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February 14, 2013

Debt, Insanity, and Birds...

I was just watching Fox News, and they announced a new daily debt rate increase from the Congressional Budget Office... We are now racking up $4.8 billion in debt per day instead of the old $4 billion/day... Here are a couple of screen shots that I took to roughly corroborate...

try again cropped_First_2_10 screen shot_suz.jpg And...

feb 14_v2.jpg

Those two screen shots are from April 11th, 2012 to February 14th, 2013 -- 310 days... By my calculations, that amounts to roughly $3 billion per day,... Given the growth rate of that debt, $4 billion/day sounds ballpark, and for all intents and purposes, we have to apply that to the interest on national debt alone....

How could this happen??? Even Dubya and Obama can't bloat the government that fast... No they couldn't/can't but the exponential growth in the compounding interest on our debt can... When I speak about exponential growth, just think of cell growth in galloping cancer...

It's way too easy to get glassy eyed when it comes to large numbers, and I keep trying to find new ways to impress upon you the magnitude of the situation... Think about this... The Apollo space program that put a man on the moon back in the 1960s cost a total of about $25 billion... that's for all of it... from the beginning launches to the first man on the moon in Apollo 11 to the near disaster of Apollo 13 to the final moon walk of Apollo 17... All of it cost $25 billion dollars in 1960s dollars... That's roughly $25 billion spread over a decade, and that was gaspingly expensive!!! Well, taking into account inflation, what cost $25 billion in the 1960s would cost $180 billion today... Obviously, we can't afford another moon program today... BUT, we whir through $180 billion every 37.5 days just servicing our debt at $4.8 billion per day... That's right... Given past experience as a fiscal reference and re-directing our debt payments to NASA could fund an entire new lunar landing in just over a month. But we can't re-direct those interest payments... And what's more, we're not even able to keep up with them...

Scared yet? Keep in mind that we just suffered through a week of terror caused by an ex-cop who felt licensed to kill because he believed a police force had done him wrong, and before that a looney who held a child hostage for a week in a bunker, and before that a self-absorbed moron who dyed his hair to look like 'the joker' and then shot up a theater, and before that...

Yes, it seems like our government and fellow citizens have lost their collective minds...

Two thoughts... First, things are crazy, but there is magnificent solace -- just watch the birds... Watch the swoop, the gregariousness, the flash, the humor... Secondly... All is not hopeless... We are, after all... after all... We are still Americans...

Trying to get some rest by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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June 1, 2012

The Economy and Walking Sticks...

dow_ 6 1 12_2012-06-01_140556.jpg Hi,

What follows is strictly opinion from CapeCodAlan, and not from eBirdseed.com. What's more, it barely touches upon the subject of birds, but then again, it absolutely does...

Let's start at the beginning... Take a look at that number above... Why is the Dow down 250 points??? What's wrong with the economy? I'll tell you what's wrong. We're scared and we're uncertain. And when I say "we", I'm speaking from the perspective of not just the corporate world (of which I used to be a part), but also of the small business world into which I'm mulling an entrance... Keep in mind that by all acounts, small businesses are the backbone of the American economy... Let me explain my reservations...

420_both_IMG_4255.JPG

Take a look at the two walking sticks/camera monopods at left. They'd be ideal for hiking and birding. Since you're reading this forum, they would probably be perfect for you, but I'm not making them or selling them. Why? Here's why...

First, Europe has me scared. (And no, I'm not going to cite the obvious -- I've done that so many times that I'm turning blue -- look up the numbers for yourself...) Forget Greece... Greece is small potatoes... Worry about Italy and Spain. The simple fact is that Germany has had about enough of bailing out countries and cultures hooked on entitlements. Long story short is that Europe is teetering. And if Europe crashes, so do we because the U.S. economy is so entangled in the European economy. So that's why we're scared.

Secondly, little guys like me are uncertain... I'd like to make those sticks... I really would, But I'm afraid the EPA would jump ugly on me because of the sawdust I produce, or guv'ment would take half of my gross (which, when all things are said and done, it would), or the ATF might consider my stick an illegal fighting staff because there's a bolt in the end... To put it simply, I don't know where this country is going, I'm uncertain about the coming tax laws, the growing power of the EPA and the Federal government, the very nature of our litigation-happy society, a Congress who has to pass a bill before they can even understand it, and a market that's a yo yo... You name it, and everything smacks of uncertainty...

Anywho... IMHO, that's why the market is down, unemployment is up, and you won't be able to take one of my superb walking sticks with you the next time you go birding...

Scared and uncertain by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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February 15, 2012

Something Different and Very Dangerous

Hi,

Every so often I try to take a break from the birds. (Correspondingly, what follows isn't from eBirdseed.com, but rather just from me.)

That being said, take a look at the two screen shots below...

400 2008 debt clock.jpg

400 2012 debt clock 2012-02-15_022841.jpg

Respectively that's where we as a country were in 2008 and now are in 2012 fiscally speaking... (Before anyone wigs out about, "Dubya did this!" or, "Obama did that!" understand that IMHO, both parties are culpable as Hades for this train wreck...)

That being said, what do those numbers mean? Well... A lot... We have taken an economic disaster that began under FDR (Social Security) and, by 2008, parlayed it into a cataclysm. And now, in 2012, it is virtually unspeakable, even by our "most wise" presidential candidates. Here are the facts no one will tell you:

  • Forget about the $15 trillion we call our 'debt'. That's roughly equal to our GDP (see second pic). While that isn't good, it's manageable in a sane world (not DC).
  • No, our 'debt' isn't the 800 pound gorilla... Look to the bottom right of the last photo -- that's $117,606,689,433,710; or $117.6 Ttrillion dollars... Those are our obligations to stuff like Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, and there's no way to escape those obligations.
  • Of each dollar our federal government spends, $.40 is borrowed. Per day/week, we rack up $4 billion in interest payments alone.
Look, these numbers go on and on and on and on... (Just Google on 'David Walker' and brace yourself.) I'm not saying I know what's going to happen... But I just feel like we're getting into very dangerous monetary territory...

Nervous by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

If you want to read more about this, google on: '"grand rants" trillion'.


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April 17, 2011

Unknown Nest, News, Table, etc...

Hi,

Not sure who originally made the nest below...

resized_IMG_2540.JPG

Obviously, some creature took quite a bit of time in the process of construction, but Don the squirrel probably doesn't care much... (I wonder what wee beastie would dare nest so exposed? Was this originally a hawks nest?)

Moving on... A tom turkey passed by today... It was a beautiful thing, but all alone. I wonder where the hens are... hopefully taking care of poults... It's a hard world for little things.

Speaking of little things, we still haven't seen our first hummer of the season. Bummer! (But we're readying the camera!)

Well, the news isn't good this Monday morning...Over the weekend, at least 44 were killed by twisters in the South. (You can contact the American Red Cross here). And the economy isn't looking so good either -- Standard and Poor's just busted our long-term debt outlook down from a "Stable" to a "Negative". Right now, the Dow is minus 227... If, down the road, Moody reduces our credit rating from "AAA" to "AA", the economy is really cooked. (Didn't someone warn and warn yet again of the dangers of long-term debt?) Time will tell...

Finally, on a happier note, the farm table is coming along nicely. The top (showwn here with a yardstick for perspective) has been rough sanded, finish sanded, and the application of seemingly endless coats of varnish has begun. Oh goody...

resized_two boards_with yardstick_3.JPG

With boards this wide, it's clear that any attempt to permanently affix them to the table and/or each other will split them wide open... No, I have a sliding system in mind with a spring-loaded resist that will keep the top in place and let it move and contract all by itself... Stay tuned...

See you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 15, 2010

So These are Our Great Economic Minds...

Let's take a break from the birds... (What follows is not from eBirdseed.com, but rather from me, CapeCodAlan... )

Yesterday, an appalling story floated harmlessly out of the news cycle... Imagine the CEO of Honeywell, David Cote, one of Obama's new "Debt Commissioners" saying the following:

"It scares me that as a financially conversant CEO, I didn't know (emphasis mine: CCA) how bad this was going to get in the next 10 years," Cote said on ABC's "This Week." "The thing that everybody misses is it's my generation, the baby boomers, who are going to flow through Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. It's going to crush the system."

"Didn't know?" "Didn't know?!?" Does Mr. Cote not read the papers? Did he miss liberal 60 minutes? Did he miss independent former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker? Did he miss conservative Glenn Beck? How about Lou Dobbs? Art Laffer? Jeez... You'd almost think that this very blog mentioned a looming disaster.

And so it is... David Cote has the ear of the President of the United States, though I wouldn't trust him to mow my lawn. But what do we expect from a government of "Read my lips... No new taxes!" and "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it..."

Worried by the feeders,

Contest waiting...

CapeCodAlan

Addendum1 11/17/10... Yesterday, powerful representative Charlie Rangel was found guilty of 11 House ethics violations... Surprise, surprise, surprise...

Addendum2 11/19/10... Feds eye 4 years for Mass. pol who hid cash in bra


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June 24, 2010

Oil Disaster and Bird Seed...

Hi all,

We've talked quite a bit about this oil disaster (as well we should have and should continue to do so), but I thought I'd first relate it back to you, the backyard birder. Do you remember when gas was $4.00/gal just a few years ago? Back then, at the behest of the owner of eBirdseed.com, I wrote a quick post on the ultimate effect that that price increase (and the ever-changing dietary habits of Americans) would have upon you, the purchaser of seed. Well, yesterday, I heard an industry expert on Fox News warning that gas could be back up to $4.00/gal by the end of the summer. Oh goody... Right now, I'm looking into the possibility of savings through bulk purchase, etc... Will keep you posted...

Other thoughts, (CCA's and CCA's alone...) What follows needs adult supervision!

  • Part of the reason I didn't want to dig into the gory details of this oil spill earlier is because... well... the details are excruciatingly gory...
  • Be prepared to cry...
  • Very rough tally on day 66...
The bird numbers just go on and on... But something I've been trying to gently introduce is that this disaster easily has the potential to become a mega-disaster on a human scale. Just as an oil spill can ripple into the seed market, shutting down 1/3 of the American seafood industry would most likely deal a death blow to an already teetering national economy. (See: "The Next Economic Disaster", ""Financial Speech for the Ages"", and most ominous... "Societe Generale and Global Collapse")

Yup, if nothing else, America is already in wildly deep economic trouble. (If you aren't mainlining heroin yet, take a long look at this clock (be patient - this site is getting hammered) and note the bottom row in red and the right-side column in debt/GDP ratio.) Bluntly, the world markets are already in crisis... To seriously cripple both the U.S. fishing industry and the oil industry would be catastrophic on a global scale. (Here's a U.N. chart that should give just a hint of the horror should we really trash our semi-functional economy. And as America's economy goes, so goes the world's.)

Obviously, we face a two-horned demon... We must get off oil, but in a controlled manner. And we must put down this environmental Beelzebub... To fail at either (let alone both) is to face a Great Depression on a global scale.

The adult video below is telling...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

One of the lines reads... "We are an unstoppable oil-dependency-breaking machine... unfortunately the machine runs on oil..."

There perhaps is your answer... "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

Cross your fingers and see you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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eBirdseed.com bird cam P.S. What is that circled Red Cardinal pic on the bottom right of the eBirdseed home page? Inquiring minds... (I've got to do something to lighten this post up just a bit...)

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May 23, 2010

The Gulf and a Green Heron

Hi all,

First off, please understand that what I write here is my (CapeCodAlan's) opinion, and not that of eBirdseed.com.

There are two reasons that I keep writing about this oil spill. The second is because of the unknown and probably immeasurable carnage this will bring to our wetlands, and to birds in particular. That reason is obvious. But the first reason I keep returning to this disaster is what it could mean to this country.

Here's the deal... The government isn't telling you straight up what our national debt is... (The politicians are a clever lot - they keep three sets of books: one for the dreaded debt/surplus which hovers around $12 - $14 trillion in the red), another for emergency funds (kiss that puppy goodbye), and one for our "obligations" like pensions, social security, medicare and medicaid. Let's see... The pensions/social security is already broke... But it's the medicare/medicaid that's the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Right now, that's beached at at least $60 trillion. (Please read: "The Tragic Birth and Impecunious Demise of the Greatest Generation". Be afraid.) The long and the short is that we simply can't afford a mind-bending cataclysm like the Gulf oil spill. We're already borrowing money to pay for the interest on the money we've borrowed earlier. The last thing we need is 6,000,000 gallons of oil loose around the Gulf, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama. (Keep in mind I'm using six million as the amount right now... That's a best-case scenario. The amount may be ten times that much for just one month. The worst-case scenario would be 60,000,000/month for four months - a total of 240,000,000 gallons or 20 Exxon Valdez.)

For the life of me, I don't understand why President Obama fails to call this a national emergency (on both the economic and environmental fronts), and bring in the military to supervise and aid.

Anyway, we can't spend all our time on the Gulf. Suffice it to say that one way or the other that mess is going to affect you. Deep sigh...

The photo below is that of a Green Heron. Yeah, I know it isn't very good, and Mrs. CCA made a game effort at getting some video of the bird, but it wasn't meant to be. At least the shape might look familiar...

green heron cropped and resized_05-22-10.jpg

I'm sorry gang, but my heart just ain't in it tonight... Read this... CapeCodAlan


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February 16, 2010

Squirrel and Random Stuff...

Hi all,

Greetings from Don The Squirrel...

Don_DSC_0055.JPG

Thank heavens for that old NovaBird camera. Without that, you'd be looking at crayon drawings. (Actually, we've ordered another cam to replace our super-saturated Canon.) Anywho, there's Don in all his glory. (Don is a relative of Lafayette and Gomez in Minnesota, but that's another story.)

Hey... Not too much new here... The snow is almost completely gone... The crows still call for food, and the seagulls steal what we put out for the crows. Sigh... We did however see a wood thrush. (That's a new one for me. They run along the ground like terns... Very cool...)

There is one final observation... I helped a local merchant with a small contest (the total prize amount was around $2,000), and we saw a kind, but almost frightening behavior. Two of the winners refused part of their prize packages and instead asked that we find more needy recipients. They asked that they remain anonymous (and so they shall), but the fact remains that these people gave away a serious chunk of change. Quite frankly, that is a little disconcerting here on Cape Cod - land of the Kennedy's, home of the late Tip O'Neil, and stomping ground of the Clinton's and the Obama's. To put it bluntly, there's a lot of money around here. Still, the Cape is facing a serious economic problem (just like the rest of the country), and people are reacting instinctively. It's noble, but a little scary at the same time.

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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January 12, 2010

500th Post Revisited

Hello friends,

Yes, I started this with the salutation of "friends". More about that in a moment...

About ten posts ago I promised that my 500th entry was going to be special. I couldn't decide whether it was going to be funny, or I'd spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get that "unique" photo, or what; I just wanted something special. Unfortunately, for reasons that will go without mention, I've been in a bit of a funk, and the 500th was no barn burner. Anyway, I've put a lot of thought into this, and I decided to uncork on the one subject I'd want to discuss with my close friends - that of our nation's economy. Yup, this is going to be one of those rare ones that doesn't involve birds; this will be one of our "coffee-table" chats. Now, take a look at the fellow below...

400_baby.jpg

Cute little guy - he's just a few weeks old, but what does his future look like? In a word, his future looks "challenging", and here's why...

When you watch the news, all the talking heads and politicians will tell you that our national debt is around $12 trillion. At the same time, our gross domestic product (value of all goods and services and aka GDP) is around $14 trillion. But the story goes much, much further.

Our debt doesn't reflect the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Those costs dwarf our debt to the tune of at least $70 trillion. Check out David Walker below and keep in mind his credentials...

As if Mr. Walker wasn't frightening enough, that report was created back in the Bush era... After TARP, President Obama's Stimulus Bill, and who knows what, the total debt is mind numbing. Check out the U.S. National Debt Clock. Note at the bottom our total assets and unfunded liabilities. In short we owe more than we are worth, and unlike a citizen, the government can't sell off its property to make money to ease the situation. Typically, governments can only create money in one of five ways:

  • Make war and take the other country's goods... (Not gonna happen...)
  • Enter into some sort of profitable endeavor like Amtrak... (That didn't work out so well...)
  • Borrow money... (We already owe China and Japan alone almost $2 trillion)
  • Print money... (Inflation...)
  • Tax... (To quote Nancy Pelosi speaking about President Obama, "There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail,")
The bottom line is that that little fella up top is going to be facing some tough times when he reaches his 20th birthday. If things go unchanged, somewhere around 2030 and 2040, we will not be able to pay the interest on our debt even if we closed the Defense Department, NASA, Housing, and all other federal funding. And what happens when the U.S.A. goes bankrupt?

Well, there go friend... My best analysis... And a word to the wise...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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February 22, 2009

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

kitchen window 14_cropped.jpg

Hi all,

It's a pleasant old picture isn't it? There's a crow and a squirrel out there. (You may have to squint to see them, but they are there.)

All told, there ain't a lot of hot birding action right now though - raining out. (Superb quahogging weather!) But not to worry, there's always something to write about.

Let's see... There's the economy... Uhhh... Nope. (If you want to get severely depressed, check out a piece I wrote here. Be sure to take a gander at the embedded link for the Beck/Walker interview only after you take your Prozac...)

Onward.

Aside from clamming, there's nothing that lends depth and meaning to a wet weekend wrap-up quite like Chinese food leftovers and a good cheesy sci-fi movie. Yeah, now we're talking! So nuke the lo mien and lobster sauce, and break out the high blood pressure medicine 'cause there's campy celluloid afoot.

By definition, the show for the day has nothing to do with quality science fiction like 1954's "Them!" or "Creature From the Black Lagoon", or even Howard Hawks' 1951 masterpiece, "The Thing". Naw, we want silly, illogical, goofy stuff fit for a six-year old. Enter "Reptilicus" from 1962. I won't give away the storyline because only a schizophrenic could follow the storyline, but suffice it to say that this abomination has plenty of roaring, horrible models, and used the entire population of Copenhagen as extras. (Oh I can't resist... here are some highlights...)

To borrow from the the great arts critic Leonard Pinth-Garnell, this one was "monumentally ill-advised", "unrelentingly bad", and "exquisitely awful".

My guess is that there's an art form to making a "good" bad movie, and we've lost that art. In its place has come the rough and dark handiwork of computers and all-too-real gore.

Deep sigh...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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