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Seven billion and growing

Ever growing traffic

We won't stop until we breath eachother's Monoxide

Today on October 31, 2011 the world population will cross over the 7 billion line, duplicating the 12 year cycle of the previous milestone from 5 to 6 billion inhabitants  according to the United Nations’ population division. Technically that means growth is slowing down a tad but experts claim that we are probably looking at 9.5 billion by 2050, and that’s up from 2.5 billion in 1950. 7 Billion people growth in one hundred years time? We either start developing means to sustain this explosion of hungry people, find ways to expand humanity into the universe or be prepared to fight the good fight of resource desperation.

Imagine, the world’s population didn’t reach 1 billion until 1804, and it took 123 years to hit the 2 billion mark in 1927. Then the pace accelerated — 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999, 7 billion in 2011 , 8 billion by 2025 and 10 billion long before the current projection of 2083. Children born today will face a world that has not enough developed resources to sustain that number of people.
And the first huge challenge will be water and as water shortages will be fueling regional destabilization, migration to developed regions of the world will put enormous pressure on other resources such as food and energy.
On the other end of the spectrum is the claim that between 2005 and 2055 agricultural productivity will have to increase by two-thirds to keep pace with rising population and changing diets.

I recently read this sad observation from a woman in one of Africa’s fastest growing countries as she regretfully ponders the future for her large family with 9 children. “I regret to have made all those children,” she says. “If I were to start over, I would only make two or three. Children were a good labor force in the past when there was enough space to cultivate,” she said. “Today I can’t even feed my family properly. My kids just spend days doing nothing.”
After her fourth child, she began to worry how her family could be cared for. “But my husband was against birth control and wanted as many children as possible,” she said. “It was delicate because he could marry another wife.
“My friends advised me to go to a nearby clinic, but I was told I must come with my husband. Now I have laid the issue in the hands of God.”

I wish I had that deep faith. As one who was born in 1950, when there were “only” 2.5 billion of us around, I will probably run out of time before the world’s carrying capacity forces the issue into the foreground of the survival of our species. But for all you young ones out there, you may heed the words of hockey great Wayne Gretzky when he said: “I don’t care where the puck is, I’m going where the puck is going to be.” With cities like Mexico City, Djakarta and Mumbai already now reaching massive populations of 30 to 50 million, no one will realize in time that the puck has left the playing field a long time ago.

As massive populations are going to move back to the countryside it seem inevitable that many national borders across the globe will be re-drawn in the next 25-50 years.

Security Discussions around the BBQ Grill

Fear of the exploding Implants

One of my personal definitions of stupidity follows from some people’s inability to correlate cause and effect. That doesn’t necessarily make me arrogant, nor the most popular guy on the block, but after a week back on island from a two week trip to New York, I’m a bit discouraged with the level of political and economic understanding I hear around the BBQ party circuit of Post Independence Day Summer Fun.

Here is an example of what I’m referring to.

In a conversation about freedom it was mentioned that “THEY hate us for our freedom.” “They” was not really specified but presumably the person meant the Islamic Jihadi, and from what we know about their leadership is that they full well know that the vast, overwhelming majority of the economic damage to us caused by a terrorist attack is our self-inflicted irrational response to it, and that includes adopting policies that promote corruption and autocracy. And from the latest figures we can now learn that Osama bin Laden has cost the Nation $3 trillion over the past 15 years.

And what did we really get back for that investment? In 2004 bin Laden said that his policy was to bleed America to the Point of Bankruptcy, much in the same way as the US helped Afghanistan (and bin Laden) bankrupting the Soviet Union which led to the end of the Cold War. But guess what, as soon as we put OBL in a watery grave, Homeland Security presents us with our next fear: Suicidal Iranian Dolly Parton’s with explosive implants. Yes, this week we were introduced to the “growing” threat of airplanes being blown up by individuals with surgically implanted bombs. Really??

So now the conversation moves from freedom, something we have little left of in comparison with pre 911, to the loss of civil liberties and the fact that the economy can no longer afford these wars.
Well the term Homeland Security implies some form of accountability and proof that the US’s wars since 2001 should have some positive correlation with US Security. We should have been safer. If anything I dare to say that they have decreased US security. None of these wars have accomplished anything, other than killing lots of young Americans and putting corrupt governments in power, ready for the next big battle 10 or more years from now. The word “cost,” in the context of Cost of Security measures the outcome in terms of money. However, the outcome should be measured in terms of the destruction of civil liberties, completely defiling the constitution, torturing and ruining lots of collateral damage people who didn’t do anything wrong, crippling and killing teenage Americans and killing innocent civilians in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The outcome over the long term should also be measured by correlating cause and effect and you can bet your house and 401K on the Fact that we will still be fighting a War on Terror, 25 years from now, as we create new Jihadist every day, with every bomb we throw in their countries. Mind you I’m not saying don’t pay attention to the radical fundamentalist. By all means isolate and pursue them, rather then use them for short term political gain, the way our government did with Sadam Hussein, the Taliban, Musharaf, bin Laden, Ghadaffi, Idi Amin and numerous other dictators.

bin Laden was an evil man with a completely sick sense of justice. In his warped mind he set out to cripple us, and when he failed we did it to ourselves, because we had created him.

Someone during the conversation at the grill actually said: “But think of all the innovation these wars have brought, like Remote controlled drones with missiles, armored K9’s, quiet Helicopters, Body Scans” (would be nice if they could detect cancer or a tumor)
To be honest, I think we got hosed on this $ 3 trillion deal.

Watch the following video for a healthy perspective on fear.

What to know about water and microwaves

Just don't do stupid things

This story came from one of my brothers who relayed that someone in his neighborhood had the following very nasty experience with boiling water in his microwave.

He apparently wanted a cup of instant coffee, so he put water in a cup, placed it in the microwave and turned it on. Like we all do on numerous occasions.
He can’t exactly remember how he set the timer, but since he liked his coffee hot, it may have been well over 2 minutes. He wanted to see it boil. When the ringer went off, he opened the door, looked into the cup and didn’t see it boiling, yet right at that moment the water like a geyser exploded into his face.
Apparently the cup stayed in one piece until he dropped it, but the man suffered third degree burns when the entire content of the cup hit his face; and he may even have partly lost sight in one eye.
The surgeon in the hospital told his family that this apparently happens quite often and warned not to ever heat up water in a microwave, unless you  place a wooden stir (obviously not anything metal), or a tea bag in the water, to spread the heating energy.
An industry comment (General Electric) points out you should never heat a liquid longer than 2 minutes in the microwave, because it can easily reach a state of super heating, which does not show any signs of boiling on the surface until you move the cup or bowl, or put a spoon or teabag in it.

Advice is to use a water cooker or heating element and if you absolutely have to use the microwave, let the cup sit for another 30 seconds before opening the door.

After reading my brother’s story I decided to check out Snopes.com which confirmed the phenomenon. Actually I think whomever told my brother about it, got the story from snopes, and made it his own. A good source to check on true or false

What Would You Do?

Online Scams keep coming into my inbox

Since the World Wide Web made its overwhelming entry into our lives about 20 years ago, crooks and screwballs have approached all of us with email scams and sob stories to steal money from us. Admittedly sometimes, when a believable story was constructed, with frontline details available, such as valid email addresses or even actual phone numbers. Years ago I got calls from someone in South Africa about an adventurous way to make some real money, which sounded plausible, if I could just get my butt over there. Instead I had a friend who worked for the Military Intelligence Agency, who did me a favor. A cleverly devised scam was the answer that came back.

These days we all know (…or do we?) that any email out of Nigeria is at minimum circumspect, anything from a bank director in Hong Kong or a “barrister” in the UK should be quickly clicked away and the sob stories from lonely and sick old women across the globe, who in one and the same email want to convey urgency because they will be passing soon, while requesting compassion, appealing to your religious beliefs and the need for you to accept millions of dollars to do something good with, as long as you quickly confirm your pertinent personal information.

I have become immune to these messages because they are obviously a fraud from the moment your eyes glace over the subject line. I have no way to bar them coming into my inbox, short of installing filters that would require anyone sending me an email to first register their name and reason for contacting me. I think people who go that far should not be on the INTERNET. So on average I get about 2 or 3 scam propositions a day in some of my accounts. I pay no attention and sometimes wonder why these people keep sending them as there cannot be one single soul alive who falls for this crap….or are there?

And then I read about whole tribes of idiots who fell for last week’s rapture warning, and maxed out credit cards, took out loans for a last hurrah trip (which financial institutions gave loans to these morons?) and in general lived it up like it was 1999. Oh wait that was another rapture prediction? And of course there are those who are now disappointed that it didn’t happen, but with a glimmer of hope for December 21, 2012, as that apocalypse is predicted by no-one else but Nostradamus, supported by the astro physical capabilities of ancient tribes. We’ll see. But I do realize that as long as there are people who fall for that crap, imposed upon us all by most unbelievable characters, these Internet Scammers have a willing audience.

In the mean time, please read following email I got in the mail yesterday and let me know if you would fall for that, because if you do, I am sure I need to consider switching professions.

Dr. Ben Tom at International Airport ???@!!!!

Rick Scott’s Folly

Florida Governor Scott misses the chance of a lifetime

Florida Governor Rick Scott must be a romantic who’s life evolves around candle light and daydreaming. Who else would turn down $2.4 billion dollars of Federal Money, slated to be spend on one of the most sensible investments Florida could have made in recent history: High speed rail.

Now, Florida’s decision to reject almost $2.5 billion in high-speed rail money is benefiting 15 other states in the Union who have more vision for the future than this clown with his head in the clouds. I do understand that Florida is struggling with finances, but so are most of the other States. What I do not understand is that with gas prices slated to soon pass the $5 mark per gallon, high speed rail was wiped off the slate with Scott refusing the funds, because he was concerned that the state government would be locked into years of operating subsidies. However, a report by the state’s transportation department forecast that the rail line would be profitable from the first year of operation. The project initially had been approved by Scott’s predecessor, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist.

And even though I do understand that Scott’s concern of cost overruns and subsidies costing the state up to $3 billion dollars is real, considering the track record of  the Federal Government’s overspending, it is still hugely irresponsible to reject high speed rail for a state that depends largely on tourism and rapid distribution infrastructures. Knowing that the White House is looking for a legacy, he could have negotiated guarantees, contractor choice options and overrun terms, instead of just rudely rejecting the funds. I’m not a White House proponent by any means, but it seems that Scott was playing a game of partisan politics, one that may cost Florida dearly in the future as the rest of the world is rapidly adjusting to the superior quality of traveling by high speed trains and the skyrocketing gas prices.

Yes, Tampa and Orlando are wide spread cities without large central business districts and only navigable by motorized traffic, and as hi-speed rail destinations therefore less attractive. Therefore this particular route scored at the bottom of American high-speed rail possibilities in terms of ridership potential and at 84 miles, the system was potentially too short (54 minute ride) to compete with the convenience of car travel. And, of course, the system couldn’t hope to attract people away from flying, because people simply don’t fly between Tampa and Orlando. But a trajectory from Miami via Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Daytona to Jacksonville, with a Daytona branch to Orlando would be a huge infrastructure improvement…and that’s where I think Scott missed leadership acumen. Redirecting $2.4 billion to that cause, supported by solid plans and studies, should have been the answer to Washington’s call…not rejecting hi speed rail.

The United States Department of Transportation has now announced where that money will be reallocated, and 15 states and Amtrak will receive the money Gov. Rick Scott refused to accept.
According to the Associated Press, nearly $800 million will go to upgrading the Northeast corridor, which has trains operating at 135-160 mph.
About $404 million will go toward high-speed rail service in the Midwest, including a track between Detroit and Chicago.
Nearly $340 million will go toward state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest.
California also will get another $300 million for trains that will travel up to between San Francisco and Los Angeles at speeds of up to 220 mph.

Scott was not alone in his gesture however, as two other Republican governors elected in November have also canceled high-speed train projects in their states. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker turned down $810 million to build a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed line and Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected $400 million for a project to connect Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus with slower-moving trains. Both the Ohio and Wisconsin projects had been approved by the governors’ Democratic predecessors. In my opinion, not only Florida lost substantially with this rejection, but the whole of the United States lost as well, seeing that Florida was earmarked to be the guiding light towards hi-speed rail transportation, a shining example for the rest of the nation. That was a “power” position very few newly elected governors ever get in their lifetime.

What were the Shockers This Week

This Club needs a lesson in golfing etiquette

I’m having fun with these weekly shockers and the reactions I’m getting. Turns out that time constraints and diversified focus on what is happening around the country and planet, makes many of us oblivious to the “news”. And who can blame us with so many media and messages inundating us every day. Well following stories played some clarifying role of importance for me this week; maybe some will also clarify some positions that eluded you.

TV Sitcoms

Unfortunately enough one shocker was Charlie Sheen setting a Guinness World Record by collecting 1,000,000 followers on Twitter in 25 hours and 17 minutes. It kind of makes me wonder about 1. the value of Twitter as a communication item 2. the intellectual poverty of a million degenerates 3. my own sense of humor

As an avid watcher of the sitcom Three and a Half Men, I have spend the last week watching some of the reruns and not only are his co-stars as good or better actors than he is, he should have realized the pecking order of a successful production, whether it’s music, theater, dance or TV. Without the writers and word smiths developing the story lines and punch lines, the actors are blanks. Chuck Lorre, the guy that Charlie has it out for has proven time and again now that his team’s production approach delivers quality entertainment. Other comedy productions such The Big Bang Theory and the last addition Mike and Molly are clear proof to that. Sheen might be talking an earful about winning in his recent avalanche of interviews, but this is a fight he won’t win, because without Lorre’s team he is a mediocre actor with no funny lines to say.

The Economy

Next thing that shocked me this week is the ease with which everyone has accepted the belief that the economy has turned around now that for the first time in several years, there is supposed to be a re-hiring going on in the private sector. Interestingly the medias use a global operating company such as UPS to make their point. UPS apparently has 150 (??!!) salaried jobs in the offering, after they let go off 1,800 workers in January of 2010 and another 300 pilots sometime in April of last year. What really shocks me is the abominable quality of today’s mainstream reporting and the intellectual connection to the topics they write about, while in the process creating an economically gullible population. Yes it is ok to be positive and optimistic (even I am to a controlled degree), but it shocks me to find out how many people still trust the mainstream media when it comes to their livelihood, without critically checking the facts behind the stories.

Washington Budget’s Dance

Okay and then there is the budget spending cut circus that shocks me, although it shouldn’t because it’s just more of the same old, same old. Washington on both sides of the fence are spinning billions around political crap statements. Here is the latest on Democrats meeting Republicans halfway. The problem is that both sides are starting with Obama’s proposed budget for 2011, which never came close to being enacted into law. Presidential budget blueprints never do. Nonetheless, the GOP suggested $100 billion in spending cuts from that proposal. (on trillions of deficit mind you)
Compared with actual current spending levels, the GOP’s proposed cuts come out to around $61 billion.

The White House math is similarly fuzzy. The White House gets to its $50 billion figure by first counting $40 billion of proposed cuts from Obama’s never-passed 2011 budget that were included in a proposed spending bill that itself was never enacted.
On top of that phantom $40 billion, the White House adds $4 billion in cuts to current spending levels that the president signed into law this week as part of a two-week stopgap spending measure. And on Thursday, when Vice President Joe Biden headed to Capitol Hill to kick off negotiations on legislation to fund the government until the Sept. 30 end of the spending year, the White House announced it was putting forward an additional $6.5 billion in cuts.
That brings to $10.5 billion the amount the White House is trying to cut from current spending levels, compared with $61 billion the Republicans want. Go figure how this will really help getting spending down. Politically however both parties can go back to their base and tell them they stuck to their campaign promises.

Singularity Explained

During several recent essays I have used the concept term Singularity and was surprised to find out how many people have no clue what it really means and why I think it is already making a deep impact on humanity. To explain the concept I’m going to refer to Ray Kurzweil , who is arguably the most prominent Singulartarian at this time. He explains that Singularity is a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” The key concept is that we are rapidly arriving at the point where we humans are able to use technology to transcend the physical limitations of our biological minds. Just think in these terms; more powerful computers will create even more powerful computers at a rate the human mind can hardly comprehend (at this point). I always compare it to the rapid increase of total human knowledge which is now doubling at a rate of every 6 months. I have learned more from 3 years working on the Worldwide Web, than in 50 years of formal and informal education. How about you…and does it scare you or excite you?

Another Reason why Wall Street belongs in Jail

Bootcamp Testimonial

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Have a Great Weekend!

This Week’s Shockers

Riot Head Gear in Egypt

The week was filled with shockers once again. Some sad, some hilarious and some downright idiotic. One real pleasant shocker was the opening movie at the Amelia Island Film Festival that plays this weekend. “Ten Years Later” from writer/director/actor Aaron Metchik was a pure delight in creativity and story.

A Pygmy Whale washing up on the beach.

It was a dreary day last Wednesday, yet when we went out for a hearty beachwalk, we noticed in the distance near Beach Access 30 at the end of Simmons Rd. a group of people staring at something in the water. As we got closer we witnessed the death struggle of what we later learned to be a Pygmy whale. The sight was hugely disturbing and sad as the lone mammal seemed to be trying to get back in deeper water, slowly losing the fight to the outgoing tide. Entirely helpless we watched with tears in our eyes as the gentle giant turned on its back several times, trying with its powerful tail to push towards the surf. Even though there were several men ready to get into the water, there was nothing really we could do. I estimated the whale to be at least 600-700 pounds and even in its death struggle, the tail smashed powerful.  Someone had called Animal Rescue/911 but when we left 40 minutes later, no one had shown up yet (it was lunch hour). Disgusted by such a slow reaction time I was going to write a searing story, but decided to let it sit for a day or two, even though I was shocked to the core.

Admittedly I have no clue how this type of rescue service operates and who budgets for it in a feeble economy, but I can imagine that a rope and a fish net is not of much help trying to rescue this animal.
Then yetserday I learned that help finally arrived after we had left, but that there had been no hope for the whale, as it had apparently suffered a heart attack, most probably caused by old age. Rescuers tried until past 4pm to save it, but to no avail.

The US Government Priorities

Another thing that shocked me (but then again not really) was learning about how the US Government set priorities and spent our money.
It takes a bit of experience to read the signs but usually you can make a reasonably accurate prediction of the future of an individual or organization by how it sets its priorities. And you can tell someone’s true priorities by seeing how they spend their time, money, and energy.
Based on this simple formula, I would say that the US and its government is in serious need of a major adjustment of its priorities.

Note: FCIC = Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The one and so far only attempt to “explain” why a handful of banks received trillions of “no strings” attached handouts after engaging in fraud and reckless gambling on an epic scale.
The US spent $8 million investigating this staggering financial catastrophe which has cost the US about $8 trillion dollars (and climbing) but FIVE TIMES AS MUCH on the details of Bubba’s Oval Office sexcapades.

You may want to make a note to yourself that if you are ever given a choice between getting a BJ in the Oval Office and stealing trillions of dollars,… choose the latter.
Here is why: Apparently, there’s no penalty to pay and eight trillion dollars will buy a lot of…well you get the idea.
Speaking of which, for those who want to go further down the rabbit hole (so to speak) as well as for the generally prurient…here’s where a good chunk of the Wall Street bonus money went:

The Demise of Charlie Sheen and Two and a Half Men

I have been pondering whether this really came as a shock, or that it had been in the pipeline for quite a while. In my opinion there is something intrinsically wrong when someone who makes reportedly $1.8 million per weekly episode of a sitcom, decides to badmouth his boss. After 8 years on the job, Charlie Sheen did just that and now we are most likely without our Monday night 9 o’clock staple. As a loyal follower of the cleverly written show however, I have seen my loyalties over the years move from Charlie to the rest of the cast and without too much trouble I can see someone replacing Mr. Sheen, while still having a great and witty show. And let’s face it, after 8 years, the half man in the show’s title is now fully grown and funny as Charlie is more and more sinking into the morass of a midlife crisis.

What really shocked me however was learning about the math behind a show like this. Charlie gets $1.2 per episode and the advertiser pays a little over $200,000 per ad spot. With about 6 full minutes of ads (FCC) in a 30 minute segment, you wonder how the rest of the cast and crew makes a living. A re-run stipend and food stamps come to mind.

In his departing rant Charlie said: “It’s been a toxic environment for eight years. I was a good ol’ guy for eight years. I put five bil in the studio’s pocket, I put a half a bil in Chuck’s pocket, so this is the freaking thank you I get? This is the level of gratitude that I get?”
Well my calculator says that 8 years of 26 episodes per year at an average of $1 million per episode put about $200 million in Charlie Sheen’s pocket and that my dear friends proves that money beyond a certain comfort level does not add anything to happiness.

Headwear in the Egyptian revolution

A friend who lives in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) from where he is watching the turmoil unfold in the Middle East, sent an email this week with the following message:

My friend, my advice is that Canadians and Americans sit down for a cup of coffee and start planning to dig some oil wells on their own soils & waters and leave the Middle East to their fate, because as it is so far Uncle Sam’s help has done no good!

The main points to note from the Egyptian revolution are :
1) No violence from the demostrators   
2) Very educated crowds   3) It took eighteen days to change the Govt.

  If Uncle Sam wants to have power in this region they should control it with
 a real Democratic system and not support the same Tyrants and Kingdoms for 30 – 40 years; basically they need to update policy.

  Hope all is well at your end.

And then my friend attached some pictures I thought were hilarious. Yes especially the one with baguettes and a loaf of bread as head protection against the riot police.

Taking the Easy Way Out

Not so sure about this one

A new marketing technique for bakers

Tim Geithner never had a Real Job

On the domestic economic front this may come as a shock to many, although insiders were already very much aware of the fact that Timothy Geithner, our Secretary of the Treasury never had a real job. What came as a shock however is that he openly admitted that when pointed out in an interview. That is either debilitatingly Stupid or a sign of Arrogance that goes with considering yourself Untouchable. You’ll be the Judge.