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Fracking – the hydraulic fracturing of the deep earth and its cousin, horizontal drilling – is the new buzz word in energy today. It has been spread by journalists and correspondents and NGOs to the general public. What is this strange word's impact on our own lives?

A simple, four stage answer would include: 

  • jobs
  • energy
  • imports
  • environment


VENTURA September 30, 2015 — Safe Harbor Publications has been selected for the 2015 Best of Ventura Award in the Book Publishers category by the Ventura Award Program.

Each year, the Ventura Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Ventura area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Ventura Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Ventura Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Ventura Award Program

The Ventura Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Ventura area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Ventura Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.




Bread and circus. In ancient Rome, the masses of workers and slaves were entertained by the circuses. These were far removed from our circus of trained animals and humans, of clowns in tiny cars.

Gladiators fought in bloody combat. Animals fought one another and gladiators. Activists were chained while beasts attacked, killed and ate them. Rape was a favorite for the crowds, as was crucifixion. The shows were free for all, as was the food. Bread was tossed into the stands, to the cheers of the crowds.

Bread and circus. Distractions to entertain. Careers were built upon the Coliseum of Rome and the smaller fixtures in the far flung cities of the Empire. From gladiators to emperors, making the Game became a fixation for all. The substitution of entertainment for reality was well engineered. The entire Coliseum could be flooded for imitation sea battles. Herds of animals were constantly brought in to feed the masses food and phantasmagoria.

Is there any difference between these shows and today’s media coliseums? Combative words and games continue. The absence of blood is proof of distraction. Games are more formalized. Victims are sometimes falsely bloodied – and sometimes truly injured. The crowds roar.

Hunting has become gaming which has become sporting. The hunt moves from the battlefield to the coliseum to the arena. We are instilled with the lust for blood. We are animals cloaked in thin veils of humanity. I have seen a stoning in Saudi Arabia. Unlike Jesus’ parable, those without guilt – and with it – fought for the stones brought in by the ton with bulldozers. Children guarded piles for their glaring parents. Women sat on carpets distilling tea, awaiting the main event. When it was over, the victim, a woman, was buried beneath a crush of thrown rock.

We are distracted by the bread and circus of power, politics, religion and media. We cheer and grown for each combatant. Left and right are framed. The framing is a cage. The distinction forces combat. Where we once had compromise, we now have combat. It is encouraged. Bread and circus.

The first rule of power is distraction. Fool the powerless with tales of heroes. Show them feats of strength. Urge the battle in the stands. This distraction is their source of power. Exploit it to make millions, rule millions. Repeat as needed. Gold is extracted from lead. Quite easy, once you get the game.

You are today distracted by a religious leader being paraded before the crowds as an apostle – of peace, of justice, of earthy stewardship. He is simply the condemned riding to his death in the arena. He reenacts his God’s journey. He has no idea what is to come. He is the hero, about to die for the masses. ‘We who are about to die salute you’. At least the gladiators had a battle cry. He simply urges equality for the earth…

Is there any hope? Earthlings go about their business of buying and dying, of propagating and promulgating, of taxing and texting. Circuses come and go. Heroes die every day. Power moves inexorably to politicians and panderers.  Grifters abound in a world of graft. Power does not corrupt, it encourages more power.

The second rule of the powerful is growth. Once an organism is able to reproduce, it will continue to do so until genetically destroyed. Viruses and rocks do not reproduce. Cancers do. Government bodies do. The administration of legislation through regulation is the cancer of the powerful. “The only thing we have that comes close to eternal life is a government body.” Look it up if you don’t know the source of this quote. These bodies rarely fail. Success depends upon continuity. Powerful interests ensure this flow. Money flows down the pipeline from ‘the commons’ of taxation.

The tragedy of the commons: if no one owns a common area, all use it without regard. Think of global fisheries. No one owns the oceans, so all extract and exploit them – to the last fish. (Of all the environmental nonsense we are subject to, this one has a significant degree of truth.) Taxes are a commons. No one ‘owns’ taxes. Demand for more can always and easily be imagined. Draw more from the pot please.

Money flows like water cascading down a waterfall. A stream becomes a river. The river dumps into the sea. The powerful enjoy their yachts upon this sea of infinite wealth. Many complain today that we are among the least taxed on Earth. There is so much to do! Tax and spend.

The distractions continue. Entertain the masses of your choice with the circus of media/Congressional/Judicial investigations. Justice no longer holds the scales – she is in the scale. She is for sale to any bidder. The scarlet letter is for Adjudication. The third rule of power is ‘the law’. You always make the rules of the game. Change them as necessary. Attack any who fight against any rule. Mercilessly destroy any who question your right to write. The pen enables the sword. Neither has any power unto itself. That is the distraction. Power flows to the hand that holds.

Our Revolutionary War Masons have become Perry Mason. Their caricature is their demise. The Magna Charta has devolved into a mere Magnum Opus. By taking power from the king, you give the new kings more power. Fool me once, bad on you; fool me twice, bad on me. The masons now help the poor in their midst – their own poor who must give all they have upon death to be cared for while awaiting the flames. Poverty is visited upon the less worthy.

The fourth rule is of the heart. Exploit the saddened masses with saddles of guilt. Overload their asses with gelded gold. A tear in time saves nine – nine times the energy wasted upon their worthless asses. Crush humanity with oppression, then extract their last dime for poverty causes. Guilt replaces gelt. They are assuaged with your indulgences. They will now even pay you for a flight to heaven or to London. Now that Carbon is Evil, you charge them just so they can pass the gas  on – to others. It is the rosary infliction today. What a brilliant concept – tax carbon dioxide. The Satanic Gas is the basis for all life forms on Earth. Tax it! Devil take it!

Whether you are the Great Satan, a Great Power or the Great Poomba, as long as you follow these four rules, you win. Heart. Law. Growth. Distract. Einstein had the right idea, he simply worked the wrong crowd. Nice Princeton gig. Relativity for the masses. There are but four aspects, four powers, four forms of energy. Earth. Air. Fire. Water.

“I’ll have grounds

More relative than this – the play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

A play is upon us. Every few decades, the masses rise up in devilry and arms against their oppressors. Change is fomented. “The center has come undone”. People express dissatisfaction with leaders. New leaders arise. Extremism becomes powerful. Many sense injustice. Hollow reforms are shouted down. ‘Measures must be taken!’

When these ‘irruptions of the assent’ soil clothing, changes are in order. We suddenly realize the emperor has no clothes. As these changes disturb the fabric of our world, we become unsettled. Passions arise. Voices of heretics become fashionable. Blood flows in the streets. Bonfires of the Vanities are set. ‘All are punished’.

Our young offended princes are now engaged in a play. Perhaps they will catch the conscience of the king. Perhaps death and poison are in store. Certainly Fortinbras will enter, stage left, to settle the story and the audience. Pen’s powerful sword.

These circuses continue. Today we play at war in word arenas. We sulk and thrust, insult and engage ghosts, lovers and mothers. We are less certain than ever, playing fearlessly in our screened Games of Thrones, hiding fearfully in the real world of runes. Revolution is in the air! Le plus ca change, le plus c’est le meme chose. You say you want a revolution? You gotta pay me for the show, ya cheeky buggar!

Let The Games begin!


Convergence. Two galaxies meet in the depths of the infinite. They share gases, matter, energy. Sometimes they pass by. Sometimes one is subsumed into the other. The coincidence is anything but serendipitous.

Power. Politics. Ideology. Beliefs. We are hearing these words this week as a religious leader meets political leaders on his way to a Family Celebration. Despite his protestations, he is subsumed by the politicians deftly, with nary a ruffle of his cloak. He doesn’t seem to know or care. The hustle is on.

Galaxies collide, just as continents collide. Time lines differ by orders of magnitude from our meager lives, yet the processes are similar across the time voids. Matter and energy are transferred. Dominance prevails.

Humanity appears to be in turmoil. Vast gulfs divide opinionated peoples – by religion, politics, culture and wealth. We are easily distracted by the lead story, ignoring the back story.

We are in the throes of change today. Politicians, religious leaders, ideologies and grifters abound.  The myth of the rational (voter, optimist, economist) is a distraction. We are visceral animals. Response is fight or flight, greed or fear, attraction or distraction. We may have lost our blood edge from the savannas of 2 million years ago but we remain bloody patrons of the game.

I have just finished “H Is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald. A soft spoken woman falconer weaves three stories into a marvelous tale: the death of her father, the hawking story of British author J. A. Baker (A Once and Future King) and her training of a goshawk, Mabel. While the story is interesting and well told, the intimacy between her and Mabel is fascinating. Helen finally lets Mabel hunt freely, scrambling through fields and scrub to track her and her kills. Rather than take the kill from the goshawk as it common practice, Helen watches like a mother, pulling hair from a recent kill, feeling the pulse die, tasting the blood. She allows Mabel her freedom to be what she is – a bloodthirsty killer of rapacious skill, genetically modified over millennia to near perfection. In so doing, she participates in the intimacy of death.

Helen becomes the primitive killer of our near ancient ancestors, if but once removed from the kill. In our removed world of media impressions, we still need blood under our nails. Vicariously we enjoy the current battles on our screens. Gladiators we are not, but we do enjoy having bread tossed to us in the viewing arenas. Blood and lust are our passions, distilled to a drained expression of wordy combat.

Yes, we are exploited. The masses are non-rational. We can occasionally make good decisions. Rarely, we make wise decisions. The exploitation has the cover of politics, of belief, of salvation, of righteousness. Yet these are simply the cover story. They are distractions, the primary tool of every magician.

Passions are aroused over persona, ideas, distinctions, simple words. The passion is the distraction. It fools us. We ignore the man behind the screed. Fool me once, bad on you. Fool me twice, bad on me. We are constantly fooled by a myriad of noise. The cacophony of silence is where we should be tuned.

This silence is where the story begins. The curtain of silence, once lifted, reveals the beating heart of the victim. Once you taste the blood (as if for the first time) you relearn your place. You are the hunter, not the pastoralist. Life is always ‘short, brutish and dark’. Your task is survival. Survival is about the species, never the individual. Heroes always die. Whether in sacrifice or surplice, ‘we who about to die salute you’. 

The powerful, the politician, the mediatrician, the firm believer  – each understands their first role is distraction. They distract with words, images, graphs, stories to pull at your heart. Each seeks more influence, money and power. You pay them to distract you. You earn their derision.

Give yourself permission to step outside. Go for a walk. Be distracted by a bird’s flight, a cloud’s covering, a forest’s hush. This silence holds far more for you. Listen.

Don’t let the bastards get to you!

To be continued…


          Much ink has been spilled of late on the question of the Chinese stock market, her economy and the effects these may have upon your portfolios.

Let review the facts and leave the fear to the mongers. Many thanks to this week’s Economist for their lead article, ‘China and the World Economy’.


                    Positives Aspects


          The US exports less than 1% of GDP to China. Exports are driven by demand. If Chinese demand for US products dries up, the US impact will be nominal.

          Chinese GDP grow has slowed from 8% to 4%. If we discount their rather dubious figures by 50%, they have a growth rate of 2% (down from 4%): in line with US growth.

          Chinese stock markets are less than 30% of their economy. They are widely known as legalized casinos. Fundamental analysis has no value.

Fewer than 20% of Chinese participate in this ‘punters game’. Those who do borrow heavily to make bets and walk away. This debt is less than 1% of countrywide debt.

Real estate is far more important to the Chinese economy and psyche. While it too is a punters arena, less debt is used or available. Residential remains positive.

Banks have been told to hold lower reserves, at 18%, vs. US banks at 6%.

Massive capital reserves remain on banks and government ledgers. These are available as economic buffers or currency plays (never a wise choice).

The government remains in surplus – unheard of in these United States of Debt…


          Negative Aspects


Government debt remains high at 250% of GDP. Compare this to the US at 90% of GDP. Chinese debt has doubled since ’08. US debt has quadrupled.

Furtive attempts to curtail the stock market have failed. Currency exchange ‘adjustments’ have failed. Speculation remains rife in their stock market.

The Party controls as much as it can – sometimes effectively, oftentimes ad hoc, stumbling from one crisis to the next.

They think they know more than they do. Sound familiar? Pride falls the hero every time.

While the home of capitalism, the Chinese are still ‘remembering’ the rules of the capitalist game. They disagree with much and offer a ‘third way’.

While this way worked well in Singapore, it has yet to be applied effectively in the larger realm of The Middle Kingdom.

Xenophobic or racist, the Chinese have a view towards others that is domineering and demanding. They are not shy of reminding us all that theirs is the oldest civilization.

Private capital flight has increased, moving offshore to the ‘near China sphere’.

Commodity consumption is falling. The economy is transitioning from an export nation to a consumer nation.

Chinese production is shifting, as a result. This will take a decade or more. Her population is both ageing and stabilizing. Demands are shifting to the youth and the aged.

Construction demand has slowed at most levels. ‘Empty cities’ must be filled as older ones are refurbished and renewed.

China consumes 50% of global aluminum, nickel and steel production and 30% of cotton and rice. As it becomes a producer of these materials, it imports less.

Export nations – Germany, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico – are suffering the consequences. Korea, Singapore and Taiwan suffer less.

The Asian 1997 crisis comes to mind. But today, these nations have no currency flight issues as they are no longer pegged to the USD. They are more elastic.

Global trade has declined as a result of reduced Chinese raw materials demand. This impacts export nations more than import nations (USA).


There is no final answer here. The fear of a domino effect are potentially realistic. If China falls into recession or depression, the global economy may follow suit. As global demand dries up, other nations’ economies shrivel. Europe and the US have no ‘capital elasticity’. Each can raise interest rates as their economies do better; neither can reduce rates lower than 0%. Or can they…


Currencies may collapse as faith disintegrates in the Euro and the USD.


Fascist political choices are cropping up in Spain, Greece, England, Russia, the Middle East and, worst of all, in the US. If these ner-do-wells become leaders, rational behavior is replaced by ideological idiocy. Hatreds easily become war.


Of course, the planet will eventually freeze over in the next Ice Age, too. The seas may rise with temperatures over a thousand years, too. The hidden mufti may appear. The Frog God will swallow the moon (Aboriginal). The great cycle of life and death will consume all.


You have to choose your enemies well. There is a low likelihood of dominos, despots or deluge. While interesting dinner talk, the real world involves more prosaic challenges and opportunities. As I write this, the Dow has dropped by 350+ points. This brings it back to October of 2014. I recall the worry then of slow growth, declining demand and diminishing investment opportunities. I said ‘so what?’ then and repeat it today.


Having been a willing professional participant in the investment world for 30+ years, I can be calloused regarding daily events. We have seen this more than a dozen times in my tenure. As an investor for 20 years prior to 1985, I have even more boring experiences. Yes, wealth can be wiped out. This happens when debt overpowers, not when stock markets gyrate. Want to worry? Worry about excessive governmental debt around the globe. This keeps me up at 4 am…


Events in China indirectly effect our portfolios in the short term. Debt and taxes hurt us all far more deeply. Power plays by Game of Thrones politicians are fearful and can be hurtful. The dynamic of demand and consume will drive economies, despite the sturm und drang of regulations and revisionists.


Over the Labor Day weekend I am reading: Why Information Grows: by Cesar Hidalgo, a Chilean professor at MIT. He offers a refreshing, if complex, answer to the question, ‘Why does the evolution of ideas, life and planets differ from the expected? Physics says that decay is the norm. yet this is clearly false. Why?


I’ll let you know!


Eat wisely.

Sleep well.

Love with abandon!


As we begin the pre-season scrimmages for laudator-in-chief (one whom we praise), jerseys, cleats, marriages and new running backs are all the rage. We discuss current team standings and possible super bowl matchups. The bookies run spread. The first pre-season games have begun with much attendance: 24M ain’t a bad crowd for the Mad Men in The City.

            Where you are born, whose you’ mamma, how you use your cell, where God fits into your world, how you managed a state or firm, how much millennials learn and earn and what you think of flags and foreigners: these are the burning issues of today. Cold or hot, it’s always about the weather. Who’s on first?

 Meanwhile, Rome burns while the fiddlers tune up their woodies.

The absolutely critical issues of today are economic:

            We are in the 7th year of an economic recovery that begs forgiveness. It is paltry, poor and penurious.

Fewer workers today have full time jobs, more have part time – at best.

            Well paid, skilled jobs go unfilled, while a few unskilled workers receive a mandated, absurd wage.

            Housing sales have only now clawed back to 2007 levels. Fewer qualify for smaller homes with higher costs. Renting or sharing is more affordable.

            Declining energy prices, while prompting a fine summer driving season, should be encouraging consumer sales. Nothing of the sort is happening.

            Deflation scares are ruminated upon by old bulls in the field. Young bulls couldn’t describe inflation or its opposite.

            Most important: debt is booming while equity languishes. Government balance sheets (a real misnomer) are awash in red. Energy companies have $2T+ in debt.

            Debt markets are four times the size of stock markets.

            While gross income for both govvies and energy companies are up, they cannot service the carry, revealing massive sink holes in net income. Where’s the net?

            Regionally, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, China and Russia are flat out broke. Fiscal stimuli and foolish ideologies have broken the banks.

            I suggest worrying less about stock markets, more about bond markets. Current hair styles fade in comparison to currency piles.

            Dependencies are being built into the social fabric. Boomers and millennial have their hands out.  Billionaires and unions are on the take. Education tweaks its Latin meaning: lead from ignorance becomes  lead to. Taxes become The Great Equalizer. Trust those who know, go about your business, nothing happening here, nothing at all. Hate your neighbor as you hate yourself.

            All is not well in Bedlam or Gotham. We await Superman. We shall reap what we sow. Folks, the economy has to undergo significant change – in expectations, taxations and regulations. Within a generation the debts of our fathers will be visited upon their children. No one will save them from their folly, or ours.

            Listen to those who encourage self-worth, the entrepreneurial spirit and fewer regulatory bombasts. Ignore the bromide crowd. They are sharing their dyspepsia. We share a responsibility as citizens to make informed decisions. We the people. We the people does not mean those in government…



The original 1960s British TV show by this name –quickly named TW3 – was produced by David Frost. They would spoof the news, the media and themselves. In the US, the first (and only) season had Gene Hackman, Jack Paar, Henry Fonda and Allan Alda. The put on was satirical and timely. Would that we had such a show today. SNL hardly compares.

            Our news has been of strum und drang. Not that this has changed very much… The stock market has had a loss for the year. China has devalued its currency in a desperate bid to ward off recession once again (remember 2008’s billions in make work projects?). Russia toys with its neighbors like Kremlin dolls. The Middle East is, well it is less the Middle but it remains the East, certainly. Oil prices have dropped again last month, after a sustained rally following the Thanksgiving downward spike. Election season has begun – far too soon for some, just in time for many. In the absence of meaningful sports, the Potomac patter has replaced Deflation gate. Egomaniacal leaders insist upon their all seeing vision while even more maniacal leaders-in-waiting drag their egos before the cameras to spout meaningless refuse.

            What is one to do? Worry resounds around us in all directions. Fires burn heartless hearts. Want depraves the guilty and drives the guileless. Sometimes you just want to bury your head in a book! ‘Make the World Go Away’.


            Change is difficult. We want to be steady. We want normal, new or old. When things change, we worry. What will happen to me? Can we survive? What ever shall we do?


            Yet change is normal. As the French say, ‘le plus c’est change, le plus c’est le meme chose’. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Perhaps there is some cultural comfort here. The beauty of French culture, language, society, politics is  acceptance. We were once on the streets of Paris and confronted with a massive protest march. The participants carried flags and sang songs – while enjoying a spring day, ‘une sandwich’ and each other’s companionship. The cause was important, but so was the day off from work…ennui replaced anger. We could learn something here.

            We compare our live to the past. Wasn’t life simpler, easier, quieter, less costly then? Well, actually it wasn’t. Think back to your childhood. Compare a day then to a day in your grandchild’s life today. You played in the street with a stick and a ball; you ran home to supper when mother called. You may have watched TV an hour a week, if permitted and if your folks had one. You wore your sister’s hand-me-downs. You had a job at 10 as a paperboy or a babysitter – and gave all the money to your father. The food you ate was either from your backyard or from a can. Your folks earned barely enough to support you. You used a slide rule. You rode a bike – or walked – to school. When you got out of high school, you got a job, got married and had children. Of course, your folks had it much harder: they were children of the Depression or were first generation immigrants. They collected tin and paper during The War. They knew hunger first hand. Want to go back further? Live expectancy for your grandparents was less than 40 years, for their parents it was 30 years.

            Give yourself a break! We live in the best of all times. We are giving our children and grandchildren far more than we could have considered possible. Food is cheap and healthy. The air and water is cleaner than it has ever been in human history. Health and medicine are easily and readily available across our nation – for a pittance. We live longer, healthier, happier, wealthier lives than our parents or grandparents could imagine. 98% of US citizens deemed living in poverty today own at least one TV and a car. 45% own their own home. Economic migration continues. 57% of those who live in poverty move upwards (60% of those who are in the richest docile move downward). All are eligible for food stamps, free healthcare and cash support. Immigrants continue to come to the US for the same reasons own ancestors came here: opportunity. Less than 1,000 people each year renounce their US citizenship. No one really knows how many come to the US for citizenship – millions each decade to be sure.

            Your family is the center of your life. Your community and church are the core of your family. Your city and state provide you with roads and education in exchange for a nominal tax. The nation remains the economic, cultural and social Middle Kingdom of humanity, despite Chinese claims to the contrary. Yes, there are many dangers. They pale in significance to the dangers of WW1 or WW2 or the Depression or the Soviet Union. Yes, we have enemies – we also have friends. Knowledge, as fostered by universal education, allows each of us to strive towards ‘live liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. We are not assured of the success of our pursuit. Some pursue and achieve far better than others. So be it.

            The media seems to grasp for stories each summer. A lion in Africa becomes more important than achievements in medicine. Grouchy old men – and women – disturb others with their testosterone problems. Talking heads reveal a complete absence of substance. The banks of the Potomac are covered with the litter of protestors and politicians. Ignore as much as you can. Listen to the story not told. Pay attention to those around you. They will be gone soon…

  Eat wisely.

 Sleep well.

Love with abandon.


2015 Stella Awards

In case you don’t think America is just a wonderful place that rewards, via the courts and a jury of their peers. People even for their stupidity, read below…worth the effort.

 For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald’s in New Mexico, where she purchased coffee.  You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

That’s right;  these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S. You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head.  So keep your head scratcher handy.

Here are the Stella’s for 2015

* SEVENTH PLACE * Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store.  The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own.

Start scratching!

* SIXTH PLACE * Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a  Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.

Scratch some more…

* FIFTH PLACE * Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage.  Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open.  Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight, count ‘em, EIGHT, days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish.  Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.  We should all have this kind of anguish.

Keep scratching. There are more…Double hand scratching after this one.

* FOURTH PLACE * Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella’s when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.

Pick a new spot to scratch, you’re getting a bald spot..

* THIRD PLACE * Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone.  The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

Only two more so ease up on the scratching…

*SECOND PLACE* Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000…oh, yeah, plus dental expenses.

Go figure. Ok. Here we go!!

* FIRST PLACE *  Absolutely brilliant! This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner is: Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased  new 32-foot Winnebago motor home.  On her first trip home from an OU football game, having driven onto the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned.  Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The  Oklahoma  jury awarded her, ARE YOU SITTING DOWN, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home.

Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.

If you think the USA court system is out of control, be sure to  pass this one on.


If the aim was to choke the US shale industry, the Saudis have misjudged badly, just as they misjudged the growing shale threat at every stage for eight years. “It is becoming apparent that non-OPEC producers are not as responsive to low oil prices as had been thought, at least in the short-run,” said the Saudi central bank in its latest stability report.

“The main impact has been to cut back on developmental drilling of new oil wells, rather than slowing the flow of oil from existing wells. This requires more patience,” it said.

One Saudi expert was blunter. “The policy hasn’t worked and it will never work,” he said.

By causing the oil price to crash, the Saudis and their Gulf allies have certainly killed off prospects for a raft of high-cost ventures in the Russian Arctic, the Gulf of Mexico, the deep waters of the mid-Atlantic, and the Canadian tar sands.

Consultants Wood Mackenzie say the major oil and gas companies have shelved 46 large projects, deferring $200bn of investments.

The problem for the Saudis is that US shale frackers are not high-cost.

As discussed in December, this is not a fight between the US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It IS a fight between KSA and Iran.

Everyone in the Middle East will lose: they will lose market share, capital, investment and self-esteem. Do they care? Probably not: this is an Islamic dog fight to the death. Sunni vs. Shiite, and very narrow branches of each dying tree: Wahabbi vs. Uluist. The outcome may be catastrophic or cathartic or simply a whimper in the dark.

Meanwhile, we will pay less at the pump and at the light switch, despite the EPA.


Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn’t you say?


Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter   This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this.

It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.


I just couldn’t help but send this along. Too funny.   Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says   R eally? Ya think?


Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers  Now that’s taking things a bit far!


Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over  What a guy!


Miners Refuse to Work after Death   G


Good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s! They must be UNION !


Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant   See if that works any better than a fair trial!


War Dims Hope for Peace   I can see where it might have that effect!


If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile   Ya think?!


Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures   Who would have thought!


Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain;   Police   Suspect Homicide   They may be on to something!


Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges   You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?


Man Struck By Lightning:   Faces Battery Charge He probably IS the battery charge!


New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger   Test Group   Weren’t they fat enough?!


Kids Make Nutritious Snacks   Do they taste like chicken?


            Sorry ‘bout the failure to fail – it ain’t happening. Expectations for the demise of humanity are greatly exaggerated. The destruction of Mother Gaia has yet to be brought about through mankind’s abusive exploitation. Despite our every attempt to exterminate homo sapiens as a species, we remain.

            Why this constant failure to fail? Where have all the scary monsters gone – there is only so much room under the bed!

            The human population has stabilized across much of the planet: Europe, Asia, the Americas (exception, USA). Only northern Africa and the Middle East continue to grow significantly. While predictions are a cult unto themselves, the global human population may cease to expand within a generation. Its growth rate has declined precipitously. The general statement (much overused) of a married couple with 2.1 children being the ‘point of perfect replication’ is becoming the norm. The figures for Japan, Europe and Russia are well below this: 1.4 – 1.8, while China is at 2.0. As people die, fewer are being replaced by newborns. Simplistic, yes, but valid.

            Natural resources have yet to approach the point of exhaustion – far from it. We extract more from our Earth than ever while discovering more. Pricing mechanisms – supply and demand and efficiencies of design and use – turn the tide away from exhaustion to excess. Crude oil production is at 88M bbls/day and the price has collapsed as new supplies acquired at lower cost flood the market. Re-cycling has reduced demand for a myriad of basic materials. Better automotive technology means we drive more miles, exhaust less as ownership costs decline.

            The horrors of biotech – epitomized by GMO – are really our very best friends. ‘Food is more abundant today than ever before in history’, according to Ronald Bailey, author of The End of Doom. Global food production has more than tripled over the past 50 years, while the population has simply doubled. The newest edition of efficient food production is far more significant. It allows the introduction of Vitamin A to remove rickets from the global population, along with childhood blindness. GMO rice and grains use far less fertilizer and water with a concomitant increase in acreage productivity.

            The Green Revolution of Norm Borlaug exemplifies these trends. Biotech enabled by more efficient exploitation of natural resources has allowed humanity to grow – and do so more peacefully and healthier and wealthier.

            The Big Bad Wolf – whose name constantly changes from global cooling to global warming to climate change – is nowhere to be found. 24 years of steady to slightly declining global temperatures since the last great volcanism, Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, are directly associated with a 30% increase in atmospheric CO2. Where’s the beef? ‘Climatologists’ look under the ocean and under the bed, to no avail. The science is settled: it is not science but religion.

            Oddly enough, as food and health availability improve, education and human rights often follow suit. A wealth increase from starvation ($2/day) to subsistence ($4/day) makes a huge difference. Augment this with improved agricultural tools, power sourcing and basic medicine for pre-natal, infant and women’s health. Education becomes affordable and desirable. Stable home and house encourage savings. This can lead to inexpensive communications tools – cell phones -that empower farmers and merchants. Movement from the rural to the urban world ensues, as does closer ties and communication between citizens. This can lead to nascent capitalism (it can just as easily lead to nepotism in its thousand forms). Environmental awareness, known as conservation, becomes an acceptable norm as wealth grows. Family size is reduced, initially because fewer surviving workers are required; ultimately because young couples begin to factor in the cost of children to their world views.

            Fear is the only selling point for the pessimists. Facts simply refuse to support their way of life. Facts are dangerous because they tell the truth. Fear is far more dangerous because it manipulates the truth.

Each time you read or hear of a ‘well founded’ fear, ask yourself, ‘what are they not saying when they say this?’ Recall Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. His clue was the silent watchdog.

            Suggested reading:

                        The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

                        A World of Wealth by Thomas Donlan

                        Its Getting Better All the Time by Julian Simon

                        The End of Doom by Ronald Bailey


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