Monthly Archives: October 2014

Quote of the Day: 20141026

We can’t afford to have that money go to the private sector. The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better than the private sector will spend it.

– Hillary Clinton in the American Spectator

The Similarities Between Germany and China

By George Friedman

I returned last weekend from a monthlong trip to both East Asia and Europe. I discovered three things: First, the Europeans were obsessed with Germany and concerned about Russia. Second, the Asians were obsessed with China and concerned about Japan. Third, visiting seven countries from the Pacific to the Atlantic in 29 days brings you to a unique state of consciousness, in which the only color is gray and knowing the number of your hotel room in your current city, as opposed to the one two cities ago, is an achievement.

The world is not getting smaller. There is no direct flight from the United States to Singapore, and it took me 27 hours of elapsed travel to get there. There is a direct flight from Munich to Seoul, but since I started in Paris, that trip also took about 17 hours. Given how long Magellan took to circumnavigate the world, and the fact that he was killed in the Philippines, I have no basis for complaint. But the fact is that the speed of global travel has plateaued, as has the global economic system. There is a general sense of danger in Europe and Asia. There is no common understanding on what that danger is.

A Picture of the California Drought

Two themes that we identified early on as having the potential to affect the North American economy are the drought is the US Southwest and Pacific regions. Ebola we update via email since we have not bothered to write about it. It is progressing nicely with major economic dislocation in the West African countries most affected and a growing impact in the developed world. This is still in early stages.

The other story we are tracking is the drought in California (read Another Dry Essay). The following video clip by the New yorker provides a poignant glimpse into the lives of those on the front lines.

The US Drought Monitor for Oct. 16 shows no change from that shown in Another Dry Essay for Sept.

Update: 20150420

This essay attempts to document the human suffering associated with the California drought. An article today in Zero Hedge by Michael Snyder titled Another Reason To Move Away From California: “Conditions Are Like A Third-World Country”, touches on the impact of depleted groundwater supplies. Residents and farmers in the interior are having to drill down 1800′ for water. Many can’t afford this and will have to abandon their properties.

Update: 20150724

Pictures of depleted reservoirs: A Stunning Look At California’s Historic Drought – From The Air.

The Quest for Fusion Continues

Alternate forms of energy is a topic we are very interested in although we don’t publish on it. This came to us from a friend and we thought we would republish it.

October 15, 2014 | 2255 GMT


Fusion has long been touted as the panacea for the world’s energy woes. Scientists have sought to harness the same reaction that powers the stars in an effort to meet the world’s ever-growing global energy demands. Announcements of advances in the field are often met with excitement and grand plans for a greener planet, but scientists have a long way to go — and many obstacles to overcome — in creating fusion reactors for widespread use.

On Oct. 15, Tom McGuire, the head of a project at a secretive research division of Lockheed Martin Corp., announced that the company has made significant strides in recent years in developing a compact fusion reactor, and he touted the possibility of developing a useable, compact reactor within the next decade. Lockheed Martin is certainly no slouch when it comes to developing new technologies and bringing them to market. However, McGuire’s timeline is incredibly optimistic given the current state of the technology. Even if Lockheed Martin were to meet its goals, widespread incorporation could take several more years or even decades. That said, if or when the power of fusion is harnessed, it could shift the paradigms of the global energy system in manner similar to the advent of the modern oil industry in the mid-1800s.

Student Movements: A Subject of Human Geography

By Sim Tack

As student protests in Hong Kong continue, memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations naturally spring to mind. Less iconic but no less notable were the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which began as a student movement; the 2007 Venezuelan protests, which started with a group of students demanding constitutional reform; and the 1929 protests in Paris, which challenged the role of churches in education.

Of course, each student movement is unique; the one underway in Hong Kong concerns Hong Kong affairs, not widespread democratic reform in China proper. And yet all such movements share characteristics that transcend borders, making them an ideal phenomenon through which to study geopolitics.

Reducing Your Technology Costs

Over several months we have made significant changes and cost reductions in our electronic media costs. We have decided to outline our process here. It was not straightforward but the financial benefits are already being realized.

The Starting Scenario

We had been Rogers Cable customers for a couple of decades for TV and internet. We used Vonage for VOIP home phone service and had no physical connection to Bell Canada or its services. In following discussion, internet service speeds are listed in the format (download speed in mbs, upload speed in mbs, bandwidth or usage in GB). The Rogers charges were:

  • Internet: (30,5,70) for $61.99/mo.
  • TV: VIP package $74.98/mo.

At the time we left Rogers the best bundle pricing we could get was about to jump from $110/mo. to about $140/mo.The packages change regularly but the above are the least services that would provide us today with the level of service we had then (over a year ago). There was also a digital box rental of about $5/mo. For several years we were able to keep combined costs down to $110/mo. or less which was our critical limit, taxes included.

Since 2006 we have been Vonage customers for VOIP phone service. Our current service which includes 500 free minutes in North America per month has a cost of $33.89 with tax.

Tackling TV/Internet

Recognizing that most of the channels we were paying for we never watched and that the channels we did watch had increasingly uninteresting programming such as survivor shows, zombie and fantasy programming, reality TV. etc., we determined that occasional movies, a few series and news programing were all we wanted the TV for. In our area we can get 4 English channels, CBC, CTV, Global and TVO as digital broadcasts. This required a onetime purchase of an indoor, amplified digital antenna for about $100. Monthly cost is zero. We have a Netflix subscription for $7.99 CDN, tax included (soon to increase to $8.99). Netflix is streaming media which is high bandwidth requiring appropriate internet service levels.

A company, TekSavvy, out of Chatham Ontario was offering an internet package (15,10,300) for $39.99/mo. Purchase of a modem was required and there were some initial start-up fees. The problem was that we had physically removed Bell service from our house years before.

Bell had recently installed fibre to the curb which meant high-speed internet was now available from them via DSL technology. Prior to this we had been in a DSL dead spot. Although Rogers had somewhat comparable pricing to Bell, over the years we had found their service unreliable with annual down periods that extended to days. To use Bell service we planned to move to Bell for internet only, remain with them until reliable service was established and switch to TekSavvy. We contacted Bell and they offered us the TekSavvy service level at a comparable price so we remain with them.

We currently get (15/10/350) internet service from Bell for $56.44/mo. This reflects a recent $5 increase on the service opening up a possible future saving by moving to TekSavvy.

The next issue to solve was serving streaming media to our Sharp LED TV. Some TVs come internet ready but ours does not. We needed to purchase a streaming media device to serve programming and chose the Roku 2XS, now replaced by the Roku 3. We were lucky to find one from WalMart on-line for $79.99 plus tax. Controlled by a simple remote, this device allows you to create a personal “channel” selection of steaming media from the internet. We get our Netflix content from the Roku along with Crackle, a movie source, and a source for a number of streaming music programs. They recently added YouTube. The Roku remote is simple and uses an on-screen keyboard for interaction (you don’t want to do much via this remote). Build your YouTube playlists on your computer and stream them through the Roku to your TV.

Tackling the Phone

We recently experienced 2 Vonage outages that self-corrected eventually. With no live chat from Vonage and no phone service we could not contact them (except by a slow email process). That and the relatively high monthly charge for home phone finally drove us to research alternatives.

We selected a device from Ooma called the Telo that connects to the internet and allows a phone handset or base station to be plugged into it. Setup takes about 15 minutes, giving you a working phone line using VOIP technology for no monthly cost. The Canadian mslp seems to be $149.99 but we bought it at Best Buy for $129.99 plus tax.  It includes free unlimited Canada-wide calling. We however wanted free US calling also. They offer a “premier” service for $119.99 a year. The service comes with one free add-on. We selected the service of porting our existing phone number from Vonage to Ooma. We also got 3 months free and the first year at $99.99. We’re not sure how the taxes will enter into the pricing until we see a bill.

Of course all expenses mentioned can be paid through our credit card that offers a 1% cash back on purchases.

Over the years we had built a home phone network serving 6 jacks and having two handsets and a cordless base station attached to it. It plugged into the Vonage adapter and everything worked fine. When we plugged it into the Telo, nothing happened. Ooma’s technical literature and online information is abysmal. An email to support remains unanswered. About a day was spent cleaning up the home phone network and experimenting with different connection configurations. The cleanup involved eliminating unnecessary jacks and wiring, and identifying and tagging remaining circuits (a long overdue process).

Eventually we determined that one or two devices can be plugged directly into the Telo (using a dollar store splitter for two). We never got our home phone network to work with it. We suspect an impedance mismatch but that’s beyond front-line telephone support. We have subsequently ordered an additional device called a Linx. You sync it to the Telo and plug it into any wall plug in the house. Into this device you plug a remote handset, fax machine or whatever. The Linx uses DECT 6.0 wireless technology to connect to the Telo. We currently have a handset plugged into a fax modem on our primary computer that we will plug into the Linx.

We ordered the Linx from Walmart online and recieved it within 3 days. The setup was a breeze. Support may not be the greatest but the Telo and the Linx are very simple to install and the installation, once we adjusted for our anomalous home network, was wonderfully trouble free.

Adding It All Up

Below are setup and installation charges as they were incurred at very points in our current system installation as well as current monthly charges. Taxes are included.

Former monthly charges (estimate because the new Rogers charges were never established):

  • Rogers TV and internet: $135.00.
  • Vonage: $33.89.
  • Total: $168.89.

Equipment and setup as onetime upfront costs:

  • Bell installation and setup: $58.22.
  • Terk CFDTV1a digital TV antenna: $112.99
  • Roku 2XS streaming player: $90.38.
  • Ooma Telo: $148.58.
  • Ooma Linx: $56.31.
  • Total: $466.48

Ongoing monthly charges:

  • Bell (15/10/350) internet: $56.44/mo.
  • Netflix: $7.99/mo.
  • Ooma regulatory and 911 fees: $3.98.
  • Ooma premier phone service: $12.00. This figure assumes there will be currency conversion and taxes on the basic $10.00/mo. (US?) charge.
  • Total: $80.41.


A precise comparison is difficult because vendors like Rogers are constantly changing the structure and pricing of services and packages. Home phone services from Rogers and Bell are simply way overpriced. The internet service we now get from Bell is a more substantial service in terms of performance than we got from Rogers. In any case, we have cut our monthly costs for internet,phone ands electronic media content by more than half.

Even greater savings may be found but quality of service and support were questionable. We feel we have a technology solution that will suit our needs and budgets for a few years.

Some Sinister Logic in President Obama’s Anti-ISIS Manifesto

This essay by Paul titled Some Sinister Logic in President Obama’s Anti-ISIS Manifesto, ties togethercomments made by Obama that underlie the subservience of his thinking and his foreign policy We present this essay reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.

President Obama Rallies the Arab World Under the Banner of “Remembering Ferguson”

On September 25, President Obama delivered to the United Nations Security Council a speech designed to win united action against the several Islamic-terrorist armies that are presently tearing up the borders of Syria and Iraq and threatening to obliterate all the neighboring regimes.

The New York Times noted that, a few paragraphs into his speech,

as he has in previous speeches to this international audience, [Obama] acknowledged that the United States is wrestling with its own demons when it comes to racial and ethnic tensions. “In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe” [Obama said], I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Mo., where a young man was killed, and a community was divided,” he said.

What possible connection could there be between that incident in that small American city and the cause being pursued by the Islamic State? Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL/IS is only the most recent of an ever-ramifying thicket of Islamic-terrorist organizations, funded by the same rich Arabs who control the governments of the Middle East. Over recent weeks, IS has been stirring up the bloodlust inborn among Muslims everywhere with its promise to overthrow all the governments of the world for the sake of establishing the Umma, the global regime governed by the will of Allah. As for the Arab governments of the world, the crime for which IS says that they deserve to be overthrown and their heretic princes beheaded, is that they have gone soft on the duty that Muhammad bequeathed to all Muslims – to wipe the Jews, the sons of Pigs and Monkeys, as Muhammad called them, from the face of the earth. According to this “thinking”, the current obstacle to completion of this task is an anti-Islamic alliance led by the United States (an instrument of Satan) and the Jews.

Turkey, the Kurds and Iraq: The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk

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By Reva Bhalla

In June 1919, aboard an Allied warship en route to Paris, sat Damat Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vizier of a crumbling Ottoman Empire. The elderly statesman, donning an iconic red fez and boasting an impeccably groomed mustache, held in his hands a memorandum that he was to present to the Allied powers at the Quai d’Orsay. The negotiations on postwar reparations started five months earlier, but the Ottoman delegation was prepared to make the most of its tardy invitation to the talks. As he journeyed across the Mediterranean that summer toward the French shore, Damat Ferid mentally rehearsed the list of demands he would make to the Allied powers during his last-ditch effort to hold the empire together.

One Brit Speaks Out

Although we have not written about our thoughts on the outcome of the progressive (in all senses of the word) development of Islam in Canada the outcome we have imagined is pretty much limited to the opinion of Paul Weston expressed in the following video:


Asymmetrical Warfare

The term has come into popular parlance with twentieth century invasions of foreign countries by conventional military forces being effectively neutralized and sometimes defeated by heavily outgunned guerrilla forces. The Russians failed in Afghanistan as have the US and NATO. Interventions in Iraq, Syria and Libya have created the present day chaos ruling those countries. Before that the French and then the Americans fought and lost in Vietnam. Islamic jihad is the current asymmetrical war in process and we are not winning – again.

What saves us for now is that North America is an island separated from primary conflict by wide oceans. We can project force across these oceans to other lands while our enemies in those lands cannot do the same to us directly. The policy extension of this recent asymmetry in being able to kill our enemies is encapsulated in the Predator drone. The following video captures the nature of the weapon and its use.

For us it is the ideals military weapon. We can kill people anywhere anytime whether we know who they are or not, safely from our bases in Nevada.

What our policy does not understand is a crucial nature of the cultures we attack. It is the Hydra. When we kill an innocent civilian – what we euphemize as collateral damage” – we create eternal enemies out of the person’s entire familty. When we wipe out an entire wedding party we make eternal enemies of an entire village. The fact that we do this without warning, disrespecting a county’s sovereignty in the process, we make eternal enemies of an entire country. The fact that virtually all the death and suffering that we have visited on others in the last 2 or 3 decades have been on Islamic communities has reinforced the eternal enmity that Islam has for us.

Make no mistake about it. This is a fight to the death. And we lack the passion and zeal the other side has. This results from the final asymmetry operating here. We are operating from a secular humanist and Judeo-Christian ethic of convert and save your enemy. The Islamic world is operating from a dogma of convert, enslave or kill your enemy. Our position is fundamentally weak and theirs is fundamentally strong.


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