Note from JWR:

I’m continuing my special “support our troops:” sale on copies of the new expanded 33 chapter edition my novel “Patriots” through the end of the month. If you place an order directly with me, and you have us mail it to an APO or FPO address, then the price is just $12 per copy, plus $3 postage. (That is $10.99 off of the cover price–right near my cost.) OBTW, speaking of supporting our troops, be sure to visit the AnySoldier.com web site, and “do your bit.” As previously mentioned, some young enlisted troops that are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan get no mail from home, so anything that you can send them–even just a postcard–is appreciated. I now offer a couple of additional payment options for book orders: both AlertPay and GearPay. (I prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don’t share PayPal’s anti-gun political agenda.) In my experience, AlertPay has a frustratingly labyrinthine account set-up procedure, but GearPay seems much quicker and easier to set up.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net



Kanban: America’s Ubiquitous “Just in Time” Inventory System–A Fragile House of Cards

When I give lectures or do radio interviews, I’m often asked for proof when I mention that we live in a “fragile society.” Here is one prime example: kanban. The kanban or “just in time” inventory system was developed in Japan, and became popular in America starting in the 1970s. It is now ubiquitous in nearly every industry. The concept is simple: Through close coordination with subcontractors and piece part suppliers, a manufacturer can keep its parts inventory small. (Kanban is a key element of “lean manufacturing.”) They only order batches of parts as needed (“just in time”), sometimes ordering as frequently as twice a week. Companies now hire Six Sigma consultants and Kaizen gurus, they buy sophisticated data processing systems, and they hire extra purchasing administrators. But these expenses actually save them money at the bottom line. I have a close friend, “B.A.”, that has worked as a lean process consultant, and he chimed in on a draft of this article that I sent him last weekend. (See his interspersed notes.) “Just in time” inventory systems have several advantages: Less warehouse space, less capital tied up in parts inventory, and less risk of parts obsolescence.

B.A. Adds: Actually, in many cases, if the simplest [lean process] methods are revealed through asking the “5 Whys” and understanding optimum flow, the sophistication (including data processing systems) can often be greatly reduced or eliminated; I think the perception is that complexity is better is often a sales job from folks selling the hardware and software!

The downside is that lean inventories leave companies vulnerable to any disruption of supply. If transportation gets snarled, or if communications get disrupted, or a parts vendor has a strike or a production problem, then assembly lines grind to halt. Just one missing part means that no finished products go out the door. In some industries, the complexity and length of the supply chain can be staggering. Some manufacturers of complex products-such as automobiles–now rely on many dozens of parts vendors on several continents. American businessmen have built very big, very complex, very vulnerable supply chains.

The kanban concept has also been taken up by America’s retailers, most notably its grocery sellers. In the “old days”–say 20 years ago–grocery stores had well-stocked “back rooms”, with many extra cases of dry goods. But now in most stores the “back room” has been replaced with just a pallet break-down area. Merchandise comes in from distribution centers, and it all goes immediately to the consumer shelves out front. Thus, what you see on the grocery store shelf is all that the store has on hand. What you see is what you get. The bar code scanners at the checkout counters feed a complex re-ordering system. If Mrs. Jones buys three bottles of pasta sauce, that could trigger a re-order. (Even the U.S. Military has embraced some “lean” techniques in their maintenance and logistics infrastructures, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.) As long as communications and transportation work smoothly, then the entire system hums along like a Swiss watch.But what happens when the transportation infrastructure gets disrupted?

B.A. Adds: One of the 9 Wastes (I added one of my own 🙂 is excess Transport. Ideally, a systemic approach to manufacturing will co-locate (in theory) to the point where no transportation, or even movement is required, so transportation is one of the “nasties” that effective lean thinking tends to eliminate; here are the 8 Wastes (to which I would add “E” for Energy to the TIM WOODS acronym, which now becomes TIMEWOODS 🙂
Transport (excess)
Inventory (excess)
Motion
Energy
Waiting
Overproduction
Overprocessing
Defects
Skills, Savvy, Smarts (squandering the inherent genius in all people involved)

One of the factors that has strongly encouraged lean inventories is that many states levy an annual tax on business inventories of finished good or sometimes even semi-finished subassemblies. Also, under the Federal tax law, businesses must “keep an inventory and use the accrual method for purchases and sales of merchandise.” As is the case with most other government intervention in the free market, this is another “unintended consequence.” Businessmen hate paying a nickel more in tax than they absolutely have to, so by keeping their inventory small, they avoid the taxes. In some states like California, it is not unusual to see annual “inventory reduction” sales, timed for the month before before the annual inventory tax is levied.

The big “lean machine” works great in normal times. But in times of economic instability, or following a natural disaster, the machine can’t cope. Panic buying can clean out supermarket shelves in a matter of hours. And again, in most cases there is no longer a “back room” with extra inventory. The important lesson in all this is to be prepared. DO NOT count on being able to buy anything to provide for your family on TEOTWAWKI Day +1. Stock up.

B.A. Adds: “Good points, although I’d emphasize the caveat of stocking up (where it makes sense) on the items that you know you will personally use, and you have the space to store, and that won’t suffer any significant shelf-life deterioration, spoilage or nutritional loss (whole grain, water, honey, et cetera.) Also, have some silver for barter currency, [to trade for the items that you overlooked or that you didn’t stock in sufficient depth.]”

Also, while the sensitivity and stability of authentic lean manufacturing and production (as is practiced … or not in many cases) is of some concern, one emphasis that lean senseis make is flexibility and responsiveness, so that, for example, mixed inventory models can respond almost instantaneously to changes in demand (and the intent is to hone the bidirectional speed of communication so that the entire supply web is informed at a much quicker rate to adjust).
The concerns you raise are valid. However, as in so many areas of life, the optimum solutions are not either/or, but both/and. In the case of dependence on technologies such as computer and telecommunication networks, the initial concentration of processing power (mainframes) has given way to vastly distributed, parallel and redundant systems that are far more tolerant of disruptions than ever before.



Letter Re: Pondering Some Personal Consequences of Global Climate Change

Jim,
The subject of Global Warming is one that creates an intense reaction in people who have a political investment in opposition to it. As you can see by the letters my comment generated, it made the writers so angry that it actually interfered with their ability to read! We, as survivalists, need to be acutely aware of when this happens to us, as the ability to react to any information coolly and logically is a cultivated adaptation that will give us a leg-up in stressful situations.
In reply to M.W.A., I should probably expand on something about CO2 that I only touched on for brevity’s sake. Contrary to how it might seem to us laymen, not all CO2 is the same, which is why I talked about man-made CO2’s “distinct isotopic signature”. The Carbon component of Carbon Dioxide is composed of three different isotopes (C14, C13, C12) and man-made CO2 has an identifiable ratio of these isotopes. Lest anyone think that the proofs of Global Warming are generated only by climate scientists, these isotopic ratios are recorded by those in many varied scientific disciplines (such as oceanographers and geochemists) and the results consistently concur with the basic premise, that increasing man-made CO2 levels parallel with increasing global temperatures. The collection of data like this has long been a characteristic of science and has nothing to do with attempts to control anyone or anything, as implied by M.W.A. As to the semantics of “Global Warming deniers”, we’re speaking of a very small group of dissenters, almost devoid of scientists (let alone ones working in the sciences associated with the earth’s climate). Even the Bush administration, after repeatedly rejecting (and attempting to suppress) the conclusions of the scientific community, just this week said that they wholeheartedly embrace the U.N.’s IPCC report (which concluded that Global Warming is man-made) and called the evidence for Global Warming “unequivocal”. Anyone who clings to the notion that this is nothing more than a ruse invented by environmentalists belongs to a tiny minority at this point. By the way, if M.W.A. would like to provide proof for his assertions about making “climate change denial” a crime, I’m sure we’d all like to see it.
I’m not sure where Michael Z. Williamson is getting his quote of raising ocean temperatures “a few degrees” as it isn’t in my letter (or any other letter on your site) but his claim that “the Antarctic is growing” is incorrect. There was a temporary mitigation of the trend of ice loss due to some unusual precipitation but the first ever gravity survey (GRACE) of the entire ice sheet by NASA has detected significant Antarctic ice mass loss. “The mistake of one scientist” which he claims is insane to suggest was not connected to the “Medieval Warming Period” as Mr. Williamson misread, but rather the assertions of the growth of glaciers worldwide (I urge him and anyone else confused about this to re-read what I said). As I said about the so-called “Viking era”, there may have been regional anomalies but this does not result in a conclusion of world-wide warming at that time (indeed, the evidence suggests nothing of the kind). The “records from the timeframe involved” don’t actually “document” anything other than an attempt by the Vikings to expand settlements there. When I was a kid in school (in the distant past), we were taught a bit about Viking history, including their early use of propaganda. One of the most self-evident proofs of this is the very name of their colony: Greenland! Those who bought the stories they were told about it were sorely disappointed when they arrived. Instead of the fertile farmlands (capable of growing vineyards?) they had expected, they found a cold wasteland that was anything but green, ultimately incapable of sustaining the small (and initially, quite hardy) colony there. If there were warm periods in the area (and there is little to suggest that there were), they were freakish and short-lived. It would be foolish to assume that selectively chosen Viking literature on the subject of Greenland is a worthy substitute for accurate documents about conditions at that time.
As I implied in my previous letter, anyone who chooses to disregard the overwhelming conclusions by the scientific community is more than welcome to do so. I have no doubt that one could find some fantastic real estate buys along the Mississippi coast, for example, and if you feel that Global Warming is nothing but a hoax, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of a buyer’s market. I wouldn’t even have dipped my toe into this controversy save for seeing disinformation presented as fact. Keep in mind that ExxonMobil has contributed a huge amount of money to support the distribution of non-peer reviewed papers critical of Global Warming science and the establishment of friendly “think tanks”. In my mind, it’s one thing to argue the concept based on it’s economic effects but it’s highly unethical to distort (or outright lie about) about the science involved. As survivalists, it would seem logical for us to pay very close attention to the potential catastrophic events that could domino when the climatic “tipping point” arrives, rather than be distracted by a corporation intent on buying “the best lies money can buy” to increase it’s short term profits. However, (as I keep saying), that’s your choice to make. To me, there’s not much difference in how I prepare to survive, Global Warming simply increases the impetus for me to do so. Best Regards, – Hawaiian K.



Letter From David in Israel Re: Blue Water Sailing as a Retreat Option?

James:
Anyone near any body of salt water should consider purchasing something like the Navy/Coast Guard [approved] Manual Reverse Osmosis Desalinator (MROD) They are sold on eBay and as far as I know are only made by PUR. They can provide drinkable water at sea for one to two people with quite a bit of work but PUR also makes a larger bicycle pump model. I have tested mine in both
the Med (not as salty as ocean) and the Salt Sea (the saltiest water in the world). More salt just means more work.
A creative person might make a desalinator from a home reverse osmosis filter system but I would highly suggest having at least one PUR hand unit as a backup. The U.S. Navy/Coast Guard issue MROD-06-LS includes a great add-on thigh strap and lever extensions not on the civilian models. – David in Israel



Odds ‘n Sods:

Another indicator of inflation ahead? SurvivalBlog reader Bill H. notes: “A trend that I have not seen mentioned on your web site, apart from gold and silver investment, is that [fine] “art” is going through the roof. Most of us cannot afford to invest in art, myself included. However, we can still see the writing on the wall when the moderately wealthy are flocking to acquire art at record prices. You don’t have to buy thousands of pounds of gold when you can pay $20 million for a painting that will only appreciate. That’s a fairly extreme example, but you get the idea. Just today there was an article on Yahoo about a London art auction bringing in record prices.JWR Adds: This lends further credence to my investing philosophy, which leans heavily toward tangibles. Of course, I prefer more practical tangibles like guns, ammo, productive farm land, and tools. You can’t drop a deer at 800 yards with a work of art by Paul CĂ©zanne, but you can with a work of art by Paul Dressel–although I’m sure that it would be more practical to spend the same amount and get several pieces by Kelly McMillan.

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From the new Iraqi government: “Would you mind sending all of that $4 Billion in cash?” Its a good thing that al this money printing isn’t inflationary.

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Reader “RBS” mentioned a web site dedicated to ham radio and RACES [Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service] news, and so forth: Emergency Radio.







Letter Re: Advice on a 12 VDC Fuel Transfer Pump

Mr. James Wesley; Rawles:
I keep a lot of extra gas in five gallon jerry-cans around my new farm/retreat wanna-be, for emergencies. (Stabilized with PRI-G, of course.) Yeah, I know that siphoning–especially if you prime it “by mouth”–is not safe. (Gag!) To make it easier and safer to transfer gasoline into or out of vehicle gas tanks, is there any transfer device that I can use use? Perhaps something that would plug into my pickup truck’s cigarette lighter [12 volt DC power] jack? What can I buy that is cheap off-the-shelf, or cheap to cobble together myself? Oh, and its also gotta be safe–I don’t want to accidentally create a fuel-air explosion. <VBG.> TIA, – Lt. Dan

JWR Replies: Every well-equipped retreat should have at least one “field expedient” 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. These pump rigs are popular with dirt bike, ATV, and snowmobile enthusiasts. They are very simple to construct. Here are the materials that you will need:

1 – Automobile or truck electric fuel pump. (The least expensive pumps come from automobile wrecking yards.)

2 – 15 foot lengths of heavy rubber hose–approved for use as fuel line–of the proper diameter for the fittings on the fuel pump.

2 – Stainless steel fuel line clamps. (Such as “Aero-Seal” brand, or similar, that are tightened with a screwdriver.)

15 to 20 ft. – 16 AWG (or heavier) gauge insulated two conductor wire. (This will be the power cord for the pump.)

1 – “Cigarette Lighter” type male plug, available from any Radio Shack store. (Again, for the power cord for the pump.)

1 – Roll of black plastic electrician’s tape or better yet, some thermoplastic “heat shrink” tubing.

1 – Scrap of 3/8″ thick (or greater thickness) plywood, measuring roughly 16″ x 16″. (To mount the fuel pump.)

The construction method should be self-evident, based on the materials listed above. If you’d like, you can add an electrical switch to the power cord for convenience, but make sure that you get a high amperage switch that is rated for DC, and that you position the switch within a couple of feet of the dashboard plug so that the switch is inside the cab of your vehicle. That way there is far less chance of generating a spark inside of a gas vapor cloud.

If your vehicle uses an electric fuel pump, then I suggest that you use an identical pump to that used in your vehicle as the basis for your transfer pump project. That way you will have spares on hand, in the event that your vehicle’s fuel pump or any portions of your fuel system’s flexible fuel lines ever fail.

OBTW, you can also add and “in line” fuel filter to your fuel transfer pump rig. Again, it is best to use a filter cartridge that is identical to that used in your vehicle. (Always think in terms of: “Spares and redundancy, spares and redundancy.”)

One other optional nicety is a one foot square scrap of plywood, to bolt the pump onto. This will keep the transfer pump out of the mud or snow. It also provides a handy place to mount some large hooks, so that you will have a neat way to coil up the power cord and the fuel transfer hoses, for storage. A 15 foot length of hose should be able to reach any vehicle fuel tank, or even down into an underground tank.

There are commercially made equivalents to this fuel pump rig, but they cost more, and they won’t provide you with a spare compatible fuel pump–for the event that your vehicle’s original pump goes Tango Uniform.

Important Provisos:

1.) All of the usual common sense precautions for handing gasoline and gas cans apply: Use only DOT-approved fuel containers, No sparks, No open flames, Don’t turn on any radio transmitters, Beware of static electricity build up, et cetera. See this Oregon State University web page for details on fuel handing safety.

2.) Some later model vehicles have “anti-siphoning” filler necks on their gas tanks. Check for this before you head for the boonies with an ATV trailer.

3.) Cover any exposed electrical connections with tape or heat shrink tubing, to avoid sparks or shorting.

4.) Keep one eye on your vehicle’s gas gauge and your other eye on the can that you are filling (or pumping from). It is not just an expensive waste to spill gas on the ground. It is also toxic and a fire hazard!

By coincidence, soon after I wrote the first draft of my reply, I got an e-mail forwarded by Alfie Omega, a regular over at the outstanding Alpha Rubicon web site. There, “Pike” has plans for building a very similar fuel transfer pump rig. (I guess that he had seen the same type that I had seen.) A couple of nice touches with his with his design that mine lacked are that the mounting board has a carrying handle cut into it, and there are hooks mounted all the way around the perimeter of the board, for hose and power cord stowage. But a couple of detractors are that his photos show and on-off switch mounted to the board (which as previously mentioned could put it in proximity to gas vapors), and I saw some exposed wiring terminals. If those terminals were touched by a metal object could cause a spark.



Letter Re: Smoke Damaged Firearms

Greetings,
In January, our home burned down. The family made it out safely thanks to our dog waking us up. The fire started outside and once it entered the house it was engulfed in minutes.

My question is how to restore books, firearms, et cetera that have been damaged by smoke and fire. Since getting burned out is a possibility in survival times this information could be quite handy. BTW Smoke eats the finish on guns. My Mini-14 got eaten up pretty badly, but the CETME in the rack next to it came out just fine. I guess they used a different type of bluing. Thanks, – Chad

JWR Replies: Let me start by encouraging all SurvivalBlog readers to carry both fire and theft insurance. A house fire can be a very traumatic event, but they are even more so if you are uninsured or underinsured. Note that many insurance policies have specific limits on firearms, often absurdly low dollar figures unless you get a separate “rider ” to your policy, at additional cost. If you aren’t sure about your coverage, then pull out your policy and read through it in detail. Second, I encourage all of you to get a gun vault. Not only will it deter 98% of burglars, but it will also usually prevent the sort of damage that Chad described. (Unless of course, the house burns to the ground, and even then a “fireproof” vault may not save your guns.) I also recommend taking a list of serial numbers and detailed descriptions of each gun. (OBTW, I have found that using 3″x5″ index cards is convenient for updates, since your collection will change over time. Also take a few detailed photos of each gun. Store the 3″x5″ index cards and hard copy pictures annotated with each gun’s serial number in a vault belonging to a relative or a trusted friend, and offer to do likewise for them.

Now on to the repairing the damage: I’ve seen lots of smoke and fire damaged guns at gun shows over the years, and it is never a pretty sight. If a fire is intense enough to burn the stock or grips off of a gun, then it is generally beyond salvageability. This, among other things, is because springs lose their temper and actions can warp and bind. If there is only smoke damage, then they can definitely be salvaged. It is important to immediately 1.) Photograph each gun in detail to support your insurance claim. then 2.) Grease the gun from stem to stern (and down he bore) with rust inhibitive grease (RIG). This will protect any remaining finish from corrosion. Depending on how your insurance agency handles paying your claim, you may end up salvaging your smoke-damaged guns yourself. I recommend sending them off for bead blasting and an exotic coating such as NP3 or METACOL. This will leave them better than new, since they’ll have a more durable finish that their original bluing or parkerizing. There are now a wide range of exotic materials such as Teflon and Zylan are frequently used as “after-market” gun finishes. The Robar Company uses a nickel/Teflon composite that they call NP3. My personal favorite of the exotic finishes is called METACOL (METAl COLor), which is offered in a wide variety of colors by Arizona Response Systems Exotic material finishes offer rust protection that is exceeded only by stainless steel. They are quite durable. Parenthetically, for anyone that that dislikes the highly reflective surface of stainless steel, it too can be coated with one of the exotic materials such as green Teflon, with a matte texture. If you have wood gun stocks that have had their lacquer go “bubbly” or smoke darkened, you can either refinish the stocks (which takes about 30 to 50 minutes each), or better yet replace them with fiberglass or Kevlar-graphites stocks from a vendor like Choate, Brown Precision, or H-S Precision.

As for your books, check first with your insurance agent. If your policy covers “full replacement cost”, then it is probably best to just buy replacement copies of each book. This is fairly quick and easy, using Amazon.com’s “One Click” purchase option. If your policy only covers part of the loss, or if you have any rare, memento, or otherwise irreplaceable books/albums, then consult with a restoration service such as Serv-Pro. (They specialize in restoring books and artwork that have been smoke and/or water damaged.) BTW Chad, if your loss included a copy or two of any the books that I authored and the insurance company doesn’t cover replacing them, just let me know and I will send you complimentary replacement copies. May God bless you in the rebuilding process.



Odds ‘n Sods:

Blog reader B.H. sent this snippet: “Last month I was at the NRA headquarters in Virginia. I noticed a sign across the street for condos for sale for $260,000. I made a comment on how expensive that sounded when a NRA headquarters employee said that he sold his condo in the same development for $465,000 just eight months prior. That’s a decline of 44% in one year. Ouch for the guy that bought at the top of the bubble.”

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There are just 3 days left in the big “Container load sale” at Survival Enterprises. Looking at their running inventories posted on the web page, I can see that many items have sold out. Don’t dawdle on this one, folks! All of the storage food items are “first come – first served.” The prices are less than half of retail.

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Apparently the outbreak in Britain of H5N1 Avian Flu was caused by a turkey farm importing turkeys from their Hungarian factory farm to their British factory farm:



Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"To ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow… For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding." – Jeff Snyder



Notes from JWR:

Our special thanks to the folks at Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) for expanding their advertising on SurvivalBlog. They now have the exclusive “nailed up” top position SurvivalBlog banner ad. Be sure to sign up for their “Safecastle Royal” buyer’s club and give them your patronage. They have a fantastic line of preparedness products!

Today we also welcome our newest advertiser, Health Treasures. They provide a great assortment of health and survival products, including water test kits, aerobic oxygen, potassium iodide (KI) anti-radiation (thyroid protection) tablets, health books, and survival books. They also sell nutritional supplements such as coral calcium, Klamath Lake blue green algae, aloe vera, and much more. When you contact them, please mention that you saw their ad on SurvivalBlog.



Three Letters Re: Pondering Some Personal Consequences of Global Climate Change

JWR,
Both M.W.A. and Michael Williamson bring some sanity and reason to the subject of climate change. Thanks for publishing their letters. Weather/climate is probably the most complex system on earth. For anyone to say they can tell with any kind of certainty what the climate on earth was like millions of years ago is ridiculous and what is the point. On a very basic level, the one universal truth about the weather/climate is change, unending change. You could even make the case that change is a universal physical law. The writers are correct to question the motives of the climate change promoters. I believe most are socialists, trying to get more control over our lives thru the politics of climate change. As in the past, humans will have to adapt to any changes in the weather/climate. Think about it, has the weather/climate ever been unchanging, with or without man on the planet? Regards, – Keith

Jim:
I would suggest the www.iceagenow.com site for a balanced view of global warming. However, I do believe we are heading for climatic upheaval due to a cyclic pattern- go to www.thehorizonproject.com and order their DVD for additional info. Many things seem to be converging. [You can read] my two-cents worth at www.countdownto2070.com
Thank you, – Martin P.

JWR,
There is an awful lot of money being spent by Big Oil to contradict the global warming research, and in particular their efforts to refute the recent UN ICPP report. As I read the 21 page Summary for Policy Makers, the report really seemed to want to avoid speculative consideration of methane feedback loops or nonlinear warming effects, i.e.:glaciers sliding into the ocean. My sense is that it was very conservatively written. Any rise in ocean level has profound implications for our way of life and Peak Oil issues since refining in the US is mostly at sea level. [Some ranting, snipped.] – Bruce F.

JWR Replies: The media hoopla over the UN report has ignored mention that what has been released thusfar is just a 21 page summary. The full 600+ page report won’t be released for several months. There is definitely a divergence of opinion within the scientific community on this issue. I think that the jury will be out for quite some time. Draw your own conclusions. In my opinion, what we should take away from all this debate is that as well-prepared individuals, it is prudent to make preparations for both short term weather changes, and if we can afford to do so, for the possibility of longer term climate change. (But again, the degree, the direction, and even the cause of that potential change is still a matter of conjecture and heated debate.) To illustrate my point, let me digress: I had a friend named Richard, who sadly died of leukemia at age 45, a couple of years ago. He was a first class eccentric, but he had a sharp wit and was a lot of fun to be around. Richard was a single man that traveled the world. He made his living as a computer programmer in the States, but he owned both a home on a small island in the Philippines and a condominium in Thailand. (He only worked in the U.S. in alternating six month contract stints to support his “travel habit”.) As an adherent of the Art Bell/George Noory school of paranormal conjecture, Richard was convinced that severe climate changes could happen “any time, and maybe even overnight” because of “pole shift.” He was so concerned that he had all three of his homes stocked with arctic clothing. (N3B extreme cold weather parkas, insulated boots, Wiggy’s Ultima Thule sleeping bags, the whole works.) Objectively, I think that Richard was over-prepared, but in the back of my mind is a small but lingering doubt. What if that ever really happened? What if Richard was right? I suppose that if I ever have a really big budget (read: somebody in Hollywood ever sends me a big fat check for my Pulling Through screenplay), then I might buy a second retreat in Central America, just in case. And I might even stock it with some cold weather gear, in memory of Richard.



Odds ‘n Sods:

As reported by The Daily Reckoning: “The Central Bank of Zimbabwe announced this week that henceforth inflation would be illegal. Anyone who raises prices will be arrested.” Do they honestly believe that they can put the brakes on a 1,200% per annum inflation rate, by decree? The Zimbabwean government is beyond corrupt, and beyond incompetent. Comrade Mugabe and his band of fools from the ZANU-PF must go!

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RBS mentioned this news story at CNN.com: Vagrant: “We killed for scrap metal, hid bodies in manholes.” Human nature hasn’t changed. When times get really hard, you can expect a lot of people to revert to savagery.

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Oh, that beloved “lake effect”: Oswego County (New York) gets nearly 100 inches of snow in five days. (A hat tip to J.M. for sending us the link.)