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Bruce Enberg's Commentary

Facing the 'Final Resort'

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The aluminum foil shelter that Wildland Firefighters carry as part of their 50 lb back-country fire kit is intended to be that last resort when the fire is not only gaining on their position but has skipped ahead, and they are trapped with fire coming from all sides.

The physics of this 'last chance' technology are real and can be easily calculated. Hotshot Firefighters drill on this like their very lives depend on it. Any fire is the equation of heat + fuel + oxygen. Heat is temperature of the the available mass either mitigated by high humidity, or greatly boosted by low humidity. Fuel in a forest is a given. Oxygen in the outdoors is a matter of wind speed.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 July 2013 19:45 Read more...

Birds of different feathers chase different bugs

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The markets all tanked again today on ginned up fears that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. But it was gold that fell right through the floor losing well over 5% in one day to $1280 per oz.

 

Gold has lost a third of its value from the peak when the Gold Bugs were sending me nasty mail about me advising people to ignore Glenn Beck.

 

This week's new unemployment claims jumped back up again, but they're still not so high as to be a real problem.

 

The big 'scary' news all the 'experts' are cackling about (between chasing June Bugs they predict the sky is falling), the big news is that China's banks are having problems borrowing overnight from each other with rates for single day borrowing going to as high as 25% (annual rate).  China's Central bank is refusing to pump in money, or rather it is just silent, and the 'Chicken Littles are saying this signals the 'end times'. There is of course a more reasonable explanation.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 June 2013 21:41 Read more...

A Place Upstream, if you can find it

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A large sink hole opened in a DC street only blocks from the White House, it turned out to be a washed out sewer line from an improvement project done back in '96, that's 1896. This is not an unusual situation for American cities that are dependent on drainage projects done during during the Progressive Era, or at best during the New Deal. As little as possible has been done to make America work since the Reagan Revolution defined 'government as the problem, not the solution'.

 

The estimated $3 trillion shortfall in maintenance is just public infrastructure like the thousands of bridges waiting to collapse, but doesn't include  privately held assets like high pressure natural gas lines that are nothing but ticking time bombs. There are also the abandoned chemical waste dumps, the overloaded and failing mine waste containment ponds, or those unregulated fertilizer and chemical plants waiting to go off like a small nuke. Then there's the actual nuclear plants and their massive hot fuel containment ponds waiting to do a Chernobyl dead zone on a large swath of North America.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 21:33 Read more...

Any Future History Must First Be Expressed in Words

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The President made a history defining speech in front of the National Defense University today, this address was I believe on the same level with Eisenhower's 'Cross of Iron' speech that warned us against pointless military spending. Obama called for the end of the 'endless War on Terror'.

 

Obama, late in the speech, said, "So America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us. We have to be mindful of James Madison’s warning that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Neither I nor any president can promise the total defeat of terror. We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings nor stamp out every danger to our open society. But what we can do, what we must do, is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. And to define that strategy, we must make decisions based not on fear but on hard-earned wisdom. And that begins with understanding the current threat that we face."

 

He had gone on and on like this, for a POTUS known for giving a good speech, this was his best one in terms of addressing actual policy. Cynics will cry out that his speech has an obvious disconnect from his actual policies, Medea Benjamin from Code Pink interrupted Obama three times, and he did let her talk for a long stretch. She was finally removed from the auditorium but Obama went off script to acknowledge her concerns as being very real. There were no chants of 'USA USA' to drown her out from being heard by the military audience. They did like the Commander in Chief's comeback, they liked his acknowledgement of the reality of her protest points even more.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 21:41 Read more...

Bits, pieces and body parts

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New unemployment claims fell again last week setting another new record since the Bush economic collapse. The Federal Budget deficit continues to fall, not so much from spending cuts but from increased revenue as the economy continues to improve despite the efforts of Republicans.

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill that would require Federally backed student loans to be issued at the same rate that the Federal Reserve lends money to billionaire owned banks. Good luck with that.

 

The average wage for a two year community college grad is now higher than that of four year college diploma or higher. Not unexpected since fully half of all 'real college' grads either have no job or are working at Best Buy. Most new jobs that should be done by US college grads like engineering, medical research and even corporate law are now done in China or India. Youth unemployment in the US is now higher than in austerity ridden Europe.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 21:16 Read more...

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