Black Gold Who? Or, How Much Oil Did You Say I Could Get for One Ounce of Gold?

You can buy twenty eight barrels of oil with an ounce of gold today. Thus sprach the market.


Here’s the gold-oil ratio since 1946. The market’s such a waffler, it should think before it spraches.

Macrotrends.org_Gold_to_Oil_Ratio_Historical_Chart[ Source ]


#Ferguson Problems: What it’s Like Living Nextdoor to Chaos

//by Leon Phany//

Ferguson is proximately close to my home. It’s a short drive up 55 until it becomes 70. Right before you hit the airport, you exit and then you’re suddenly in what newspeoples seem to believe resembles the Arromarches at D-Day.

I haven’t been up there lately. Maybe I’ll swing by on the way home. Here, twenty minutes away if I drive slow, we still shop at the supermarket. Drive around. Life proceeds as usual.

I was down at the protest rally today in Clayton. I arrived as it was ending, and everyone dispersed quickly. It was only about twelve people by this time. It was located at a short stretch of road that had been blocked off with five foot orange barriers. Last time they had planned the rally––one set for eleven and attended by a whole two hundred––the police and officials had overestimated and also set aside the parking lot for the assembly. So much space wasn’t needed, like Tyrion Lannister in a California King.

The last reporter there was a French reporter. He spoke to a camera with nobody behind him. He stood between the camera and windows of the Justice Center. Behind those windows sat a few police officers who really needed popcorn, sitting in those chairs that you find in a church gymnasium and arranged like a movie or play was about to begin. But with riot shields in front of them.

Apparently, they had had more to do earlier.

An individual had––according to different clerks and witnesses––made the mistake of expressing her support for police officers. She began a heated exchange with the crowd that I guess had been there at some point, and then she was escorted out by officers.

Now, I am most disappointed by the fact that Ferguson is a small town. It has this ordinance, 8.1.3, which allows for a referendum to recall any appointed or elected council member or elected mayor by a city election. Only five qualified voters need begin the process. A recall of the city council members who had a hand in the selection of this white police officer would be a simple solution.

Obviously, not the entire answer. But maybe a useful step in the right direction.

But that don’t make for good news.

#Ferguson Problems: How Social Media Mangles Critical Thinking

//by Ryan Taylor//

TL;DR: Twitter destroys the integrity of discourse and reinforces cheap appeals to ideology.

Although what’s going on in Ferguson right now is incredibly problematic––not to mention: despicable (also: alarming, infuriating, insulting)––the social media explosion that preceded (and which continues to comment on) the Michael Brown case is symptomatic of another problem, that is: the dramatic lowering of the bar for what constitutes legitimate political discourse.

Our soundbite news culture, exacerbated by Twitter’s 140-character format, has been disturbingly successful in its ongoing replacement of more traditional modes of dialogue. Modes of dialogue which, not viral in any sense of the word, share as a foundation a rigorous analysis.

Before critically examining any of the evidence in the Mike Brown case, I admit I was ready to condemn the police (and all police) in much the same way the Twittersphere and my own Facebook News Feed™ has done. Based on my own political lean, I consumed and dispersed a narrative that appealed to me despite a lack of substantiated evidence therein.

After taking some time to read up and think about the case, my perception of the incident has completely changed.

What’s problematic is not the quickness with which my opinion was able to change, but the quickness with which it was first formed.twitter_evil

Ideology led me to conclude that the Michael Brown case was just another example of institutionalized racism and fetishized violence coming to a head, á la George Zimmerman. Twitter confirmed my conclusion, muddling and mincing the facts.

While the actions Officer Wilson took are inexcusable, even idiotic, the way he has been represented in this case as a ‘cold blooded killer’ is probably disingenuous. Trigger-happy yokel? Yeah. Racist? Very likely. Cold blooded killer? I don’t know the man that well.

To the point: ideology will always play a role in human judgments––this much is certain––but that doesn’t mean we should not be critical of ideology and the mediums through which it influences us.

Now, this post is incredibly ironic, given that its thesis concerns the impotence of social media platforms (like the one I’m using right now) to be politically productive or rigorously composed. This post is certainly neither. But that doesn’t preclude me from pointing to a growing problem: the disavowal of reasoned argument in favor of the easy-to-consume rhetoric of social media.

ECONOMIST: The tragedy of the Arabs

Opened up the wifi connect window at a major coffee chain today. The day’s marquee news article was this one from July 5th, published in the ever durable Economist. It details the failures of the Arab people. What it really comes down to, the wise western rag says, is that the Arabs are really just a rubbish people. Religion, that’s no excuse.

I loved this sentence–– not so much for it’s actual implications–– but for its consistency with my ideas about the July 4th drone stunt:

Military support—the supply of drones and of a small number of special forces—may help keep the jihadists in Iraq at bay. That help may have to be on permanent call.

So the drone exits its pupation phase, metamorphosed into a sentry of freedom and democracy both at home and abroad. Drones are here to help, and they are here to stay.

Makes me wonder about a term to describe a process that’s the opposite of “metastasize”…like, benastasize?

I’m flailing here.

ECONOMIST: The tragedy of the Arabs

ISIS’ Bitcoin Move a Threat to High Finance

Pando daily and other sources report that ISIS the Islamic State, known in some parts as the Ramadan Rough Riders, have recently joined the bitcoin club.

In the wake of this development, divisions of US and European financial giants are bracing for infrastructure switchover costs in the race to provide state-of-the-art services to enemies of state.

Top industry players have spotted the trend moving militia funding away from centralized government fiat currencies, toward digital and encrypted ‘crypto currencies,’ such as Bitcoin. Money laundering is a high-growth sector and the competition is fierce. Bank of America, Wachovia, BNP Paribas, HSBS and others boast prestigious Capital Markets––Militias, Terrorism, Narcoterrorism divisions.

Banking executives worldwide have been taking emergency meetings with CIA officials. The parties’ interests are aligned here: stay relevant in a digital age where terrorist hands are not forced into heroin distribution deals with various and sundry US forces.

Watch this space.

Google Barges, or Mister America Float On By

Jon Stewart’s latest show covered a story about the Google barges popping up on either US coast. One’s moored in San Francisco Bay, the other sitting in Maine’s Portland Harbor. For want of a manifest, media offered asinine speculation as to the concealed cargo. Señor Stewart handles his bread and butter:

Source: The Daily Show

This got my wheels a-spinnin’. A search yielded a WaPo article: Google’s crazy barge scheme: your complete guide. Check out this bit:

A Bay Area TV station has said the barge will be a marketing center for Google Glass, the wearable computer that connects to eyeglasses. Business Insider has suggested the same thing. An anonymous source told CNET that the barges will be stores that float from city to city via river (emphasis mine)

Um, that tip was anonymous for a reason, guys. What is this, a tabloid? Can we go ahead and not write an obituary for journalism? Think twice about the idea that Google wants to send barges adrift down our waterways, slanging augmented reality headgear to America’s riverfront communities. This report demands suspension of disbelief that might be required to view movie sequels Robocop: Houseboat! or Minority Report on the Mississippi.

Headline pizzazz is not gotten by a ‘new Google data centers’ story, it’s true. But the whole piece is bunk when reporters have no insight into the question, Why floating? 

My guess: finance. Specifically, high frequency trading (HFT). The winning edge in HFT is so vanishingly small that, paradoxically, physical space comes back into play. If Google were to float these barges way out into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, they’d succeed in putting relay centers smack dab in between the west coast and the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the east coast and the London Stock Exchange. The cash that mega-banks would put up for a Google server at sea is—oh my god wait for it—unfathomable.

In support of my speculation I offer this, a Reuters piece published in May of this year. The article talks HFT with Mike Persico, CEO of high-tech network infrastructure company Anova Technologies:

Asked what might come next, Persico mentioned the use of drones and barges to create a transatlantic wireless network (emphasis mine).  

*Gulp*. Welp, I sure didn’t wake up wishing for a haunting vision of space-age militarized finance this sunny morning, but, there it is.

Mr. America, try to hide the product of your savage pride.