Friday, June 28, 2013

Food stamp recipients burgeoning amidst "recovery"

The number of US food stamp recipients has been skyrocketing since the Great Recession of 2009, so steeply that the 2012 figure of 46.6 million (1.5X the entire population of Canada), almost doubles that of 2008. So much for the official announcements and mainstream media "reportage" of "economic recovery".

Without charging them with public deception, I'll mildly say that there is a great wall separating Wall Street and Main Street. For Wall-Streeters, so high up they couldn't see a food stamp with a telescope, the picture is undoubtedly rosy. With $85 billion of printed money flooding the bond and mortgage markets every month, no wonder they are floating on the hot air of Cloud 9. They cite the booming housing and car markets as an indicator of prosperity, without mentioning or even noting that the low interest rate is artificially sustained by the free Fed money. Media present declining unemployment rates, but non-participants in the job market, i.e. those who have given up looking for work, have been jettisoned from the equation, thus producing the lowered quotient.

But for Main-Streeters, they are so low down that hardly a drop from the nourishing rain from the top can filter down to their parch landscape.

Those who see the big picture realize that this incongruent dichotomy is yet another economic bubble in the making, this one even bigger than the one in 2008. All that is needed to deflate this bubble is for the Fed to slow down or eventually halt the paper money printing, aliases "stimulus" and "quantitative easing", which is the better of the two alternatives. The worse alternative is to keep on printing until the bubble bursts, and bursts huge. When either happens, Wall Street will plunge, and interest rates will soar, forcing another round of layoffs, closures, foreclosures and repos.

As for the poor and destitute, the food stamps will be inaccessible to some, if not become a thing of the past.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beware of the Bear

How many Grizzly bears are there in California? One - the one on the CA state flag. There used to be thousands, but they've been hunted out of existence. Some were captured alive and were pitted against Spanish fighting bulls for duels unto death. This might have something to do with the Wall Street lingo "Bull-&-Bear Market".

Since the 2009 Great Recession, the bull has been winning big, but can this last forever?

To answer this question, we have first to understand the cause of this 4-year bull-run. In the simplest of terms, the US central bank - the Federal Reserve ("the Fed") - has been practising "Quantitative Easing" (QE), i.e. printing $85 billion per month of Monopoly money, or about $1 trillion per year, and injecting it into the bond market - as a "stimulus" to restart the stalled economy. This has the effect of
1. driving the stock market high, and
2. keeping the interest rate low,
the former bolstering the confidence of investors and the latter that of consumers, and both for corporations.

QE, unfortunately, cannot be maintained forever. Its fiscal effect is to pile the printed amount on to the already towering national debt. In fact, it should be ended ASAP.

Easier said than done, of course. Just the vague hint of a "tapering" of QE by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke sent shock-waves through the stock market, not just in America, but throughout the world. His bottom line is that the reduction would be implemented incrementally as of this fall, down to zero some time in 2014. The likely result will be:

1. the stock market will fall, and

2. the interest rate will rise.

Bernanke tried to pacify the market by saying that the tapering won't begin until the unemployment rate has fallen below 6.5%, which may never happen. And even if it does, the tapering will send it sliding again. One thing is for certain. QE must stop, and the sooner, the better. There is no way out of this precarious bubble-inflating exercise but to stop inflating the bubble before it bursts.

The bear will rise again.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First motorcycle road-ride

June 10 was a big day for Shannon Wright. That was her first time riding her 05 Ninja 250 on the open road. Up till this ride, she'd been confined to the simplicity, predictability and safety of the parking lot, and though the same techniques apply to both, this transition must have felt to Shannon like being plunged from order into chaos.

Our plan was for me to lead her on my bike on a route we were both familiar with, at a speed that she was comfortable with. We chose 7 pm departure for less traffic and two hours of daylight. We set this plan the day before, and she had a whole day to psych herself up to it. When the time came, I ask her, "Are you still scared?" She said, calmly, "Yeah, but let's do it." And the plan worked out fine, as planned.

Afterwards, her adjective for the ride was "nerve-racking". It was so far back I can hardly remember my first road-ride on a motorcycle. I was a self-taught (as in most things I know), and knew nothing about the indispensable core technique of counter-steering, and even less about the danger of going on the road without it. Being my own teacher, I had also to just ride out on my own. I do remember taking that Kawasaki 350 Triple over the Lions Gate Bridge, with a string of cars trailing behind. It was frankly bloody terrifying. And I took the clover-leaf sooo slowwwly that exit traffic was backed up behind me. LOL

Anyway, Shannon has ridden through a psychological barrier, unscathed. SO it was a positive experience. Her heart-rate had returned to normal by 8:30 pm. :) Cardio-vascular exercise on automatic. Even having ridden since the 1980s, I still feel a butterfly in my stomach each time I prep myself for another ride, which doesn't happen with driving the car. Motorcycles are adrenaline machine, no doubt about it, and we motorcyclists are incurable adrenaline junkies, amongst whom only the competent and sensible survive.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mona Lisa 2013

Move over Da Vinci. Here comes [MONA LISA 2013]

It is not a photograph, not even a painting, but a ball-point-pens-on-paper drawing, by Samuel Silva.

This is extreme talent for any culture, for any species even (including galactic-level ETs if they - likely - exist).

It is masterpieces like this and the ones below, as well as those in music, in literature, in philosophy, as well as in science, that uphold the species Homo sapiens in high esteem (in my eyes).

And no, in spite of our foibles, hypocrisies and atrocities, I still do NOT wish extinction on our species.

For the sake of all life on Earth, then, this leaves us with no option but to EVOLVE - biologically and sociologically - into a truthful, wise and benevolent species.

*None of the following is a photograph, but paintings or drawings.

To see their creators and origins, and even more masterpieces, go to

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The GLOBAL ELITE in Per-Capita Energy Consumption

Whenever I return to Canada from travelling in an Asian, African and even European country, I experience culture-shock, especially in terms of energy usage - how careful and frugal they are, and how careless and extravagant we have become. Might I add how wasteful, trivial, thoughtless, foresightless, arrogant, narcissistic, habitual, addicted, wanton, matter-of-fact, taken-for-granted, and dangerous, we are in our usage of what finite resources we have.

To put it bluntly, we behave like spoiled brats. Do we really think that we are the global elite, more deserving of Earth's limited bounty than others?

Even Japan and Germany use only half the energy per capita as we Canadians do. And China's is a quarter, if that, and India's maybe less than a tenth. The only country I've visited that does not give me any cultural shock upon my return to Canada is the United States, whose per capita energy expenditure is, if anything, marginally higher than ours.

In other countries, I see people turning lights off upon exiting a room, having smaller homes to power, with no lawns to power-mow every week, biking rather than driving, commuting shorter distances, using AC less if they have AC at all, putting on a sweater rather than cranking up the heat, using hand tolls whenever feasible, being more renewable-energy aware, getting their daily exercises by working more physically. Small things like these add up to the cultural character, and make for huge energy savings for the planet and our children, not to mention a less polluted and more sustainable global environment.

To break this pathological cultural habit we must reflect on every thing we do, always with reference to the planet and our kids, and modify our personal and collective behaviour accordingly. If other people can do it and be happy, we can too, with a little inconvenience. Or we will continue to stick up like the sore thumb in the diagram below.

Note: The diagram is of 2009 vintage. Since then, the North American sore thumb has shorted slightly due to the Great Recession of 2009, but once the economy recovers, if it will, the sore thumb will length again. It is the current North American character, unless we take this opportunity to transform ourselves.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)