Abundant Michael

Why a US debt crisis is impossible and the Titanic is unsinkable

The Titanic is unsinkable. Look at the water tight compartments. See how they go up all the way to the 5 deck level! Notice how experienced the captain is and how he can steer the ship in any direction he wants to because it is the biggest and most power ship the world has ever known. And I can't see any icebergs anyway (who cares that it is dark moonless night and so calm that no waves are breaking on the iceberg anyway).

Sure we have a look out but hey if he needs to take a nap or something no big deal because we have those water tight compartments! No modern ship this big has ever sunk. And the Titanic is unsinkable. Just have a drink and enjoy the party, nothing can go wrong.


And if you believe that then read this article on why a US currency crisis is impossible too.

11 travel security tips

I have had stuff stolen from rooms twice over three years traveling in South America. Tips for better security:

  • Don't leave valuables out in the room - some maids are light fingered
  • Close windows, even if they have bars someone can put their arm through to grab stuff. I left a room for 10 minutes with window open. Bag under window was grabbed through window.
  • Keep two wallets - main street one with just some cash and photocopy of passport. Second one with your credit cards and more cash that you hide in your room. I only take a credit or ATM card when I plan to use them. Getting a lost card replaced can take a week or more with DHL here.
  • Keep your passport either in a money belt or hidden in your room. A stolen US or EU passport is worth about $2000 on the street...
  • Follow your intuition - if a street feels bad don't go down it.
  • Walking around drunk at 3am dramatically increases your risk of mugging. Pay for a taxi if you want to go out drinking. Leave valuables at home when you do.
  • Don't display a lot of jewelry in poor areas
  • Separate your cash stash into several hiding places in case you loose one, you will have the others.
  • If you are renting long term get bars put on windows if you are on ground floor. Get a better door lock and metal lock protection installed (this prevent crowbar attacks).
  • Change the locks. I have several friends who woke up to hear thief in next room who had got in with old key. If in backpacker room use a door stop. A chair under the door handle works too.
  • Back up your camera memory card and laptop photos and documents  - at least if you loose them you won't loose your data too

How does the future look with VR and AR glasses?

Memories with Maya is both good scifi and a relationship story with a twist. I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next to the three main characters. I found Dan a bit irritating at first, where he doesn't express his feeling for his girlfriend Maya, but he comes through in the last third of the book.


I also learned many interesting ideas and applications of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (think more advanced than Google glasses) that I hadn't come across before. The book is an eye opener into what will soon be possible with this kind of technology and the social implications. From enhanced nightclub interactions and virtual clothing, to lie detecting glasses and remote reality sex encounters. Then there are the military applications that get Dan and Maya into serious danger...


Also worth taking a look at is some of the science behind the story. The author posts this at at http://www.dirrogate.com (but if you don't like spoilers, visit the site after reading the book!) and he has also written on the transhumanist aspects of VR.


Is survivorship bias getting in the way of your self improvement?

We study how to be more successful by looking at how great business people do things. Perhaps this is fatally flawed. We never see all the failures to see how they failed.

David McRaney in his article "Survivorship Bias"  says:

The Misconception: You should study the successful if you wish to become successful.

The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

The problem is that there can be common patterns how all the failed business have that you just don't see because they are never studied. In the article (which is a long read but worth it) he gives the example of WWII air force generals coming to top statisticians asking them where to add armor to bombers so fewer are shot down. The top brass got it totally wrong due to survivor bias in the data.

The military looked at the bombers that had returned from enemy territory. They recorded where those planes had taken the most damage. Over and over again, they saw the bullet holes tended to accumulate along the wings, around the tail gunner, and down the center of the body. Wings. Body. Tail gunner. Considering this information, where would you put the extra armor? Naturally, the commanders wanted to put the thicker protection where they could clearly see the most damage, where the holes clustered. But Wald said no, that would be precisely the wrong decision. Putting the armor there wouldn’t improve their chances at all.

The correct answer was to put armor where the surviving planes did not have holes because those are the places that the shot down planes had been hit in! Genius. Saved a lot of lives over the "obvious decision".

So where in your business life or personal improvement are you reading only about success stories? Following the "top ten ways Ms X succeeded" and trying to do those ten things in your life. Perhaps some study or thought on how the other 90% of folks failed and then avoiding those might be more useful....

Additional credit: I was tipped off to David's article by author Charles Hugh Smith who's blog is www.oftwominds.com and covers collapse, economics and future of society.

Cable TV cold turkey

I stopped watching cable TV over two years ago now. I use Netflix and Amazon Prime and DVDs when I want to watch a particular movie. Actually to be honest I watch a lot less TV now - I see friends and read books more.

I also went cold turkey on my news addiction about 10 years ago - gave up a heavy daily newspaper, TV news and NPR news habit. I have to say that helped me be much happier and if anything important happens I always hear about it from friends or in newsletters anyway.

Their is the paying the cable and internet bill cost and then there is your time and energy cost in watching stuff that you really don't want to because it is there. How much is your time and energy worth?

My Ayawaska experiences

I recently had intuition to experience Ayawaska as a way to increase my connection with spirit and psychic abilities.


It was amazing healing and visionary experience. The first night I saw a brain with tentacles and I checked in with my intuition that parts of it were not good for me and was sending it to the light when I realized that it was the control manipulation part of me! I still sent it to the light. We went to bed at 9:30pm and my mine was racing with new healing methods and other many creative inspirations which I wrote down. I went to sleep at 5am and woke up at 7am but felt good. 


The second night I saw visions of an alien intelligence that kept showing me this alien writing again and again all over my body. I figured out that it meant love and acceptance and gratitude which was both a message for my body and my life. Very moving. I also had a vision of abundance as this octopus like creator that was growing and growing and even though these sharks of negativity tried to eat it they could not because it was growing too fast! All I had to do was put buckets under the stream of abundance to receive. :-)


The second night I worked on assimilating the energy when ever I felt my intestines pulse and didn't need to have diarrhea like the first night. I did vomit a bunch though, which when all you can see is visions is tricky to get into the bucket :-) 
In the mornings the shaman talked with each of the participants one on one to answer questions. There were only 3 of us, so intimate group. It was in a beautiful house in Calca with amazing views of the mountains here.

Getting ruthless about adding tasks to Someday/Maybe list vs Todo list

Recently I have been getting much more ruthless on putting new ideas in my Someday/Maybe Getting Things Done list rather than my Do this week list and then reviewing them in my weekly review. I used to add every idea for a task or improvement to my ToDo list and then feel overwhelmed by how much I had to do and not do any of it! Now with most of the longer term ideas saved in my Someday/Maybe list I have a clear mind and my Today ToDo list is only tasks that are either baby steps on important projects or urgent items for today


Random thoughts on avoiding overwhelm:

1. Schedule the tasks in a calendar (paper or online) - that way you are clear that a certain block of time is only for one project and if you want to do extra tasks/projects you either need to do them on later free days or delete or delay an earlier task. To be clear these tasks are not meetings with clients etc that have a hard day/time, they are appointments with yourself. When I used a Planner Pad (paper system) I did this sometimes with good results.

2. How much can you delegate? If you were out sick for a month how could you keep things moving on just 4 hours a week? I learned this question from a Tim Ferris interview video and it made me radically rethink some of my tasks.

3. I like the idea of knocking out smaller projects to get them off your list. This is one reason I bring big tasks into baby steps (eg ask Jane for the dentist's phone number, call dentist to schedule appointment, go to dentist) That is similar in concept to the Snowball debt reduction method where you pay extra money on the credit card with the smallest balance first. While mathematically paying extra on the one with the highest interest rate is best, emotionally it is best to get a small win faster by getting one card totally paid off to give you a pat on the back for paying off debt. That makes it more likely you will stick with the program. I know when I start my day getting smaller (and even psychologically harder) tasks off my GTD list I have momentum to then tackle larger tasks that might be more important in terms of results.


4. I often get a head start on creative projects like writing by forking off a part of my consciousness to work on it while I am doing other things, even sleeping. I just set the intent that I spin off a piece of my consciousness and that it will come up with good writing and that it will check back with me later with the results. Usually when I come to do the writing it just flows out of me. Or if I need a new idea I have it when I wake up. It is a pretty common magic and healing technique that can be applied to business. Note: it is important that you include the intent that the forked part of you does come back or has a time limit for existence of say a day. You don't want random pieces of you wandering around unguided...

How do you keep focused regularly on the 20,000 foot view of your projects in GTD?

The key on 20,000 foot view for Getting Things Done for me is that I have some way to remind myself to look at my business and personal projects regularly. I do put project master pages in Evernote and I also find some non-computer methods help too. However I often create a mindmap for projects (can be hand drawn) helps organize my ideas. Also at the 50,000 foot level I find that a vision board with pictures I have cut out of magazines that represent my high level goals and dreams is good. I put it where I will see it every day as a reminder of where I want to go!

If you are more auditory rather than visual person then a weekly check in with a goal buddy to talk about the progress on each of your big goals can be an effective way to keep focused at the 20,000 foot level. If you are kinesthetic then a regular activity where you express emotions and movement  related to your goal is helpful. I have got inspiration and motivation from free form dance about a goal, even going for a regular goal walk where you think about your goals can do the trick.

How do you stay focused on your big goals?

Details on Argentina 2013 AD, Roma 301 AD, UK/US 201x AD?

Interesting details on the situation in Argentina today below. I remember price and wage controls in England in the 70s during the high inflation we had then. And I have read about how Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an Edict on Maximum Prices in 301, one of the last Western Roman emperors, who was trying to control the inflation caused by debasing the currency by controlling prices. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_currency#Debasement_of_the_currency ). I don't think they worked well in 301, 1971 or will in 2013.

Merchants either stopped producing goods, sold their goods illegally, or used barter. The Edict tended to disrupt trade and commerce, especially among merchants. It is safe to assume that a gray market economy evolved out of the edict at least between merchants.


Sometimes entire towns could no longer afford to produce trade goods. Because the Edict also set limits on wages, those who had fixed salaries (especially soldiers) found that their money was increasingly worthless as the artificial prices did not reflect actual costs.


As the fiscal situation in UK, US, much of rest of Europe and Japan is similar to Argentina a few years ago, or even the Roman Empire 1700 years ago, I think a similar outcome is likely. When governments consistently spend far more than they generate in taxes and fees then borrowing and/or money printing dramatically increase. At a certain point the lenders and people exchanging foreign currencies loose confidence in the government's ability to repay in real terms. Then interest rates, inflation and exchange rates increase a lot in a short period. The government react desperately with the only measures they have available - price controls, wage controls, pension adjustments, foreign exchange controls, capital controls, tax and fee increases, reductions in services. Most citizens loose 90% or more of their wealth in real terms.

Buenos Aires, Argentina 2013

Selling snake oil and issuing unbacked paper currency are not so different. They're both wildly successful ploys for the guys pulling the strings. And they're both complete scams that depend solely on the confidence of a willing, ignorant public.

But once the confidence begins to erode, the fraud unravels very, very quickly, and the perpetrators resort to desperate measures in order to keep the party going.

In the case of fiat currency, governments in terminal decline resort to a very limited, highly predictable playbook in which they try to control... everything... imposing capital controls, exchange controls, wage controls, price controls, trade controls, border controls, and sometimes even people controls.

These tactics have been used since the ancient Sumerians. This time is not different.

Today, Argentina presents the most clear-cut example. Here the 'mafiocracy' unites organized crime, big business, and politicians to plunder wealth from Argentine citizens. Just since 2010, President Cristina Fernandez has--

  • Nationalized private pensions, plundering the retirement savings of her people.
  • Increased tax rates across the board-- income, VAT, import duties, etc. as well as imposed a new wealth tax.
  • Inflated Argentina's money supply, printing currency with wanton abandon; M2 money supply has increased 215% in the past three years.
  • Driven the value and purchasing power of the currency down by 50%. Street-level inflation is now 30%+ per year.
  • Made a mockery of official statistics, comically understating the level of Argentine inflation and unemployment. She even began punishing economists for publishing private estimates of inflation that didn't jive with the government figures.
  • Taken over control of one industry after another, most notably the nationalization of Spanish oil firm YPF's Argentine assets.
  • Imposed export controls of agriculture products from beef to grains, forcing growers to sell at artificially lower domestic prices.
  • Imposed capital controls, reducing her citizens' capability to dump their poorly performing currency and hold gold, dollars, euros, or anything else.
  • Imposed a two month 'price freeze' on items in the supermarket, and encouraged retail consumers to rat out any grocer that doesn't abide by the government order.
  • Imposed controls over the media, most recently ordered an advertising ban in Argentine newspapers (weakening their financial position).

Cristina's policies here are leading to shortages in everything from food to fuel to electricity. Hardly a month goes by without major strikes and disruptions to public services. The purchasing power of their currency is diminishing rapidly. And most people are completely trapped.

Of course, there were a handful of people who saw the writing on the wall. They learned the important lesson never to trust their government. They moved their savings to stable foreign banks. They purchased property abroad. They bought gold and silver, and stored it overseas. They were prepared when the plundering began.

The developed West is rapidly heading down this path. Europe is beginning to impose capital controls, and the IMF has sanctioned them. The US is rapidly printing its currency into oblivion, and confidence is eroding quickly. Russia just purchased an historic amount of gold, choosing real assets over more US dollar reserves.

It would be foolish to think the same things can't happen in the West. And even if it never happens, would you be any worse off for taking some of these basic steps?


From http://www.sovereignman.com/finance/this-is-what-textbook-capital-controls-look-like-10813/

Risk, Asteroid, micromorts and the zeitgeist

I think that most people don't understand risks and probability and can either over or under react to news stories about risk. The recent anouncement of a an Asteroid Impact Risk in USA Causes New Zealand Real Estate Boom

Real Estate prices in parts of New Zealand are reaching atmospheric highs after authorities announced that the risk of Asteroid 1997 XF11 hitting Earth close to New York State on 28 October 2028. What if the risk was 1100:1? Would you seek shelter in another country?


This wikipedia article on micromorts  has a nice list of equally risky behavior and just breathing the pollution in a big city like NYC for 2 days is one micromort so living there for 120 days or 4 months is 60 micromorts just from the air. Let alone other risk factors such as traffic. The asteroid is currently rated at 1 in 1100 in 16 years time so that is approx 60 micromorts (1000000 / 1100 / 16).

I think the other factor going on here is a cultural zeitgeist that knows that the US Empire is in serious decline and there is a likelihood of several dangers in the US. The government-industrial-media complex's Matrix of control is falling apart and people know (at least on the subconscious level) that they are at risk from high inflation, great depression 2.0, food shortages, rising crime, police state/martial law, reduction/elimination of privacy, rising sea levels covering coastal cities.

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