Friday, September 12, 2014

Shrinkflation? Yes, because they really think you're that stupid.

I was watching a Peter Schiff video where he mentioned this.  What is it?  This is where an item's price stays the same, but the quantity is reduced.

And my response was "huh?"  Yes.  I'm afraid it's true.  Instead of calling what it is, SOMEONE somewhere makes up a new term: shrinkflation.

Here is a Bloomberg article that discusses it:

A former adviser to President George W. Bush, Malmgren is zeroing in on what’s come to be known as “shrinkflation” -- where companies charge consumers the same, or more, for less. That may foreshadow an overall jump in prices, an alarm she’s been sounding for a while.

“Shrinking the size of goods is exactly what happened in the 1970s just before inflation proper set in,” she writes in her new book, “Signals: The Breakdown of the Social Contract and the Rise of Geopolitics.”
What?  I'm sorry...repeat that?  "just before inflation proper sets in"?  Uh, ahem.  W. T. F.?  Can someone please tell me what "inflation proper" means?

Nevermind! I'll tell you want it means.  It means NOTHING.  Inflation proper is nothing more than that.  Inflation!  What an incredibly stupid and insulting article!

Why can't they just call a spade a spade?  And I know why they can't bring themselves to say it.  Admitting it really is inflation means the Dark Period has begun.  I can't help but feel the article's intentmay not to be to convince you there is really no "inflation proper" but to convince themselves, hey, we're ok.  We haven't been hit with inflation proper.  You know, inflation per se.

Here is my personal story of my first confrontation with inflation back in the 70s.  Well, maybe it wasn't my first.  But it is printed on my brain and I can't forget it.

 Inflation proper!  Indeed!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NASA's Orion Space Craft Form Factor

This is really cool.  I always thought the Orion was a step backwards.  When I first saw the pictures of it allI could think was "This is the Apollo design!"  I was not happy.

For those who felt the same way as I did, this video might help you look at it not as the same old design, but a rather steep upgrade. But we'll see if promises are kept.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

ISIS Against the World.

Abdulluh and the other ISIS junior officers stood and snapped to attention as the General briskly walked in to join the meeting that was about to begin.

The searing heat outside had finally dissipated from Abdullah’s skin as they had been in their “war room” for a couple of hours now.  Earlier in the day they had finally run out the Iraqis from the city where they discovered this fortified building as it made an ideal Strategic Command Center.  The air conditioning from the LG Pinguini air conditioner felt good as the last of his sopping sweat evaporated.

“PBUY! “ The general said waving to the officers to sit back down. “Do we have the conference call in? “  He grabbed the chair at the head of the table and plopped down, elbows resting on the conference table, rubbing his hands together.

Abdullah swallowed and said, “Yes, commander.  We’re Skyped in and have on the other end an ISIS contingent battling on the border of Lebanon.  We were just about to discuss tactics.”  Abdullah tried to sound as calm and professional as possible but couldn’t help but be intimidated by the giant of a man who he considered almost a god (well, not really since TINOGBA).  They had made incredible progress mainly because of this man’s ingenuity and cunning - ABP.

They all sat together and faced the webcam “Greetings from the New Caliphate capital!”  The General said smiling. “Do you have a report for us?”

“General, I am honored by your presence! ABP! PBUY!“  The person at the other end of the video conference call smiled broadly.  The others around him were visible, all leaning in to be part of the conversation, trying to be seen by the general. They were all still wearing the face masks with only their fluttering eyes and white teeth visible.

“We are making steady progress in rooting out and killing the infidels.  We have massacred so far 25 Lebanese dissidents who defy the Law of Allah.”

“Stop right there.  You said 25?” The general snapped.

“Uh…Yes, General.”  As if following a script, the other insurgent faces lost their smiles and slowly, almost imperceptibly, started moving out of the webcam’s view.

The general smiled.  “That is significant progress!  Your last Tweet mentioned only 10!”

Relief spread throughout the group. The masked faces with fluttering eyes and white teeth quickly reappeared. “Yes General, I was just in the process of sending out the latest tweet.  You should receive it shortly!

While he was saying the words, the general felt his Samsung S5 phone vibrate.  He pulled it out and saw the new Twitter update from the Lebanese frontline. He smiled.

Several junior officers reached into their pockets as ringtones of various prayer calls alerted them of the new tweet. Except one ringtone sounded like his favorite Madonna song.

“Also, General, we have been dealing with logistics problems – .“  The screen froze for an instant and the Sony Laptop screen went BSOD.

The general and others moaned.  “Ahmed!  Where is Ahmed?  It’s happened yet again!” The general twisted around looking for their IT worker.

“Here, General!”  The ISIS tech, Ahmed, quickly moved in, twirled the PC around to assess the BSOD and read the codes to determine what the cause was.

“Where is your Apple Macbook Air?” The general barked.

“It’s back in the IT shop, several buildings down.  I have been telling Central Command to issue more Apple Macbooks but they won’t listen.”

“Why is that?”  The general started impatiently thrumming is fingers on the table.

“They said the best Quran Holy Prayer programs are written for the PC, not the Mac.”

The General grunted as Ahmed rebooted the Sony PC to continue the conversation.

As if on cue, someone passed out Cokes to help dissipate the last of the sweat. The General looked at his bottle intently as the ice slid off the sides of the bottle, just like in a commercial.  He frowned and with one swoosh of his giant hand he sent the bottle ricocheting off the Panasonic refrigerator the soldier took them from.  “I hate the sight of this….shit Coke!” And then in his best sotto voce he slowly parsed his words through gritted teeth saying, “I. thought. I. told. you. I. liked. Fanta.”

The group of officers sat quaking in silence.  The server lost his smile and bowed stiffly. “Yes, General, you did.  The Fantas are in transit but the Fiat broke down again.  I will obtain one for you when they arrive later today.”

The General shifted his eyes suspiciously at them.  Finally saying “very well.”  The relief in the room was like an overinflated tire that had the air let out.

Still steaming from the news, the General said, “Abdullah, please make a note for Logistics to get rid of all Fiats.  We must go back to either Toyota pickup trucks or modified Hyundai SUVs if we want to ever improve the reliability of the supply chain.”

Abdullah rapidly scribbled the order in his log on his Microsoft Surface Pro 2. “Yes, General!”

 “General, we have the Lebanese contingent on WhatsApp.”  Ahmed said as he frantically typed into the chat.

“I HATE WhatsAPP! What was Facebook thinking when they bought it? Anyway, I hate how it handles audio and video.”  The General objected.

“Sorry.  We can switch to Facetime.”  He typed into WhatsApp asking if the Lebanese contingent had a Macbook laptop with them.

“We don’t have Macs here.  Just PCs!”  Came the typed response.

Ahmed, the IT guy, typed furiously, sweat becoming visible on his temples as it trickled toward his cheeks as he could almost feel the sharp sword blade against his neck, “We have an iPhone here.  How about you?” He typed.

The response scrolled across the screen. “We don’t have any iPhones here.  We do have a couple of Windows phones, if that helps.”

The IT guy tried one more text “Do you have Kakao Talk?”

There was silence.

“We don’t even know what that is!” Finally came the response.

The general was just getting close to losing it. “What about Yahoo messenger?”

“It’s not installed.  If you give me a few minutes –“

The General was perturbed to say the least.  “Just restart Skype and let’s get this done.” He sighed.

Once the Skype connection was reestablished the ISIS Lebanese contingent leader at the other end continued “As I was saying General, we have some issues regarding the supply chain of weapons and fuel. But nothing we haven’t been able to overcome.”

The general regained his smile. “That is an excellent report!  Thank you so much for your time and…ABP!”

“General, one more thing!  We have great video footage of the carnage we have wrought.”

“That is very good news!  Make sure you upload it to Youtube as soon as you can.  We will have the Westerners quaking in their boots and peeing on their goats!”  He let out a belch and started laughing holding his belly. The other attendees belched and laughed along with him.

The conference call ended.

The General stood and smiled broadly saying, “We will finally show the evil corrupt infidels how stupid they are. We will crush their stupid anti-Islam culture, wiping out all they stand for and replace it with the far superior ISIS culture and religion and what it stands for!”

At that point a courier rushed in simultaneously pulling a folder out of his satchel.
“General, Sir!  Papers approving the deployment of troops to Baghdad. I need you to sign.”

“Yes, the final blow to the infidels.”  He reached for his pen, not finding it in the left shirt pocket of his vest where it normally resides.

Looking around, still patting his vest, he asked, “Where’s my Parker?”

Is the cost of a gallon of gas too high? An impoverished nation finds itself finding a commodity that hasn't changed in price, now to be too expensive.

A couple of years ago I had a conversation with another engineer. And with engineers, it's all in the numbers. I like to say we must let the numbers "speak" and that is what leads us in our decisions.

I had just bought some junk silver; several roles of mercury dimes. I don't like buying [Roosevelt] dimes since the dead prez is still on the 10 cent piece and people may not initially accept the silver [Roosevelt] ones.

I took three of the dimes to work and got into a conversation with a friend of mine. He was my age, but is not from the USA, so he has no reference point like I have.

I told him, "back in the early 70s, gas was incredibly cheap."

Using my middle three fingers hiding the coins, I slid the three dimes toward him on his desk and explained to him what happened. "This was the price of a gallon of gas before we went off the gold standard". I uncovered the dimes.  In actuality, gas could be had for even cheaper, but I had to pick a point for discussion.

At the time of my conversation with my friend, silver prices were higher than they are now and gasoline prices were much higher. "Here we are, 40 years later. These dimes are special in that they contain silver." He nodded. 

Looking him in the eyes, I said, "Do you know what the price of gasoline is now?" I let this sink in as I could hear the gears in his brain whirring away.

I took one of the dimes away. "THIS is what gas costs now." In relation to the price of silver at the time, gasoline would be only 20 cents.

He was absolutely stunned. He couldn't believe it. How was this possible? Right now, gasoline prices in Houston are just about on par with what they cost in 1970 in terms of the price silver! Today I would just leave the three silver dimes on the desk!

This is a very significant story to tell. And the implications are absolutely enormous.Even in the 1960s and 70s, the price of gasoline was considered CHEAP. It was not expensive. THE POOR WOULD BUY GAS and not complain. Everyone had a "gas guzzler" because gas was CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP.  Miles per gallon?  Are you joking?  What the hell is that?

And what about now? Do we consider the price of gas to be expensive? Or do we consider the price of gas to be cheap?

The answer is obvious. We consider gas to be EXPENSIVE when in reality...it never changed. We keep saying that the poor can't afford the cost of operating a car because the price to fill the tank is too high. But in actuality, if we had stayed on the gold standard the price of gas WOULD HAVE REMAINED THE SAME. Absolutely no one would be talking about the price of gasoline being too high. No. One.

And that is the problem. Our frame of reference in a post gold standard world has completely changed and not for the better. It is abundantly clear we are nowhere near the standard of living we enjoyed back in the 60s and 70s.

Thanks Nixon!

Someone noticed I referred to the dimes as "Eisenhower dimes" Hah!  No such thing!  I meant Roosevelt dimes.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

California's Plastic Bag Ban Is Bogus

I don't think "bogus" is strong enough.  Stupid.  Repulsive.  Hypocritical.  Onerous.  Ignorant.  That should do it.

Symbolic gestures such as these can be important in inspiring broader, more meaningful environmental reform. But they risk fueling a self-congratulatory complacency that distracts from more serious challenges. Take furniture, for example. In 2012, Americans disposed of 11.5 million tons of furniture and furnishings -- a volume more than three times greater and far less recyclable than plastic bags because of the labor involved in disassembling a sofa into recyclable components. (The EPA reports that less than 1 percent of discarded furniture is recovered in any form.) Even worse, Americans wasted an indefensible 36.4 million tons of food in 2012, according to the same EPA data. Although compostable, less than 5 percent of the total was recovered in any manner. The rest was presumably laid to rest in landfills where -- because of the lack of oxygen -- it does little more than take up space.
Earlier in the article the author mentions that plastic bags should be banned, just not right now.  I thought that was a worthless bone to throw the activists and sort of self-steals some of their thunder.

On second try, California plastic bag ban passes Assembly

How can a state be so infested with so many stupid, stupid people.  If you're poor, leave.  Leave now.
Proponents argue that massive volumes of discarded bags clog rivers and landfills, saddling California with hefty cleanup costs. They point to the scores of counties and cities that have already enacted bag bans as evidence that the policy can be effective and enjoys popular support.

“We live in a throwaway society. We live a lifestyle that is ultimately non-sustainable,” said Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. “What this bill does is to make an effort to do one little thing – get people to use reusable bags.”

But critics warned that the measure would cost jobs. They continued to lambaste the 10-cent fee, saying it would line the pockets of grocers and retailers.

“It is a tax increase we impose to benefit local businesses,” said Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine. “It makes absolutely no sense as tax policy, it makes no sense as a jobs policy.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where it has yet to be tested with a floor vote.
I had no idea how lucrative it was for the grocers.

Also, where are those photos of plastic bag clogged rivers?  Where are the photos of mountains and mountains of plastic grocery bags in landfills?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THE LAW OF INNOCENT DEATH: FDA's New Food Regulations Are A Recipe For High Food Prices

We really need to get rid of the FDA.  I'm sick of their control of the food supply.  And they are basing their control on outdated ideas on low sodium intake.  It's stupid and archaic. This is yet another example of the Federal Government trying to do one thing - save lives - and accomplishing just the opposite.
Food prices continue to go up and consumers are feeling the pinch. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of food has spiked to its highest rate since September 2011. Consumers are now paying more for such staples as ground beef, chicken and turkey, eggs, bacon, citrus fruit, coffee, peanut butter, and margarine. Normally, politicians would try to alleviate this financial strain on American families. Yet, this administration seems to want to make food more expensive.

Consider the recent announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it plans to create “voluntary” guidelines for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of sodium in their products and prepared meals. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg explained the move with the classic “it’s good for you” rationale, saying, “We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health.”

But is American salt consumption really unhealthy?

According to a new study from researchers at the University of Copenhagen Hospital in Denmark and published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the daily salt intake guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (currently set at 2,300 mg per day for people under 50 years old, and less than 1,500 mg per day for people over 50 years old) are “excessively and unrealistically low.” The researchers found that most Americans consume more sodium than the CDC recommendations (at around 2,645-4,945 mg per day) and that when sodium consumption fell outside that range, there was an increase in mortality.
Did you read that last sentence? Reduced consumption of salt will kill you.