Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of Year Roundup

Well, this year has gone by so quickly there is not enough time for a proper end of year roundup. Of course, anybody knows, as we get older, our years get shorter.

At the beginning of the year I recognized that we may be entering the "end game" and the prophesies concerning the Rapture, Tribulation, and the Return of Christ seem, more than ever to be coming true. I rather suspect we have less than 20 years left in this world, though we may have less than 20 minutes also. As any Bible believing Christian will tell you: "NO man knows the day, nor the hour" that the end times will come.

Throughout most of the year I watched the world and US economy slowly tread water or move first one way then another, with no real progress. But I really spent most of the year rethinking and reorganizing my disaster plans. Oh, yes, I have disaster plans. I am not making plans to ride out Armageddon, and be a survivalist in days that look like Mad Max. But I have plans to make things go a little smoother should some little calamity come to my corner of the Earth between now and the End.

Towards the end of the year, mostly in October and November, I spent too much time following the silver market, and considering buying some silver coins. I actually tried at one point, only to have my credit card not go through, because of some computer glitch. I might try again, but I am learning not to spend too much time thinking about it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just a note about parables

The parables seem to be of interest to some people, but to be properly understood, they need to be studied as a whole. There is a principle, called hermeneutic consistency that needs to be applied.

As some examples, in all of Scripture, the New Testament Saints (after the resurrection) are never called servants, nor are we involved in the harvest. The servants of God are the Old Testament believers. New Testament Saints are called Sons, the Church, the Bride of Christ, etc.

We, Jesus and the Church, are the sowers, not the reapers. The angels are the reapers.

Earth is not the Kingdom of Heaven. The Church is not the Vineyard. We are the branch, not the olive tree, nor the vine.

Birds are never good in parables, they are always evil ones. Leaven is never good, but is the corruption that "puffs up" and makes things palatable to the carnal man.

This of course, in not all inclusive, but can give some insight to parables that otherwise can be very misleading.


It is appointed unto man (mankind) once to die, and after that the judgment. Will you stand before God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, or stand before him in your sin? This is the all important question.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Economy Still Stinks a Little

I find it amusing the markets are all up these past few days. Can anyone say "irrational exuberance"? Not only is our government still massively in debt, with no real plan in sight to fix it, but the governments of Greece and a few others are in the same condition. And not only are governments in dire condition, but the consumers and the corporations they have come to worship as their provider are in dire condition also, with balance sheets full of debt. And a meltdown in Europe is not too much of a long-shot in the next few weeks.

The fact the world economy keeps humming along is a testament to workers who get up each morning, look at the situation, and go to work anyway, even knowing they aren't making enough to do well. And it is a testament to God's Grace and Patience that he hasn't pulled the plug on this world and allowed the Evil One to come to power for that "last 7 years."

It is possible (it would fit well with my understanding of prophesy) the meltdown of the European Union could be the start of the Great Tribulation. But I think it is more likely just one more event along the way towards it, and we have a ways to go. And that is how I do my planning. If this is "the end," so be it, but if it is not, then here is the best way to handle it.

Greenspan used the term "irrational exuberance" in Dec 2006, and within a year we were into the meltdown. I was a bit disturbed Bernanke sold us a bill of goods while secretly bailing out the world banking system. We were told TARP would be $800B, and it looked on the surface it was less than that. In reality, it Was $16,000B dollars. 20 times as much. I warned repeatedly back in 2008 that it seemed to me that the Fed was printing a lot of money, but was told they weren't printing all that much. Now I see why. A great deal of it was pumped into, not our economy, but other countries economies. The globalist leaders of our nation sold us out years ago to build a new world order, and this was part of the price we will pay.

Another reason people may be overly optimistic about the economy is a drop in the unemployment rate. But that is deceptive. The rate dropped, not because more people had jobs (although payroll did go up about 120k jobs) but because a lot of people dropped out of the system. Also factory employment was down. All in all, this points to a weakening economy that is hollowing out even more.

I have begun to look into buying silver. Not much, as I don't have much money. My first attempt, a couple of weeks ago failed because of a credit card malfunction. (I think my credit union's safeguard said it didn't look like a normal purchase for me.) Last year (I think) I said silver was overpriced and should be less than $26 an ounce. This year, because of the possibility of a meltdown, I am looking at buying silver at any price under $31 an ounce. If things get to looking worse, I might go higher, but then again, the price of Gold dropped just before the meltdown in the mortgage market. I am hoping I can take advantage of such a drop.

Money is not all there is in this world, but Jesus told us to be aware of the goings on in the world. And Paul said that while we should be as harmless as doves, he also said we should be as wise as serpents.

I say be frugal with yourself and generous with others, but don't let the goings on in the world rob you blind.

Raw Link Information for this article.

irrational exuberance

Secret Bailout of the World Banking System

Govenrment Printing Money

U.S. Employment Situation Report for November (Text)
By Chris Middleton - Dec 2, 2011 7:45 AM CT
Following is the text of the November employment report from the Labor Department.
The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care. Government employment continued to trend down.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) dropped by 378,000 over the month to 8.5 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full- time job.
In November, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier.
Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in November, a decrease of 186,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
The private sector added 140,000 jobs, as employment rose in a number of service-providing industries. Government employment continued to trend down.
Manufacturing employment changed little over the month and has remained essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.
Construction employment showed little movement in November. Employment in the industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in November. The manufacturing workweek was down by 0.2 hour to 40.3 hours, offsetting a 0.2 hour gain in the previous month.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased in November by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $23.18. This decline followed a gain of 7 cents in October. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.8 percent.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from +158,000 to +210,000, and the change for October was revised from +80,000 to +100,000.

U.S. October Consumer Price Index Report (Text)
By Kristy Scheuble - Nov 16, 2011 7:30 AM CT
The all items index has risen 3.5 percent over the last 12 months, a lower figure than last month's 3.9 percent increase, as the 12-month change in the energy index fell from 19.3 to 14.2 percent. In contrast, the 12-month change for all items less food and energy edged up from 2.0 to 2.1 percent. The food index 12-month change was 4.7 percent, the same figure as in September. (food up, energy up less, all other up, overall, up more than payroll)
The immediate priority for Greece is securing the payment of an 8 billion-euro loan installment under a previous 110 billion-euro European Union-led rescue, Papademos said. The tranche must be paid before the middle of December to prevent a collapse of the country’s economy.
Samaras said yesterday that backing for the interim government should last no more than the three months needed to secure the financing before elections are held.
“The danger is that this is a really transitional service government, a pre-electoral government that will do all the right things to secure the loan but will be unable to promote the real reforms,” Yannos Papantoniou, a former finance and economy minister in a previous Pasok government.

Monday, December 05, 2011

We Will Miss Mark

Well, we buried him today.

Let's back up a bit. He was a soldier, a baseball player, and one of my coworkers. And I would call him a friend, although not a close one. We both retired out of the service, him a few years before me. We were about the same age, him a couple years older. He and I worked together daily throughout 2010, and saw each other on the job regularly after that. All and all, he was a good guy, though an ornery one. He would often take up a line of argument with one of the new employees just for the sake of seeing how they defended their positions. But most of us knew he didn't take it seriously, and half an hour later he would be helping them with some job we had to do.

Oddly, most of his family outlived him. His father passed when he was young, but his mother and 3 older sisters were among those at the funeral. He lost his wife and a daughter, each to illness a few years back. I'm not certain he ever got over that. He died suddenly, on the job, about a week ago (27 November). No one guarantees tomorrow.

He and I talked politics and about God for hours. He believed in God, was raised Catholic, but had a falling out with that Church some years back when they indicated they wanted more money out of him. The sad thing is that even though he seemed to understand the Gospel in his head, I didn't really see any indication that he ever accepted it for his own salvation. I hope I am wrong about that.

I don't normally go to funerals. I can count them on my fingers. On one hand. I went to the internment, as the actual funeral was in another town. Catholic. Their ways seem strange to me. But since we worked together for some years, and I knew this is hard on my coworkers, as well as his family, I went to this one. I don't normally go to funerals, because I have been sent to help the living. He is gone, and there is nothing more I can do for him. Maybe others of my coworkers will have questions. No one guarantees tomorrow.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Comic Strip - Now the Book

My favorite (secular) comic strip author, Jimmy Johnson, has released his first book in over 20 years.

You may be aware of Arlo and Janis, either from seeing it in the news paper or the link to it from the list of "other blogs I read" on the right side of this blog. He has great insights to the introspective and the humorous things in life. It is about the life of a middle aged couple with a son. The son was a pre-teen or early teen, in the strips found in this book, and is now about 22 in the current comic strip.

Before he put the book on sale, me and several others advised him to ask more for it than the $25 price he settled on. I got my copy a couple days ago, and I would give him the same advise today. It would be a bargain at $40.

The book can be ordered on Jimmy Johnson's website.


As you may have seen on one of my previous posts, I will no longer be following the format I held to for the past couple of years. The posts will be more off the cuff in the next few months.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Desperate Times

To say these are desperate times is both a "no brainer" and a bit of unmerited anxiety.

China and the U.S.

It looks more and more like China and the US will be squaring off for a fight. Not too long ago, it was the US and N.Korea. And it has always been that way between those two countries and the US. Especially in the 70's and 80's when Communist operatives in our universities and media were telling us that China had no expansionist agenda and would never be a threat to us. Purely defensive, they told us. Right.

But in the grand scheme of things, these countries are, right now, just a distraction from what everyone familiar with the Kingdom of God and Biblical Prophesy knows we should be watching (and for those who don't know, it is Israel and her enemies).

Wars and Rumors of Wars
When the U.S. Navy deployed warships in the Yellow Sea in a show of support for the South Korean government, Beijing denounced America, blandly denying North Korea’s guilt. The Chinese claimed that they were merely displaying even-handedness and restraint, but an exasperated President Obama said: ‘There’s a difference between restraint and wilful blindness to consistent problems.’
Washington is increasingly sensitive to the fact that its bases in the western Pacific have become vulnerable to Chinese missiles. This is one reason why last week the U.S. made a historic agreement with Australia to station up to 2,500 U.S. Marines in the north of the country.
Beijing denounced the deal, saying it was not ‘appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interests of countries within this region’.


While the Global Warming (oops, I mean climate change) wackoes are still telling us we are about to run out of oil and our carbon emmisions are changing the global climate, a quiet change in the crude oil and natural gas supply has now produced easily harvestable reserves that will last for more than 40 years. Maybe more than 100 years.

As for the Global Warming Wacko crowd. These are the people who look at a roller coaster and believe the people on that little train are causing it to go up and down and around. The tracks are just incidental. Man Made Global Warming or Anthropological Climate Change, or whatever you want to call it is now know to be a complete fraud. Apparently made up by some guys in a university to keep them in scholarship (or fellowship) money. It just snowballed from there, as certain LEFTIST liberals found ways to turn weak minded people's anxiety into cash.

Global Famine.

Well this one is real. But maybe not immediate. Others have been writing about the famine that I wrote about. But as I said a few weeks ago, it doesn't look like it will be a major famine next year. Of course, anything can happen, and we could face a major famine even a couple of months from now. But it currently doesn't look that way.
With grain supplies still tight and worldwide demand growing quickly, food price inflation looks set to remain high and even worsen in the years ahead.
It will likely take years of near-perfect crops to replenish global stockpiles of corn and wheat, the staples of the world food system, and minimize the risk of price spikes.
Stockpiles of corn in the United States, the No. 1 producer, are forecast to drop to 16-year lows — 870 million bushels — by summer 2012. As a percentage of use, that would be the second-tightest since the Dust Bowl devastated crops in the 1930s.
This time around, crops are historically large, but demand is also surging due to Chinese consumers and U.S. ethanol producers.
As for wheat, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects world inventories will improve by June 2012 to reach 182 million tons, up from their 26-year low of roughly 126 million in 2007-08 during the last run-up in prices. But growing demand, notably from the livestock sector, will keep prices high, as will a scarcity of high-protein, high-quality milling wheat.

Israel and Islam.

This is Real. And Big.

It is looking like Israel will take a preemptive strike against Iran

Israel believes it could carry out military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities and suffer fewer than 500 civilian fatalities were Tehran to retaliate, the country's defense minister said on Tuesday.

Ehud Barak raised the prospect of military action with Iran once again as he hinted that splits in the international community over imposing sanctions regarded as crippling enough by Israel could leave the Jewish state with no option but to take matters into its own hands.

Economic Disaster in Europe

This one is also real. But we don't know when the meltdown will occur, or how long it will last.

The biggest problem in our economies today is that the money we need to invest or use today, was spent several years ago. This is true throughout most of the western world. The next biggest problem is that those who seem to be willing to either bail us out or buy up the shattered remains of our self destructed civilizations are our enemies.

I have said before, on this blog, that the insanity has gone on so long that a sudden removal of the insanity would be disastrous, and that continuing the insanity will be disastrous, but that we as individuals need not participate in the insanity.

I said at the beginning of the month that the banks are still safer than hiding money under your mattress, but that "the margin is getting thinner." Well, things have gotten worse, and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before there is a melt down in Europe, with the economic destruction spreading to the US. Now may be the time to begin watching the silver and gold markets and moving some money into silver and gold coins, if you haven't already. And I mean physical coins that you have in your hand, not certificates. Of course that means you will need physical security. A safe deposit box might be ideal, or not. If the melt down is severe enough, the banks will lock their doors and you will not be able to get in. I have researched home safes, and can say that anything is better than nothing, but most home safes can be broken into. What you need depends on what you have. I am fortunate, as I have very little money, I don't need much of a safe. (Maybe I should bury a coffee can in the back yard?)

We came close to a meltdown and run on the banks

By Bob Ivry, Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz - Nov 27, 2011 6:01 PM CT
Bloomberg Markets Magazine
The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy.
And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.
This could go under "disaster prep" also
British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency, amid new fears for Italy and Spain.
As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.
Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.
The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

Run on the banks?

24 November 2011
Don't mention the R word
By Laurence Knight Business reporter, BBC News
R is for run. As in bank run.

IMF said to be readying Italian bail-out 28.11.11 @ 09:29
By Leigh Phillips
BRUSSELS - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing a multi-billion-euro rescue of Italy, reports in the Italian media on Sunday (27 November) claim.
The Washington-based lender is in talks readying a €600 billion assistance package for Rome in return for swingeing austerity and structural adjustment measures, according to an article in Italian daily La Stampa, quoting unnamed officials in the American capital.
Spain meanwhile may not need a full bail-out programme and be offered instead a credit line.
Buttressing speculation that the IMF is set to bail out the eurozone’s third biggest economy, ECB member and Bank of France governor Christian Noyer was asked directly by reporters whether the IMF is preparing a programme of support for Italy, but he refused to comment.

A note on my lack of style in this article.

I didn't have time to embed the links properly this time, I left them in the raw form I use in my notes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Change in blogging habits

I will be changing the way I do blogging in the future. For now, the main change is the articles will be more random, and probably shorter. In a short time, I will change all the commenting to "moderated," meaning that no comment will get posted unless I see it first.

This is driven by three factors. One is I am planning to move my writing to another blog (maybe in a few months or so). Two is that I don't seem to be as good as I though I might be at writing articles on time, on several subjects. So I am letting the "on time" part go away. Third is that I intend to allow people in the local area know about this blog, and I don't want my local address posted to it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Monthly Economics Report

All eyes are fixed on Greece and its slow downward spiral into bankruptcy. But, I think we are paying too much attention to that, and not enough to our own. President Obama is still pushing the bus (our economic future) ever closer to the abyss(the point where we, like Greece, will not be able to pay our debts and will spiral into a financial meltdown), and the Republicans in congress are still stonewalling his efforts.

In the mean time, the payroll report is out for this month. It shows that employment is down slightly(from 9.1% to 9.0%), not because of the numbers from October, but because of revisions to the numbers in August and September. September saw the addition of about 100k jobs that had not been previously reported, so the unemployment numbers were adjusted. It still stinks just a little, because manufacturing jobs for Aug and Sept are still at a net loss.

There is still some 8% (give or take some) that is under employed (working at whatever they can find) or dropped out of the job market completely. And 42% of the unemployed have been out of a job for 27 weeks or longer, meaning they will have increasing difficulty finding work and may eventually join the numbers of those who have dropped out.

Over all, the situation is still grim, just as it was two years ago and it will remain grim for more than another year.


Now, about Greece (to be followed by Spain, Portugal, Ireland, California, etc.) and the current state of the bailout. The other nations of the EU (Germany in particular) have agreed to forgive half of Greece's debt, if Greece will agree to live within its means in the future.

Most of the markets climbed with the news that the EU had came to an agreement with Greece, and felt that life could go on and they would work their way out of this mess.

Now, Greece is not certain they want to accept the deal. Well, to be more precise, a large fraction of the population, accustomed to living off the government dole, doesn't want to accept the reduction in their comfort level the deal would require. And another large fraction of Greece cheats on their taxes with an audacity not even imagined by most people.
It is commonplace to rail against the flaws that drove the state to bankruptcy. Statistics that betray the extent of the state’s failure are part of everyday conversation. One million people, or a tenth of the population, last year gave a backhander to the civil service to grease the wheels of bureaucracy. Only 15,000 people declared earnings of more than €100,000 in 2010 but one in 20 purchasers of £2?million houses in London lived in Greece.

It shouldn't surprise anyone. They didn't get into this mess by being Puritans, willing to work long hours, live frugally, save methodically, and treat all others honestly.

Now, why is this important to us? There is a concern that the crisis could snowball into a run on the banks, and that could spread here. This is not a completely empty concern. The banking system in both Europe and the US is largely based on trust, backed up by nothing. And most are leveraged about 20 to 1. This means that if 5% of their customers decide to withdraw their money, the bank will collapse.

This is what happened in 1929, and is the reason the FDIC (and subsequently, the FSLIC and NCUA) was created. Except that if the panic is widespread, they are all a house of cards, and will crumble quickly.

Now, I am not trying to panic anyone. First, this is not likely to happen within the next month. Second, the likely hood of it happening within a year is fairly small. Your bank is still safer than your mattress. But the margin is getting thinner. Next year may be a different story, and I can't tell yet.


Some day in the future, we must be aware that our economies will try to enslave us. Read the story, in a post on "the oildrum" website, that begins with "many years ago." It wasn't really science fiction. My grandfather escaped one such camp on the west coast of the US.

While it will probably not happen with oil (since we recently discovered enough gas to last many years) it will likely happen with food and clothing.

Thus is the reason I am beginning a regular posting on food and famine.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Reformation Day

Reformation day passed without too much excitement. I should have written this before, but truthfully, I didn't think too much about it until a Catholic I joust with frequently made a couple of, over the top disparaging, remarks about Martin Luther.

A skirmish of words ensued, and I decided I needed to get some resources lined up, and all linked to a central place.

For those of you who are scratching your head, Reformation Day is the day that Martin Luther tacked a list of 95 theses (or grievances against the Roman Catholic Church) on the church door (or did he?), and said he would hold a public meeting the next day if anyone wanted to debate with him on any point on which they had question or difference of opinion.

No one took him up on the debate, but the Pope eventually put out the word that he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, to be considered an outlaw and should be killed, if possible. They failed to kill him, and in the following years, the Roman Catholic Church was largely removed from Germany.

It is notable that the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (a large grouping or convention of Lutheran Churches), is the only major branch of the old mainline Churches I can find, that has not gone into apostasy.

I found most of these by doing a search on Reformation and Protestant.

"Brief history in chart form of over 20 reformers from Arminius ..."

"An essay on the beginning of the Reformation, concentrating on Luther's reaction to the sale of indulgences and his developing the doctrine of
(This is mainly a Seventh Day Adventist site, and most of the site seems to be a forum)

short outline presents key points and supportive links

Catholic Encyclopedia
On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy upon heresy. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though to be sure, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and others had already put the life’s work and even their lives on the line for same cause of truth, constructing the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built. Luther's action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther's charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Before long, Luther’s 95 Theses of Contention had been copied and published all over Europe.
Luther lived incognito at the Wartburg; he called himself Junker Jörg (Knight George) and "grew his hair and a beard."

In addition, I found resources on other Protestant Movements in the Theopedia entries.

The Council of Trent played an important part in determining the outcome of the Counter-Reformation. Along with the part played by the Jesuits and certain individuals, the Council of Trent was a central feature of the Counter-Reformation. But whether Trent represented a positive move by the Catholic Church remains contentious. (Catholic Encyclopedia)
The nineteenth ecumenical council opened at Trent on 13 December, 1545, and closed there on 4 December, 1563. Its main object was the definitive determination of the doctrines of the Church in answer to the heresies of the Protestants; a further object was the execution of a thorough reform of the inner life of the Church by removing the numerous abuses that had developed in it.
The books of those heresiarchs, who after the aforesaid year originated or revived heresies, as well as of those who are or have been the heads or leaders of heretics, as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Balthasar Friedberg, Schwenkfeld, and others like these, whatever may be their name, title or nature of their heresy, are absolutely forbidden.
"Most of the speakers seemed only too happy to treat Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox as “brothers and sisters in the faith,” as easily as a Baptist might refer to a Presbyterian. Now, I trust that some RC and GOs are Christians, but such unqualified, unnuanced passing remarks effectively dismiss the Reformation and jeopardize souls. Don’t you realize the effect your passing comments have on sheep?"
There are many in our day who say that the Roman Catholic person is a brother with one who professes salvation through faith alone. Rome, in its own documents, denies this, using the word “anathema” toward those who disagree with certain doctrinal issues.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jobs report stinks just a little

The markets are up a little on the news that there was a fairly good monthly jobs report from the Department of Labor last Friday. But on closer examination, I think it just stinks a little. While the private sector did create 137,000 new jobs, which is almost good (remember, we need 200,000 per month to recover), manufacturing lost 13,000. While we did make some headway last spring, overall these past 12 months, the progress has not been goodLink at all. Recovery in total private sector jobs has been less than half of what is needed, and manufacturing is in about the same boat. So, while we are not being dragged into a second recession, we are not pulling out of this one either.

In addition, average hourly earnings has remained pretty stagnant also. While food and energy prices have gone up about 10% (very rough estimate) over the past 3 years (the reason they tell you there is no inflation is they measure your pay, not prices), wages have remained nearly the same. This means that even if you do have a job, things are not getting better.

As if all that is not enough, President Obama has proposed a half billion dollar "stimulus" plan that will likely act like throwing an anchor off the back of a boat. Sure the boat will move forwards from the stimulus caused by throwing the anchor, but then the anchor will be a drag for years to come.

The only good news about all this stagnant economic stuff (that is, if you have a steady job) is that gas prices won't be rising much in the next few months.

Meanwhile, copper, which I use as a forecaster of where manufacturing is going, has lost about 20% of its value. This is a bad thing. Since manufacturing is a large user of copper, it means manufacturing is slowing down. No matter what the ISM index says, if copper use is down, manufacturing is, or will be, slowing down. At least that is what happened in the past. It isn't that I have a crystal ball, but I have seen this before.

Some people have been saying the price of silver crashed but really all it did was lose some gains it made this past couple of years that were completely out of line with how much silver should cost. It is still over priced, if you ask me, but then again, I have said gold was over priced for five out of the last five years.

A predicted shortage of cotton has failed to materialize at this time, so goods made with cotton will remain economical for the next several months.

Other good news is, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the anticipated worldwide famine will not develop. Not because food production is all that much better, but because it turns out that the quantity of food wasted in more affluent countries is just simply colossal, and that can absorb the losses, with just a 10% to 20% rise in prices. I will likely be writing more on famines, epidemics and other disasters soon, though, as they are not going to go away.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Obama and False Christianity

A recent conversation on another forum got me thinking. The discussion was about President Obama, and his supposed christianity, as well as his animosity towards Fundamentalist Christians.

As soon as a couple of videos of Obama's speeches were posted, some of his supporters began saying they were Photoshopped, so I presented evidence from one of Obama's own speeches, and posted by his own self.

As soon as I posted it I knew there would be a problem. The typical Christian, even if they kinda know what Christianity is, cannot discern true from fake Christians. Most, even if they have spent many years in Church and looked up the verses referred to in Sunday School and in the sermon, still have little overall knowledge of the Bible.

I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record on this. Constantly harping that Christians need to dig into the Bible, but how else are we to know the true Christians from the Counterfeit s? Especially if the Counterfeits are doing what many believe are good works?

To make thinks worse, the site I referenced was from the United Church of Christ (UCC). While the "Churchs of Christ" had a good reputation many years ago (though I have heard no news lately), UCC is a different organization. Wikipedia says the "United Church of Christ" is "less historically related" and that is an understatement. One is a separatist movement, separating themselves from the mainline churches that had fallen into apostasy, the UCC is an ecumenical organization.

Now, ecumenical was once a good thing. It meant that faithful, Bible believing churches would get along. Today it is a snake in the grass, teaching there is no difference between churches even if they have renounced the Bible as the central authority, and teach that there are many ways to get to heaven.

I also noticed, as I researched the various parts of this article, that the wording of the ecumenical movement is getting more subtle. This is disturbing, as it will make it more and more difficult to spot the counterfeits without actually being inside their organizations. In addition they have been embarking on their own versions of Bible dictionaries and their own interpretation guides. I suspect it will not be long before the truth will be completely indistinguishable to those who are not already saved. And I am certain this is one of the elements that will bring the Rapture and Second Coming of Christ.

The Bible is the Word of life. As such, studying the Bible is crucial to the life and growth of every believer. -- John MacArthur

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just some updates

Just some updates on some of the things I have written about over the past few months.

The Famine I wrote about a couple of months ago will not be as severe as I first thought. There will likely be shortages, but instead of the price of food doubling, this time it is only expected to rise by about 15%.

Some tidbits as to why it isn't as bad as I thought it would be:
Corn crop not hurt as bad as expected, but will be late.
Wheat harvests also not hurt as bad as I thought.

But the biggest factor is waste. Apparently, both the US and Europe still waste a good bit more food than I thought. How much, I don't know. I am still researching that (a lot of junk to sift through on the Net). But the bottom line is that the crop loss can be easily offset, this time by reducing the waste in our systems. As these things go in cycles we should have a few more years (or not, since these things cannot really be predicted) before a really bad famine sets in.

Obvious by now, this isn't the big famine mentioned in Revelation, but I will write more on both the coming famines and the 4 Horsemen of Revelation later.

Closely related to famine is epidemic. There is a strain of Bird Flu (in India) that is beginning a breakout, but it is still unclear if it presents a pandemic threat. Remember, the time to prepare is before things like this hit the media and panic ensues. As a related note, Polio is making a comeback. The majority of the US is vaccinated, but there could easily be a spread into small segments of our population, which would cause a panic. Keep your own vaccines up to date and there should be no problems. (And that goes for your family and friends) And lastly, MRSA strains are showing up that are resistant to antibacterial ointments. These are the ones found in the typical family medicine cabinet. Time to look into old time (18th century) remedies.

On a completely different note, as I have been listening to the expository recordings made by Pastor Chuck Smith covering the whole Bible, I have realized they were done over a period of about 20 years. Makes sense. He did something like 232 of them, and no more than one per week.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Zero Gain Economy

Well, the jobs report came out riday, as usual. And as usual, it was a cold slap of reality in a warm fuzzy market that usually thrives on "you tell me no bad news and I will tell you no bad news" in order to look up.

There was zero gain, zero loss, in the overall jobs. The almost (well, not quite almost) bright spot is private hiring was up by 17,000 (we need more than 200,000 each month). The really dim spot is that manufacturing fell by 3000.
Another zero in the news was the interest rate. It is axiomatic that lower interest rates encourage economic growth, but fuel inflation. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke recently stated the federal funds rate will remain at or near zero for the next two years.

While Bernanke may have prevented the US (and maybe the world) from going into the dreaded "double dip" in this recession, (and I have, from time to time, said he is probably the only guy in charge who actually know what he is doing) he doesn't have the tools to pull us out of the recession. Especially when most of those in Washington are busy trying to hang a millstone around our necks. We are still in the same condition as when I wrote, last month, that "gloomy just doesn't convey a strong enough message."

On the other hand, the assurance that interest rates will stay at or near zero for the next two years will likely be the factor that will start us into an inflationary cycle. One problem with keeping interest rates low (from a US standpoint) is it leads to a Dollar Carry problem. This is when investors can borrow money from the US at a marvelously low rate, and use it to buy bonds or other investment vehicles in Europe or Asia that pay a higher rate. To compensate for the flow of monies out of our economy, we will have little choice but to print quite a bit more, thus leading to inflation.

I am not qualified to predict how much or when this inflation will take place. It could be a year or three, and it could be 5% or 35%. I could guess two years and 20%, but that is just a guess. I will guess, also, that shortages of raw products will become a factor in a year or two, and they will lead to both inflationary pressures and slowing of the economy.

The downgrade of our national credit rating first by Moody's threat (even though they may deny it), and then by S&P, has had little impact on the overall economy. It seems they dragged their feet long enough that all the investors had already downgraded us in their minds. Still, the US treasury bond is considered the safest (really, there is no thought in the market that it is anything but 100% safe) of all investments, even though return is next to nothing.

And there is another serious threat however: public opinion seems to turn against anyone who attempts to fix our economic problems. There is two reasons for that. One is man's natural tendency to avoid anything that requires sacrifice. I mentioned this in a previous posting. The other is the press, which is doing Satan's bidding, to keep the liberals in power.

Of course, all of this seems to be in preparation for the end times. There are many who say they can see the US in prophesy. Well it is there, but not where they are looking. We are a bit player, a nobody. We are found in Ezekiel, complaining and doing nothing. A has been. Broken and sunken into depravity, we will sit on the sidelines and whine during the end times.

I don't know this for certain, of course. The timeline looked all set to go (rapture and war of Magog and all) once before, but then God raised up Ronald Reagan, and used him to set the timetable back more than 20 years. No man knows the day or the hour (and while I find it fun to guess the decade, I don't even know that for certain).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Teaching Error, the issue of writing

I recently forgot myself and made a post to a humor thread about the origin of one of the Psalms. I was roundly criticized for doing so, as I should have been, since it was outside of the topic. (So I am also guilty of 2 Tim 4:2)

But that post revealed that some Churches are still teaching an error that was considered to be common knowledge in the 19th century, and later in the 20th century, mostly among those who lacked knowledge of the history of that period, and knew even less about the Bible. There are, of course, those who deliberately propagate this myth (as a heresy) with intent to undermine the foundations of Christianity, by saying the Bible is not the Word of God, but is merely a collection of stories made up and assembled by some mystical clerics only a few hundred years BC.

It is that the Bible wasn't a written book until only a few hundred years BC. I don't know where this started, but I suspect it was by those who refused to believe, and therefore wanted to destroy the foundations of Christianity, since if the early Scriptures weren't that they say they were, and were not preserved as God promised in Isaiah, and as confirmed by Jesus, then they could say that all of the Bible is a lie.

That this should happen should be no surprise, since both Paul (verses 3 and 4) and Peter (verse 1) warned us of these false teachers. But to allow these false teachings to stand makes us a party to the lie, and allows the enemies of Christ to place a barrier between men and the understanding of God.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Annual Gas Price Forecast

I recently realized I had neglected to make my annual gas price forecast at the end of July, as is my normal habit (been doing it for about 8 years). Well, it isn't going to be so important in the future as it was in the past, as crude oil and therefore fuel will not be going into an ever growing shortage as was thought in the past. We now know of reserves that will sustain us for the next 40 years (sorry, I don't have a good supporting article for this) if need be. The "Peak oil problem," for the time being, has been defeated. Reliability of delivery is becoming a bigger question, but I will save that for another article.

As the world economy and more locally, the US economy have drifted into the doldrums, the price of oil has stabilized in the $80 to $90 range, and actually these numbers reflect optimism on the part of speculators that the world economy will improve. Should we slide into the dreaded "double dip" recession (increasingly unlikely, since Bernenky announced interest rates would remain near zero for the next couple of years), oil prices will slide back into the $70's of dollars a barrel.

Well, using my formula, $80 a barrel translates to $3.70 per gallon (regular unleaded, here in rural Texas), and $90 a barrel translates to $4.10 per gallon. Link

While that is still quite a range (but really only 10%), it is more dependent on politics and weather than it is on any predictable factor. Most importantly, it is dependent on how friendly (or, more likely, unfriendly) the current administration (read EPA) and courts are towards the oil industry, and how much our government devalues our money by printing more of it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for a disaster

A hurricane is approaching North Carolina and the Eastern shore tomorrow (Saturday) and I heard some government official on the news last night saying:

Friday is a good day to prepare.

NO! Friday is the day everyone will panic. I even heard on the news Thursday night that some stores as far north as New Jersey were sold out of supplies.

Preparing is what you do a week before, or a month before. Or even a year before. Not the day before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Four Cylinder Engine

The Four Cylinder engine has been used in cars and trucks for around 100 years now.

Technically the first was in 1890, but in its second year of life (1913) the Chevrolet company was selling a car with a 4 cyl engine. They have been made with displacements from less than 1 to almost 3 Liters (although bigger ones have been made in the past). The inline-four is the most common engine configuration in modern cars.

Is it no wonder I have owned mostly cars and trucks with 4 cyl. engines?

I have considered a car with three cylinder engine, but I was formerly concerned about how long they last. Today it looks like they will last quite a while, but I think the jury is still out.

Over the past 7 years, the price of fuel hasn't consistently gone up, however, so fuel mileage may not be as big an issue as it used to be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Market Crash - Part 2

Well, what a difference a week makes. Or not. Everything seems to be settling down, the Dow, NASDAQ, S&P, and other indexes are settling. But things are settling a bit lower than when they started. Except commodities. Gold and Silver are still very inflated, and a few other commodities are up 10 to 30%. A notable exception is copper, which is slightly lower than it was a couple weeks ago. Oil, while down, didn't drop below $75 (or at least didn't stay there). Gasoline has fallen about 10 -20 cents, and this may remain as is for a few weeks, but not for long. And the 5 year T-Bill has dropped below 1% for the first time in history.

Here is what it all means. Ignore the indexes for now. And the credit downgrade. The indexes are very emotion driven and in the long run, don't mean much. The credit downgrade was something everybody knew was coming down the pike. Oh, yes, congress didn't do their job when it comes to reigning in spending, but rather compromised. But the better of the market managers saw that coming too.

The low interest rate on the 5 year T-Bill means two things. Much of the world thinks the US is very likely to be able to stay solvent for at least 5 more years, and there will be no improvement in the economy for the average man for at least 5 more years.

Gold and silver are way up. Most people don't trust the markets, and some don't trust the governments any more. Gold and Silver are a hedge against both market crashes and against the government printing vast amounts of money, resulting in high inflation.

Copper is down. Copper is used in industry. A rising price of copper would indicate a health industrial and manufacturing sector. That copper is declining is a forewarning that the industrial and manufacturing sector is not so well, and that another downturn is likely. That a pound of is still above the price of gallon of gasoline is a good sign, though. When the two prices reverse, a serious drop in production and thus in all other sectors of the economy is imminent.

Oil, while down, stayed above $75. This tells me the oil speculators think the worldwide economy will remain healthy. These guys lose there asses on a regular basis, though, so I am not so certain how much faith I would have in them.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Market Crash

The "market" crashed a couple days ago, and everybody is in panic, but the actual economy isn't really any different than it was two weeks ago when the "market" looked good.

While the latest drop in numbers coincided with the budget deal in Congress, they were not caused by that budget deal. The issues in Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Spain overshadow our problems. The news from the European Central Bank and our own manufacturing outlook report (numbers from the ISM about our manufacturing sector show only 8 of the last 20 months the manufacturing employment picture was positive) were the cause, with a little help from China saying their economy might also be slowing down. And this all came in a week.

Don't get me wrong, the budget deal was a bad one, with Congress still kicking the can down the road on the debt and the disasterous spending levels that have been going on for several (about 8) years now.

This has become like pushing the bus over the cliff. The TEA party pushed candidates into Congress to stop the bus from going off the cliff, and this deal amounts to "well, we will let you push the front tires over the edge, but then we must talk about finding a way to keep the rest of it from going over for a while.

The liberals argument was spectacularly disingenuous. To say that the conservatives were going to cause the US to default on its bonds is like calling up your bank and telling them you won't be able to pay off your Mastercard with your Visa card unless the bank increases your limit on your Visa Card. But if they do that, you promise to reduce the amount you spend in the future, but not reduce it to what you make.

As for the overall outlook for the economy, in light of the employment data released today (and last month) and the probability of global famine that I wrote of last week, gloomy just doesn't convey a strong enough message. To put it bluntly, the economy, from the perspective of the jobs market, will not see any real improvement for several years - if it ever does. Our failure to see the road ahead, and our outdated tax code (we should have changed over to sales based tax code before now, and taxed sales on the Internet as well) have more than likely doomed our nation to be thrown on the scrap heap of history.

Now, it is just a matter of how many years before the disaster arrives. It could be two, or it could be twenty-two. Either way, I don't see much chance that we will recover. The last real recovery was in the mid 80's. The ones in the late 90's and then in 2004-2006 were fake, phoney, bubbles doomed to burst. And indeed, at this time, our economy is a bubble built on another bubble.

I will have to write more on this later, as I have run out of time

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Defending against Heresy

In these times, when there is little persecution in the US (there is some persecution and even arrests from time to time for true Christians in the US) it is easy for counterfeits to pass themselves off as Christians. For the lay person, the best security against heresy and counterfeit christianity is expository study of the Bible.

Expository study of the Bible means to expose the underlying meaning. This isn't some mystical or secret way of looking at the Bible, but rather, it simply requires close examination of what the Bible says and the comparison of one passage to other passages throughout the Bible, such as comparing the description of the Birth of Jesus to prophetic passages in the Old Testament that foretold of His coming. An expositor is a teacher that teaches the Scriptures by going through passages a few verses or a few chapters at a time, rather than teaching topic by topic.

There are about 100 or so events and stories in the Bible, we Christians (at the very least) need to know most of them, and know the underlying lessons for most of them. And this is just a start. Don't worry, you will never know all there is to know about the Bible, or even all there is to know about any major book.

Today we have many tools to assist with Bible study that were not available in the past, some not even a few years ago. MP3 players (like the I-Pad) are one such tool, allowing you to listen whenever and wherever you have time. I listen while driving to and from work (about 40 min each way, since I drive slow) I have found two excellent "Expositors" on the Internet, with extensive audio files that can be downloaded and listened to on an MP3 player.

One of the oldest and best known is Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who made more than 400 hours of recordings, specifically as an expository study of the Bible. He finished a 5 year tour of the Bible, and he called it the "Bible Bus." It has been playing on more than 100 radio stations around the world for many years.

He finished the 5 year study in the mid 70's and it has been repeated every 5 years ever since. He established the benchmark for all expository study, and I have been going through his "tour" for over two years. Because it was made just for radio, each of his recordings is exactly 26 minutes long, and contains about 22 or 23 minutes of his teachings.

Now, I will say that I don't agree with Vernon McGee's interpretation all of the time, but I do agree with him the vast majority of the time. Also, since he teaches the Scriptures without getting too entangled in the politics of the moment, when he makes a commentary on society, it is surprisingly relevant to the current day's issues.

The only downside to Vernon McGee is that he has a fairly steep, old English, vocabulary. It will, from time to time make you wonder what he is talking about, unless you read the King James Bible, Shakespeare, or some other classical literature.

Chuck Smith did a similar tour of the Bible, around 2004, for his evening Church group. While I haven't listened to very much of his recordings (about 15 hours, or so) I have listened enough to know he teaches well. The advantage of his recordings are the language he uses is less old English, and therefore easier to listen to. There are two disadvantages, both related to the fact that he did them for a live audience. First, since it is a live recording, some bits and pieces refer to things in the audience, that you cannot see. Second, since they were not made for radio, the length of the recordings varies from about 20 min to around 2 hours.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Coming Famine

In the coming year, we run a risk of worldwide food shortages. This will come in two forms. In third world countries there will be widespread starvation, as availability of food simply disappears. In developed countries prices will spike, and the poor in those countries will not have enough to eat, despite attempts by governments and charitable organizations to keep pace with the skyrocketing needs.

There will, of course, be people of wealth (about 2% to 5% of the population) in third world countries that will have sufficient wealth to have plenty. They will even be involved in profiteering off the misery of the masses, and the attempts by charitable organizations to deliver food to those masses.
There will also be some in between situations, where food will be available, though in short supply and at exorbitant prices, and in those places there will be riots and wars.

There have been a couple of close calls in the past, with world food inventories falling to near zero, political and market forces pushing food to the wealthy and well connected and for short
times there was starvation in some regions.

I will admit I could not find good references to the information, but I do remember around 1996, there was an article saying we were down to three weeks food in the US. But of course, the next crops were harvested and things went back to normal. And in reality, we are in perpetually the same shape today as we were in that close call. Only now we call it "Just in Time Supply System."

America once had massive warehouses, and silos dotted the land, full of food, stored up for times of need. Or at least stored until someone ordered it to fill our grocery shelves. But that system was deemed inefficient, as someone had to pay for those warehouses. Now, the "Just in Time" system forecasts needs, and computers know the moment there is a sale of an item from the grocery, so that the next shipment of a product is in route to the store as the sale of the previous one is being sold. The next shipment of the product to the distribution center is in route as the current one is being loaded onto the truck to be taken to the store. The next shipment after that is being harvested somewhere in the world, and already earmarked for delivery to the distribution center. It is all like a big pipeline.

In this system there are no major grain stores or warehouses. What is in the pipeline is what is in the system. And last I checked, that amounts to about seven weeks of supplies, total. This system works, as long as crops somewhere in the world are being harvested on a continued basis, and as long as when one food gets short people can eat something else.

We are coming to a day in the very near future, somewhere in late 2011 or early 2012 (most likely), crop failures all over the world will have a real and lasting impact on our food supply. Right now, no one is talking about this because it is so subtle. (as in epidemics, we seem to have two modes of thinking, complacency and panic) In reality, we are likely to see only 15% - 30% drop in crop availability. But that can translate to doubling or more of the prices here, and complete loss of availability in some regions.

But this isn't going to be a one week or one month event. There are impending crop failures all around the world right now, and these failures will happen over a period of months or maybe even years, and as the world population continues to rise, the shortages generated in 2012 will continue to echo across the world for years. And the political fallout, as the wealthy and well connected attempt to try to enrich themselves on the plight of the masses, will result in massive consolidation of power and control over increasingly scarce and valuable commodities.

It is not like this has not been warned about before. While most of the "news" releases about an impending famine have been self serving panic ads meant to make people buy their products, some of them are from the science community, and some of those were from people who will not directly benefit from the changes they advocate. Most of those have been talking about a famine 20 or more years down the road, but with the sudden rash of crop failures around the globe, it may be at our door step within the next year or two.

The Bible warns us in The Revelation, there will be a famine in the last days. It says the famine will be bad enough that a laborer's wages for a day will be sufficient only to feed him for a day, with nothing left over for housing, a family, or anything else. The only question, now, should be: is this the one the Bible talks about, or is this merely a harbinger of what is to come?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Economics non-report

32 years ago, President Jimmy Carter made a speech in which he outlined a general malaise that gripped the nation, keeping us in an unending slow to nonexistent economic growth.

Malaise. That word works today, too.

The biggest difference is that just over a year after we elected a new government, bent on breaking out of that malaise, 67% of the people are blaming that new crop of congressmen, just elected, for the problems they are trying to solve.

What this really amounts to is that the public has gotten the first glimpse of the fact that they will have to make some sacrifices to return our nation to a path of prosperity, and they don't want any of it.

Some years ago, I said the American public, having tired of freedom and prosperity, have elected a government that will leave them impoverished and enslaved. Now it looks like they are happy being impoverished and enslaved. At least then they don't have to do the hard work and make the sacrifices that are required for freedom and prosperity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A little catching up

Well, a month of hiatus from this blog
turned into 100 days, so I will have
a bit of catching up to do.

Apostasy, Heresy and Idolatry are rampant in both society and the Church today. In the past few months, I discovered that many of the old mainline churches began going apostate around the turn of the 20th century and were more or less completely apostate after WWII. This did not happen in the past 40 years, as I had assumed. Some had fallen away long before that. A letter to J.Vernon McGee in the early 70's said the apathy in the Church there "makes for a dark day" in Briton. It makes for a dark day everywhere.

A few definitions are in order, for those who don't study religion on a daily basis.
Apostasy is turning away from what one previously professed. A nonbeliever cannot be an apostate, only someone or a group (Church) that previously professed belief in the Bible can be apostate.
Heresy is the espousing of an idea that is clearly at odds with one of the major doctrines of the
Bible. There are only 7 to 10 (depending on who you ask) major docrines of Christianity. Most
of the arguments in Church groups is about minor doctrines.
Idolatry is the affection of some object or idea that one gives a priority above God.

Idolatry, Heresy, and Apostasy:
The "trinity of failure" of the Church.

Our nation, as are most nations, is steeped in idolatry. But our nation is not what is in question. "God's people" are in question. In ancient times, Israel was "put out of the land" more than once. And always for idolatry, not for other sins. Today, the "God's People" in question is "The Church." Not this church or that church or the church over yonder. And most certainly not the Roman Catholic Church. But rather, the Real Church, or some call it "The Church Invisible." Those who believe Jesus died and is Risen, and by whom they believe they are saved. And yet, these same Christians, who recognize they should worship God, often embrace the idols of our current civilization.

Most of us went through the comic superheroes phase as pre-teens. Many, however, still keep up with those same superheroes. For others, tuning in to watch the news when some megamillionaires (like Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump) are the subject is commonplace in the houses of both the unsaved and the saved. Many Christians can name, and give statistics for dozens of national sports league atheletes, others can give the resume of many hollywood idols.

How many Bible charactors can you name? How many books of the Bible? How much time do you spend in the Bible, as compared to People Magazine, or Sports Illustrated. Is your idol found in pop culture?

Some church buildings are places of worship and comfort for all who go there, but usually the church building is a place where a few believers and a few curious gather with quite a few pretenders, who desire to make people think they believe. We should tolerate this for now, in the hope that the few curious will find Jesus. But maybe not. Are we promoting the defamation of the Gospel? Is it time to rethink where the faithful gather?

For what, do most Christians worship God? Why do they think they are Christians? Why do they go to Church or pray?

Many say they believe the Bible, but do they even know what is in the Bible? How can they believe what they have no knowledge of? Some no longer believe the Bible, but clearly state that they have moved on, and have no need of it.

There are some confusing statistics, to be sure.

According to the recent study by LifeWay Research, 62 percent of American adults own a King James Version Bible. But look more closely at the article I linked to. "Those who read the Bible more than once a month." Once a month? And just over a quarter don't read the KJV, because it is too difficult to read. So why do they have it?
Status symbol?

The Truth? "According to an earlier LifeWay study, only 16 percent of regular church attenders read the Bible daily." So where do they get their theology and doctrine? I would be it is from the heretics on religious TV networks. And some get fed a dose of heresy in their own Church, but cannot see the difference, because they do not know the Scriptures firsthand.

More truth. I have my own Idols, and must fight with them daily. My pride, and my interest in economics and politics are prone to be my idols.

What to do about all this? Well, that may be addressed in some later article. For now, go read some more of the Bible. You will never get enough.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Will be taking a Hiatus

From time to time, I find it necessary to take time off from blogging, and this looks like the time. Therefore, I plan to take a hiatus for the rest of April. Too much to do: Taxes, spring cleaning, gardening, etc.

If you are looking for more knowledge of the
Bible, go to and climb aboard the Bible Bus

About the economy

Jobs still look good thru end of March

Oil and Gasoline are still going up. And they will continue upwards for at least the rest of this year. After that, I don't know if things will crash, like they did in the fall of 2007.

Government still claims there is no inflation (translation: your pay isn't going up).

I said a couple months ago that I might look into silver, and I did: Silver is wildly over priced. This past few months I looked at how many batteries I typically use in a year, and bought that many (and a few more). Energy is going up. Buy ahead, but beware, typical alkaline batteries like I use have a 3 year shelf life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

That Pesky Check Engine Light

Over the past 16 years, on board diagnostics have become universal in our vehicles. The most common system, by far, is the OBD2, or "on board diagnostics version 2." Because we generally have learned to ignore all the new gadgets under the hood ("just some air pollution device"), most of us never know what that "computer" the mechanic talks about really is.

Just in the past couple of years, "readers" for this system have become common and inexpensive. (Before last year, I never saw one less than $100) The absolutely lowest price readers may just read out a code, but for not much more, you can get one that tells what the code means and is able to reset it, thus turning of that pesky check
engine light.

These things are great but, as any shade tree mechanic will tell you, they don't replace doing the basics. I am often astonished at the simple things people don't do to take care of their vehicles today. For the average person, owning the average car or truck, they should still pop the hood about once a week and check all the fluids. This means oil, transmission fluid, power steering, coolant, and brakes. One note on these, especially on the brakes, most vehicles are designed so you can shine a flashlight through the resevoir to check the level. Don't open it if you can help it. And don't add brake fluid, if it is low, it is time for maintenance.

And check the tires too. I do this visually each week (on my work truck I do this daily, as it is driven in a hostile environment), and with a gauge once or more a month. Low tires steal your money.

Now, on the subject of the check engine light, and the OBD2 system that turns it on, manufactures will always be looking for ways to bilk money out of their customers. So in times past, they included "secret" codes that only the dealers knew what they were. Today, the sensors and codes continue to become more complex, with new codes likely to be unknown to the available readers. A possible follow on to the OBD2 system integrates it, wirelessly, into computer networks owned by either the government or the car manufacture. This is already underway in some makes and models and is likely to allow a great deal of mischief on the parts of both. I don't have enough information on these developments at this time, but plan to do more research in the near future.

On the other hand, there are some codes that have a simple fix. One code indicates a leak in the fuel system, and that one may be no more than "you didn't tighten the fuel cap enough," or left the engine running while putting fuel in the vehicle. These are big no-no's, as today's fuel systems are sealed, and only vented through a charcoal canister (known as an evap system). Others may require fixing, but not right away. I had a problem with the torque converter clutch being "stuck off." OK, it is a problem, but only costs me a mile per gallon in the near term. I have been erasing this code about once a week for a couple of months now. I plan to get it fixed, but don't really have a specific idea of when.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Economic impact of disasters

First, the Middle East, then Japan

Unrest in the Middle East caused oil to rise a few dollars in price, but not as much as is believed. It accounts for just 20 cents per gallon currently, but as Libyan Rebels have successes, saboteurs may strike directly at oil facilities there and in Saudi Arabia, and that would have more impact.

There is talk of the US intervening. I don't think we should. We are stretched to thin as it is, and I for one am not certain we want the rebels to win. I don't know who is behind them yet, and it could be the Muslim Brotherhood. If so, all these countries that are warring about "liberty" will convert to Fundamentalist Islam.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, the impact of an earthquake and tsunami on Japan will be felt around the world. The markets have already gone negative, and there will be a loss of jobs as some good formerly shipped from Japan will be reduced or stopped. Ironically, oil and gas will go down in price, but this is only temporary, as replacing the electric generation capacity from the two destroyed nuclear power plants will require large quantities of coal, oil, and gas.

The commodities will go up, because the Japanese are people who harvest from the oceans and make things. The will be busy rebuilding for a couple of years, meaning smaller harvests (and to be sure, the ocean will have less now to harvest, as the earthquake and tsunami killed a portion of it) and more demand for raw materials to rebuild their country. We saw this same phenomenon with Katrina, and this is several times larger than Katrina.

More money being spent on rebuilding, less invested in industry, more demand on resources, and less resources all impact inflation. This will definitely mean more inflation, as you and I see it. The government numbers may not show anything at all, since our wages will not go up.

And, last, of course the anti nuclear lunatics are coming out of the woodwork to spout off their insanity. Meltdown or no meltdown from these plants, building more plant of our own is a must. We are many years behind on building nuclear plants, and several years behind on building coal powered plants. Certainly, there are things to be learned from the way this disaster unfolded, but there is no sanity in those who say we should not build.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lessons We Do Not Learn

As I watched news coverage of the Earthquake in Japan, there was a well covered side story about the approach of a tsunami into Hawaii. One news agency was in contact with an employee who was there on maternity leave. They said they first noticed something when everyone at a restaurant was on their cell phones. OK, now we know how fast news travels by cell phone, but later, they said they were calling by "land line" because the cell phone system was "a mess," meaning it wasn't working any more.

She also said there were lines at the gas stations, and people panic buying at the grocery stores. (She needed formula, if I heard correctly.) When she got to wherever she evacuated to, people were filling tubs and any other containers with water. Everyone was trying to call everyone, which is why the cell phone system was not working. And she said: 'the people are reacting calmly - this is something they have practiced. '

What have we learned from this? Or realized that we have not learned? Here in Texas, we recently had a minor emergency, and the local govenment used one of those mass robo-caller systems to try to alert everybody. The cell phone system overloaded. Way back in the aftermath of the 9-11 crisis, this was identified as a problem, and a solution was proposed. Limit voice calls to emergency personell only, and upgrade the texting system to allow it to handle everyone at once trying to access it. That proposal was never followed through. So, one of the first lessons is that the primary commercial communications systems will be the first to fail.

In almost every emergency, people swamp the gas stations and grocery stores. If you always have a half a tank, you can go 100 miles at highway speeds or go for 4 hours in stop and go traffic. (Three if you run your air conditioner.) The crisis on Hawaii is likely to only last a few days, and you can keep enough food on hand for a few days if you aren't picky about taste and variety. Plan to eat beans and rice. Water is another big concern. You will need some way to capture, filter and sterilize water. Planning ahead allows you to watch every one else panic, while you remain calm. Lesson two. Do not leave your gas tank less than half full, have some rations on hand, and a means to obtain water.

One of the biggest lessons here is that all preparations and planning MUST be done BEFORE the disaster. When nothing seems to be happening. Take a few minutes and think through every possible disaster that could come your way. Think through some of the improbible ones too. Nearly everyone in the US is vulnerable to earthquake. Half are vulerable to flood (or losing power or water due to flood.) Epidemic could shut down the trucking system that delivers our food. A pipeline break could close all the gas stations tommorrow.

When evacuations are necessary, the government usually has a plan in mind to move you a minimal distance and then ship goods to you. That is fine if you are indigent. If you are a person of means (remember my test, if you can afford cable TV, you can afford to plan for disasters and help others), you need to do more. Evacuate to twice the distance. Leave the government and Red Cross help to others who need it more. You will be better off, and so will others.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finally - economic turnaround?

Well, maybe. We are finally in a cycle of job creation, and manufacturing is up at the same time. But not enough to call this a recovery. Not Yet. We have seen manufacturing gains (49,000 last month, 33,000 this month) but there are still formidable hurdles facing us. The price of energy. The greed of the limousine liberal elite. The public employee unions. Our lethargy in facing a menacing threat from Islamists. Our failure to address the threat of those who hate God and are undermining America because it once stood for Christianity. The specter of high inflation still looms, and just around the corner, unless (as I do) you count that it has already begun.

The fact is, I still don't think this will be a real recovery. The last "recovery," from 2002 to 2006 was hollow and fake. Real income and wealth in Blue Collar America declined. The only increase was in what we bought by borrowing and amassing debt. In this "recovery" there is a sizable increase in spending, and yet the Baltic Dry Index and Rail Index are showing a slow slide. This tells me that what extra spending is being done is not durable goods, but really is an increase in waste of consumer dollars on things like video games, phone "ap's," and cable or satellite TV.

This increase in borrowing and spending in US households is a reversal of the sudden frugality that gripped the nation just a couple years ago. And while it may temporarily lead to the appearance of better economic times, it is just a repeat of what led to this crisis in the first place.

Just a couple of After Thoughts

Gas Prices. I forecast before that they would hit $3.50 by May, and said a couple weeks ago, the turmoil in the mideast is not the cause of rising prices. Well, I need to modify that slightly. I estimate 20 cents a gallon of our gas prices is due to the turmoil in the mideast. But while that 20 cents is a temporary rise, the steady rise in prices due to increased demand around the world will continue. Currently I expect the price of gas to top $4 (here in Texas) and go on up to around $4.20 to $4.50 in the next 12 months. I don't think we will see a massive downturn like the last one, but I do think the upwards climb in both usage and price of fuels will stall and either level out or turn back slightly downwards. At what point that stall will occur is beyond my expertise.

Prices of energy and commodities will continue upwards as a portion of our wages for the foreseeable future. There may be times of respite, but the days will be increasingly more difficult, until the Biblical expression of "a quart of wheat for a days wage" is true. Unless there is a die off of over 1/3 of the earth's human population, with no similar die off of other species, we are indeed going to be seeing a worldwide famine in the next 10 to 40 years.

We could delay the more difficult days ahead for quite some time if we would pursue nuclear, oil sands, coal and natural gas with fervor, and forget the silliness of the global warming fools. But ultimately, our population has already reached a point where the earth cannot sustain our food supply, and our fate is sealed. Now, it is only a matter of when.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gas Prices Soaring Amid Mideast Turmoil

Ummm, not so much.

What part of this is so hard to understand?

"The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline costs 48 cents more this February than last."

OK, that is an increase of 16%. Hurts, yes, but it was entirely predictable. I must mention that I have no formal training in economics, except one class in High School (30 years ago).

Are we heading for $5 a gallon gasoline? Yes, as I said about 6 years ago. The only reason we haven't seen it already is the economic disaster of 2008/2009 delayed it.

There are some things that have changed. China is the big one. As I said last year, and about 30 months ago, China is a big player in this market now, and the winter decline in fuel prices will no longer be seen.

UPDATE: On review of this article, I noticed I did not include a link to the article that gave me the headline. Here it is: Gas Prices Soaring Amid Mideast Turmoil

Our Favorite Mode of Transportation

I have neglected this topic for about a year now, but plan to write a series of articles on our favorite mode of transportation, and of course some other modes, as well.

The first thing I want to mention is that I believe most of the problems our auto industry has faced in the past 40 years have been mostly their own undoing. This is not to say that unions and government have not played a role, but that much of what circulates about those entities causing trouble for the automotive industry has been pure fiction.

Take for instance, the widely circulated myth that CAFE standards have hurt them. Quite the opposite is true. Had they not been forced to deal with the gas mileage problems, they would have been in bankruptcy years earlier than they were. Why do Toyota and Honda not have problems with gas mileage standards? They saw the problem before hand, and adapted more quickly.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Manufacturing up - among down numbers

Economists are blaming the weather. Like January and February are different this year than any other year. Well they are different, but not by that much, that you can blame the economy on them.

Employment numbers are dismal this month, but with a slight bright spot in manufacturing. Manufacturing added 49,000 jobs last month, and that is just enough to call a bright spot. Manufacturing continues to look healthier than it has since Sep'08, however, it has a long ways to go to look as good as it did before the crash Strangely (in my view), markets did not fall much on the news that virtually all of the economic growth for the past couple of months is an illusion.

Inflation has already begun to show its face. Even though the government keeps telling us there is no inflation, as Carla Fried from MoneyWatch pointed out "the ring of the cash register doesn’t square with the government’s reports."

And more is on the way. Cost of energy is driving the prices of almost everything the average citizen buys, from motor fuel, to food, to ammunition. From aluminum cans, electric lights, to steel for cars, it all depends on energy, and its all going up. Virtually every commodity is going up. Everything except wages. And that is why the government's numbers are not showing inflation.

Hat Tip to John Keefe who writes "The Marco View"

I have mentioned before that I never invested in precious metals, and I still don't. (I also mentioned, had I, I would have made some money) On a few occasions I have said I might be persuaded if the price got low enough. There is quite a bit of hype and speculation in the prices. Gold might be a good deal at $1000 an oz, and Silver at $19 an oz. I don't foresee either of those prices showing up, unless it in the middle of a general melt down of some multinational economic system. There are a couple of sub-national economies on the brink of meltdown (Greece, Ireland, California, Illinois), but I don't see them impacting the price of gold enough to make it worthwhile. If China begins dumping its holdings in either gold or T-Bills, that might do it.

Another reason I wouldn't, and the primary reason I haven't invested in Gold or Silver is that those are places to park your money until after a meltdown. I expect to need funds during the meltdown, and as they say, you can't eat gold or silver, and in the middle of a meltdown, you can't trade them for anything worthwhile either. For those who are storing up their treasures on earth, and plan on emerging from the disaster as a tycoon, go ahead and invest in gold.

In the mean time, if your going to put your savings into something tangible, I have mentioned steel (as in tools, or a bicycle) in the past. It also looks like certain energy intensive metals might be useful places to invest. Like copper or aluminum. Be advised though, minimum time for return will be two or more years.

I should note, several of the "economic collapse" web sites(even some that I have quoted) are running advertisements (think "infomercials," for us older folks) for buying gold, other precious metals, or other survivalist stuff. That doesn't mean they are wrong, just one sided. They can be good source or links to good information, but over the long run, they tend to just repeat themselves in various forms.

All of the following headlines showed up on "The Economic Collapse Blog" in about a week's time.
  • 10 reasons why the latest unemployment numbers are no reason to cheer
  • nothing is stable anymore
  • even Donald Trump is warning that an economic collapse is coming
  • 12 facts which show that we are in the midst of the worst housing collapse in US history
  • warning signs
  • 5 reasons why Barack Obama's state of the union address was completely wrong about the economy
None of them are wrong really, but if you ingest too much of this stuff, you will grossly overestimate the immediacy of the threat. Economics is a marathon, not a sprint.