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Dear Aspiring Writers: The Worst Advice You'll Ever Read

A Literary Look at
I-State Lines

Spirited Away: Decay and Renewal

An American Poem
(Robinson Jeffers)

Taoist Chinese Poems

The Nelson Touch

"It's all about oil, isn't it?"

Kurosawa's High and Low

A Bountiful Mutiny

Trois Colours: Red

The Thin Man: Thoroughly Modern Movies

Iranian Films: The Mirror

A Real Pirate Movie: Captain Blood

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Recommended Books

American Identity

American Identity Literary Contest Winners, 2006
(fiction and essays)

Hapas: The New America

Can You Tell What I am? Part I


Your Tattoo in 50 Years

The American House and Frank Lloyd Wright

Cultural Commentaries
On Hatred and Anti-Americanism


Germany: We All Have Problems, But...

Kroika! Chronicles

This Blog Sells Out

Doom and Gloom Sells

The Kroika Mascot-"Auspicious Pet"

Wal-Mart and Kroika

Kroika and Starsbuck Take a Hit

Kroika Ad 1

Kroika Ad 2

Kroika Ad 3

Kroika Ad 4

Kroika Makes Bid for Oreo (April 1)

Unfolding Crises: Asia
China: An Interim Report

Shanghai Postcard 2004

Corruption and Avian Flu: China's Dynamic Duo

Exporting the Real Estate Bubble to China

Is the Bloom Off the China Rose?

China Irony: Steel, Marx & Capital

Curing The U.S. and China's Dysfunctional Relationship

China and U.S. Inflation

Trade with China: Making Out Like a Bandit

Will the Housing Bust Take Down China?

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Battle for the Soul
of America

Katrina, Vietnam, Iraq: National Purpose, National Sacrifice

Is This a Nation at War?

A Nation in Denial

That Price Isn't Cheap, It's Subsidized

The Most Hated Company in America

American Dream or American Nightmare?

Obesity and Debt

Immigration Ironies

U.S. Healthcare: Working Toward a Real Solution

A Drug Industry Running Amok

Where There Is Ruin

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Financial Meltdown Watch
What This Country Needs Is a... Good Recession

Are We Entering the Next Age of Turmoil?

Why Inflation Appears Low

Doubling Down on 5-Card No-See-Um

A Rickety Global House of Cards

Unprecedented Risk 2

Could One Rogue Trader Bring Down the Market?

Worried about Inflation? Stop Measuring It

Huge Deficits and Huge Profits: Coincidence? >

Three Snapshots of the U.S. Economy

Comparing Nasdaq to Depression-Era Dow

Derivatives: Wall Street Fiddles, Rome Smolders

Financial Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Is the Stock Market on the Same Planet as the Economy?

The Housing-Recession-Oil-Healthcare Connection

Could We Have Deflation and Inflation At the Same Time?

Bankruptcy U.S.A.: Medicare, Greed and Collapse

A Whiff of Apocalypse

Where There Is Ruin II: Social Security

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Planetary Meltdown Watch
The Immensity of Global Warming

Housing Bubble Watch

Charting Unaffordability

A Monster of a Housing Bubble

Hidden Costs of the Housing Bubble

Housing Bubble? What Bubble?

Housing Bubble II

Housing Bubble III: Pop!

Housing Market Demographics

Housing: Catching the Falling Knife

Five Stages of the Housing Bubble

Derailing the Property Tax Gravy Train

Bubbling Property Taxes

Have You Checked Your Property Taxes Recently?

Housing Bubble: Where's the Bottom?

Housing Bubble: Bottom II

The Coming Foreclosure Nightmare 1

How Many Foreclosures Will Hit the Market?

Housing Wealth Effect Shifts Into Reverse

Housing Bubble Bust Will Take Down the Global Economy

The New Road to Serfdom: A Negative-Equity Mortgage

The Housing-Savings-Recession Connection

After the Bubble: How Low Will It Go?

After the Bubble: Rents and Housing Values

Why Post-Bubble Rents Matter

After the Bubble: How Low Will We Go, Part II

Housing: 10% Decline May Trigger Financial Ruin

How to Buy a $450K Home for $750K

The Growing Financial Risks of the Housing Bubble

Construction Defects: The Flood to Come?

Construction Defects
Part II

Who Gets Hammered in the 2007 Housing Bust

Real Estate Bust: The Exhaustion of Debt

What Happens When Housing Employment Plummets?

One More Hole in the Housing Bubble: Insurance

Welcome to Fantasyland: Housing's "Soft Landing"

Why Is the Median House Price Still Rising?

Why Median Prices Appear to be Rising?

The Root Cause of the Housing Bubble

Housing Dominoes Fall

Twilight for Exurbia?

Phase Transitions, Symmetry and Post-Bubble Declines

Housing's Stairstep Descent

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Oil/Energy Crises

Whither Oil?

How much Is a Gallon of Gas Worth?

The End of Cheap Oil

The C.I.A., Oil and the Wisdom of Crowds

The Flutter of a Butterfly's Wings?

A One-Two Punch to a Glass Jaw

Running Out Of Oil vs. Running Out of Cheap Oil

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Outside the Box
How to Make a Favicon
Asian Emoticons

In Memoriam: Winky Cosmos

The Wheeled Vagabonds

Light-As-Air Pancake Recipe

In a Humorous Vein
If Only Writers Had Uniforms

Opening the Kimono

Happiness for Sale: Jank Coffee

Ten Guaranteed Predictions for 2010

Why My Book Is Better Than the DaVinci Code

My Brand Management Stinks

Design Follies

The New Jank Coffee Shop

Jank Coffee, Upscale Tropic Style

One-Word Titles



Keys to Affordable Housing

U.S. Conservation & China
Steve Toma, Me & Skil 77s: 30 years of Labor

Real Science in the Bolivian Forest

Deforestation and Sustainable Forestry

The Solar Economy (book)

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Health, Wealth & Demographics

Beauty of the Augmented (Korean) Kind

Demographics and War

The Healthiest Cold Cereal: Surprise!

900 Miles to the Gallon

Are Our Cities Making Us Fat?

Is Obesity an Inflammatory Response?

Demographics & National Bankruptcy

The Decline of Europe: A Demographic Done Deal?

Are the Risks of Obesity Overstated?

Healthcare: Unaffordable Everywhere

Medication Nation

The New Disease We Just Know You've Got

Can You Can Tell Which Pill Is Fake?

Bankruptcy U.S.A.: Medicare, Greed and Collapse

The 10 Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Selling the Landscape

The Downside of Density

Building Heights and Arboral Roots

Terroir: France & California

L.A.: It's About Cheap Oil
The Last Redwood

Waimea Canyon, Yosemite, Camping & Pancakes

The French Village Bakery

What Is Happiness?

Our Education System: a Factory Metaphor?

Understanding Globalization: Braudel

Can You Create Creativity?

Do Average People Know More Than Their Leaders?

Iraqi Guangxi

Splogs, Blogs and "News"

"There is no alternative to being yourself"

Is There a Cycle to War?

Leisure, Time and Valentines

Is the Web a Giant Copy Machine?

Science Matters
Anti-Missile Defense: Boost Phase Vulnerability

The Strolling Bones: Rock of Ages

Bad Karma: Election Fraud 1960

Hiroshima: First Use

All the Tea in China, All the Ginseng in America

Friday Quiz

Pet Obesity

Human Diseases

Wine and Alzheimers

Biggest Consumers of Chocolate

2005-06 archives
2007 archives

Essential Books

The Misbehavior of Markets

Boiling Point (Global Warming)

Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival

How We Know What Isn't So

Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future

The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know about America's Economic Future

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

The Future of Life

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak

The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies

Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy

The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future

The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Cures

Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated.

The Fourth Turning

Recommended Books

More book reviews


weblog November 2007

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weblog July 2007

weblog June 2007

weblog May 2007

weblog April 2007

weblog March 2007

weblog February 2007

weblog January 2007

weblog December 2006

weblog November 2006

weblog October 2006

weblog September 2006

weblog August 2006

weblog July 2006

weblog June 2006

weblog May 2006

weblog April 2006

weblog March 2006

weblog February 2006

weblog January 2006

weblog December 2005

weblog November 2005

weblog October 2005

weblog September 2005

weblog August 2005

weblog July 2005

weblog June 2005

weblog May 2005

What's New, 2/03 - 5/05

Thank You, Contributors!

December 31, 2007 / January 1, 2008

To my great astonishment, 215 of you have donated money to this site since I began accepting contributions last March. Only two of you are old friends; 30 of you chose to honor the site with multiple donations. 45 of you generously donated $50 or more. The $6,000 contributed by you, readers, has made a huge difference in this poor dumb writer's daily existence.

This number far exceeded my modest expectations, as I reckoned a few dozen brave souls might respond and then the number of contributors would quickly drop to zero. Instead, you have continued to step up and donate throughout the year. This has been unexpected, humbling, and supremely encouraging. The site takes a lot of time, and I get hundreds of emails from readers which I try to answer in a timely fashion. (Illness and family business put me behind; please accept my apologies.)

Thank you, readers, for your support. Thanks to you, it has been an amazing year here at The "two minds" are yours and mine; together they create this site.

A number of things differentiate this site from the millions of other blogs and sites on the World Wide Web. Together, they have attracted an extremely thoughtful, experienced and erudite audience of contributors and readers which has grown from 14,000 unique visitors a month in January 2007 to 40-50,000 per month by year end.

1. The site has a diversity of voices and readers. According to the site logs, visitors from 101 nations have visited; perhaps more importantly, many essayists live elsewhere than the U.S.: John Kinsella (France), UKC and Mega (England) and Vera K. (Canada) to name a few. Within the U.S., comments come from Maine to Arizona to Texas to Florida and everywhere in between. Many of us have learned from the comments and charts provided by Harun I.

2. Readers provide key content: topics, critiques and commentaries. If a reader takes issue with some statement I've made, his or her comment is welcomed in Readers Journal. Many topics covered here are suggested by readers.

3. The focus is on writing, ideas, data and diversity of opinion. Good solid writing isn't a preserve of professional journalists; the quality of the writing posted here in Readers Journal is equal to or better than that found on any site. Read any essay by Michael Goodfellow or Protagoras or a dozen other contributors and you will be impressed. I know I am.

Your humble editor (me) has been a professional free-lance writer for major newspapers and other publications for 20 years. I strive to share the diversity of opinions and experience offered by you, the readers and contributors, and to write as sharply and entertainingly as I can about the wide range of topics you suggest.

Any reader who writes cogently on a topic is encouraged to share his/her work. Attacks, blind ideology, swearing and views unsupported by experience and/or data don't make it on the site. My guiding philosophy is simple: we all benefit from editing, and few of us have time to plow through 188 daily comments per blog (for example), most of which are repetitive or lacking in substance/value. I strive to be respectful of opposing views and I try to edit with a light hand, working from the notion that you'd rather read a few well-written comments and critiques in a few minutes than scan dozens of anonymous threads.

Though poetry is largely ignored/has zero influence in American culture, I am proud to provide a forum for poetry, from Haiku by UKC or Jed H. to creative, thoughtful works long and short by Protagoras and Verona U.

4. You are spared the clutter and mindlessness of advertising. Given that the site has attracted almost 900,000 visits this year, I suppose it could generate some decent ad revenue, but I prefer the honesty of asking for donations to the constant barrage of marketing of products and services I mostly detest--and you probably do, too.

5. This is an experiment in what I call Open Source Journalism. Open source software is freely available for anyone who is not using it commercially. In this sense, the blogosphere and indeed the Web is "open source" except for those sites which charge subscriptions for "premium content."

In other words, this site is free to you, and all data is sourced according to journalistic standards. Every commentator's email is known to me, though you are free to choose a name here for your comments which protects your own identity. There are no anonymous comments.

Put another way: financial contributors to this site are supporting a free, responsible form of journalism and commentary which is supported not by faceless corporate advertisers but by actual individuals like yourself. Once you contribute money, topics or comments, you join/support this outpost of Open Source Journalism.

What I love about this model is its complete democracy. Anyone is free to launch a blog, but attracting readers requires providing some content compelling enough for readers to invest precious time reading the content.

I also think what separates from other sites is the dynamic of readers being commentators. Other sites have "the usual suspects" (other journalists and academics) as commentators, but here anyone can be a featured commentator if they take a few moments to compose their thoughts/analysis cogently. I am unimpressed by credentials, as no doubt you are, too; what impresses me is a thoughtful presentation which draws upon either data or experience unique to the commentator. (I think of contributor Nurse Dorothy, who brings a frontline point of view to healthcare topics.)

6. This site is not a link-farm; the content and many of the charts are original (and copyrighted). Take, for instance, this chart I made a few months ago. It tells a very different story than the one hyped by the financial and mainstream press, i.e. "the credit crisis is limited to subprime mortgages." Not so fast--take a look at the data first. (You won't find this chart anywhere else, though the data is readily available.)

7. The site seeks to surprise you with topics and ideas beyond the mainstream media and blogosphere. I'm as interested as the next bloke in finance, the stock market and the housing bubble, but every topic gets tiresome day after day. Hence, this site also covers films, literature, urban planning, nutrition, politics, history, energy, and a host of occasionally zany topics whose purpose is to enliven your day with the unexpected.

8. It's free--and it's all "premium content;" for better or for worse, it's my best work and the best of readers' work.

Here is my craven pitch:

  • There are no ads on this site to annoy you, except the fake ones I design for your amusement. (Please google 'Zombiestra'.)
  • A 95-minute movie with 10 minutes of ads and a popcorn costs $15. If you enjoyed this site for at least 2 hours this year, and you donate $15, you already received more entertainment than you did from the movie. The other 100+ hours of enjoyment you receive here is FREE (and lead-free and trans-fat free, too).
  • You have the immense moral satisfaction of aiding a poor dumb writer who seeks to inform, entertain and amuse you.
  • Donate $50 or more and I'll send you a signed copy of my completely ignored novel I-State Lines which is perfect for stabilizing wobbly tables and desks.
  • Donate $100 and I promise not to send you the book.

  • {/end craven pitch}

    NOTE: contributions are humbly acknowledged in the order received.

    Thank you, Andrew J. ($20), for your generous support of this humble site. I am greatly honored by your readership. All contributors are listed below in acknowledgement of my gratitude.

    If you donate money now, you can read the site guilt-free for the rest of the year-- such a deal!
    Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.

    HUGE GIANT BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site should be construed as investment advice or guidance. It is not intended as investment advice or guidance, nor is it offered as such. It is solely the opinion of the writer, who is NOT an investment counselor/professional. All the content of this website is solely an expression of his personal interests and is posted as free-of-charge opinion and commentary. If you seek investment advice, consult a registered, qualified investment counselor (As with any other professional service, confirm their track record and referrals).

    Thank You, Contributors!
    (December 31, 2007)

    The Stock Market: Poised on an Edge?
    (December 29, 2007)

    What "Lies" Ahead (Part II)
    (December 28, 2007)

    What Lies Ahead
    (December 27, 2007)

    Who Decides What Is Art?
    (December 26, 2007)

    The Christmas Letter I'd Like To See
    (December 25, 2007)

    Holiday Viewing and Readers Journal
    (December 20, 2007)

    Paging Mr. Scrooge
    (December 19, 2007)

    Bailout: Could Government Actually Be Part of the Solution?
    (December 18, 2007)

    Stock Market Santa Claus: Rally or Lump of Coal?
    (December 17, 2007)

    Reader Commentaries and Christmas Gift 'Hail Mary'
    (December 15, 2007)

    The Politics of Atomization
    (December 14, 2007)

    Feedback Loops of Doom III: Retail, Downtowns and Cash-Strapped Cities
    (December 13, 2007)

    Financial Worry, Health, and the Reverse Wealth Effect As Housing Pops
    (December 12, 2007)

    Feedback Loops of Doom: Healthcare, Taxes and Municipal Bankruptcy
    (December 11, 2007)

    The Unintended Consequences of the Housing Bubble Bursting
    (December 10, 2007)

    Muddling Through Malaise
    (December 7, 2007)

    Exhaustion, Jobs and Housing
    (December 6, 2007)

    Trends and Countertrends
    (December 5, 2007)

    Depression in America
    (December 4, 2007)

    The Economist Cover Dollar Indicator
    (December 3, 2007)

    When an Old Friend Takes Her Own Life
    (December 1, 2007)

    To view November entries, go to weblog November 2007.


    (insert brilliant marketing line here which instantly causes erudite readers to)
    Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.

    Heroes and Heroines of New Media

    Financial contributors who have made multiple donations to this modest site or a donation of $50 or more. If such a generous madness strikes you, I offer you a small token of my appreciation: a signed copy of my novel I-State Lines. Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

    Renee S.-J. (3rd donation)Anthony S. (3rd donation)Kent M. Riley T. (3rd donation)Joshua B. Jamie D.
    Anthony B.Bill M. (chimes)John and Cindy B. ( 2 donations + CD) Cheryl A. ($$ + peanut butter) Steve A.Donald E. (8th donation)
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    I would be honored if you link any essay to your website, print a copy for your own use or add my RSS or Atom feed. And of course I appreciate your recommendations of this weblog and your comments:

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    wEssay noun, combination of 'web' and 'essay,' denoting a short online essay which exploits the hyperlinks, interfaces and interactive capabilities of the World Wide Web; coined by Charles Hugh Smith on May 1, 2005, in Berkeley California.

    Aphorisms I like:

    "Economic history is a never-ending series of episodes based on falsehoods and lies, not truths. It represents the path to big money. The object is to recognize the trend whose premise is false, ride that trend, and step off before it is discredited." (George Soros)

    "The way of the Tao is reversal." (Lao Tzu)

    "Chance favours the prepared mind. (Louis Pasteur)

    "It is neither necessary to hope to undertake, nor to succeed to persevere." (French proverb)

    "You must have a willingness to do something when everyone else is petrified. You must learn the lesson of following logic over emotion." (Warren Buffett)

    "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill)

    "May a fair road always be open to you." (CHS, April 2, 2006)

    All content and images copyright © 2006 - 2007 Charles Hugh Smith, All rights reserved in all media, unless otherwise credited or noted.


    click here for all RJ
    current issue

    This Month's commentaries:


    This Month's Journal Essays

    Elegy on the Death of Steve Jobs (poem, Protagoras, 12/15/07)

    Inflation and Deflation -- A Reader's Perspective (Gary G, 12/10/07)

    In Praise of Awk (Protagoras, 12/10/07)

    Suburbia, Jobs and Housing (Lloyd L., 12/10/07)

    Two Poems: Guilt and Hurt (Verona U., 12/10/07)

    RS archives:

    November 2007

    October 2007

    September 2007

    August 2007

    July 2007

    June 2007

    May 2007

    November Essays/Poems

    Tryst Tropique (Verona U., 11/20/07)

    Electro Convulsive Therapy (Protagoras, 11/20/07)

    Death of a Countryman (Protagoras, 11/10/07)

    The Pattern of Financial Meltdown (Protagoras, 11/06/07)

    In Memory of Charles Prince, In Memory of Ken Lay (Protagoras, 11/06/07)

    R.D. Laing Part I (Protagoras, 11/01/07)

    October Essays

    Why can't they stop computer viruses?
    (Michael Goodfellow, 10/23/07)

    World War I: Recommended Books
    (Lloyd L., 10/23/07)

    NASA and the Warmest Year (Michael Goodfellow, 10/14/07)

    Another First For England (Protagoras, 10/14/07)

    Wherever you are (poem) (Protagoras, 10/14/07)

    Remembering the Mahatma
    Crucial Taunt

    Bring Me the Flesh of a Purple Habanero (poem)

    Icons of my youth: Ezra Pound Protagoras

    It's not (just) a credit crunch Michael Goodfellow

    40 Days In The Desert: Denial & Ephemeral Finance in Post-American Century John Grey

    Beyond Insurgency An End to Our War in Iraq
    Fabius Maximus (external link)

    September Essays

    Icons of my youth: Thomas Hardy Protagoras

    Icons of my youth: Sailing to Byzantium Protagoras

    In Praise of the Standing Lug Protagoras

    August Essays

    The Economic Significance of Unlimited Derivative Works in the Software Business
    by Protagoras

    In praise of the Santoku knife
    by Protagoras

    A Transcontinental Journey
    John Joss

    Kissing Frogs: The Greatest Risk
    (An author on writing)
    John Joss

    Peak Oil and Soil
    by Eric Andrews

    The Great Unraveling
    by Chuck D.

    The TQM Diet (satire)
    by Protagoras

    July Essays

    Loyalty, Impeachment and 'Supporting the President'
    by Harun I.

    Icons of my youth: Frank Leavis
    by Protagoras

    Equal Killing Rights (satire)
    by Protagoras

    June Essays

    Global Warming:
    Our Story So Far

    Michael Goodfellow
    The Hockey Stick Breaks
    by Protagoras

    Love in the Time of Syphilis
    by Protagoras

    May Essays

    What to do about Health Care?
    Michael Goodfellow
    Memo to the next UK Prime Minister
    by Protagoras

    Political Elites & Some Predictions
    Michael Goodfellow
    The Fort Dix Terror Plot
    by Harun I.

    The French Presidential Elections
    by John Kinsella

    Wal-Mart, disequilibria, and global economic dislocation
    by Harun I.

    The Recent UK Elections
    by Protagoras

    The Evolution of Social Behaviour by Protagoras

    Is Everybody Happy?
    Michael Goodfellow
    Memories of Lana'i by Bill Murath

    Why I gratefully accept donations and why you might want to donate:
  • There are no ads on this site to annoy you, except the fake ones I design for your amusement.
  • A 95-minute movie with 10 minutes of ads and a small popcorn costs $15. If you enjoyed this site for at least 2 hours this year, and you donate $15, you already received more entertainment than you did from the movie. The other 100+ hours of enjoyment you receive here is FREE.
  • You have the immense moral satisfaction of aiding a poor dumb writer who seeks to inform, entertain and amuse you.

  • Worth Visiting:

    Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

    Marin Real Estate Bubble

    West Coast of Canada-
    Housing/R.E. blog

    Westside Bubble (L.A.)

    New York City Housing Bubble

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