Big Changes for SearchAmelia Coming

Since 2008, we’ve been bringing online news and events about Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, and Northeast Florida to you – and those interested – in our little piece of Paradise. After eight great years, it is time to give SearchAmelia.com a new look. We will continue to write articles about our town, stories about interesting people, cover more friendly events, and maintain our comprehensive community event calendar.

This new year brings worldwide adventures for my partner, Han; and for me the new year brings a new look at life after having battled cancer the past three months – and in turn it is only fitting that we bring a new look for SearchAmelia.com, too.

In the meantime, sit back and watch your inbox… we’ll be back online soon!

SearchAmelia Has Posted 10,000 Blogs

SearchAmelia Has Posted 10,000 BlogsSearchAmelia has just posted their 10,000th blog! That is indeed a lot of writing, researching, soul sharing, laughter and sometimes tears.

We began in the spring of 2008 by building a website and publishing local articles. Stories about history, news or events that we feel are relevant to those living in or visiting, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Yulee and most of Nassau County, were considered ideal content. Since 2008 we have posted something damn near every-single-day!!!

Our website strives to be a familiar place, both interesting and informative, for folks to go to learn about the things and the people our wonderful community offers.

SearchAmelia has introduced us to new friends, opened our eyes to new ideas, and opened our hearts to those in need. We have tried to focus on the good news in Fernandina, but still we share some of the bad that occasionally shows up in our “in-boxes”.

Our articles are often press releases submitted by your neighbors telling of new business offerings, non-profit events, and local news stories. Often we write from our heart. My Personal Experience with Hospice let me share a very private moment with “you” – our readers, subscribers and viewers. “You” were there when we lost our partner and Han’s brother, Thom. “You” were with me when my daughter and her young son’s community of Henryville, Indiana was all but destroyed during a tornado outbreak in March of 2012.

We have shared anniversaries, childbirths and weddings.

We ARE your neighbors; we live here, we work here and we hope you consider us your friends.

Our articles 2012 Doomsday The End is Near, Haiti One Year after the Earthquake, ‎and How to Keep Flies Out of Your House or Patio have been read tens of thousands of times. We’ve had an enchanting variety of guest writers submit their pieces, too.

We don’t charge for subscriptions, we don’t charge for your local news or a link back to your businesses, and we don’t post affiliate advertising. The ads we do have are partners with SearchAmelia, strengthening the “shop local” mantra.

I’m proud to say our calendar is one of the most comprehensive ones in town and we welcome your submissions. It’s simple, just CLICK HERE. (By the way, our calendar entries are not included in the 10,000.)

You may not think 10,000 stories is much to brag about, but we sure do! Here are the numbers:

We’be been blogging for nearly six years and five months. Call it 334 weeks if you’d like, but no matter how you do the math we have published, on average, just over four articles – every single day – for the past 2,343 days (give or take a day or two).

…and so, I raise my glass to my partner, Han, “Here’s to 10,000 more! Cheers!”

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Eiffel Tower has Elevator Problem

One elevator at Eiffel Tower severly damaged, searchamelia.com

One elevator at Eiffel Tower severly damaged and out of order

The following message came courtesy of Amelia Island’s Travel Agency and underscores perfectly one of the true reasons why Travel Advisors add substantial value to our travel experience. When I received the message, there was no mention of this major inconvenience to be found anywhere on the Internet, yet the travel advisor could message their clients who had plans to go up the Eiffel Tower to make different plans.

It’s a little like intelligence gathering. Nothing beats eyes and ears on the ground! And in our case of particular news, because Ally at the Desk is leaving for Paris in a couple of weeks.

Only one elevator working at the Eiffel tower

Bonjour,
I received this email from our office in France.
I wish you a good afternoon. Florent

On Friday of last week, one of their lifts (elevator) broke down…the problem is a lot more serious than expected and the lift will be undergoing maintenance until May 1st.
So for the rest of March & ALL of April the tower will be working with 1 lift only.
This is even more of an issue as they have already sold thousands of tickets based on the availability of the 2 elevators…

This means:

    – No more pre-booked tickets available
    – No Behind the Scenes Tours either as they do not have access to any tickets either

The clients who already have prepaid tickets can use them BUT there will be up to 2 hours wait to actually get to the lift.
So basically it is going to be a horrendous nightmare even for those with tickets.

The following message is currently on the monument’s website:

A technical incident leads us to operate currently with one single lift.
Therefore, the access waiting time to the monument is likely to be over 2 hours.
We are sorry for the inconvenience.

$23 million sold at 2012 Concours d’Elégance

searchamelia.com Concours d'Elegance Amelia Island 2012

A snapshot of history surrounded by beauty

This was the second year in a row that in the final end I didn’t make it to the Concours d’Elégance. Too much to do on the home front that made both my wife and I collapse when the moment came to say OK let’s drive down, park the car half a mile away, fight the sell out crowd and see some of the most awesome automobiles ever put together by mankind.

But we are happy to report that Judie and Lawrence and Ally at the Desk did some beautiful and funny coverage work as did our micro photography expert Helmut Albrecht – once again with a feature from sunrise to sunset of an event that attracted record numbers once again this year.

Concours d’Elégance 2012 Main Event

Concours d’Elégance 2012 Prepping and Auctions

The Concours showcased 300 cars and motorcycles, including a dozen 1960s Ferrari GTOs estimated to be worth about $90 million together.

In the end, the 14th annual RM Auctions sale generated more than $23 million in sales Saturday   (an 87% sell through) and the massive climate-controlled tent on the Ritz Carlton’s beachfront actually withstood the up-to 35 mile wind gusts that ripped through the island that day.

Top Producer at 2012 RM Auction on Amelia Island

and the Winner is......

The top seller was this stunning one-off 1929 Cord L-29 Hayes Coupe, its shapely blue low-slung design by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, build for a reported $20,000 during the start of the 1929 depression, fetching $2.42 million.

Down the road at the Gooding & Co. auction at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation, taking advantage of the attraction the Concours d’Elégance has become over the years, a 1973 Porsche 917/ 30 Can-Am Spyder race car sold for a record $4.4 million.

Top Ten RM Auction Results

1. 1929 Cord L-29 Special Coupe – $2,420,000
2. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciale – $1,430,000
3. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Convertible – $1,210,000
4. 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder – $1,210,000
5. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta – $1,100,000
6. 1930 Bugatti Type 46 Superprofile Coupe – $1,017,500
7. 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster – $990,000
7. 1937 Squire 1½-Liter Drophead Coupe – $990,000
9. The Lalique Mascot Collection of Ele Chesney – $805,000
10. 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline – $803,000

A Global Village of Collaborative Consumption

Collaborative Consumption is rapidly on the rise

Collaborative Consumption is rapidly on the rise

A dozen years ago my brother Thom and I acquired the web domain name www.GlobalVillage.com as we foresaw that technology over time would enable the trust that is needed between strangers to conduct transactions over the internet. The world was then and still is now, turning into a Global Village because of technology.

Our business plan was strong, yet monetization models of internet companies were  still in the very early stages, a realization that ultimately led to the dot.com bust in 2000. No-one in those days saw Google or Yahoo’s monetization model. Network TV and major Newspaper conglomerates were still collecting 99% of all advertising dollars spend across the globe. Therefore we learned quickly that traditional funding was not available. A dozen years ago Facebook would not be able to create any excitement with JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs when mentioning the possibility of going public. And the Nasdaq was 0nce again a stepchild on Wall Street. So in order to find funding to attract and relocate some whizz kids, we joined another then-new cyberworld initiative called FirstTuesday to connect with Angel Investors, much in the same way as Facebook, eBay, Amazon and many other powerhouses of today’s internet initially came about. The idea for FirstTuesday was great and global as well, but unfortunately for them and us about 5 to 10 years too early. Pretty much the same as with our GlobalVillage.com

Thom and I sank a small fortune into the development before we had to admit that we were not only too far ahead of the adoption curve but also a couple of thousand miles removed from the epicenter of the powers that move viable ideas online and push successfully into the future on the pure mention of stakeholder equity. At the time we were living and working on a small island in the Caribbean, magnificent for creative pioneering but bad for successfully monetizing online concepts.

GlobalVillage.com was all about what today is making waves as the concept of Collaborative Consumption. It describes the rapid explosion in re-applying traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping, as all those “ancient” practices are now being reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before.

How Collaborative Consumption works:

An organization purchases products and manages inventory and checkout Members pay a low monthly or per-use fee to have access to the product. Members check out or reserve the product when needed and return it so another member can have access to it. Many items are usually available so lack of availability is not a strong concern. The organization cleans and maintains returned items.

The benefits of collaborative consumption

Lower cost of ownership by having expenses shared among a group. Higher quality of good. When cost and use is spread throughout a group, the item must (and can) be of higher quality for durability and ease of use. Lower risk. Instead of maintaining an item yourself it is kept functional by the company leading the organization. Lower environmental impact. Instead of buying an item that is only used four or fives a year and thrown away each shared item is of higher quality, lasts longer, and constantly used.

From motherload exchange marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist to emerging initiatives such as social lending (Zopa), peer-to-peer travel (Airbnb) and car sharing (Zipcar or peer-to-peer RelayRides), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated-last-century modes of business and distribution and reinventing not only what we consume, but also how we consume and share.

The Governmental Danger Zone

The danger of exchange and barter is that this global development is taking financial control away from federal and state taxation opportunities, this last one probably being an important reason why so many governments have their minds set on controlling the Internet. Governments do not shy away from taxing a product every time it changes hands. A car has a substantial life cycle, and every time it is resold through a commercial entity the seller is required to charge and pay sales tax. To picture this process, imagine a $50,000 car is charged a 7% sales tax or $3,500; two years later the car is resold at $31,000 collecting $2,170 in sales tax (assuming the sales tax has not gone up). Another two years later the car is sold again for $18,000 and once again the government collects 7% or $1,260 bringing the total sales tax collected for this one vehicle up to almost $7,000 so far.

Now multiply this by the millions and you see why new exchange markets such as TaskRabbit, ParkatmyHouse, Zimride, Swap.com, Zilok, Bartercard and thredUP are not only enabling “peer-to-peer” to become the default way people exchange, they are also forcing the hand of society to come up with new ways to co-habitate. Whether it’s unused space, goods, skills, money, or services — and exchange, sites like these are sprouting up everyday, all over the world.
Even in our little corner of the world exchange sites are sprouting up on general social sites. For example the navy wives in Kingsland have several complete Camden County sale and barter sites set up on Facebook, an effort being duplicated right here on Amelia Island.

Some of the early Players

For a list of some of the hottest start-ups in the Collaborative Consumption space, check out this Snapshot of Examples from the website http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com.

The infographic below summarizes the essence of
• the three major systems of Collaborative Consumption,
• the four key principles that make it work and
• the key socio-cultural drivers that have caused the movement and is moving it forward

collaborative consumption

This is how the system works in the time of technology

Business models of the future are anchored by and in our connections to each other, rather than how we traditionally exchanged goods and services and the lessons we learn from this new Exchange Market Model is that

1. a Framework of Trust needs to be in place (eBay Feedback, Tripadvisor, Angie’s List etc)
Since the ‘collaborative’ in collaborative consumption is powered by strangers, middlemen need to guarantee peace of mind between everyone else. Brands are worth much more if they offer some way to measure and review business transactions, and if they are able to leverage reputational ratings and social capital to keep users in line.
Airbnb for example, which helps homeowners rent their spaces to travelers around the world, is a prime example. Airbnb users can tailor their experience to fit their needs, from managing listings to researching reservations to pre-approving guests. Hosts are even protected from theft and vandalism with $50,000 worth of insurance coverage.

2. for a business to be successful it needs scaleability. Technology allows us to connect fragmented markets.
Collaborative consumption is all about networking around offers and needs. So you need a niche. Look at your market and examine the pieces that don’t fit together as well as they could. Ask yourself: “Could there be a meaningful connection between fragmented parties? Could I facilitate a transaction that would be complementary to their core product or service?” Years ago, when the internet made its first inroads I was surprised to learn that a car junk places were inter-connected on parts availability. If the junkyard in Lake City couldn’t help you with a particular part, the one in Live Oak or High Springs or MacClenny probably could. Quick, cheap and easy.

Innovators who identify the missing links can take advantage of service gaps with long-tail business strategies, the way Netflix and Amazon have done. If you find a way to serve everyone who wants to rent a Gibson Les Paul for a weekend or a Sony Handycam HDV or a car with the steering wheel on the opposite site of the norm, or a last minute Scalpel Ticket exchange etc., you’ve got a business that can scale.
Zipcar is an example of collaborative consumption in action. It recognized a need for on-demand vehicles that are billable by the hour, particularly in major cities and college campuses. Chase introduced an affordable alternative to traditional car ownership, providing people with shared wheels at a fraction of the cost of a long-term purchase or even rental.

3. Geography matters less and less
Technology reduces geographic boundaries to commerce, opening the door to ventures such as Freecycle, a global grassroots network with almost nine million members who swap unwanted items free of charge. Members not only get free stuff, whether they’re in Tucson, Arizona or New Delhi, India, but also help reduce waste and save resources. Collaborative consumption can be good for consumers, for business and for the community at large. The only entity that has not been able yet to move outside of the box of the past is a government that sees a part of their tax revenue dwindle.

Collaborative Consumption. Check it out. It’s going to be a household word soon.

Socialism as an Alternative?

Socialism is A Political Train Wreck

Socialism is an economic system; not a political

There are probably a couple dozen variations to this theme but the Dalai Lama’s version of the Dilemma of humanity came to mind yesterday as the day was unfolding from a normal day of the occasional glitch in the smooth flow of one’s daily routine, to a glitches avalanche that revealed once again how this country is increasingly being held hostage by the government sanctioned attitude of free-loaders and entitlelists. With an apology to the purists who feel that entitlelists is not yet a sanctioned word in the English language, (even though Merriam Webster lists it under new words and slang), rest assured that it soon will become an official word closely attached to the end of American Capitalism.

Let me first share with you the Dalai Lama’s observation on humanity before I go into the abyss of modern day political reality.
Man psyche suffers from some inexplicable flaw says the Dalai Lama.

“First he sacrifices health to make money; then he sacrifices money to regain health all the while being so anxious about the future, that he cannot enjoy the present. As a result of his continuous search for security and safety he never lives in the present nor the future (as affordable retirement is turning into a pipedream), but for the longest time he lives as in a vacuum that assumes he’ll never run out of time and therefore is never going to die. And then when death arrives, he may for a moment realize that he never really lived.”

This observation has been lingering on the surface of my sub-consciousness mind for quite a while, but was triggered into acute action by a rant story on Jacksonville.com last week that introduced “socialism as an alternative”.

Never mind that the ‘ranteur’ quite deliberately omitted to mention capitalism as the opposite in the title, he lectured us with the following: Many ultra-conservatives calling for a tiny government are working class/lower middle class folks that would be far better off living under a socialist system. Capitalism is rapidly leaving the bottom 95 percent of wage earners in this country behind. Contrary to all of the corporate propaganda, there are many alternatives to big business capitalism. Small business still plays an important role in a socialist society, although major industries may be owned by the government. We need decent-paying jobs, health care, a secure retirement and a more equitable distribution of wealth in this society. Let’s not close our minds to ideas, both old and new, which might improve the lives of ordinary Americans.”

In a Perfect World

Guess what…in a well balanced, considerate world with responsible, intelligent and caring leaders, the writer of the rant (or was it a rave?) is absolutely right.

I ran away from galloping socialism in the late 1970s in the Netherlands and came to America to pursue the “dream”. Now 30 years later the Netherlands has found a mix of socialism and capitalism that is light years ahead of the American Dream and much easier to accomplish. My native country is prosperous and its citizens are comfortable. My brothers who stayed there and worked in the system, they all have their own homes, are either happily retired with a lot of freedom to travel anywhere in the world several times a year or enjoy the seniority of their professions and the freedom that it brings. Their income levels may or may not rival mine, but on the bottomline, their lives are much less worrisome, because of socialized medicine and reliable, well funded safety nets, clear and concise input in the political process with the ability to change and correct. Culturally, economically and socially there is plenty of space for most to maneuver a well rounded life, because the basics of life’s pyramid of needs and wants is in place.

No, there are not a lot of billionaires in the Netherlands, less than a handful, but most people are comfortable, good housing is available, and much of life’s worries is orchestrated and relieved in widely accepted regulations. There is little space for excess and life’s essentials are balanced to the point of being boring.

But even if it seems boring, there is no denying that the Scandinavian Countries and the Netherlands year-after-year score high in citizen happiness. People seem happy to have structures and safety nets in place that allow them to frolick through their passions.

The problem with America is that is has taken possession of the power of capitalism, over time creating the belief we can buy contentment and happiness.  This country has anchored its beliefs in politically controlled fear systems rather than human needs. It wasn’t like that when I arrived 32 years ago. It is frightening to know that the institutions we humans allow to grow up above us on the societal organization chart – governments and religions, to name two of the most prominent – have taken possession of our liberty calculating that fear equals control. It is not an accident, that in the history of most nations, there are no prolonged periods where there isn’t some sort of big threat dangling over the populace like the proverbial blade of Damocles.

In Europe we felt the fear of the Cold war, played out in the skies over our heads, much more intense than here in America. Doomsday was on our doorstep every day of our lives. And with no military to speak of, the available money was used to make healthcare and education available to all, create transportation infrastructures, put power under the ground so we wouldn’t loose it every time a storm came through, developed social safety nets that could withstand changing economic times.

Now so many years later I see the clarity of the picture, and while it may seem cynical to accuse governments and religions of deliberately unleashing fearful scents into the herd, the historical record is very clear on the matter. In fact, the record is so well documented that it is clearly adopted as a government’s standard operating policy.

SearchAmelia; Socialism_Not_Safe_Alternative for Communism

Not economic system is omni-potent and fair sharing

So I took off my rose colored glasses to look at a society that is so set on condemning any thought, idea or initiative that comes from the “other” camp, that it is completely stifling the foundation this country was built on. Once I thought fear  was bad during the Cold War, which in hindsight was almost a romantic notion of a conflict compared to what we see today.
In modernity the fear-spreading operations of government and quasi government institutions are made easy in the extreme, by a combination of massively improved communications and a media without any ethical reservations when it comes to enthusiastically exaggerating all the things we fear. And right now there are millions upon millions of baby boomers who fear the reality that retirement and old age is not going to be as golden as they worked and hoped for all their lives. Who fear that they cannot afford health insurance or social safety nets. Unfortunately they are right to be fearful, because history is showing once again that the human default mode is to always fall back upon reliance on a wise, alpha-male leader who can kiss everything and make it better (for a while). It is the major  reason why in politics, the worst-case outcome is also the most likely outcome.

In the decades to come America will become a mixed bag of capitalistic socialism, with some  outcroppings we will embrace as Globalization Side Effects. During the process years, up to 40% of the population here will condemn this, even as they collect their weekly entitlements from past national accomplishments.

America is a country of huge contradictions. People despise globalization as they see job outsourcing as the thread to their lifestyle. Yet homegrown companies such as Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Apple and many more are sitting on more than $1.5 trillion dollars in cash, stacked in countries across the globe with growth potential and substantially lower corporate taxes. Bringing that money home does not make sense to them. The result of injected capitalism in those countries means that systems clash or mix. Even if Obama offers to cut the domestic tax rate to 28%, the Fortune 500s won’t bring the bacon back home; nor will it stop the bleeding of corporate revenues needed to support a nationwide social overhaul. A well executed social sharing program with carefully balanced control buttons, would be good for America the Republic but bad for America the Empire, which is why I reiterate that in politics these days the worst-case outcome is also the most likely outcome.

Record Auction at Annual Boys and Girls Club Dinner

Commissioner Tim Poynter in conversation with Amelia Islander Mag Pubisher Phil Kelly

Commissioner Tim Poynter in conversation with Amelia Islander Mag Pubisher Phil Kelly

An amazing 510 tickets were sold for the Annual Boys and Girls Club Dinner at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island last night, filling up the ballroom to capacity and resulting in $10,000 more collected from the silent auctions than last year, when the plans were unveiled for the new Fernandina Beach home for the Club on Lime Street.
More good news came with the announcement that of the $1.8 million needed for the construction and outfitting, $1.728 had been collected leaving only a $72,000 gap.
The new facility, which started construction last month is scheduled to be finished by September and last night’s grand stand support will have without any doubt collected the financial balance needed.

The dinner, orchestrated, designed and supervised by Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island’s Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorf, was superb, and a tribute to his Farm to Table philosophy. The Romaine Lettuce Salad was easily the best tasting Romaine I’ve ever had and could have turned me into a vegan if not for the main course of Roasted Breast of Chicken and Garlic Shrimp. At the risk of sounding a bit blasé I have to admit that as a aficionado of Key Lime Pie, the Key Lime Tart served for dessert tasted so fresh that Key West’s own “Blonde Giraffe” brand pales by comparison.

Bonnie St.John, feature speaker at 2012 Boys and Gilrls Club dinner

Bonnie St.John, feature speaker at 2012 Boys and Girls Club dinner

After Club President Bill Gower made announcements of gratitude and recognition, especially highlighting the wonderful efforts from Mrs. Ann Moser on behalf of the Club, it was the turn of honor guest motivational speaker Bonnie St.John, who treated the audience to a wonderful story of her life, from poverty and physical and racial challenges in San Diego to becoming a Special Ski Olympics Silver Medal Winner, who had found strength for her journey through life from her mother, her ski instructor and the magnificent support she received from the Boys and Girls Club when she needed it the most.
Heart warming and inspiring with a message of perseverance and the motivational recognition that Gold Medals go to those people who get up faster than anyone else after being knocked down.

With deep gratitude to our host Ange Wallace of the Travel Agency, a lifelong supporter of the Boys and Girls Club, we felt once again the humbling joy of being part of this wonderful, giving  community.

Top Talent Line Up for 2012 Amelia Island Blues Fest

Shemekia-copeland-headlines Amelia Isand Blues Fest Saturday line up

Queen of the Blues Shemekia Copeland headlines Sept. Blues Festival

After successfully concluding the first Amelia Island Blues Fest in September, the committee added 2 new members, Tom Keenan and Jim Hurley and started working immediately on a A-list of Talent they would like to see on stage at the 2012 Event.

During the Bonita Springs Blues Festival today Blues Revue Magazine was given the exclusive to announce the magnificent line up A- Class line up for this year’s festival which will be held on September 14, 15 and 16 at Main Beach.

The organizers are more than pleased with announcing 9 new acts of National and International stature, while some of the exciting performers from the first festival were invited back.

The three day event will find monster guitarist Shane Dwight headline the Friday session, preceded by Duane Truck’s Flannel Church. Saturday is a top heavy day which brings back Roger “Hurricane” Wilson as performer, MC and Blues in Schools program coordinator, 16 year old guitar sensation Alex Ivanov, the Nouveau Honkees, J.P. Soars and the Red Hots, Sean Chambers, Albert Castiglia and the inimitable new Queen of the Blues Shemekia Copeland with her band.

On Sunday we’ll look forward to a nice afternoon mix of Beth McKee’s  Cajun blues, Bill Sheffield magnificent walking blues , Julia Savage’s jazzy blues, guitar fireworks from Blistur, and the smooth magificent BB King plays Stevie Ray Vaughn tones from Detroit based David Gerald.

2012 Amelia Island Blues Fest Talent Line UpWith the talent under wraps, the Blues Committee will know spend all its time working on improving the experience for audience and sponsors. One new addition is the organization of the Battle of the Blues competition which starts up on Sunday March 4, when the first three bands compete for the Opening slot in the September Blues Festival as a part of the Last Leg Rally event.

Advance Tickets for the event are 3 Day Pass $40, Friday Pass $10, Saturday Pass $25, Sunday Pass $15 and VIP $75. Tickets went on sale today on the Blues Festival website

A Inspiring Journey about Investing in Life

Searchamelia.com:Melissa N Kraig Equine Rescue of South Georgia

Inspiring Work with great Satisfaction

I have a soft spot for people with passion and the guts to jump head on into life’s most challenging dreams. So when I heard the story from my wife TJ about this ranch a bit up in White Oaks Georgia, where a couple with a number of volunteers take in rescue horses I knew I wanted to do a story on them. I fight for animals and I’m happy that we live in a community where most of us cherish pets. The are numerous organizations that do their best to care for them and give them a life. But attacking the concept of rescuing horses demands very special people. Which is why I asked Kraig of the Melissa N Kraig Anthony’s Equine Rescue of South Georgia to send me a story about their 8 months old journey into an inspiring new life chapter. Here is their story.

It was a Tuesday, about 11:30 am. I am sitting at my desk, working, at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, when the phone rings. I pick it up and go through the normal routine of who I am and what shop I work for, only to be answered by my wife, Melissa, sobbing, “Georgia Department of Agriculture is here, he is looking at our horses, someone called them and told them we don’t feed them, they are all starving to death, and we leave them standing in their feces all day long in the barn.”

“Okay, okay,” I say, trying to process it all. “Well, do we feed our horses?” I ask, trying to sound curious.“Yes!” She replies, slightly louder than I wished.“Do we leave them standing in their feces all day, in the barn?” I ask, again trying to sound curious.“No!” She yells once more.“Then let the man look around, he will tell you if he has any issues and that will be done.” I reply, trying to encourage her.

“Okay.” She says meekly, “I just don’t want them to take our horse.”

“They are not going to take our horses. They have no valid reason to take them. Answer the man’s questions and show him around. Listen to what he has to say and we will go from there.” I say reassuringly.
We hang up the phone and I return to work, wondering at the weird train of events that would lead to this happening and how it is that my life sometimes seems like a tweener novel.

An hour later, sitting at the same desk, my phone rings again, the caller ID shows my wife’s cell phone number, well here we go, “Hello beautiful, how are you.” I ask, waiting as any man would, for the tone of the first word because that is the indicator that tells us what the conversation that follows is going to be like. “They want us to be a rescue, can you believe that?” She says, I can see the smile on her face though I am sitting some 40 minutes by car away from her.

Now my mind is racing once more, this time for a different reason; an actual reason. A rescue, that sounds like a lot of horses. I feel like one of those guys in the Twix commercials. “Need a break?” Yes please, I reply, “Let’s talk about it when I get home.” Sigh of relief.Needless to say we talked about it, we prayed about it, we researched it, and here we are now, seven months later.

Cletus is no mule's fool

We got much more than I thought I would

I remember thinking about all the lucky horses that would come to us to be rescued. They would love us and be so grateful that we had “rescued” them. Now I know that it was not only them that were in need of the rescue. God has a plan for all that He does. I don’t know who it was that made the call that sent Georgia’s Agricultural Department to us, but if you are reading this I would like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart and with my deepest gratitude.

Since we have started to work with these beautiful spirits, a change has come over us. They have warmed the deepest parts of our very lives and taught us what it means to be human again. The entire time that we think that we are teaching them and helping them work out their knots and kinks, they are doing the same for us. They have brought the most amazing people into our lives, those that understand what in life truly matters.

For this reason, when we were looking for a theme for the rescue, a short summary of what we are about, we decided on “Investing In Life”. Not just the life of the horses, but in people as well. We found that where we had a small dream, owning and working with horses, God had a much bigger one, one that involved the healing of broken hearts not just in the horses, but as much in the people that take the time to interact with them, as well.

Over the past week I have been reflecting on our journey thus far. Many of the horses that we get in here come to us starved, neglected, abused, hurting, lost, confused and ready to give up. Many of them have forgotten how to act and what it means to be a horse. Many times they are weak and unable to walk across the pasture more than once or twice during the day. They don’t kick their heels up or throw their heads, they just kinda stand and watch and wait for the next thing to hit them. When you look in their eyes you see that they have almost given up, not on life, on people. They don’t trust us, they are waiting for us to do to them what the one before may have done. Let’s look at Tatum for example. Poor guy was so tied in knots. I spent four months working with him and we couldn’t get him to move, unless someone walked in the pasture/paddock with a pitch fork or poop fork; then he would run. If on the lead rope he would just stand there, as if waiting for you to hit him.  I don’t know his back ground. I just know what I see. Then one Saturday Michael Boyd comes out and I see him work with Tatum, with love and pure spirit and the horse responds. I am not going to lie, I still get an emotional chill when i think about it. (Mike, you are amazing and we are so thankful and blessed to have you come out here and work with us.) I could say the same of every one of our volunteers.

And then over time and with patience it slowly happens….

searchamelia.com

Michael the Magician at work

Because of  this wonderful interaction between horse and man, over time you begin to see those beautiful animals run again and kick up their heels. It doesn’t happen over night, but then you recognize the small changes and you see them begin to be a horse again and remember that beautiful freedom as they slowly return to become once again the kindred spirits that we all love.And that’s when it hit me with great force, and I begin to realize that for all that I thought I was giving them, they have been giving more to me. They have been teaching me to return to what it means to be a man, a father, a husband, a friend, and a Christian.

I suddenly realized how easily Melissa and I could have chosen the expected road to materialism that is so prevalent today. Work hard and save for the rest of our lives, and then at the end we would have looked back and wondered about all the dreams we once wanted to go after, but then never did. We are fortunate to have taken the leap into the unknown when the chance came along and stepped out on that ledge and leapt forward with faith.

Let me share my passion with you right now and take that leap when the opportunity comes along. It may not be easy, actually it may seen is terrifying at times. But once you are committed and you look out and distinguish the faint outline of the road before you, you realize that it is worth every step, the valleys and the mountains, the storms and the calm waters.

Now eight months into the dream

searchamelia.com: Equine Rescue of South Georgia

The give back more than we can ever give them

Currently we have fourteen horses and a mule on the property. We just bought another eight acres of land, ready to be cleared and set up for future rescues. There is also a list of 27 horses eagerly waiting for the moment that new slots become available.
The need is great, but we know that our community and our God is greater. So we commit ourselves to the task at hand, loving the work and struggle that comes with living out our dream.

On days when the kids come out we often find ourselves watching them interact with the horses, so full of questions and curiosity. Amazed that this animal, as large as it is will do as they ask it too, eyes wide with wonder at the design of the hoof, laughing at the “frog” in the center of the hoof, while making “ribbitt” sounds, as one of the volunteers explains each part of the foot.

They wonder in wide eyed amazement as they wait in anticipation of the moment they get hoisted onto the saddle and being lead around the corral. The expression of joy as one of the horses nuzzles them, breathing hot air in their hair. The amazement as they watch another volunteer work with a horse that has not had much human interaction, their breath catches as the horse rears up on his hind legs, then releases as he starts to do as he was asked and lunge around the trainer. All this we watch and smile with wonder at the gift that these horses bring to us each and every day.

But the dream does not stop there. Melissa has plans to take the Certified Horsemanship Association Disabled Rider Certification Course and begin to work with individuals with special needs with the horses. Imagine the joy when a child who has lost his legs mounts up and rides around, feeling true freedom. Or an autistic child interacting with a gentle horse, touching, petting, understanding, and healing not just for the horse and the child, but for the parents and for us as well.

I cherish the dream of working with youth who have run into some trouble, self or life inflicted. Help them learn to control and work through their emotions. Horses are the perfect environment for this, as they sense us better than we could ever hope to.

If you are interested in what we do, please, take some time, give us a call and set up a visit. Come out and see firsthand what we do. We are a non-profit organization based on community support; all donations are welcome and are tax-deductible .

So if you are looking for something to get involved in, we are here and always looking for people who are interested in investing in life.

Melissa and Kraig AnthonyEquine Rescue of South GA Inc.

912/673.8199

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Revolutionary Tiny Fold Up Car Designed for Cities

searchamelia.com: hiriko-electric-car-launched-european

Looks pretty comfortable for a fold up car!

In the mid 1960s the idea of publicly owned bicycles was first introduced in the city of Amsterdam. Although the idea was attractive in fighting inner city air pollution, promoting inner city short term transportation options and congestion solutions, it took several decades before the idea to become feasible and effective in terms of numbers and operational efficiency. In many European cities and Nature Parks these days there are fleets of bicycles in a short term bicycle rental program in operation, usually secured by a Credit Card release system.

Segway, the funny two wheeler invention, teamed up several years ago with GM to create Puma, a one/or two person two-wheeled city vehicle capable of reaching speeds up to 35 miles per hour, and going 35 miles on a single charge at a cost of 35 cents per charge.

Now following the same philosophy, a group of companies in Spain has now produced a tiny revolutionary fold-up car designed in Spain’s Basque country, as the answer to urban stress and pollution. Different however this time is that the idea for this 5 foot long vehicle (think small dining room table) originated in the US. Usually European ideas are developed in America, but this time it was dreamt up by Boston’s MIT Media Lab and conceptualized and developed by a consortium of seven small Basque firms under the name Hiriko Driving Mobility.

Searchamelia.com: Introducing future car model Hiriko

It folds up like a stroller

The “Hiriko,” the Basque word for “urban,” is an electric two-seater with no doors whose motor is located in the wheels and which folds up like a child’s collapsible buggy, or stroller, practically guaranteeing easy parking everywhere. Also, the vehicle’s four wheels turn at right angles to facilitate sideways parking in tight spaces.
The Hiriko can run 120 kilometers (75 miles) without a recharge and its speed can be electronically set to respect a variety of city limits.

Besides the functionality of the car what’s however real “interesting” here, is that the makers see the operation of the Hiriko as city-owned vehicles, up for hire like the fleets of bicycles available in many European cities. In a PR effort, the backers of the project describe the “Hiriko” as a “European social innovation initiative offering a systematic solution to major societal challenges: urban transportation, pollution and job creation.”

And that my friends is of course a bit frightening, as it implies another step towards ever expanding government control. With a Euro 12,500 price tag per vehicle, considering the pitiful track record of governments efficiently running any type of program, a financial disaster at some point in the future is a given.
Despite track records of  mismanagement and budget overruns, quite an impressive number of cities have shows interest, including Berlin, Barcelona, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Talks are under way with Paris, London, Boston, Dubai and Brussels.
Malmo in Sweden has already signed up to a trial Hiriko program with Berlin, Barcelona, Vitoria-Gasteiz (the second largest Basque city), San Francisco, and Hong Kong expected to follow suit.

Wonder if our city leaders on Amelia Island would consider the Hiriko?

DOTUC is a Political Statement Airline Fee

searchamelia.com: travel options

How can anyone be excited about air travel anymore?

I haven’t flown in ages, partly because I absolutely detest the cattle prodding TSA procedures I have to endure at check ins and…I live on Amelia Island, which greatly eliminates the annual desire for leisure travel. It is fair to say however that in my younger years I traveled 90% of the world to get it kind of out of my system.

I traveled an awful lot when flying was mostly a pleasure of fixed price travel packages and not today’s a la Carte price gouging that some airlines seem to have taken a liking to.
So I was ready to spit fury all over Spirit Air’s latest fee, which charges passengers $2 per flight for Department of Transportation regulations Unintended Consequences. Yep, you read that right. $4 round trip to offset the cost of a series of new Department of Transportation passenger protection regulations, introduced a couple of weeks ago. The fee is called DOTUC fee (Department of Transportation Unintended Consequences), intended to cover costs associated with the DOT’s new regulations. The $2 fee went into effect on Tuesday, January 31.

One of the DOT’s recently enacted rules gives flyers the option to change or cancel a reservation within 24 hours of booking; it’s this law in particular that’s given Spirit cause to charge extra. The airline’s reasoning? By reserving seats for customers who have yet to commit, Spirit will lose inventory and, consequently, money.

My initial reaction was that Spirit is using rules created to protect flyers, as an excuse to charge them more. Ready to set my keyboard on sharp and fire off some inflammatory comments about this practice, my eyes caught Spirit President and CEO Ben Baldanza’s curious explanation: “People love the idea of not having to commit to a reservation, but this regulation, like most, imposes costs on consumers. Wouldn’t we all like to eat all we want and not get fat? Regulators like to try to sell the idea of this rule, but have ignored the cost impact to consumers. You simply can’t eat all you want without consequences.” Hmmm?!

Before my feet started tingling and my blood pressure rising I heard my wise mother’s advice: “You have to think further than the length of your nose,” one of her favorite teachings when my brothers and I grew up. And so my nose told me that Baldanza was aiming at something beyond the mundane fact of another price hike.

By saying ” this regulation, like most, imposes cost” he was definitely pointing at something much more ominous that an artfully construed metaphor of fat people.
Truth be known, Baldanza, just as many other company execs, was overtly exposing the fact that they are tired of all the government meddling and mingling with more rules and regulations and ridiculous laws appearing daily, constantly interfering with normal market mechanisms.

Adding a $2 fee to a ticket is not really going to bankrupt anyone, but it should send a message to at least the flying population of this country, that if government is not reduced soon, we’re looking at a much more unbearable cost of living picture. Spirit for example was hit with a $50,000 penalty last year for advertising violations after posting a $9 fare on Twitter, which then required users to click to two websites to figure out the additional taxes and charges. As a matter of fact, in 2011, airlines and travel agencies admitted violating price-advertising rules in more than 20 cases and agreed to fines totaling more than $1 million. The amount is hardly worth mentioning when spread out over almost 200 million domestic flight transactions in 2011; about half a penny per transaction. But as it’s the cost of doing business, we John Public, collectively will pay. Collectivity is a form of Communism. Even though I do not have children, I have paid fees and taxes to support the public school system all my life.  It’s the nature of the beast seeking an antidote for government interference and meddling.

Airport and Travel Security

More than 10 years after the ugliness of 911, most people have been fully trained to accept government rule causing any type of inconvenience, discomfort and loss of freedom … and pay for that, while  willfully neglecting the statistical facts that:

• You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack
• You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack
• You are six times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack
• You are eight times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack
• You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane
• You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack
• You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack
• You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack
• You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack
• You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack
• You are nine times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack
You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

These are the numbers…and the numbers don’t lie. Politicians do.

Six Degrees of Free Rice

searchamelia.com: 6 degrees of free rice

Play a game and feed the hungry

The United Nations World Food Programme came up with a creative way to fight hunger and A Fun Way to Teach children (and immigrants) vocabulary. Every homeschooling parent in the United States should use the 6th Degrees of Free Rice game between February 6 and 11th to teach their children the meaning of words  while feeding hungry children.

The concept is quite simple. Go to the Free Rice website and think of 6 of your closest friends. The proven theory is that you are connected to 6 people who are connected to 6 people, who in turn are connected to 6 people… up to 6 times and realize that you are connected in this manner to every person on earth.

There are only 6 degrees of separation.

Freerice is an online trivia game where each correct answer earns 10 grains of rice for the world’s hungriest – it’s an addictive online game with a real-world impact. Those grains of rice will go to a hungry child who is only six degrees away from you and me.
Between February 6 and 12 Free Rice wants you to invite 6 people in your circle to play “6 Degrees of Free Rice.”

The idea is simple. When you sign up, you commit to recruiting six people, then your friends will recruit another six, and so on… our online movement to fight hunger could exponentially explode! And many more people will discover Freerice.

The WFP feeds 90 million people every year

searchamelia.com: world hunger map

The World Food Progamme is impressive in its logistics and results. From Africa and Asia to Latin America and the Near East, there are some 925 million people in the world, who do not get enough food to lead a normal, active life. And even after 50 years of being on the frontline of the fight against hunger and thousands of political pledges, the WFP can “only” get to about 90 million or about 10% of them. Yet we are all just 6 people removed from being connected to all of them.

And even though it is truly impressive what is being done every year, the World Food Program needs our help. No..it’s not knocking on your door for money pledges. It’s inviting you to join in a fun and educational game called Six Degrees of Free Rice.

In just about 10 minutes I collected 5,000 grains of rice for a hungry person. We need you to help get your friends, family and community involved too. Are you up to the challenge? If you are, just click here to participate.
I hope you do.

Here is another link you may want to hit to learn how important the WFP’s work is.

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Buy This! Sell That!

searchamelia.com: financial market updates

I've looked at the markets from both sides now.

At its most basic level, a trade takes place when a buyer is willing to buy at a certain price and a seller is willing to sell at that price. Both parties could be smart, experienced, and looking at the same data, yet somehow one party thinks it’s a good price to buy and the other thinks it’s a good price to sell.

Last week, several news items represented good examples of how investors could look at the same data and draw different conclusions.
Consider these:
1. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.8 percent pace in the October through December period.
Bullish investors say that’s up from 1.8 percent the previous quarter and the fastest pace in a year and a half.
Bearish investors say it’s less than the 3.0 percent growth expected by economists and most of the growth was due to inventory accumulation.
Source: MarketWatch
2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for global economic growth in 2012 and 2013.
Bullish investors say fears are overblown as private-sector economic activity in the 17-nation euro zone showed small, but unexpected, growth in January and durable-goods orders were up a strong 3.0 percent in December in the U.S. – the third straight increase.
Bearish investors say just heed the IMF’s warning, “Global growth prospects dimmed and risks sharply escalated during the fourth quarter of 2011, as the euro-area crisis entered a perilous new phase.”
Source: MarketWatch
3. Spanish and Italian bond yields dropped dramatically lately.
Bullish investors say the drop in yields and the strong demand in January’s bond auctions suggest the euro zone crisis is easing.
Bearish investors say the Portuguese bond market is now imploding, the Greek restructuring could fall apart, and the European Central Bank’s December offer of unlimited three-year loans to banks has simply delayed the inevitable day of reckoning.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
It’s differences of opinion like this that make markets. Thanks to the free market, there always seems to be a buyer for every seller – at the right price.
Like Joni Mitchell who sang, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now”, it pays to look at the markets from both the bullish and bearish sides and, ultimately, make decisions which you think will best position you to meet your long-term goals and objectives, yet still allow you to sleep well at night.

Save the Date for “Story and Song, Words and Music”

searchamelia.com: amelia island book festival 2012
Many famous and interesting authors at 2012 Book Festival

Amelia Island’s Annual Book Festival is just around the corner and frankly, even though I am an avid reader (and writer), I have often wondered why a little island in North East Florida even bothers with something so mundane, New Yorkish as a book festival. Surely, it can not be much of an attraction for visitors, my ignorance dictated. Until my wife and I took over the operation of the Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast and noticed in recent weeks how quickly we sold out between February 16 and 20.

Pretty much the same goes for the Amelia Island Film Festival a week later and then of course the Annual Mother of Attractions, the Concours d’Elegance, when there is no room or RV parking spot available between here and Jacksonville. Yes Amelia Island plots its widespread diversity of attractions in a remarkable way: Arts, literature, music, automobiles, water and land sports, nature, food, every aspect of the good life gets its moment in the spotlight on Amelia Island.

We are blessed this year again with some top novelists honoring us with their attendance. I am especially excited about meeting one of my top 5 favorite writers of all time: David Morell.   Even though he may be known best for his creation of John Rambo in the 1972 novel “First Blood”, that became a movie franchise sensation in the 1980s,  I truly love his historic action spy trilogy “The Brotherhood of the Rose”, his 1990 novel “the Fifth Profession” and frankly “Creepers” still keeps me out of old closed up buildings.

I’m less familiar with the works of Steve Berry, except of course the Cotton Malone series,  but hope to correct that in the near future, just as I’m looking forward to hosting playwright novelist David Matthew Barnes and learn more about his work and interests, especially sharing his crusade for women in rock. Paula McLain is another author I only know by association (The Paris Wife).

Of course these are only less than a handful of the almost forty novelists, poets, authors/illustrators/musicians/filmmakers  that are honoring us with their presence this year. Check out the list and the programs and decide how you can enjoy and benefit from learning from their lectures, educationals and socials.

The Book Festival this year has an early start with magnificent Tom Kimmel performing “Story & Song, Words & Music” this Friday evening in the Burns Hall at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Atlantic and 8th Street.

searchamelia.com: Book Festival Preview with Paul Kimmel

As the Pigs are Pushing the Eurozone to the Cliffs

searchamelia.com: German press about Greece

German Press: ConMen in the Euro Family. Is Greece Killing our Currency? And what about Spain, Portugal and Italy?

One of the perks in our decision to accept the offer to manage Amelia Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast late last year, was interaction with our guests. Bed and Breakfast guests are often decidedly different from Resort Guests. They appreciate an informal glass of wine on the beach patio in the sunset and a good happy hour conversation
They are inquisitive, eager to immerse in local color information and on average well read and knowledgeable about many different topics. We have not been disappointed so far.

Friday afternoon we had an unscheduled walk-in from a nice Canadian couple with a successful fashion store on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron in the city of Southampton, just northwest of Toronto  and over Happy Hour with a good glass of wine we found ourselves in an interesting conversation that ranged from the Florida primaries to whatever happened to Greece and the Eurozone.
This coupled was very well traveled on both sides of the Atlantic with frequent shopping trips to the fashion capitals of the world, so it surprised me a little that even they had lost track of the ongoing Euro crisis. Truth be known so are most people here, since the media only report financial news in a classical way, which means covering extremes between the good guys and the bad guys. They’re not interested in what’s happening in the margins or in the middle, because that is not news to them, even though that’s where the telltales in society give perspective to what lies ahead of us.

And in the middle is where Europe’s problems are escalating beyond just the pigs. Northern and Western Europe have in recent decades been following the exact same path as Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy – “the notorious bad guys.” In the entire Eurozone (as in the USA) it’s the same story of excessive spending programs, disastrous labor laws, and widespread government interventions. No I’m not talking about socially supported entitlements. Personally I think any government that picks up a weapon to defend its citizens, should first and foremost provide healthcare as a priority for its citizens wellbeing. Both are about providing the country with welfare and protection.

When countries like the ones in Northwestern Europe spend only a relative pittance on defense, a lot of money becomes available to bring well-being to the margins. After the second World War Northern European countries for decades did not spend on the military complex and therefore amassed enough money to provide healthcare to its citizens and when the Eurozone initially became a potential opportunity for political grand standing, there was money available to embrace the southern European region into the fold of charity and entitlement. The Eurozone was ultimately going to be like the United States, the United States of Europe. That was the plan; thankfully executed ass backwards.
What did the politicians do? They gave the Eurocrats in Brussels the power to regulate, but without the power to tax, the formation of the Empire was doomed from the early days on. Just a matter of time. To create a Euro currency without the power of a European Treasury behind it, is absolutely ludicrous.

Personally I’m happy that they omitted to close the loop because it would only have lead to the formation of a European army and more meddling and there is really no telling what that would have brought to the global escalation of armed conflicts.

So here is the historical picture in a nutshell: the power to tax is an essential, defining characteristic of the nation-state, absence of which is the reason why the EuroZone initiative is collapsing.
Since WorldWar II, large amounts of economic revenues in especially North and Western European Countries have been alloted for Social Welfare, Education and occasionally rather stupid entitlements (in Holland there was a time you were paid to be a student) rather than purchasing armaments. Having witnessed the horrors of war on their own land, Europeans were not to excited about the US-USSR Cold War antics. So while the US built a military empire, western Europe built a social welfare empire. Both turned excessive with dangerous side effects of which we will see the unfolding in the next 5 to 10 years. Will we become a reflection of Europe with some country specific mutations or will we go down as an empire that could not strike a balance between conservative polarization and welfare foolishness, or will we finally learn what government is supposed to guide and protect, versus the excessive meddling into affairs that is essentially none of government’s business.

My Canadian friend, remember this story originated on our beach patio, voiced the media impression that if Greeks would simply start paying their taxes, the problem would quickly go away. Not so. Greece, in an important way the birthplace of our democracy, has many libertarian tendencies that demand small government and very limited meddling. In a perverse way, even the Junta Military Governments of the past were hardcore conservatives who preferred small government.

People is Greece are at a lunar distance from the people in Scandinavia. Nothing really makes them compare to a Norwegian or German. Not their lifestyles, not their homes, not their wardrobes, not their eating culture, not their educational, religious or culture history. Who on earth, except for idiot politicians, would ever try to force congruence into these opposites, rather than let time take its course.

The difference for Northwest Europe is, their economies have been much stronger as a result of historically different productive mentalities. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that if you’re following the same stupid policies, you should expect the same bad results. It’s logically inconsistent to assume that certain Eurozone policies are absolute failures in Greece, but magically work in France or Germany. Since becoming part of the Eurozone, Greece essentially tried to mimic Western European policies on an Eastern European budget when they became part of the Eurozone, but that doesn’t work.

The financial pressures of the Eurozone is now forcing the rest of Europe has to start walking a fine line when it comes to implementing more social programs, because the entitlement cracks are getting visible in all of Europe.

Greece is a lost case for the Eurozone and the Canary in the Coal mine where the future of the Eurozone is concerned. Italy, Spain and Portugal are next in line and obviously pro Euro politicians do not want to end up with the black eye of a failed and very costly experiment. Which is why in a last ditch effort printing presses are heating up to preserve the Euro currency (and only temporarily at best) as the European Parliament will try to secure the power to tax. Good luck with that one!

But as far as the press is concerned, some countries are racing for the cliffs and others are walking. When the first ones go over the cliff they’ll be frontpage news again; for a short while at least. Than there will be a period of anger with the politicians for having “forced” the people into the historically unnatural alliance of a Eurozone and then life will go back to affordable vacations in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and even France and a return to making nature’s best wines and cheeses instead of Airplanes and other Industrial manufacturing that requires focus and precision to the extend of OCD.

The Eurozone will vanish into the history books as another experiment in “one size fits all” mediocrity, a philosophy that wrongly assumes that what works in one location, also will work somewhere else. It assumes that the German production mentality can be injected into the Greek population with their morning cereal or Happy Hour Ouzo. It won’t work. And before some readers with Greek roots start shooting of angry emails at me, they should realize that their ancestors moved away from Greece for the reason of being different than the age old accepted culture of leisure and laissez-fair.

The Eurozone will ultimately collapse because it became a forced alliance of very different cultures being regulated
by the same “one size fits all” philosophy and with the intention to prevent future wars.

Here in America we’re on the exact same path however, gravely underlined by the fact that last Wednesday Bernanke and the Feds announced that they would keep the federal funds rate between 0 and 1/4% at least through 2014, which also translates to cranking up the printing presses again. Of course the empire called USA has the power to tax, in contrast to Europe, but much of the federal revenues in last century have been “wasted” on unprecedented military build up, instead of welfare of its citizens, like in Europe.

So here is the bright side of the equation, Europe can’t really afford an army, having spend fortunes on entitlements and social programs. America can’t really afford an arms race any longer, unless the republic accepts that we become like North Korea, where every privilege belongs to the military and the rest of its citizenry are second hand citizens.
As a lifelong peace activist I consider the bright side of all these governments being bankrupt: They spend so much on welfare and debt service that they are unable to afford much warfare… And that makes welfare and debt good things, in a perverse way. Maybe US Secretary of the Treasury Tiny Tim Geithner should keep that in mind when he pressures Europe to increase its crisis firewall and boost bailout funding. There are always at least two sides to every story.

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