Monday, January 03, 2011

Themes for 2011

Here are the site's themes for 2011.

The new year is an appropriate time to re-state the purpose and themes of this site. We can each only read a narrow selection of the web, and I appreciate your readership. The central themes for 2011 include those which have animated the site since its inception in May 2005, and others have been sharpened by insights and critiques from readers in 2010.

1. To be early on major trends; to look out not six months but six years and beyond. As correspondent Walt Howard was kind enough to note some years ago, this site tends to address topics years before they hit the mainstream media.

This often leaves us (you and I both) feeling isolated, wanderers in a vast wilderness of propaganda, simulation and carefully engineered distraction.

On the other hand, it also offers some advance warning of potential investment opportunities. Just as we expected oil to skyrocket, we also expected a "head-fake" collapse back to the $40/barrel range. The "head-fake" patterns appears to be a fractal, repeating as credit expansion drives demand and bubbles popping collapse demand.

My thoughts are as much on 2014 and 2021 as they are on 2011.

2. To stray beyond the herd. Right now the herd is running in commodities and "don't fight the Fed" euphoria in stocks and other "risk trades." The unfortunate characteristic of a herd is only the few in front can see the cliff edge ahead, but by then the momentum of the herd behind them drives the entire mass over the cliff.

I confess to a contrarian nature. Herds make me nervous. That is why I called housing a bubble in mid-2004. The bubble expanded for another 2-3 years; being early requires great patience.

3. To look beyond the false precision of "modern economics" and finance.Mainstream economists missed every important trend of the past few years, and the false precision of their mathematical models is largely responsible for creating the illusion of certainty. is data-dependent on many topics, but the truly critical issues are rarely quantifiable or open to being insightfully mathematicized. For instance, mainstream economists are completely, totally, fatally clueless about why small business won't be creating jobs. The reasons cannot be divined with statistics; they are cultural. The U.S. now offers up a facade of welcoming entrepreneurism; the reality is small business is being ground down by central State-supported cartels and fiefdoms.

4. To continue a spiritual as well as an intellectual journey. Ideas matter, and so do ethics and spiritual insight. The ailments which are riddling the U.S. are not reducable to finance or data sets; the rot is much, much deeper than any understanding which lends itself to quantification.

The very fact that so few even recognize the depth of the nation's ethical and moral rot is a kind of proof of its profound reach: the culture of fraud, misrepresentation, entitlement and gaming the system is now the air we breathe, unnoticed and unremarked.

5. To seek large-scale (policy) and small-scale (individual/household) alternatives and solutions. While it may well be the equivalent of tilting at wndmills to propose policy solutions, the exercise is nonetheless useful, as it delineates how far the status quo is from dealing with reality.

On a more practical level, there are generally individual and household responses to the inter-connected crises we face. We are not helpless; we are what we do every day.

6. To remain steadfastly hopeful despite a hopelessly unsustainable status quo. I do not mean the fabricated silken simulacrum of "hope" generated for political gain, but a practical hope grounded in real-life, analog experience.

While the site is digital, the experiences presented are analog/real-world. It is self-evident to me that you cannot speak of "healthcare" without addressing nutrition, diet, marketing, cooking, fitness and mental health, and you cannot speak of diet and cooking without addressing soil and the nurturing of food.

You cannot speak of soil and the growing of food without addressing petroleum, and you cannot speak of petroleum without addressing Peak Oil or Plateau Oil and the aspirations of 2 billion more people for a lifestyle the planet is straining to maintain for a "mere" 1 billion now.

Nor can you speak of any of these without addressing the Power Elites which have concentrated financial and political power to an unprecedented degree, and the concentration of global media and corporate cartels.

Hope springs from speaking and writing the truth, as unwelcome as that might be.

7. To maintain an open, practical mind. I have yet to find a situation which was truly illuminated or resolved with an ideologically "pure" straitjacket. Ideological "solutions" always end up serving a specific set of Elites and fiefdoms.

"Doom and gloom" is as much a psychological trap as any other quasi-religious ideology. Those who cling too tightly to doom and gloom as the "only possible outcome" are as outraged by dissent as any Puritan.

Yes, the status quo, a financial and political structure which serves various Elites in a neo-colonial, neo-feudal system of exploiting the media-mesmerized masses, is doomed. But that is not the same as saying we are doomed. We may be doomed, but perhaps not.

Life was good in 1905 San Francisco, for example (not to mention Tang China circa 800 A.D. and Paris, France circa 1590) with very modest inputs of energy by today's standards. "Impossible" usually means a bloated, inefficient protected fiefdom is being threatened.

Monopoly and bureaucracy are two sides of the same coin: one is private, one is State, each feeds the other while they jointly exploit and stripmine the productive citizenry.

8. Solutions abound. Our job is to locate them, critique them, try them, not protect what is already imploding behind the curtain of political flummery and media happy-happy distortion.

I am excited about the work ahead and am delighted with your company--all 10-20,000 of you, The Mighty Remnant who will end up influencing the millions alongside us.

A suggestion from my longtime friend G.F.B. (40 years of friendship and counting) has finally solved a perplexing riddle for the site. I have long pondered what I can offer long-suffering subscribers and other supremely generous donors other than one of my books.

At G.F.B.'s suggestion, I will begin sending out an exclusive email of musings (and amusings) every week to subscribers and Heroes and Heroines of New Media. I do not promise coherence; that is the work of the daily weblog. The email will include tendrils of what I'm working on and thinking about in advance, links to work that strikes a chord and snippets of things which may yet prove insightful or useful in terms of maintaining purchasing power.

This week I am already overcommitted, so I plan to begin this next week.

I know who the site's longtime supporters are; if you've hit a rough patch and can't afford to contribute this year, email me and I will add you to the contributors mailing list as soon as I can manage to do so. There is no way to automate this so please be patient; this is a one-person shop and I am but one duct-taped-together, aging 57-year old who melts into zombie status after 12 hours of work a day--a limited amount of which is digital.

I will also add last year's Outrageously Generous and Massively Generous Supporters to the list.

Lastly, I promised subscribers a draft of Part One of my next book An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Trouble Times and that attachment will go out in January to subscribers ($5/month) and those who kick in $50 or more in 2011.

I considered making the critical amount $51.48, as that is 99 cents X 52 weeks, and calling it "two cents from 5150," but I'm not sure the confusion is worth the attempt at humor. (Google "involuntary psychiatric hold".)

Is the weekly email worth 99 cents? Probably not. One sliver of one email might end up being worth $100,000 to a prescient and patient reader, but maybe not. The idea is to offer up something of potential value and/or amusement to those who have chosen to financially support the site with cash they could have deployed or spent elsewhere.

As always, the site (and its thousands of archived pages) remains free to all readers.

Contributors from November and December 2010 will continue to be listed on the main site until March.

New recipes on What's for Dinner at Your House?--Elsewhere Cafe Muffins, and Louisa's Vegetarian Baked Beans

If you would like to post a comment, please go to

Order Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation or Survival+ The Primer from your local bookseller or from or in ebook and Kindle formats.A 20% discount is available from the publisher.

Of Two Minds is also available via Kindle: Of Two Minds blog-Kindle

Thank you, Tom S. ($50), for your astonishingly generous contributions to this site-- I am greatly honored by your continuing support and readership. Thank you, Andy S. ($50), for your exceedingly generous donation to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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