Saturday, October 31, 2009


Just a trio of links for the weekend, hopefully I’ll get a movie review up later.  Been a difficult week, with a sinus infection making things fun.

This weekend’s topic is insecurity on three fronts, something to put Halloween fright into all you kiddies!

First up, more bank closings happened Friday.  This time it was FBOP Corp., better known as Park National Bank that collapsed.  With nine banks failed it only cost the FDIC 2.5 billion dollars.  What made it very interesting is the connection to the Obama administration, via Timothy Geithner.  Earlier in the day the community development part of Park National received $50 million from the federal government to stimulate investment in low income areas. Makes you feel secure in how the Feds are handling things, doesn’t it?

Over across the pond, a police force in Surrey, England think they have the solution to increased crime around Halloween.  I bet the locals feel safer already…

If you are reading this on the Internet, be afraid.  That means you are depending on what may end up being a digital house of cards.  Not many are aware of the kind of warfare that is going on in cyberspace, but it is picking up of late.  The latest player in the game is North Korea who have been probing our defenses.  Quote of the article:

The report concludes by noting that the US, with its heavy reliance on a digital infrastructure and information-based economy, has the most to lose if sophisticated cyber weaponry makes its way into the hands of less advanced nations or non-governmental organizations.

It would be devastating if we lost Twitter and Facebook, I wonder if our society would survive it!

But seriously, we have become very dependant on our electronic networking in every facet of society, from government to military to social to workplace environments.  If things go south internationally, we will see attacks on all of those.

Have I scared you enough, kiddies?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

Many attribute the current recession to the housing bubble bursting.  Home financing and equity loans were the most glaring examples of the larger credit bubble problems that had built up.  This problem is not unique to the United States and has afflicted Europe as well.  Remember Iceland failing as the first indication of impending financial disaster?

Supposedly, things have improved in Europe, but this commentary in the Telegraph makes me wonder.  The M3 money supply contracted despite the dumping of stimulus money by U.S. and European governments in an effort to free up credit liquidity.  Instead, loans to the private sector decreased for the first time since 1983.  Reading the analysis and quotes presented is not an exercise for the faint of heart, as it presents a very gloomy picture for 2010.  Any time the word “deflation” is used, be afraid.  So much for converting dollars to Euros to hedge your bets, at least in the long term.
So stocks are now looking unstable if things don’t improve in the credit picture.  Where do you invest if you are one of the fortunate who has extra money or want to get out of the stock market?  Well, the gold bugs have pushed gold to $1,000 an ounce and there have been run ups in oil, copper, and eve lead!  A lot of people have moved their money into commodities but there is peril there as well. The key quote from this:
"It seems to us that if output declines, then input of materials ought to be down by a similar order," said High Frequency Economics economist Carl Weinberg.
I’m afraid logic has nothing to do with economic behavior these days.  Where to put your money is becoming like shooting a moving target in an increasingly faster carnival game.  I’d thought maybe the Euro for very short term and silver (as a bargain compared to gold) for longer term, but nothing looks safe.

Do you trust the Federal Reserve?  I’m beginning to think we have nothing but incompetency at the top of our financial and political institutions.  Finding out the shell game involving AIG being forced to bail out big banks such as Goldman Sachs doesn’t add to confidence in the system.  The cover up following that action destroys it.

So we have major problems yet to fully come into play and an utterly incompetent response to what has already gone wrong – all on an international scale, not just domestic.  No sector is seeing concrete growth, except for bigger government of course. Now is not the time to relax thinking we are in safer waters, rather it is a time to batten down the hatches and ride the coming storms out.

Is the Economy Really Growing Again?

The Feds announced the end to the recession today,  but dig deeper into what’s being reported and it seems premature at best.  Personally, I’ve never bought into the concept of a “jobless recovery” and much prefer the drier term “recalculation” to describe the employment situation.  To be blunt, if the jobs don’t come back and new ones are not being created, it isn’t a recovery.

Ed Morrissey (formerly of Captain’s Quarters) blogs at Hot Air about some of the hidden problems of the 3.5% growth rate, pay particular attention to the commercial property market quotation.  This is the other shoe waiting to drop in real estate, as I’ve posted before that banks are failing because of loans in this sector.  Most of the growth noted is based on Cash for Clunkers and tax credit breaks for homes that will go away in the next quarter, so I suspect we’ll see worse figures next quarter.  Negative growth wouldn’t surprise me, but there will be Christmas shopping to temporarily buoy things.

Meanwhile, the jobs are still vanishing and people are running out of unemployment. The stimulus is not doing much to help and to further exacerbate the problem the Obama administration has come up with a bogus figure of 30,083 jobs saved.  Even the AP had a hard time buying that and figured out that 5,000 of those don’t exist.  With work scarce and salaries being reduced, consumer confidence index is still poor at 47.7.  That bodes poorly for consumer fueled growth.

Oh and if you thought Cash for Clunkers was a brilliant stroke of genius, please read this and you may change your mind.  With the major downturn in auto sales following the end of the program, it is obvious this was a poorly thought out stunt for PR purposes by the administration.

Right now, I don’t trust anything this government is saying or doing about the economy.  Things are looking bleaker as more instability is appearing on the horizon. I’ll cover that in my next post.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekend Links: The Decline of American Politics?

One of the great myths fostered by the mass media is that Republicans march in lockstep, all with the same set of beliefs, as opposed to the diversity of the Democratic Party. That myth is being expanded to extend to all critics of President Obama and his policies.  That's a foolish move, for it may unite the scattered and bickering factions made up of those who call themselves 'conservatives.'  The last two elections were won on the weaknesses of the political right, rather than the strengths of the political left.  Keep the right divided and the administration will get their way.

But Chicago politics is a brutal and oppressive atmosphere, hence the desire to shut down all criticism of the administration.  This is why Fox News is under attack, as it is one of the last hold outs in a compliant media doing Obama's bidding.

Because We Say So

An attempt was made to block Fox News from a pool interview with the pay czar of the administration.  The other networks quietly stood up against this and the White House backed down.  At first, only Fox News themselves reported on this attempt at black listing.  The only other broadcast television outlet to eventually report on it was CBS, though there was some spin to it.

Meanwhile, at NPR analyst Ken Rudin dared to describe the Obama administration as being "Nixonian."  The desire to control every aspect of reporting has always been there with presidents, but the constant demonizing of Fox News alarmed him.  Until he was sat on and made to issue an apology, that is.  The creeping power to suppress free speech this White House has is something everyone should be frightened of, but if the public never hears about it in the first place it become the proverbial tree in the forest falling. It all reminds me of the monolithic Wesayso corporation that controlled everything in the old TV series Dinosaurs.

So That's What He Was Doing in College

I don't think President Obama respects the Constitution and Bill of Rights one whit.  There is evidence of this as his college years are slowly being uncovered.  His hatred of the free market is also made clear in the paper, which would explain why he is more than happy to destroy the economy. How? By absorbing as much of it as he can into the government.  Yes folks, he is a communist like his parents before him.  No wonder there was a total embargo on his college years in the media during the election.

UPDATE:  Turns out the website linked is a satire site.  Sadly, the satire was all too believable given Obama's extreme left wing approach to the economy and free speech.  He's still a communist in my opinion.

It is interesting how we still don't know much about our current President's college years, that kind of secrecy doesn't happen unless there are things to hide.

Conservative Rebellion in the Air

Meanwhile, the fiscal conservative uprising that is the Tea Party movement has begun to challenge the GOP leadership.   The Tea Parties are about smaller government and people from a wide spectrum of beliefs form the movement.   Being truly grassroots, there isn't a united leadership, but a whole lot of discontent. What they are united on are less government, less taxes, and a hostility toward political parties in general. Attempts to paint the movement as RNC controlled or as astroturfing by the insurance industries are foolish, especially by the left. They may profit from the movement if the Republicans don't listen to the protests.

Calls to vote out all sitting politicians is not uncommon at the rallies.  The GOP leadership are not comfortable or happy with the Tea Parties for this reason and because they are too blue collar.  So there will be challenges like in NY-23 fueled by anger at big government Republicans. That could spell major trouble if the Republican party keeps trying to ignore the movement.  The worst case scenario is a third party challenge, which would hand everything to the Democrats as the right splits its vote.  Hopefully, those in the movement will understand they are more powerful criticizing politicians than they would becoming ones.


An interesting post about how white the most progressive cities in the USA are.  A fascinating article worth reading.

At Reason magazine there is an interesting article/book review about the end of the Cold War.  It is very lengthy but worth the read.

Links for the Weekend: Economic Problems

There have been some interesting things brewing in the domestic and other economies this week.  Interesting as in the ancient Chinese curse of "May you live in interesting times."  There has been a push in the media and especially in the economist circles that things have improved and we are in a recovery.  Even ignoring the 9.8% official unemployment (hey you can't count those 800,000 or so who've given up on full time employment), I'm beginning to suspect there is willful blindness going on.  Like the condo tenants in the Monty Python sketch who hold up the apartment building by faith in its existence, it looks like people are trying to will the economy into being better by words alone.

That said, here's what I've run into around the Web the last few days:

Over in the U.K. things have been predicted as getting rosier, but indications are they've been wearing red tinted sunglasses in the gloom. A report that was supposed to show an anemic growth of 0.2% growth showed a contraction of 0.4% instead.  Most interesting quote from the Telegraph article for me was this:
The Office for National Statistics figures showed that every sector contracted except the public sector, which was flat.
Yep, everything but government shrinking sounds familiar.

The Times reported on this differently, with economists reacting with disbelief and doubt over the accuracy of the government report.  Now I distrust governments as much as most people do, but they tend to fudge numbers to the positive as much as they can get away with.  It is always "the economy, stupid" with the voters whoand I'd be surprised if the numbers do improve.  Quote of the article:
Ben Broadbent, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said: "At a time when all other indicators are consistent with much stronger growth, we expect today's data to be revised significantly higher in time."
Oh, yeah -- I really trust something coming out of Goldman Sachs these days.

On to the U.S. economy, where a word has come to my attention.  That word is "Recalculation." A Recalculation is where jobs are lost permanently as opposed to temporarily in a Recession. More here, with the thought that this is what we are seeing now.  Not reassuring, that's for sure.

Megan McArdle has an interesting post about declining tax revenues in The Atlantic.  Check out the CBO produced graph. Looking at that, I don't understand how anyone thinks more spending is the solution.

I've been following bank failures as a barometer of economic health, with a particular eye toward local banks.  Don't have any new ones locally to report, thankfully, but we just passed 100 failures nationally. The latest ones Friday take us to 106 for 2009 with worries many more are coming.  I'm still waiting for the retail property loans to blow up for the bigger banks, once that happens things will get ugly in a hurry. This quote should worry people:

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other banks remain open even though they are as weak as many that have been shuttered. Regulators are seizing banks slowly and selectively -- partly to avoid inciting panic and partly because buyers for bad banks are hard to find.

With the FDIC underfunded, they have to stall for time or a lot of money will simply evaporate.

So what are we to do?  Well, our legislators at all levels need to get their acts together to control government spending.  We can't keep spending money that doesn't exist.  This video of the State Treasurer of California lays out the brutal realities that must be faced.  Of course, California has never been very good at dealing with reality in the past, but they are up against the wall now.  It is said where California goes, the nation follows.  I hope that is wrong.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stargate Universe: Air - Part 3

Well, I decided I'd give SGU one more shot, in case I was somehow missing something good about the show. With two strikes against it, it needed to be at least a foul ball or a bunt to keep me watching. So did Air Part 3 come through at the bottom of the inning?

It is now confirmed, I despise all the characters. They aren't just an unlikeable lot, they match the quote from Col. Young, being "The wrong people in the wrong place."  It isn't good when you are rooting for the team to fail in repairing the air scrubbers. This is despite finally having a somewhat traditional Stargate mission on a strange planet.  Once again, the parts that were supposed to evoke emotion fell very flat and the deaths had no impact.

The shaky cam was still there, with the over dramatic cuts during overly serious conversations seemed very 1990's to me. Going back to Col. Young scene on Earth, via Ancient communication stones, I suffered an NYPD Blue flashback and half expected David Caruso to walk in the office to ask Young, "Are you okay?" Yes, they managed to even make a scene with O'Neil boring.  Likewise, the scene with Chloe visiting her mother lacked any kind of drama. That wasn't the worst of the episode though.

In dubbing the show BattleStarGatica, I turned out to be more on the mark than expected.  Yes, we had a 'head cylon' moment presented in the form of a hallucination that might not have been a hallucination. Thankfully, it wasn't a 'head cylon' sex scene, though Lt. Scott has been confirmed as a hopeless horndog with Roman Catholic guilt. Other viewers will find out it this becomes a reoccurring part of the show, I won't.

This was strike three without the batter even swinging at the pitch. Sadly, it is getting good ratings, so I don't see the show runners having to change it.  As an owner of all but the Stargate animated show, this feels like a funeral as I bury a franchise I really enjoyed.

Stargate: Universe can be found at Hulu for online viewing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Dollar IS Dying

 A month ago, I posted about the U.S. dollar being in trouble.  Things have progressed in the short time since then, with a slew of new headlines culled from around the Net.

Let's start with the New York Post article Dollar Loses Reserve Status to Yen & Euro. In it, we learn that 63% of money being put into reserves by banks went to the Japanese Yen and the E.U. Euro in the last three months.  Traditionally, around 66% would be put in the dollar, but only 37% was. Over at Bloomberg, they report the same while pointing out that world leaders are following through on their threats to diversify.  Apparently, they don't approve of how U.S. economic woes are being handled by the new administration.

In another article at Bloomberg, they report that the dollar is down 10% against other currencies in the eight plus months Treasury Secretary Geithner has been in charge. In fact, they go so far as to call it the Obama Dollar. At this point, the current mess is now owned by the Obama Administration so I think the honeymoon is over. Meanwhile, the Pound Sterling is having problems as well, based on the fear that inflation is decreasing in the United Kingdom.

It looks like the shift from the Anglo currencies has finally begun, as the economies of the United States and Great Britain have lost the confidence of foreign investors.  Interestingly enough, these are the two countries that enacted the biggest stimulus packages during the current economic downturn.  I don't think this is a coincidence.

Runaway hyper inflation is around the corner, what with oil going up and consumers unable to spend more due to being tapped out on credit,with many losing jobs and giving up on full employment. I don't blame other countries bailing out on the dollar, as it is a race to get any kind of value back from what they sank into our treasury bonds before they become worthless. Talk of another stimulus will just continue the flight from the dollar and I think our political elites in both parties have failed the country and the world completely in how they've handled things.

It took a world war to bring the country out of the Great Depression.  I hope that won't be required this time.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The World Is Insane: Obama Wins the Nobel Peace Prize

Yes, President Obama, he of nine months in office and no foreign achievements other than appeasement or waffling, has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize.  No joking, check any online news source or the TV.  I won't bother to link to any commentary, because everyone has said all there can be said about this lunacy.  Both the political Left and Right are reacting with stunned disbelief.

When I read the headline, I thought it was a joke but wasn't surprised when it turned out to be true.  Things have spun so far out of control worldwide that very little is surprising these days.  Too many people have run from reality and truth for too long, this kind of madness has to be expected.

I'm not sure what can be done to combat it. Perhaps we need to make sure the following books are in every high school curriculum:  Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and finally The Prince and Discourses by Nico Machiavelli.  Two movies could be added to the mix, Being There and The Music Man. That way we can combat some of the style over substance in politics, starting with the most vulnerable voters -- the first time voters.

Don't know what to do about the older folks so easily conned by empty suits, it may be too late for them.  A depression bigger than the Great Depression might work as an educational exercise.  Funny how that appears to be on the way...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stargate: Universe

Watched the first two episodes of Stargate: Universe (SGU) on yesterday to see what the hubbub was about. In the Stargate fandom, there has been a lot of resistance to the show, mainly as it was seen as an excuse to cancel Stargate: Atlantis in its prime, due to rising salary costs after five season contracts expire.  Rumor had SGU would be more edgy and darker, not exactly what the Stargate legacy has been about.  So I decided to check on the show myself, despite a lack of interest, and streamed it from Hulu.

First impression:

Well, that was... bad.  Catastrophically bad.

I'll try not to spoil the details in this review, so on to detailed impressions.

In an attempt to make an "adult" Stargate television series, what was aired is not a Stargate series like fans of the franchise have grown to love.  Stargate has always been about adventure, with heroics leavened by good natured humor and a feeling that there was unlimited potential out there on other planets.  With SGU, there was no sense of humor other than the cameo by Lt. General Jack O'Neil and little in the way of heroics.  Instead it is clear that SyFy Network wanted a clone of Battlestar Galactica (the new one) and that overwrought, gloomy atmosphere is what was delivered.  Galactica had a strong start, if oversexed, but decayed into a depressing amoral mess by the second season.

I will try to say one positive thing about the SGU.  The CGI effects were very good, especially the assault on the base in the beginning.  There, done with that.

The negatives... Everything else about the show.  Bad acting, hackneyed writing, and terrible pacing were topped by the unlikeable characters.  With nobody to root for, it was hard to get emotionally involved amidst all the chaos and canyon sized personality flaws.  Though I will say some of the characters had no personality at all, so they can be excused from the latter.

The bane of all good camera work, the 'shaky cam', was ever present, sometimes distractingly wrong for the content of a scene. My guess is that it was used to make things feel more 'real' and to heighten tension for dramatic effect.  It failed miserably on both counts.

Emotionally charged is what the makers were most likely going for, but the execution was hamfisted at best.  Without spoiling too much, in the second episode one of the characters makes a major sacrifice that was clearly supposed to be the lynch pin of the hour.  What were supposed to be a series of highly emotional scenes were curiously flat and mechanical, failing to evoke any emotion.  Slow motion was used to interminably drag out the big scene and I could see this being MST3K'd very easily.  Given that the following scenes depended on the big impact that didn't even dent and it has to be considered an epic fail in the annals of drama.

Bleh.  I went in with low expectations and still managed to be disappointed.

Unfortunately, there has been a trend toward nihilistic and dreary television for some time.  Stargate was a welcome refuge from that and sadly, that refuge is now lost.  Comparing this two part premiere with Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis makes Stargate: Universe look even worse.  There were engaging characters and villains introduced in each, with a real sense of wonder present.

Much has been made online about the sex scene early in the first episode and yes folks, Stargate is no longer family friendly. It was another thing that made one of the main characters unlikeable.  All I can think is that there had to be network pressure involved in this, because of the past history of the pilot for SG1.

Back in 1997, it debuted on Showtime and the producers were made to have a full frontal nudity shot of an actress that went on at some length.  The producers were upset as they had a goal of Stargate being a family friendly series that would be syndicated on broadcast TV.  After the pilot, they got their way and earlier this year released to DVD a re-edited version sans the nudity (plus some other questionable things) as Stargate: Children of the Gods.  It is hard to reconcile this attitude with the new show.

Bleh. This dismal entry into the Stargate mythos is another example of how the word 'adult' has lost its meaning, or more accurately, has had it twisted.  Instead of a word describing maturity and responsibility, it is used in place of other, more appropriate words: adolescent, sophomoric, and juvenile.  Sex, explicit violence, nihilism, and characters with selfish motivations are all attractive to the young and rebellious. Our culture is doing its best to extend childhood with the result being a perpetually adolescent populace.  Sadly, 'adult' was co-opted by the pornography business years ago and now the slide is complete in the rest of the entertainment biz.

So the new 'adult' Stargate is a huge disappointment and I think a name change is needed for accuracy.  I now dub it BattleStarGatica.


Monday, October 05, 2009

A Community Effort: The Yucatan Sign

In the coming harsh economic times (we haven't seen anything yet), people will have to start pulling together to make it.  Divided we fall is a true principle and this urge to scatter apart will not serve us well in trying times.  Because of growing difficulties in our little part of Houston County, there has been a conscious effort by those of us on this end of our road to start doing things to help each other.  So we've been exchanging home grown foods and the like, something that used to be common place in rural culture.  It is a good thing that has been lost in our profligate era of debt and materialism over the past few decades.

So what started this local change of behavior?  It started with a sign.

In the early 1990's, the local Yucatan Supper Club shut down and took their sign down.  That sign had been used as a way point by UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services for ages.  Some of us got together, led by my late mother to put up a sign on the corner of the crossroads as a replacement.  It was a simple design, with the added bonus of a flower box at the bottom. 

Over the years, it served us well, but age and weather caught up to it.  In recent years, all the stain had worn from it, with the wooden letters blending into the boards and beginning to fall apart.  We often talked about repainting it, but never got around to it.

A deck project changed that, with leftover stain inspiring two of our neighbors to get moving on the long talked about restoration.  The sign was dismantled, new letters purchased, flowers planted, and leftover paint used to do most of the painting.  Donations and labor were contributed by Mern Flatten, Randy Roland, the Rykhus family, my dad and me.  On August 24th, we bolted the sign back up:

Bank Failures Coming Closer to Home

Houston County, we have a problem.

Yesterday, this article jumped out of the headlines, as Spring Grove is a town I spent a good chunk of my school years in or around.  Jennings State Bank was the 95th bank to fail in the United States in 2009 and the first local one. It may not be the last.  The FDIC has warned Security State Bank of Lewiston to correct their lending practices and their Hokah branch is in Houston County.  Until recently, Houston County had been unaffected, not a surprise for a small county.  It is a temptation to say we are too small to fail, but realistically that is not the case.

It is clear we are not done with bank failures, whether they be local or national. Today brought another round of gloomy news, with a report from the special inspector general appointed to look into the banking stress tests conducted a year ago.  The biggest banks were said to be financially sound when Treasury Secretary Paulson knew otherwise.  To wit, he lied about it. Citigroup and Bank of America are singled out in the article, but there have been rumblings that Wells Fargo is not in good shape as well. Apparently, the "too big to fail" argument won out over honesty with Bernanke and Paulson.

None of this inspires confidence at any level.  When cover ups begin, they are usually due to one of two things: the desire to protect oneself from trouble or blame and the other being paralyzed fear of large consequences too horrific to contemplate.  My suspicion is that the latter is the case. In the end, no amount of running from reality will make bad things go away.

Time to prepare for reality on an individual basis, as the current crop of politicians and bureaucrats have no desire to face it.


Looks like the national level isn't as big as it gets, the question now being posed is whether the World Bank is going to fail.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Around the Web in 180 Minutes

Okay, it depends on how fast a reader you are, but the following links should keep a person busy for awhile.  My room finally has a ceiling again which needs "mudding" and a few gaps filled yet.  One day I'll get to sleep in my bed again...

Unbalanced Balance

Lately I've been seeing PC's infected by trojans posing as anti-virus software that traces back to the Russian mob.  That caused my antennae to go up and so I found the latest trojan very interesting as it does more than stealing passwords or extorting money to regain control of the computer.  They've finally made one that can intercept and steal money from online banking sessions.  At this rate nothing will be secure on the Net.

Ruining the Hacker's Picnic

Then again, maybe ants are the solution. At least for corporate networks there is a new technology being explored that may counter trojans and other malware faster. Unless this is used by ISP's I don't think it will be of much benefit for home users.  Still it is a fascinating idea and I look forward to hearing more about it.

Need More Sun Cosmic Rayscreen

With the sun being shy of late, refusing to warm the Earth as much and generally not putting out solar flares, another problem has arisen.  Now we are being exposed to increased amounts of cosmic rays.  I wonder which of the Fantastic Four's powers I'll get.  If it is a new ice age coming, I'll hope for the Human Torch's abilities.

So How's That AK-47 vs. M-16 Rivalry going?

Political interference kill business success from what I've seen and no nation is more politically corrupt than Russia.  The AK-47 is one of the most popular weapons of the modern age due to its simplistic ruggedness and reliability.  However, not even that toughness can withstand the corrosive politics in Russia. I'd still prefer to have an AR-15 variant than the Kalashnikov, but it is amazing how far things have fallen over there.  At least the knockoffs of the M-16/AR-15 are superior to the original and it is still being made.

We Aren't Out of the Recession

It is getting to be a weary task to type about all the things going wrong with the economy and Obama's Administration.  There is simply too much material and it is too easy to do, which makes for a depressing exercise. As a result, I'll be posting more about other things.  But one point has to be made and that is the dishonesty about there being an economic recovery right now.  It simply is not happening and there are no concrete signs of it happening soon. Unemployment is still rising, now at 9.8% but closer to double that if you count those who've given up on finding work or taking part time jobs.  Manufacturing is down, durable goods orders are down, credit card and loan defaults are up, and the 95th bank failed for the year.

But the biggest indicator to me that things are going to get worse is the problems charities are facing.  When they are having to assist their own workers, things are dire.  We'll be seeing soup kitchens and tent cities in the future.  I pity the young, for they most likely will never know the standard of living we've had since the 1950's.