a small category and they didn't have to sell many to get to the top. But it shouldn't get anywhere close at all.

Then, a third book. "The Evolution of God." More Complete Heresy.
Again at the top of a list:
Christianity - Theology - Philosophy
"What is this coming to?," I thought.

And then I knew. I got complacent about the fight because I didn't know what I was fighting. I needed focus, so I ordered Christianity in Crisis, and opened it up. It wasn't talking about the Heresy I thought it would, after the 2nd and 3rd books that God sent my way, but it was about one I have been trying to deal with from time to time for the past couple of years.

There Will be More on this later.
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read -- Groucho Marx

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

remember Tiananmen

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

For 15years I tried to find stuff made in the USA, or at least, not made in China. It seems we may have lost the war. They own our debt, and they are our main manufacturing base. I have determined that I cannot change this by myself, and don't try too hard any more to find non chinese made items.

Let us not forget, however that China has not changed. The still attack, and fund others who attack our military, they still use prison labor. They still persecute Christians. They still export poisoned food and baby toys to the US on a regular basis. They still support N.K. They are still the biggest exporters of pirated music, games, and movies (leading to our own government taking draconian measures against its own citizens).

But it is the US government's policy - with support of virtually every congressional district in the US - to support and befriend the chinese government. Under these conditions, I can no longer afford to worry about the trade imbalance or any other hostile acts against the US. I will continue to speak up, and if the US someday wants to elect leaders who actually support their own citizens against the China threat, I will still be here.