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The 10 Factors Destroying our Social Health

Through better understanding, we can reverse them
Monday, February 17, 2014, 12:58 PM

Executive Summary

  • The erosion of community is due to many factors
  • Understanding these factors enables us to begin combating them
  • The 10 reasons American social capital is declining
  • What it will take for a revival in social cooperation

If you have not yet read The Erosion of Community, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we surveyed a number of explanations for the erosion of community, starting with the landmark 1950 book, The Lonely Crowd, and found that no one theory adequately accounted for the decline of social capital in America.

Here are ten other factors that could be factors in this long-term erosion:

1.  The explosion of choices in the mass media (mentioned by Robert Putnam and Kevin K.) now offers endless opportunities to form a protective bubble around oneself: if you only want to hear views that confirm your existing biases, it's now very easy to do so, and you don’t even need to go out into the real world to do so.

Since confirming our own beliefs is safe and comfortable, our collective reaction may be to avoid people who might disagree with us. Eventually, such isolated individuals “socializing” in self-selected groups online lose the ability to function productively in diverse groups of real people in a real community.

2.  The mobility demanded of labor.  The mobility of labor in America--that workers can pull up stakes and move to better job opportunities--is often lauded as the key to the U.S. economy's flexibility and resilience. This is no doubt true, but that mobility eviscerates community: if you move every 2-3 years (as required of military personnel, Corporate America managers and many others), what's the motivation for joining and contributing to local groups?... » Read more

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Gold and Silver Break Out

Finally...
Friday, February 14, 2014, 7:26 PM

There’s a change in the air, something is different in the markets these past few days.

Gold is now trading above its 200 day moving average and has broken out of a technically bullish ‘inverted head and shoulders’ formation. » Read more

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Off The Cuff: The Costs of Unintended Consequences

Always higher than the benefits of central planning
Thursday, February 13, 2014, 12:37 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles discuss:

  • The De-Legitimization of Markets
    • Central planning meddling is killing faith in price discovery
  • Japan As A Petri Dish
    • Will be the first to enter the endgame
  • The Financial Elites Are Taking All The Chips
    • It pays to be rich these days
  • The Costs of Unintended Consequences
    • Central planning always costs more than it's gains
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The Contamination Threat

What you need to know
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 10:54 AM

Executive Summary

  • The "usual suspects" of dangerous radioactive contamination
  • Recently reported incidents of contamination
  • How bioaccumulation and biomagnification exacerbate the impact of contamination
  • Prudent advice post-Fukushima

If you have not yet read Part I: Fukushima's Legacy: Understanding the Difference Between Radiation & Contamination, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Sources of Radioactive Contamination

As mentioned in Part I, polonium provides an excellent and dramatic example of something that is perfectly safe on the outside of the body and perfectly deadly on the inside. That's the difference between radiation and contamination.

"Radiation, just like with any toxic chemical, is related to dose," said Cham Dallas, a professor and toxicologist at the University of Georgia's Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense. "If you get a big dose, then you'll die sooner."

And with polonium-210, a dangerous dose can be a matter of micrograms: smaller than a single speck of pepper, he said.

If you ingest polonium-210, about 50% to 90% of the substance will exit the body through feces, according to a fact sheet from Argonne National Laboratory. What is left will enter the bloodstream. About 45% of polonium ingested gets into the spleen, kidneys and liver, and 10% is deposited in the bone marrow.

Radiation poisoning from polonium-210 looks like the end stage of cancer, Dallas said.

Liver and kidney damage ensue, along with extreme nausea and severe headaches. Victims often experience vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss. The alpha particles emitted from the decaying substance get absorbed in the body, which is what causes harm. Death may come in a matter of days, sometimes weeks.

(Source)

Yes, polonium-210 is highly radioactive a half gram of it in a vial will heat itself up to 500 degrees Celsius all on its own just because of radioactive decay but it is not at all lethal until and unless it is ingested.  Once it gets inside, then a fleck the size of a grain of pepper is lethal.

The much-feared plutonium-238 is also an alpha emitter.  On the outside of your body it is not much of a problem.  Inside it is extraordinarily harmful.

Iodine-131 (I-131) is another "fairly harmless on the outside, but deadly on the inside" sort of substance.  Even a vastly sub-lethal dose of I-131 in terms of your whole body load will be damaging if not deadly, because iodine is viewed by your body as a delicious and rare treat, with your thyroid gobbling it up, radioactive or not, and storing it for future use.

As the thyroid does this, the I-131 gets concentrated into a very small body mass where the radioactive load experienced by the thyroid is far higher than any surrounding tissues.  At a high enough dose, the thyroid will be destroyed which is a survivable experience, as anybody who's had their thyroid removed can attest.

The real difficulty actually comes with...  » Read more

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Off the Cuff: Down From Here?

Odds are the market top is behind us
Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 11:24 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish discuss:

  • Down From Here?
    • Odds are the market top is behind us
  • Lack of Fear
    • Despite the evidence, too much investor optimism remains
  • Why the Fed Cares More About Growth Than Consumers
    • Because the banks can't function without it
  • Europe on the Verge
    • Expect the big players to fail this time
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The Unraveling Continues

Time to buckle up
Monday, February 3, 2014, 8:03 PM

The U.S. stock markets had a bad day, as did Japan's and Europe's. Of course, the whole world is linked now, so that's no surprise.

As goes one, so go the others. » Read more

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Off the Cuff: Vicious Volatility

And the case for a major market pullback
Friday, January 31, 2014, 10:46 AM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Brian Pretti discuss:

  • Emerging Mayhem in Emerging Markets
    • Weakness at the periphery is accelerating
  • Vicious Volatility in the Financial Markets
    • Investors have whiplash from this week's price moves so far
  • The Case for a Big Market Pullback
    • Even the bulls think a correction at this point would be healthy
  • False Safety
    • Treasurys will be a safe place to part capital....until they aren't
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How Things Unravel

Slowly, and then all at once.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 11:46 PM

In a recent article, I noted the various signs that things are unraveling at the periphery. In the comments that followed, plenty of people (myself included) expressed the belief that the various Powers That Be are doing everything they can to limit the damage as much as possible.

After a full weekend of burning up the phone lines and the midnight oil, the central banks of the world seemed to have calmed things down a bit by Tuesday (1/28/14), as evidenced by directional reversals in the prices of various currencies, gold, and stocks.  Everything that needed to head back the way it came, from a central banker perspective, was headed back in the "right" direction. » Read more

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Is This It?

Global market weakness is now quickly escalating
Friday, January 24, 2014, 11:59 AM

Is this it?  Are we seeing signs that after a very long period of Fed inspired insanity, et al. (courtesy of folks who lack any imagination beyond sustaining the unsustainable), are we finally entering a long-awaited financial correction?

Using our ‘outside in’ methodology, there’s lots to suggest we are entering such a phase.

All is not well on the periphery, with weaker economies now flashing serious warning signs in their bond and currency markets. It's enough that it’s time to... » Read more

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Off the Cuff: 'Bizarre' Capitalism

When speculation is the only way to get ahead
Thursday, January 23, 2014, 6:13 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles discuss:

  • 'Bizarre' Capitalism
    • Speculation, not productive work, is now the driver of gain
  • China's Future
    • Scary signs that cronyism and capital flight are big risks
  • Eroding Public Trust
    • Dangerous when your money system is trust-based
  • Canary Candidates
    • Which country will be the first to keel over?