Saturday, December 06, 2008

How to Write a Web Site that Could Cause a Divorce

Compelling people to read what you write

Copyright © 6 December 2008 by Bob Hurt.  All rights reserved.

Executive Summary

The article presents tips for writing more readable, enjoyable,  compelling web sites.


I have seen a lot of junky, congested web sites.  Frankly, they drive me nuts.  Why?  Because I know many of them contain valuable information.  However, I don't have the patience to trudge through the 
  • bad formatting, 
  • bad grammar, 
  • bad fonts, 
  • bad colors, 
  • bad graphics, and 
  • bad (disorganized) content.
So, I write with some tips, some "writing rules."  They will help you web mavens to make 
  • better blogs, 
  • better web sites, 
  • better mailing list postings, and 
  • better money.
Therefore, follow these rules religiously.  

If you do, readers can become so riveted to your work that their spouses might ask for a divorce.

Organization to put sanity into your work

  • You have lots of room on a web page, so don't jam things together.  
  • Make each page stick to its point.  
  • Make every page compel people to read the whole thing. 
  • Give every page sound, general-to-specific organization, and logical flow.

Format to make your work classy

  • Use an attractive design; get ideas here.
  • Use black font on white background for easiest legibility.
  • Carefully select and place graphics to keep content from seeming too burdensome.
  • Use bold point sanserif font (e.g., Verdana) for headlines (14 to 16 point) and subheadings (12 to 13 point).
  • Use non-bold 9 to 12 point serif font (e.g., Georgia) for paragraph text.
  • Use consistent spacing between headings and paragraphs.

Style to make readers love your writing

  • Use excellent grammar, case, and punctuation.
  • Avoid phrasing that would unintentionally offend a gender, gene, or religion group.
  • Allow no spelling errors.  
  • Avoid over-wordiness - use only as many words as you must to convey the point.
  • Avoid jargon*; define special words and phrases in-line, in hyperlinks,  or in footnotes.
  • Limit paragraphs 3 or 4 sentences.
  • Limit sentences to 17 words.
  • Order sentences with subject - verb - object, saying, in effect, who did what to whom.  
  • Eliminate to-be verbs (be, being, been, am, is, are, was, were) except when expressing identity. Read about "e-prime ." 
  • Write in active, not passive, voice.
  • Buy, memorize, and obey Strunk & White's tiny 4th Edition of The Elements of Style 

Structure and Content to deliver a powerful message

  • Put an irresistible, gripping headline at the top.
  • Insert an Executive summary at the top to accommodate busy, impatient readers.
  • Use informative subheadings to identify content segments.
  • Separate text into sensible paragraphs showing logical flow.
  • Connect paragraphs with linking sentences as needed.
  • Break up text with bulleted or numbered lists. 
  • Add a Summary or Call to Action at the end; make it compelling. 
  • Put everything needed for making a buying decision on one page.  
  • Respect other authors’ copyrights and properly cite your sources.
  • Proofread and correct your work at least twice before publishing.

Ads and promotion to make a few bucks

I loathe ads on web pages.  However, Google's AdSense program puts relatively unobtrusive ads on the margins or tops of web pages. Google selects ads that seem related to your web page content.  Google pays you money if your web guests click on any of the ads. 

If you produce a lot of click-throughs, Google will elevate your web site in the search engine rankings.  That will bring you more web traffic.
  • Consider putting Google ads on your web page - see Google AdSense .
  • Buy and use Web Position to prepare your pages and promote them to search engines.
  • Swap links with other web site owners - they put your links on their pages and vice versa.

Why follow the above rules?

  • Readers will focus on your content and points rather than the manner and medium of expression.
  • Readers will tend to believe you.
  • Readers will stay interested. 
  • Readers will see the nature of the page's content at a glance. 
  • Readers will actually read what you have to say.
  • Readers will tend to act according to your advice.  
So, follow the above rules, religiously.  

* Specialized technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject

Bob Hurt
2460 Persian Drive #70
Clearwater, FL 33763
+1 (727) 669-5511, FAX +1 (206) 600-5958

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to Make Sourdough Bread Bread
by Bob Hurt, 727 669 5511,  Full instructions at in articles.  More info and free starter at

  1. Weight, not volume.  Make all bread recipes by weight, not by volume.  Ideally, buy a scale that weighs up to 5 pounds accurately and USE it. 
  2. Starter. Keep starter culture in refrigerator and feed weekly.  By weight 1x starter, 1x flour, 1x water.  Culture contains bacteria and yeast. 
  3. Water. Use only unchlorinated water - if water contains chlorine, bring to boil and cool to room temperature before using for bread.  Chlorine kills bacteria.
  4. Flour. Use any kind of flour or even potato or other starch to feed starter.  Use bread flour for sponge and dough.  Substitute up to half of bread flour with other specialty flours like spelt, barley, oat, whole wheat, rye.  Soak coarse flour like rye overnight by boiling water and mixing hot water with coarse flour 3x water to 1x flour.
  5. Sponge.  make sponge from starter to use in dough recipe.  Sponge = 1x starter, 1x flour, 1x water (by weight). Stir together thoroughly. Let sit in warm area out of direct sun till frothy and bubbly 3 to 8 hours.  Okay to make sponge in one phase.  Ideally, make sponge in 3 phases by "tripling:" 1x culture + 1x flour + 1x water + sit time.  Sponge 1 = sit time 3 hours. Sponge 2 = sit time 9 hours.  Sponge 3 = sit time 8 hours.  This makes very robust sponge.
  6. Dough.  1x sponge, 3 x water, .1x salt, 5x flour.  Mix in order given till all ingredients are wet.  Let sit in warm area out of direct sun 45 minutes.  Stretch, poke with finger tips, roll into cylinder, then fold end to end.  Do this twice.  Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel, or put in oiled plastic bag. Let sit to rise 45 minutes to 1 hour. Repeat stretch, fold, and rise process twice more.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  7. Prepare Loaves.  Shape into loaf and lay on parchment paper or cornmeal-sprinkled or oiled cookie sheet.  Alternatively, put in oiled bread pan so dough does not protrude above rim.  Cover with plastic wrap or insert in plastic bag and let rise for 1/2 hour more.  Just before inserting in oven, slice the loaf with a razor, very sharp knife, or very sharp serrated knife.  Make your slices quickly but deeply.  Knife must not pull dough.  Slice length wise top and sides, or if round boule, slice like a square 1/2 way up the side. Usually it won't matter if you let the dough rise too long, but a proper rise will yield some oven spring (expansion of loaf in the oven).  Too much rise will cause the loaf not to expand while baking. If you want seeds on the loaf, paint cut surface with eggwash and milk, then sprinkle and gently pat with seeds. Keep loaves covered and warm till baking time.
  8. Bake.  Bake in 375 degree F cold oven  for 45 to 75 minutes, depending on size.  Or bake at 500-550 for darker and harder crust. Bake on on cookie sheet or stone or in bread pan on center rack. Use parchment paper to hold boules (non-pan loaves) for ease of handling. Mark start time at T=0.  At T+10 minutes paint loaves with milk or milk mixed with beaten egg for shiny crust unless already painted.  Do this quickly and shut the door to retain heat.  At T+20 lower temperature to 450.  Bake very small loaves 25 minutes, medium loaves 35 minutes, big loaves 45 minutes, and huge loaves 55 minutes, OR till a a probe thermometer in bread center reads 190 degrees F.  Done bread makes good thumping sound when bumped with fingers.  Immediately turn loaves onto a wire rack elevated off the stove top for cooling.  Allow 30 minutes cooling time before cutting or eating.
  9. Cut, Eat, and Preserve. Saw slices gently with serrated edge knife, or just rip a chunk of bread off.  Cool extra loaves completely, seal in ziplock bag, and freeze immediately to keep fresh a month or more.  Keep loaf-in-process in plastic bag in fridge, but after 3 days, reduce to coarse crumbs, toast on cookie sheet, and save in plastic bag for recipes requiring bread crumbs.

Typical Bread-Making Measurements

When making bread, you should use a food scale to measure portions of sponge, water, and flour by weight, not by volume.  The typical kitchen scale will not accurately measure small amounts of salt, so we assume certain weights for salt by volume. Remember that we can use the ounce unit for measuring either volume or weight, for a volume of one ounce of water weighs approximately one ounce, and that explains the use of ounce for both types of measure. However, a volume ounce of flour always weighs less than one ounce, so to avoid confusion, you might want to use grams for measuring bread components.  I have found the following equivalents suitable for bread making.

1 ounce weight (ozw) = 28.375 grams ; 1 pound (lb) = 16 ozw = 454 grams (g) = 7000 grains
1 ounce volume (ozv) = 1/8 cup = 2 Tablespoons (Tbsp) = 6 teaspoons (tsp); 1 Tbsp = 3 tsp
1 tsp salt = 5.2 g = .18 ozw; 1 Tbsp salt = 15.6 g = .55 ozw
1 gallon (gal) water = 8.35 lb; 1 pint water = 1.04 lb = 272 g; 1 cup water = .502 lb = 136 g.
1 cup flour sifted or lightly shaken out of bag = 4.4 oz = 125g
1 cup flour slightly packed by scooping it out of bag or tapping cup on counter = 5 oz = 142 g
1 cup sponge, not stirred down = 5 oz = 142 g 

The volumes below (shown as cups) vary some from the ideal, but after you make a few batches of bread, you will get a feel for the ideal stiffness.

Ideal weights ->1x 3x.1x5x
1.3 lb100 g300 g10g500g
1.8 lb5 ozw15 ozw1- Tbsp25 ozw
2 lb1 cup2 cup1+ Tbsp6 cup
2.5 lb1.5 cup3 cup1.5 Tbsp8.5 cup
5 lb2 cup4 cup2 Tbsp10 cup
6 lb3 cup6 cup3 Tbsp5 lb bag
Note that if you want lots of oven spring, bake after the first rise or second stretch and fold. If you want a thick hard crust, spritz the oven sides and bottom with water every 2 or 3 minutes for 15 minutes to make steam.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Coming Bust, Why, and What to Do

Folks, I thought about sugar-coating the below pronouncements of the brilliant Margy Flynn, but I decided against it, partly because I want to chime in.

In a nutshell, she shares Gerald Celente's forecast of the massive collapse of the American economy, attended by riots and widespread destitution and calamity, particularly in the big cities. The prescription: Live Small and invest in efficiency, conservation, and belt-tightening of all forms, move to the little communities, unite with your neighbors to become self-sufficient, and figure out how to do business in Euros because the Big Bust is on its way.

I don't claim pundit status of any kind, but please allow me to generalize about why the big mess and what to do about it.


Jesus of Nazareth taught his followers to love God, love and serve one another, and to exercise wisdom by such things as not casting pearls before swine. Americans have ignored the wisdom part, and like the pendulum that has swung to its limit in misguided altruism and political correctness, the pendulum of retribution for unwise social change is about to swing back the other way, leaving devastation in its path.

In particular, we as a nation have tolerated unparalleled sophistry and nonsense as moral guidance for our national policies.

We have allowed the unschooled, illiterate, derelict, and ne'er-do-well to vote.

We have tolerated corruption of our Constitution and unbridled abuse of our people through a judicial oligarchy.

We have failed every opportunity to improve our gene pool.

We have allowed a runamok national Congress and state legislatures to pass an impossible to tolerate volume of ridiculous laws that punish victimless "crimes", with no end of the pronouncement of such laws in sight, many if not most of which completely ignore the limits imposed by our constitutions.

We have opened our borders to civilizational illiterates from Iberoamerica who have brought with them their culture of crime and corruption to pervert our governments even worse.


WE must overhaul our system of government and laws starting NOW, and to accomplish that, we must work together to learn the law and use it to divide and conquer, one at at time, the criminals in our government. If we cannot do that, we shall face the spectre of armed rebellion.

1. Remove the right to vote from all but college-educated, married real estate owners over the age of 25 and of good education and good moral and ethical values.

2. Limit all governing officials to one term of office.

3. Add an advisory branch of government and task it with fully exposing and disclosing all crimes and malfeasance by candidates and government employees.

4. Remove the right to lobby from all but individual people and communities of people.

5. Impose the death penalty for any violation of the public trust and stiff jail terms for all violations of the loyalty oath - all public employees must aggressively work as their first task to enforce the free exercise of the rights guaranteed in an by the constitutions.

6. Eliminate all victimless crimes and limit stare decisis to one year, requiring the legislatures to codify all judicial rulings that comport with the constitutions and existing laws.

7. Excise the bar associations from government and move the regulation of the practice of law to the executive branch, requiring all government employees to terminate bar membership permanently upon accepting office.

8. Impose bonding requirements upon all government employees, fees paid by those employees individually as a condition of employment, enable citizens abused by government to file and execute claims upon those bonds through an fair process.

9. Strengthen the Grand Jury system, giving them the power to investigate all felonies, and making it easy for citizens to bring evidence of government crimes to the grand jury for investigation. Create special prosecutors from the citizenry for all public employee crimes.

10. Slam the doors on immigration,eject all illegal immigrants summarily, and allow only productive, law abiding people of 110 or higher IQ to enter the country for residence or citizanship.

11. Impose English as the official language and require fluency in English for voting, signing contacts, and citizenship.

12. Move all government retirement funds and other amassed wealth held by government entities into publicly held funds with professional management and governemnt oversight, allowing all people to invest in those funds and receive retirement benefits; use that fund to provide bonding for all public officials, judicial and legislative acts, and all arrests.

13. Reinstitute a precious metals standard for currency and coinage, and nationalize all mineral deposits including oil in America and its territories, allowing no further private ownership, and allowing only reasonable fees for management. Establish laws and policies to prevent investors from pillaging the coins and melting them down abroad, imposing harsh penalties for polluting or perverting the money values.

14 Establish governemt sponsored eugenics programs that foster gene pool improvement in terms of IQ, creativity, artistry, business acumen, mathematical and scientific ability, industry, and physique. Make these programs encourage intelligent family planning, mate selection, and racial blending. Temporarily sterilize all fecund children until married. Allow no unmarried people to procreate. Impose heavy penalties upon divorce or desertion. Require comprehensive education and training for all prospective parents and marriage partners. Encourage large families of people of average and high ability and cognitive skills. Discourage procreation of or by violent criminals, inferior and defective people, wastrels and the indigent, and those of IQ below 90.

15 Overhaul public education (see my recommendations in the associated article at -

16. Require every voter to own, possess, care for, and learn to handle and use a pistol and a rifle (works for Switzerland, so why not the USA). Those unwilling to do this can't vote.

17. Set up special work and living environments for stupid people who cannot compete against people of average and high IQ without resorting to crime or welfare abuse. Protect these people from abuse by more able people, and prevent them from abusing one another or outsiders. Eventually the ranks of these people will thin out as they die natural deaths and society fails to procreate more of them. As this happens and the average and brighter procreate more abundantly, the average IQ will increase (making people better problem solvers), the need for welfare and prisons will diminish dramatically, the general productivity and economic stability will increase, invention and creativity will result in greater technological expansion and mechanization, and America will become powerfully competitive than ever on the world markets.

You might not realize this, but people of high and average IQ already and automatically abuse people of low IQ. They cannot help it, for it is a natural response.

Even more to the point, people of high IQ naturally abuse people of average IQ.

By "abuse" I mean "take unfair advantage of".

Why the abuse? Because people can't help it. When you think faster and better than your associate, you tend to become the master and your associate the servant. The smarter person excels and gets ahead in life, while the less smart person lags behind or gets in a hole. They can't help this differentiation because low-IQ people cannot solve problems very well - they make notoriously bad decisions in contrast to the decisions of high-IQ people. And no amount or form of education, diet, or conditioning can change this basic disparity. Genetic differences cause it more than any other factor.

You have read about the Age of Light and Life, the Millennium when Jesus will return, and when no more poverty, crime, or war will cause problems between people.

Without arguing whether that will happen, let us assume it will.

Now, answer this:

what kind of IQ do you think the people in that world will have? Will they have the IQ disparities of America where, out of a population of 310 million fully 85 million are so smitten with stupidity that they cannot graduate from high school? You see, 85 million Americans have IQ of 85 or less, and they really cannot pass high school requirements.

The no-child-left-behind program (a really great one in my opinion, if operated properly), proved that. You might remember that back in 2000 before the tests became popular, the US military accepted only high school graduates.

Then when the CAT (Comprehensive Assessment Tests) went into play, so many high school seniors couldn't pass level 1 (40% correct answers) that the head of the NAACP in Florida accused the government of racial prejudice. He felt outraged that so many children of color could not graduate from high school, and without that diploma they could not have that military career so many craved as their savior from the rat race (where they did not have the cognitive skills to compete for the better jobs and mates).

Within a couple of years, the military relaxed the requirements, accepting GED and other non-graduates. They needed cannon fodder for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The military life was a good choice for those young men and women who couldn't graduate because they live with constant supervision, always taking orders and following them or ending up in the brig, a much safer life than a ghetto existence on the outside where the life of a young men does not have as much value.

Following my suggested program of gene improvement will leave the country with little such cannon fodder and far less incentive to engage in wars of attrition where many tens of thousands (as in Iraq and Afthanistan) come home wounded or die of cancer and other weird diseases because of exposure to depleted uranium and exploded nuclear weapons in those theaters.

No, if America goes to war, its new brighter young men and women will opt for the nuclear solution before they willingly go get body parts shot off in a no-win police action of the kind in which America has engaged ever since the end of World War II.

The new generation of scientists, engineers, and soldiers will demand more life-saving devices, and hey, our political leaders might be smart enough to keep us independent and out of ground wars altogether.

Well, I have ranted enough about this, so now I'll turn you over to Margy Flynn with this parting shot:

The coming Super-Bust of our economy might serve as the shock we need to start implementing the various elements of the above plan or something close to it. If we don't do it, we might all become the bitches of Chinese WarDogs before the next century arrives.

Bob Hurt

P.S. Yes, you can write to me and complain about my plan, how arrogant I and deluded I must be to propose it. I'd far prefer that you post your positive suggestions to my blog where I have put a duplicate of this message:

Margy Flynn writes:

> Citizens of the American Constitution
> C/o 739 Dalbey Drive
> Las Vegas, New Mexico
> Web site:
> E-mail: Constitutionalcitizens@yahoo,com or
> (505) 425 - 0659
> As some of you, our friends and supporters may know, Margy filed her case against individuals who work for the machinery of government of the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and individuals who work for their insurer, and the insurer, itself. All of the defendants have been recently served, so this case will begin to move forward. As a point of interest, when Margy originally went to the court clerk’s office for the summons forms, she was given the incorrect form, on two separate occasions. With the massive Constitutional and lawful positions at stake, do any of you think that this might have been an honest mistake? With the fact that Margy was an avowed Constitutional candidate who ran for city council, with incorrect information supplied to Margy by the city clerk, do you think the clerk made an honest mistake when she gave Margy that incorrect information? When in doubt, follow the benefit.
> As you know, governments and government officers/employees in America, federal, state and local, are required by Constitutional mandates to abide by their oaths in the performance of their official duties, and to uphold the Constitutions and Rights guaranteed therein, to the People. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 4 of the federal Constitution, governments are required to be republican forms of government. Yet they operate as corporations, and exclusive, exclusionary corporations for the benefit of the corporate officers and shareholders, which exclude the People, for whom they theoretically work. How many people, as Citizens, or groups you know have taken any effective lawful action against this open fraud perpetrated upon the People? We know of NONE. That does not bode well for Citizens living in a “free” country. As some of you know, Freedom is not free. We must earn it, and America, as a society, has earned nothing but the disrespect and
> disdain of its leaders who are Constitutionally required to serve us, but since the Citizens demand and enforce nothing, these evil criminals serve only themselves and their true masters. By now, you should be sick to death of this governmental fraud and the overwhelming malaise of the American society to let it flourish, without objection, challenges or questions from the People. It is well past the time for you to do what you can about it, because the average guy, unless he reaches some type of abnormal, atypical epiphany, will do nothing, except serve his masters
> Because the People, again, as a society, have failed to demand and refused to enforce their Rights before government, government, as the natural enemy of the People, as its normal custom, practice and policy denies those Rights, as a normal course of business. There are exceptions to this rule, and many of those exceptions are you, the Patriots who have attended our seminars and who have followed our methods based in the Constitution. Thank God for you who are using the Constitution and enforcing your Rights, because without you, there would be little, if any, Constitutional opposition to unconstitutional governments in this “free” Nation.
> Because of the nature of government and its standard opposition to the Constitution and to the People, we do not know, for certain, how Margy’s case will be decided. We do know, that for all intents and purposes, she has already won it. Why? Because she won the initial case when the city filed court action to remove her from the city council race for the city’s own “mistake”, to which “mistake” the city admitted. We also know that Margy sent numerous letters and affidavits to all city officers who had the power and the duty to investigate, correct and stop this fraud, and hold those who committed it liable for their actions. City officers and officials did not even respond to Margy, in any way, whatsoever, and engaged in a conspiracy of silence. Thus, they admitted to ALL of Margy’s statements, allegations and charges, fully binding upon them in any court, without their protest, objection, or that of those who represent them.
> Below is an article that Margy sent to one of the local newspapers concerning this case. She has spoken to other newspapers who may also do a story on this outrageous fraud conducted by government during an election. For the People’s benefit and that of America, we want to create massive publicity for this case not only in New Mexico, but everywhere across this Nation. People must know about government protected election fraud and must take action against it, or all elections will be decided by the corrupted who support only evil. It is well past the time for Good to BEGIN to oppose evil. Please read the article for your own take. If you support Margy and her positions, please send this newsletter to all others you know, and ask them to send to all they know. You can also write emails to Las Vegas city government and Bill Richardson, the governor, to express your opinion, or outrage, at such governmental fraud, condoned by government officers, pursuant
> to their oaths, of course. If you want those email addresses, please contact us. We very much would appreciate your support in this matter.
> Best regards,
> Jack and Margy Flynn
> ************************************************************************
> The following makes a good case for some turbulent times ahead. It is in our own best interest to consider the predictions made here by a man with a very credible track record. While some of what he says is disturbing, he also acknowledges how the events he believes are imminent may eventually lead to better times and the return of common sense to America. We hope he's right.
> FWIW - Left leaning politics aside...
> Futurist and trends forecaster Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the Asian economic implosion of '97, the decline of the dollar beginning in 2005, the meteoric rise in gold prices in an age of currency volatility, and the turn of events that may be the blessing of our era, the subprime mortgage crisis. Because of this habit of prescience, Celente has appeared regularly on CNN and Fox and MSNBC, his "Trends Reports" widely quoted in newsprint, on Oprah Winfrey, on Good Morning America.
> Now in his Report for 2008, issued in mid-December, he carried the news every thinking American already knows. "The United States of America," Celente pronounced, "has gone from first class to third rate." It's a "nation on the skids and heading down." Celente projects economic and political crisis in the coming year." In 2008, Americans will wake up to the worst economic times that anyone alive has ever seen," he wrote on December 17. "Just as they didn't see 9/11 coming and were frozen in shock when terror struck,
> [Americans] will be frozen in shock when terror strikes again." He predicts "failing banks, busted brokerages, toppled corporate giants, bankrupt cities, states in default, foreign creditors cashing out of US securities…the stage is set, the big one is on its way."
> A similar wake-up call was issued last summer in a report by none other than the chief investigator for the US Government Accountability Office, comptroller general David Walker, who warned that US policy on energy, education, the environment, health care, immigration, Iraq - pretty much the gamut – was on an "unsustainable" course, bound for a maelstrom of insolvency that could threaten to sink the ship. According to the GAO chief, the fall of Rome seemed an apt historical comparison: "[D]eclining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. Sound familiar? I'm trying to sound an alarm."
> When I called up Celente on Jan. 2 to see how the new year was taking shape on the first day of trading, he fired back in an e-mail: "An attack in Nigeria (Africa's biggest oil
> producer) by anti-government forces on the port city of Port Harcourt hit the futures markets hard. On the New York Stock Exchange, trading conditions worsened on reports that the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index dropped to 47.7, the lowest reading since April 2003. Growth in European and Singapore manufacturing also slowed in November, showing signs for all those that were looking that the slowdown would be global." By early afternoon, gold had surged $24 an ounce, crude oil climbed $3, the dollar fell against all major currencies, and the Dow was down over 200 points. The next day, Jan. 3, oil hit a record $100 a barrel. And indeed, as Celente warned, world markets were unraveling by the second week of January, the Nikkei on its worse start to a new year since 1970, the MSCI World Index dropping 6.9 percent, a loss of $2.1 trillion from members' market capitalization, while Swiss world banking giant UBS posted a $13 billion loss, and authorities in
> Britain reported the first run on a British bank in a hundred years.
> When on January 14 Celente sent out his weekly e-mail alert to subscribers, the news was no better. The Dow registered its third consecutive week of losses, one of its worst New
> Year starts in history, losing in just the first week of 2008 half its gains from 2007. "Slumping retail sales, dire housing data, rising unemployment rates, gloomy consumer
> confidence, spiking oil prices, a ballooning trade gap, eroding wages, mounting credit card debt and delinquencies, mortgage defaults, record foreclosures," said Celente. "The
> data floods the wires and spreads the fear." It's telling that Tiffany's was off 11 percent in sales, as even the very rich hide their cash under beds.
> So is the subprime mortgage mess the catalyst for the Big One, what Celente calls the Panic of '08? Stock guru Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money and co-founder of
>, seems to think so. "There are a group of insurance companies that insure all these bad mortgages," he told Chris Matthews on Jan. 18. "And I think they're all
> about to go belly up. And that will cause the Dow Jones to decline 2,000 points. They have got to be shut down. This is going to happen in maybe two, three weeks, Chris. It's going to be on the front of every paper. And no one in Washington is even willing to admit it. I am telling you these companies do not have the capital to make good. And, when they do fall - I believe it is when - if the government doesn't have a plan in action, you will not be able to open the stock market when they collapse…No one is even talking
> about it."
> From panic, offers Gerald Celente, will arise almost overnight an era of social and political upheaval and plain awfulness. Self-storage will finally "live up to the meaning
> of its name. Down and out, thrown onto the streets, homeless Americans will empty out storage lockers of useless junk…to store themselves." He predicts wage riots and
> anti-government street protests and intensified anti-immigration movements looking to scapegoat the "aliens" among us. Toward the 1 percent of Americans who received 50
> percent of all income gains in recent years - those same 1 percenters, roughly 3 million people, who took in 22 percent of all income in 2005 - there will be growing rage.
> "Kidnappings for ransom will become common, as they were in the Depression and as the poor strike out against the rich," Celente predicts. Lawlessness will be met, as in most third rate nations, with violence from an increasingly sophisticated and brutal police state. A different type of violence from the ground up, tax revolts, will also develop in strength, targeting a tax-ravenous federal government that Celente charges has failed "to protect food, win wars, clean the environment, upgrade infrastructure, improve living standards, provide health services or advance education."
> Meanwhile, the dollar will bottom out at 10 cents to the euro sometime in the next several years, perhaps by 2010. Newspapers report that even Third World vendors are beginning to refuse payment in greenbacks, while foreign governments and investors, mostly the Chinese, deploy the muscle of their currencies to buy US property and businesses (proxies of the Chinese government late last year snagged a 5 percent stake in Citibank, a 10 percent stake in Morgan Stanley).
> Note that this is no fringer veering into conspiracist phantasm: Celente consults for hundreds of large and small corporations, addresses government bodies worldwide. Norway flew him to Europe in 2006 to address a conference on innovation, while the International Council of Shopping Centers hosted him as the key-note speaker at its 2007
> convention - the mall builders hoped to glean from Celente "what people want from malls." It's notable, in the wake of the prognoses of his 2008 reports, that he is no longer
> invited onto the TV and cable networks - "the first year in decades," he says, "that they did not have me on and that USA Today did not cover the Trends Report." When Celente
> sent out an e-mail alert to his mailing list in mid-January, Jack Marks, the publisher and CEO of The Wall Street Reporter, one of the oldest investment organs in New York,
> wrote him back to say "You are a f______ retard m_____f_____" and "Remove me from this list, you f______moron." The local publishing group near Celente's home in
> Rhinebeck is perhaps more typical in its spinelessness: The Taconic Press, which publishes six newspapers in the Hudson Valley and upstate New York, told Celente in December via e-mail that there was "a general uproar about the inclusion of your Trends forecast [in 2007]…reader and advertiser reaction was strong, and they made their feelings known to our publisher." Celente's long relationship with Taconic Press is no more. Par for the course in the nation of blinkered denial.
> There is apparently an upside to the rottenness to come, according to Celente - if Americans dare to reinvent for the 21st century the free thinking and civic courage of their past. This good cheer as Rome burns is buried somewhat in Celente's report for 2008, but what it suggests is that, catalyzed by crisis, a fair number of Americans - a
> minority, likely, but still to watch - will begin this year a transformation of onsciousness. Celente predicts that the smaller communities, the smaller groups, the smaller states, the more self-sustaining communities, will "weather the crisis in style" as big cities and hypertrophic suburbias descend into misery and conflict. "Like Katrina's victims that knew the hurricane was coming but didn't flee – and looked to Uncle Sam to save the day - those that don't take action before panic strikes or wait for Washington to lend a hand, will suffer the most from the calamity that follows," he writes. Economically, the new consciousness will recapture Yankee frugality and reject the lunatic behaviors that have been unsustainable since the Second World War - big houses, big cars, big spending. Those who market and embrace "products and services that focus on compact, smart,
> functional, efficient, neat, clean, reusable, 'less is more' and 'small is beautiful'," Celente writes, "will handsomely profit." There will be a downsizing of expectations and
> perceived needs. There will be a downsizing of giantist institutions to fit to human scale - the center cannot hold, particularly as state's righters and tax rebels and what Celente calls "the newly flourishing state secessionist movements" begin to repudiate a $9 trillion-in-debt federal government that too often practices the most offensive kind
> of taxation without representation. Altogether, there will be a downsizing of America.
> "This could be the end of something really ignorant and stupid and dark," Celente told me recently in a phone interview. "The end of a dark age! The end of the age of what I call Bottom-Line Fascism, the ruthless and dictatorial profit-only way of thinking that produces crap over quality in all the major institutions, dopiness and blob-thinking, the manipulations of an idiotic media and political establishment, the Cartoon News Networks, the Greta Van Susterens and the Hillary Clintons uttering the same pablum ad nauseum over and over. All the institutions are coming apart - government, corporations, media, education, health care. They present nothing less than a vacuum! Something has to fill it! The systems that are in place? Things can only get worse if they stay in place. But I'm an optimist. I'm gunning for something better to replace what we got." He pauses. "A renaissance! I'm gunning for a renaissance: an era where quality beats out the crap of quantity."
> POST-SCRIPT: Alarm bells are also ringing for former CIA consultant Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback Trilogy, including most recently the final installment Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. Like Celente, Johnson sees the subprime mess as only the most visible part of a far-reaching debt crisis with lethal implications. "Confronted by the limits of its own vast but nonetheless finite financial resources and lacking the political check on spending provided by a functional democracy," Johnson wrote in Harper's last January, "the United States will within a very short time face financial or even political collapse." The folly of what Chalmers terms "military Keynesianism" - devotion to militarism, weapons, warfare as fiscal stimulus, a policy embraced with equal fervor by both parties in Congress - will speed the country to moral, fiscal and political bankruptcy. To grasp the horror of military Keynesianism, consider this statistic: By 1990,
> production for the Department of Defense amounted to 83 percent of the value of all manufacturing plants and equipment in the US. Only 17 percent of the US manufacturing base actually made products not meant to kill. In this regard, bankruptcy and collapse is much deserved, a comeuppance long overdue. On the bright side, Johnson notes that: "bankruptcy will not mean the literal end of the United States any more than it did for Germany in 1923, China in 1948, or Argentina in 2001. It might, in fact, open the way for an unexpected restoration of the American system, or for military rule, revolution, or simply some new development we cannot yet imagine."
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