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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday Scattershot

False sense of security...

7 Reasons the TSA Sucks (A Security Expert's Perspective)

One of the many reasons I don't fly any more is I'm not a big believer in "Security Theater" - lots of people in uniforms running around, barking orders, giving the impression that they're doing something important.

They're not doing spit, other than making people think they're going to be safe when boarding the plane.

A couple o' quotes:
Ben Gurion is probably the most threatened airport in the world. It has between 50 and 70 incidents every day. Nobody hears about those because we handle them.
The TSA treats each traveler the same because of some stupid idea that everything needs to be fair. Security needs to be done due to risk -- and risk means that in Israel we don't check luggage, we check people. And I'm not talking about racial profiling here; that's a product of poor training. Regardless of race or creed, people with bombs strapped to their body behave in similar ways.
At Ben Gurion Airport, we get travelers from their car to their gate in 25 minutes. When was the last time that happened to you in an American airport? Probably never, because a dozen 747s worth of cranky travelers can't take their shoes and coats off, pull their laptops out of their luggage, and queue up for pat downs without chaos.
Withdraw your consent.  Don't fly unless it's a life-or-death circumstance.  Literally.

2016 prediction.....

Hillary will be our next president.  The soft-heads will fall for the same heart-tugging crap they fell for when electing Obama simply because of the color of his skin.  A strong woman.  A dedicated woman.  A competent woman.  The first woman president.

Get used to it, 'cause it's gonna happen.

As a bonus for Hillary, she's part of the, "take from the rich, give to the poor via legislation" party.  You'll never get a Taker to vote for someone whose platform includes removing their subsidies and making them work for a living.

The NY Times is already clearing the Benghazi decks of the dead bodies.  Their "exhaustive" reporting failed to mention her name - even once - as the person ultimately responsible for what happens at our embassies.  Even this [link] CNN re-hash of the article fails to mention Hillary, only referring to "the State Department" or "the Administration".  All the names of the responsible persons removed.

Oversight?  Yeah, right.

Pope thoughts.... [btw, I'm Christian, but not Catholic]

When this new Pope was elected, I liked what I heard.  Frugal, common man, etc.  Paid for his hotel room while awaiting the outcome of the election.

He then fired some German Bishop who was a big spender, and stories started surfacing that he was sneaking out at night to help the poor.

Cool, right?

Well, yeah, but.... it's starting to seem like this is being orchestrated.  Like we're being played.  For instance, if he's sneaking out at night to feed the poor, how are we finding out about this?  Pope Paparazzi?

And what's all of this crap about evil capitalism and the greedy rich?  I'd like him to show me one poor guy that ever created a job.  Being poor isn't noble in and of itself.  It's an economic condition.  Your actions as an individual determine if you're a good person or a bad person.

If you want to be poor, more power to you.  But don't cast people who own companies and make money as these evil, blood sucking bastards.  Look at them as people who give others the ability to feed, clothe and house themselves, while making a buck for themselves.

Keepin' an eye out on this guy....

The Irony Police have been called....

I must not have been paying close attention, but I didn't realize that the big ship that's stuck in the ice down in Antarctica was there to continue the lie about.... global warming!
Passengers and crew who set off on an expedition to prove climate change are ringing in the new year in the same place where they have been for the past week: stuck in ice at the bottom of the world.
Remember, it's summer down there right now.

Most of  The Compliant Media has dropped all mention of the ship's primary task, and is now filling us with stories of them singing, and keeping their spirits up, and blah, blah, blah.

It appears they are now binge drinking to pass the time (what else are you going to do when your life's work just kicked you in the nuts?).  At least they'll have plenty of ice for their cocktails...

Starting a business pointers....

Guy Kawasaki: The Top 10 Mistakes of Entrepreneurs is a Youtube video by the former "Chief Evangelist" for Apple Computer.  While the video (about an hour and a half) is primarily focused on High Tech start ups, there are LOTS of take-aways for any kind of business.

In fact, the imaginary company he uses in his example makes and sells dog food!

A couple of my favorites:

  • Scaling Too Soon - starting your business to handle a gazillion sales before you've made your first sale.  You dump all of this money, time and effort into building the Next Great Thing before you even know if the market will embrace your product as you hope.
  • Believing that Patents = Defensibility.  He drones on a bit about this - how by having a patent on some process or product will give you the ability to fight off a big company from stealing your idea.  He discusses how if Microsoft steals your shit, they'll keep you buried in legal limbo forever.  He then delivers a great gem:  The first to scale is the company that is defensible.  If the market truly has a ravenous appetite for your product, growing the business and building brand recognition, is what allows you to defend your turf, not some piece of paper.
  • It's trite, but true. "Under promise, over deliver".  Tell your customer that they'll have their shipment on Friday, but deliver it two days earlier on Wednesday.  Give them a repair estimate of $100, knowing it will likely only cost $75 - then only charge them $75.  You get the idea.   Every business and marketing book you'll read discusses this, but too few companies actually live by it.  The great ones - of any size - make this the core of their business process.

Be alert, safe and prosperous in 2014, my friends.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Of Flash-Bangs and Renewed Focus

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
--Mark Twain

This year, I focused on acquiring new skills.  I acquired 4 new ones - two legal,  two illegal yet Constitutional.  Unlike the soft-heads on Youtube, I won't be discussing the illegal yet Constitutional items.

On the legal side, I worked quite hard on my barter and negotiating skills.  In particular, convincing people that owned something I wanted, but at the moment, did not know they wanted to sell or trade that item (or service.)

In my Precious Metals business, I have folks coming to me to either buy or sell.  It takes no effort to guess that they want to do one or the other!  What I've worked on, and I think quite successfully, is probing folks - outside of the PM store, via Craigslist, garage sales, rummage sales - with the right types of questions to let them understand that they don't really need what they've got, and that they should sell or trade with me (yes, this is all covered in the book I'm writing that I discussed a few weeks ago.)

And it's all done honestly, ethically and honorably.  I'm a big believer in karma.  What goes around, comes around.  You may be able to "get over" on some folks, but it will eventually come back to bite you on the ass.  It's all about educating people that making the sale or trade will benefit them more than retaining the item in question.

The other legal item has been learning - or enhancing - the gathering of intelligence data.  I'll give one example, but this applies to any topic in which you want a better understanding of who is doing what, and why.

We're seeing this militarization of our domestic police forces.  It's not a matter of opinion, it's a fact.  At this point in time, it's a done-deal, so understanding how it happened is irrelevant.  What I want to know is how is this going to be used, and what types of events could trigger its widespread usage.  Perhaps most importantly, what can I do to eliminate or minimize my chances of being on the receiving end of its use?

For part of your intel gathering, a simple, partial step is to watch TV.  A great deal of intel is freely given on the numerous reality cop shows we are flooded with on TV nowadays.

These "elite units" (how can they ALL be elite units?) love seeing their mugs on TV, and they freely give you the "inside story" on how they prepare for and execute their (quite often) over-the-top raids.

Watch what they do.  Watch how they think.  Understand their weaknesses, their vanities, their tells.  Pay attention.

If you're the target of their affection, are they more inclined to set a non-violent trap by sending two officers or detectives to grab you as you pick up groceries, or are they more inclined to violently invade your home at 3am, with flash-bangs, smoke bombs and overwhelming numerical superiority?

Regardless of you alleged crime, you'll likely get the latter treatment.  Keepin' America safe, one joint roller at a time...

Hey, they've got the toys, and they want to play with them.

Want some areas in which to gather intelligence?

Precious metals:  If the ratio of ounces mined for silver and gold is 9:1 (9oz of silver mined for every 1oz of gold), why is the price ratio around 1:60?  Who would benefit by this imbalance?  How are they able to affect these supposedly "free markets".  Either gold is too high, silver is too low, or a little bit of both.

Healthcare:  We have the largest influx of people in the history of the country (Baby Boomers) moving into the Socialist Security and Medicare systems over the next twenty years or so.  It will crush these systems.  Why would it make sense to design Obamacare to push more people, more quickly into this system (due to being poor)?  Who would benefit by this massive socialist move?  When it collapses, how will the government pay for these benefits for which they've made promises?

Yes.  There is a relationship between the two items...

I'm going to do a bit of a format change for this site in 2014.  I'm going to pull back from every post being a long, detailed novella, and hit you with more short-and-sweet insights and how-to's.  I want to post more often, and writing a book every time I post just drags things out, and usually ends up meaning the post doesn't get posted.  I've got well over a dozen half-done posts just sitting there in blogger purgatory.

I'll still do the longer posts when it's about something that has legs.  How-to instructions, or broad societal trends, or financial stuff.  I'll hit you short-and-sweet with the more topical, current events stuff.

We'll see how that works out.

Have a safe, healthy and prosperous 2014!

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Want My Reparations, Too

Crap like this just burns my ass.  I swear, my brain feels like it's going to explode every time I see a story about "diversity" and "social justice" and "white privilege" and all of this media guilt over the color of your skin.... if it's white.

Some student at Sacramento State University decided she was going to be "edgy" and put up an art exhibit.  About lynching.  White people.
An African-American student at Sacramento State University is under fire for her recent work of art – which consisted of “lynching” two white men from a tree on the northern California campus.
We all know how this would be portrayed in the media had it been a white student being "edgy" with blacks being lynched.  It would be top-of-the-fold New York Times fodder.  MSNBC would be airing segments on, "Racism In America".  The Today Show would have segments on, "How to be a sensitive white guy".

I can just see the spittle flying from Sharpton's pie hole as he made an impassioned plea for justice, and diversity training and, well, some money to right this wrong.  It's always, "Show me the money" with Sharpton.

Well, you know what?  I'm going to belly up to the money bar as well.  I want reparations for an insufferable mental anguish that blacks just can't understand.  They can't feel what I feel because they're not white.  They don't know the shame and injustice and the horrible historic burden that's been placed around the neck of me and my people for hundreds of years.

You see, I'm part Irish.  Clark, to be precise.  And my ancestors were brought to America - as slaves - by the tens of thousands.  Men, women, children.  It didn't matter.

What has so deeply and permanently scarred my very soul is that... I can barely bring myself to repeat the horrors.... is that my people were treated worse than, and valued less than other slaves.
African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.
The value of the life of my ancestors was almost nothing.  Not even a crime if you killed them.  My peeps were the bottom of the slave barrel.

Gimme some money to feel better about myself and to soothe the injustices I must bear.

Seriously.  What were the words used by the black student at Sac State?  "...[B]ring to light social injustices and the issue of inequality that impacts me and my community as a whole,”

Whatever.  Just give me some money.  You want inequality?  How about being valued at one-tenth the value of other slaves?  My peeps - as slaves - were treated worse than any other class of slave, and if there's a pecking order when the reparation checks start flowing, I'm at the front of the line.  My ancestors were bigger victims, so I get money first.

I want money for college just because of my race.  I want money to buy a house just because of my race.  I want money for whatever the hell I want, for the pure and simple reason of the color of my skin, and the plight of my long-dead ancestors.

And this injustice continued into the 20th century - well past the end of the Civil War.


Of course, this is a big, steaming pile of crap.  Just like it is for blacks.  If you want to act like a victim, think like a victim and whine like a victim, well, guess what you'll be?  A ward of the state, looking for hand-outs at every turn, and pointing your finger everywhere but towards your own chest when assigning blame for your shortcomings.

I've never heard how blacks in America explain the Vietnamese.  They came here, literally with only the clothes on their backs, and now, as a demographic unit, kick ass and take names.

Leave that, "historical injustice" crap at the front door.  We had just lost 50,000 Americans to Vietnamese guns.  In 1979, we took in over 800,000 refugees.  They weren't exactly the favorite nationality of Americans at the time.  This history was recent, and many Americans had loved ones that had been killed by the Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese dug in, worked like crazy, and carved out a very comfortable niche in our society.  If you go down to Silicon Valley today, you'll see more Vietnamese stores and restaurants than any other type.

They own the joint.  All done in about a generation.  Truly a, "rags to riches" American success story.  They saw the opportunity, and took it.

I believe their demographic exceeds white demographics in almost all categories.  Does this make me whine and bitch and moan about, "getting my fair share"?  Hell no.

I go and get it myself.  I - a person with slaves in my family tree - choose to not let something that happened hundreds of years ago, affect my life today.  Why would I?  Why would anyone?
There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.--Booker T. Washington

I wonder if our Sac State student ever heard that quote in class.  I'm guessing not.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Arapahoe High vs Sandy Hook Elementary

Before I get into it, a quick refresher on the facts of guns in America:

1.  Restrictive access gun laws in America do NOTHING but restrict the rights and abilities of the GOOD citizens in this country.  The criminals don't give a damn about any law, and are unhindered in their use of any weapon that helps them in their criminal deeds.  This has always been, and always will be.

2.  The only way to stop a criminal with a gun is to put a good guy with a gun between the criminal and the innocents.

3.  Gun Free Zones do nothing more than attract criminals to commit their deeds at these Zones because they know they will have little or no resistance for their crime.

Most have heard of the shooting by the mentally disturbed student at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.  Some kid's sanity went sideways, and he started shooting up the school - hitting one innocent girl in the head.
"His intent was evil, and his evil intent was to harm multiple individuals," Robinson said about Pierson, whose entrance into the school was documented on security cameras, as was the bulk of the one minute, 20 seconds of violence that ensued.
Holy crap.  This kid had a shotgun with a bandoleer full of shells, a machete and a number of Molotov Cocktails to rain some terror down on the heads of anyone that got in his way.  It appears he was looking for some librarian who had punished him in some way.

He had the means and the opportunity to make this a horrific, bloody scene.  Instead, his terror campaign only lasted about 80 seconds.  What gives?  How is it possible that 364 days earlier, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 26 students and teachers were killed?

What's different between the two incidents, other than the strikingly different outcomes?

Arapahoe High School had someone with a gun onsite.
The rampage might have resulted in many more casualties had it not been for the quick response of a deputy sheriff who was working as a school resource officer at the school, Robinson said. 
Once he learned of the threat, he ran -- accompanied by an unarmed school security officer and two administrators -- from the cafeteria to the library, Robinson said. "It's a fairly long hallway, but the deputy sheriff got there very quickly." 
The deputy was yelling for people to get down and identified himself as a county deputy sheriff, Robinson said. "We know for a fact that the shooter knew that the deputy was in the immediate area and, while the deputy was containing the shooter, the shooter took his own life."
If I may be so bold as to editorialize, as soon as the Gun Free Zone was no longer free of (other) guns, he folded like a house of cards, AND NO OTHER PEOPLE WERE HARMED FROM THAT POINT FORWARD.

Both incidents - Arapahoe High and Sandy Hook Elementary - had lone gunmen bent on death and destruction.  At Sandy Hook, the teachers and kids were slaughtered like sheep, until people with guns showed up.  At Arapahoe, they were already there, and only one kid was harmed.

Why is it so difficult for the gun grabbers to do this math?  It doesn't matter if those good guy guns are held by the police, or, as was the case only a few days before Sandy Hook, by a private citizen with a concealed carry permit (Funny, isn't it, how the press plays it up when a private citizen goes nuts and shoots people, but not when a private citizen acts to prevent or minimize these shooting incidents.  Yeah.  Funny.)

How many more kids and adults have got to die in Gun Free Zones before they get it?  More guns will save more lives.  It's simple math.  It's not conjecture, it's fact.  If the grabbers have another suggestion, I'm all ears.  But that suggestion MUST NOT include disarming people who are willing and able to save lives.

No more.  Enough have died as a result of their failed experiment.  Their "reasonable gun laws" have led to nothing but death and misery.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Your Revocation Of Consent

If you destroy a free market, you create a black market. 
– Winston Churchill

I'm in the process of putting together a book on making money - part of my whole, "Multiple streams of income" philosophy.  In the introduction of the book, I discuss the concept of real money, how it gives you flexibility to buy what you want, how it's a compact store of wealth, etc.  Money is a good thing.  It only becomes that evil root when you earn money simply for the sake of earning money.

I segue into non-traditional economies - the main focus of the book - and rhetorically ask the question, "If money is so great, why would I want to take a step backwards to barter, trade and the like?"  The answer is taxation and regulation.

A snippet:
Now, you need government permission (and are required to pay fees for the privilege of obtaining that permission) to start a business, to buy or sell goods and services, to add a room to your home, to talk on the phone, to heat your home, to watch cable TV, to use the Internet, to own a dog, to drive a car, to catch a fish, to have a lemonade stand, to get married, to smoke a cigarette, to cross a toll bridge, to hunt a deer, to make alcohol, to have a garage sale, to float your boat. It never ends.

All of these things reduce the value of your labors. Look at your pay check, and see how much, "comes off the top" - 10% to 30%. Look at your sales receipt when you buy something, and see how much more you are required to pay for the privileged of buying that product - 6% to 10%.
Some taxes are hidden. The next time you buy gasoline, look at the pump, and it will tell you how much tax is added to each and every gallon of gas you put in your car. Look at your cell phone bill, utility bill, water bill, garbage bill, mortgage payment - almost any bill. Taxes and government fees abound. 
Economists estimate that in 2013, the average American will pay 59.7% of their income to some sort of government tax, fee or fine. That means you are working 7 months out of every year to pay for government.

If you earn $20 per hour, government gets $11.94 and you get $8.06. Nice, huh?
I'm peppering the book with subject-applicable quotes, and was surfin' the web looking for Founding Father quotes regarding their intent when constructing our nation and its Constitution.   No way was it their original intent to have this suffocating level of government.  My go-to guy for this kind of information is James Madison - considered The Father Of The Constitution.

Once again, he did not disappoint.

It seems that in 1793, as a result of a slave revolt in Haiti, shiploads of French citizens looking for sanctuary - and money - were dumped on our shores by the French navy.

During the Third Congress in 1794, the US treasury was being asked to appropriate money for these folks, and Madison was having none of it -
I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
Love it.  But I wanted some context.  The statist bastards nowadays will take a Madison quote out of context, and use it to support their point of view.  I want none of that.  I want to know what was going on at the time - what was the debate?  I found something called, "The Annals of Congress".  "The Annals were not published contemporaneously, but were compiled between 1834 and 1856, using the best records available, primarily newspaper accounts." of each of the first 18 sessions of Congress.
Mr. Madison wished to relieve the sufferers, but was afraid of establishing a dangerous precedent, which might hereafter be perverted to the countenance of purposes very different from those of charity. He acknowledged, for his own part, that he could not undertake to lay his finger on that article in the Federal Constitution which granted a right of Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.  And if they broke the line laid down before them, for the direction of their conduct, it was impossible to say what lengths they might go, or to what extremities this practice might be carried.
Wow.  Checking in with the Constitution to determine if a proposal was, uhm, constitutional, regardless of how good it feels.  What a concept.  Then asking, in essence, "If we start down this road, will it ever end?"

I guess we all know the answer to that question.  I wonder how the folks living under King George's rule would have reacted to nearly 60% of their labor being taken by government.

I don't need to wonder at all.


As with any taxing or economic-control scheme, there is a threshold of pain the taxpayers will endure.  People will pay for roads, and local police, and the military, and the court system.

Many are FINALLY questioning their continued mandatory financial support for militarized police departments, secret security courts, "legal" checkpoints, "authorized" eavesdropping, "policy compliant" body cavity searches, "economic justice" cash transfers, and monarchy-like Executive Orders.

These all sound a lot like mid-1700's America - with a 21st century paint job.

People - slowly - have begun to withdraw their support and consent.  They simply won't play the "Pay Up" game any more.  They're actively looking for ways to bypass the standard economy.  They'll hire a guy from the Home Depot parking lot to clean their yard instead of hiring a government-approved contractor that's got to charge double the amount to pay for his government approval.  For skilled trades, they'll speak to their friends to get a referral for a plumber, auto repairman, electrician, small engine mechanic, house painter, roofer or sheet-rocker that does jobs, "on the side".

Instead of hiring, "a friend of a friend" sporadically, it's their first option.

They'll do for themselves.  They'll build their own guns in garage workshops instead of going through the onerous and intrusive state and federal gauntlet required to own a gun.  They'll brew their own hooch on the back porch instead of paying inflated prices due to unseen alcohol tax stamps and labeling requirements.

They'll grow their own vegetables and raise their own chickens instead of buying "fresh" food affixed with government stamps of approval.  They'll reload their own ammo instead of becoming a victim of government ammunition dictates which can leave their ammo store shelves bare.  They'll preserve their surplus food for later consumption instead of buying government approved food that contains "acceptable levels" of bug and rodent parts.

Every time they do this, they know that, in addition to saving themselves some money, they are simultaneously starving the beast of government.  If the government has less food to stamp, fewer guns to approve and less liquor to regulate, they'll have to increase the tax on all of those things.  Government won't shrink, it will simply increase its cost.

This action will incent more folks to join the non-traditional economy.  It always goes this way.  Taxation and regulation reduce consumption... but not demand.

They, too, may join the ranks of the Skilled Tradesmen offering their goods and services, "under the table".  Perhaps when they build that gun, brew that hooch, or raise and preserve that food, they'll make a little bit extra - and realize the full rewards of their efforts from selling their goods and services.

Once they get this taste of economic freedom, they'll get very resentful.  Resentful for how long they've accepted what was dished out.

My personal epiphany came in 2008.   A group of us flew to Las Vegas for my oldest son's 21st birthday.  On our way home from Vegas, I had a vantage point in the airport that looked down at the neat lines of the nice, compliant, oh-so-sheepish people obediently consenting to the waiver of their fourth amendment rights.  It looked like a dairy with all of the compliant cows queuing up to have their teats pulled.

And I saw I was one of them.  Well, No mas, baby.  No mas.  I haven't flown since.

I've revoked my consent.  Unless it's literally a life-or-death situation, I will not fly.  I will not take a bus or train for the same reason, as the TSA is now managing the security for those modes of transportation as well.

My consent revocation - in the big picture of things - isn't diddly squat.  I'm just one guy.  But I now first look for goods or services "under the table".  My norm has become using barter and trade.  I literally "shop" at garage sales, bazaars and Craigslist every single week.

Now, if we all did this - or at least more of us - things might change.  Us "makers" would continue to prosper, but the "takers" would flounder.  There would still be enough tax flow to pay for legitimate government, but much would need to be pared back.  Obviously, voting for this change to happen won't do a damned thing.  Only our direct, individual action can have any impact.

The choice is yours.  You've still got time, but the clock's tickin'....

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Buying And Selling Precious Metals On "The Spread"

[I believe you should only purchase precious metals with "non-committed" money.  Your monthly bills are paid, you've got a cash reserve available for emergencies, and things like a "new car fund" or "new house fund" are fully funded.  PM's should be a part of - and not the entirety of - your financial security plan.]

One of the most common questions I get in our Precious Metals (PM) store is, "If I buy this coin today, how much would you pay me to buy it back?"

Great damned question, and I wish more folks thought this way.  My answer usually goes something like this:.  "Well, it depends.  Grab a cup of coffee and a chair, and I'll explain."

Let's say the PM in question is a 1 ounce generic silver round.  These are private mint bullion, and very popular with buyers.  We typically sell these coins for $2 to $3 over the spot price of silver.

I tell them that if we're in a flat market (low price fluctuation over the past week or so), I'd be buying the coin back at around $2 under spot.  

If we're in a rising market, I'd be buying them for between spot and $1 under spot.  Since the market is rising, my market risk is minimized, and I pass the reduced cost of that risk on to my customers.

If we're in a declining market, I'd be buying them for anywhere between $3 and $4 below spot.  Since the market is declining, my market risk is increased, and I pass the increased cost of that risk on to my customers.

What I'm trying to do is maintain a profit margin of around $3.50 to $4 per coin.  That's how I keep my doors open.

If you walk into a PM store, and get the spread information, how do you know if it's reasonable?  You can get a feel by checking online sources.

You're going to use this information for two reasons:  To see what an online spread is, and to see what types of bullion have the smallest spread.  A smaller spread tends to indicate a coin with a more liquid market.  A more liquid market means you will be able to sell your bullion more easily in the future.

If I go to, I see that silver is $20.15 per ounce.  Here's what I can glean from the site:

At first blush, it appears as though junk silver is the clear winner.  And it is!  Its spread is $1.11 below the nearest alternative, and it's got the lowest per-ounce cost.  Over the past few years, normal spreads have been pretty close to what you see here.

[Note:  If you're going to buy junk silver for the first time, read our tutorial ("Buying 90 Percent Silver Coins") so you're going into the transaction knowing what you're talking about.]

That being said, if you were selling your stash right now, you'd be wishing you had nothing but American Silver Eagles.  They are always afforded the highest premium.

So, diversify.  Just like you don't want all of your savings in gold and silver, you don't want all of your silver, for instance, in junk silver.  When it comes time to sell, you want to be able to sell the fewest number of ounces for the greatest number of dollars.

You're buying right now to sell into an unknown future market.  You want to be able to maximize your money when it comes time to sell.

I"ll occasionally get the response, "I can get silver rounds for less than that.  Can you meet their price?"  I ask them where they saw the price, and it's always from an online source.

I tell them that if price is their only concern, they SHOULD buy online.  Their cost-per-coin savings won't be quite what they think, as they'll have to pay for shipping and insurance, but it could still be lower than my price.

I tell them that what they're buying from me is more than silver.  They're also buying peace of mind.

If they buy from an online source, their name, address, phone number, email address, credit card information, and the contents of their purchase are now on AT LEAST two lists - one with the online seller and one with the credit card company.  The delivery company will also show a transaction between Mega Bullion Dealer and you.

I tell them that if they buy from us and use cash, no one outside of the transaction knows they were even in the store.  We use the "Walmart underwear" analogy:  When you go to Walmart to buy underwear with cash, you don't give them your name.  You just buy your underwear and leave.  If you don't want your name on your PM purchase receipt, we don't put it.

If they use a debit card, there IS an electronic record that they spent money in our store, but not what they bought.  It could have been bullion or a bracelet.

Finally - and what I think is just as important as the anonymity aspect - is that they walk out with their purchase.  Their gold or silver is in their safe as soon as they get home.

So yes, peace of mind has a price, but most folks think it's a reasonable one.

Along these lines, I IMPLORE my customers to attempt to buy the highest valued gold and silver for the least amount of money.  That requires them to ask me a simple question:  "What's on sale?"

We ALWAYS have something that is priced lower than normal.  We may have bought a large lot from an estate sale or some other similar purchase.  We will see this very often when we buy foreign gold and silver.  You can at times buy foreign bullion at very near the spot price of gold or only a couple of percentage points higher.

Don't go into the store with a set item to be purchased.  Go in with a set amount you want to spend, and walk away with the largest number of ounces possible.

Also, each state has different rules regarding sales tax.  In California, if you buy at least $1500 worth of bullion, the entire purchase is non-taxable.  I recently found that in Nevada, if the coin has a denomination ($1, $50, etc.) they have to tax you when you buy those.  So, let's say your options are a 1 ounce American Gold Eagle versus a 1 ounce Kruggerand or a 1 ounce Pamp Suisse gold bar.  In Nevada, you'd have to pay sales tax on the Gold Eagle (with its $50 denomination), but not on the Kruggerand or the privately minted Pamp Suisse bar.

You can be talking about some serious dollars depending on how much you're buying.  I'm guessing that private mint silver and gold have a much more liquid market in Nevada than do Gold Eagles, Maple Leafs and Pandas.

Do your homework before making a purchase!  What are the rules in YOUR state?

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Deadly Words

[Last week, I lost a friend and part-time employee, Leslie Pinkston.  Actually, she was taken - murdered in cold blood while she sat in her car.  I've put off writing about this because I have a "24-hour rule".  When I'm pissed off at something, I try and wait 24 hours to let the anger subside so I can look at - and react to - whatever happened more clearly.  I gave it a little bit more time.  The anger hasn't subsided.]

"There was a criminal protective order in place in the case."

On Monday, November 18, 2013, Leslie Pinkston was gunned down [link] around 9:30 in the morning as she sat in her SUV.  Her killer is a former boyfriend who had been arrested for a whole litany of domestic violence charges.

He was released from jail on November 15th, and Leslie was dead three days later on November 18th.

When I read the, "protective order" comment by the local District Attorney, I damned near puked.

How do the gun-grabbers - which includes the police, the sheriff's department, the DA and the state legislature - think Leslie should have responded to these threats?  Hold up the protective order to her murderer, and say, "Back off, asshole!  I've got the law on my side!"

I keep reading these stories on her murder, and the commentors all talk about the criminal justice system, and how animals like this should not be let out, and blah, blah, blah.  They basically want the government to be responsible for their personal safety.

That's impossible.

I wish Leslie had broken California law and kept a loaded gun with her at all times.  This guy was stalking her, threatening her, and had a record of violence.  I wish she'd said, "Go to hell, state of California!  I'm going to protect myself."

If she had made that choice - to illegally carry a loaded gun without the permission of the state - and was then caught doing so, she'd be convicted as a felon.  She would then be stripped of her right to legally purchase or possess a gun anywhere in the country.

Let that sink in:  Her affirmative act of acquiring and possessing the means to save her own life would have instead resulted in her forfeiting her liberty.

Leslie followed the letter of the law, and ended up dead.

Her county - Yolo - is one of the many "no-issue" counties in California that requires you to be threatened before they will consider allowing you to exercise your second amendment rights to self-defense.  They don't have to allow you, but they'll consider it.


I don't give a damn about interpretations for public safety.  I don't give a damn about being reasonable.  I don't give a damn that guns make some people nervous.  I don't give a damn about well-reasoned debate.

From a societal perspective, what I give a damn is about precedence.  The legal concept that a law is in effect until it is overturned or new law is written.  Well, the last time I looked, the second amendment has not  been legally altered since its ratification on December 15, 1791.  If you want to change that, the ONLY way you can do that is to get a constitutional amendment passed that grants these infringement powers to the state.

From a personal perspective, if that ever happens, then I, too, can be a criminal, because you'll never take away my chosen method of exercising my God-given right to self-defense.

California's gun laws are the number one reason why my wife and I are leaving this state (taxes and nanny state-isms are close seconds).  I'll try to, "color inside the lines" for as long as I can, but I'll NEVER place myself or my family in mortal danger because of some unconstitutional bastardization of the second amendment.

What I've read about this maggot is that he's very self-centered.  I pray with every fiber of my being that when he's finally cornered, his vanity and cockiness get the best of him, he resists arrest and is chopped down by multiple 165 grain hollow point .40 caliber pistol rounds.

My second-best alternative is that he return to the town of Winters, Ca.,  where he killed Leslie.  I believe it will be his last visit.  Anywhere.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Like A Rolling Stone

My local radio station was talking up this video-thingy about Bob Dylan's, "Like A Rolling Stone."

I don't know the deep meaning.  I don't know the message they're trying to send.  I just know I thought it was cool.

Click here.

VERY IMPORTANT:  First time through, occasionally click the "Channel" button to kind of understand what's going on.  Give each channel a bit of time to give you some context.  Then, expect to waste a good amount of time watching the whole thing a number of times!  You'll see what I mean.  Seriously, way cool.

Vague enough for ya?  How does it feeeeel?

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lots Of "Bail-In" Noise

Hmm.  Wassup with all of the breathless fear mongering on bail-ins?

In the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing article after article about, "bail-in's".  I mean tons of them.  A bail-in is when one of the Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks fails, and instead of the FDIC and federal government riding to the rescue, the bank's depositors are held responsible for any losses.  Poland recently extended the concept to retirement accounts as well.

Yeah, they take YOUR money that you've entrusted with the bank, to cover any losses.

Now, back in April I wrote an article titled, "Get Some, If Ya Can" [link].
What?  You didn't know that when you make a deposit in your bank, you are an investor (creditor) of that bank?  Yep. Your deposit amount is an asset on your personal balance sheet, and it's a liability on the bank's balance sheet.  An unsecured liability, by the way.
Secured creditors get paid first.  And that ain't you.

But that's not what's got me concerned.  I want to know WHY everyone and their brother is talking about this right now, at this time.

My gut says that this is, "Big blogger Bob is talking about bail-in's, so I will, too."  Or is there more to this?  I can't find anything that would indicate the TBTF banks are any more insolvent than they were when I first wrote the article.

There IS some chatter about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).  This is a law that requires foreign banks to report the accounts they've got that are held by US citizens and companies.  The IRS just extended some deadlines [link to non-IRS website] with regards to this legislation.

A large and sudden out-flow of cash to foreign banks would indeed hurt - potentially cripple - TBTF banks.  I don't see anything indicating this is about to happen.  There was much recent discussion about JP Morgan Chase restricting international wires, but that was just hyperbole.  You can still send international wires, they're just charging certain account types for the privilege.

If you want to get some money offshore, there are sites out there that will help you get your money out of Dodge, and which are not signatories to FATCA.  Yeah, Google it.

There is also a lot of discussion about the dollar losing its place as the world's reserve currency.  This is a real threat to the stability of the US dollar, and is something outside of the direct control of the federal government.

While there's been much discussion about China, Russia, India and Iran all getting into bed together, nothing is imminent.  The dollar - as much as it has been devalued - is still the most trusted currency in the world.  I think it will eventually be replaced, or others will gain peer status as trusted reserve currencies.  But not in the next few weeks or months.

Accept The Challenge

I get nervous when lots of people are suddenly all saying the same thing.  I get more nervous when what they're saying dovetails with what I believe will (eventually) happen.

I feel like I'm being played, or led by the nose.

To me, this looks like people trying to connect dots that don't really connect.  The Preponderance of Evidence approach.  If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck....  Well, sometimes it's a swan.

I just don't see evidence that this is imminent.  One of the Big Boys will eventually take a hit, just not right now.

That being said, I have moved virtually every dime that I've got in banks, out of TBTF banks, and into smaller, local banks and credit unions.  There is no reason not to.  Much of my reserves are in actual greenbacks and precious metals, so I'm not that worried if we have some bank failures.

Maybe I should be looking more closely at getting some money offshore.  I dunno.  If I've got money hidden in some foreign account, how do I get it?  If everything has gone sideways, the feds will likely clamp down on foreign travel, so I couldn't get to it anyways.


>>Question everything, especially when it supports your current beliefs
>>Diversify - don't keep all of your assets in one place.  Money, food, water, weapons, protection from elements.
>>Learn - if you don't understand how something works, or what likely outcomes might be with a given set of data, take the time to figure it out.  Don't be a victim.  Ever.
>>Trust your gut.  It's usually right.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Losing Trust and Respect

[Heads up - if you don't like swearin', don't keep reading...]

I've mentioned before that I've got a close familial and friend relationship with law enforcement.  My dad was an Oakland cop during the 1960's and then was a lieutenant with the Marin County Sheriff's department.  I've got a brother who's a senior cop with a California agency.  I've been in 3 cop weddings and attended many others.  I've hired two different retired cops in my PM business.

For the first thirty-odd years of my life I thought all cops were like my dad and my brother.  Good, decent men that loved, and lived in, the communities they served.  They were held in high esteem because they had earned that respect.

Well, 22 years ago, my bubble was burst.  I was on a jury for a meth cooker.  This guy was dirty as hell.  He did the cooking and distribution out of an auto repair shop he owned.  The irrefutable evidence found in the shop and in his home would put this 1-strike felon away for good.

During the trial, they presented evidence of gun ownership in the guy's home.  The police said they found a rifle in a back bedroom, and a pistol under the guy's bed.

The DA was questioning the guy about the guns.  He admitted to the rifle in the back bedroom - a felony by itself (convicted felons cannot knowingly possess any weapons).  When she got to the gun under the bed, he said, "No damned way, ma'am."  Not his, had never seen it, not a clue where it came from.

I think it would be safe to say that, at this point, all of us on the jury thought, "bullshit."

The DA finished up with the cooker, and brought up a cop.  A very special cop.  He was a member of some multi-jurisdictional, soooooper dooooper drug unit.  All decked out in the (now common) black cop jump suit.  Everything was either black cloth, black leather or polished chrome.  Very tacti-cool looking, and made him seem more "elite" that a regular beat cop.  This dude means business.

The DA asked him where the rifle was found, and he gave very detailed, very precise information.  When she got to the pistol, he described the make, model and caliber, how it was approximately 2 to 3 feet under the bed and would be easily accessible by anyone laying in the bed.

She finished up and handed him off to the defense attorney.  They jabbered back and forth, and this cop never wavered.  His story never veered.

They then got to the pistol.  The attorney asked to cop to refresh the jury's memory on what kind of gun was found and its location.  The cop repeated his testimony verbatim.

The attorney then flipped on an overhead projector.  On the screen was a picture of the bed.  The cop was asked if this was the bed under which the gun was found.  He examined the screen, noted the headboard, night stand, bed spread and some other items he remembered from the arrest.

Yep, that was the bed.

The attorney asked the cop to repeat where he found the gun.  Two to three feet under the bed.  He asked the cop to show on his arm how far under the bed he had to reach to get the gun.  The cop held out his arm, and motioned to his arm pit.  "About this far."

As the cop motioned to his arm pit, the attorney pushed a button and the image on the screen changed.  It now showed the same bed, except the bed spread was now pulled back.  The judge, jury and courtroom could see that the bed in question was a platform bed.  There were perhaps 4 or 6 inches of space under the bed.

There was literally a gasp from the audience!

The attorney asked the cop if he'd like to change any or all of his testimony.  He declined, explaining he stood by his earlier testimony.

Excuse my language, but my thought was, "That piece of shit just looked us in the eye and lied like a mother fucker."  When we got back for deliberations the next day, every single one of us on the jury said we were ignoring every single bit of evidence presented by that asshole (no worries - scumbag meth cooker was still convicted for the rifle and the cooking).

The arrogance of this bastard was shocking.  Having been around "good cops" my entire life, this was a gut-punch.  How could someone who had sworn an oath, "to serve and protect" devolve into such a lying piece of crap?

This rocked my world, and forever changed my impression of cops.  They were human, like the rest of us, no longer granted respect simply because of their choice of profession.  Background check and vetting or not, there were criminals among their ranks, just like society at large.

Over the past 22 years, this problem has gotten worse, not better.  This arrogance, this feeling of superiority by sworn officers seems to be growing.  It is becoming the rule, and not the exception.

I've written a number of times about all of the military equipment and para-military training domestic police services attend.  It's all under the "terrorist threat" and public safety umbrella.  Sadly, most Americans accept the, "freedom for safety" trade quite readily.

I remember heated arguments with folks over DUI checkpoints.  For God's Sake, there could not be a more blatant disregard for the fourth amendment.  But the public accepted it with open arms, the Supreme's gave their stamp of legitimacy, and it's been downhill ever since.

No need to change the Constitution when it's easier to just ignore it.

Law enforcement and virtually all government entities now regularly act unchecked.  NSA spying.  The President enforcing some parts of a law, ignoring others for political favors.  IRS abuses.  Government agencies shutting down whole industries because they're not "green".  TSA checkpoints.  VIPR Checkpoints.  DUI checkpoints.  Obscene abuses of citizens and their rights.  Color Of Authority abuses that regularly go unpunished.  Procedure was followed, dear citizens.

We're no longer a constitutional republic.  Not even close.  At best, we're a monarchy.  The king, and the earls, and the dukes get to make the rules, and decide who must follow them.

A case in point [link]:
D.C. law requires residents to register every firearm with the police, and only registered gun owners can possess ammunition, which includes spent shells and casings. The maximum penalty for violating these laws is a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.
On its face, this is insane.  Spent shells and casings are considered ammunition?  But let's say the police believe someone has broken this law.  How would you respond?  Like this?
The police banged on the front door of Mr. Witaschek’s Georgetown home at 8:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, to execute a search warrant for “firearms and ammunition … gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts.” 
Mr. Witaschek’s 14-year-old daughter let inside some 30 armed officers in full tactical gear
His 16-year-old son was in the shower when the police arrived. “They used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pull him out of the shower, naked,” said his father. “The police put all the children together in a room, while we were handcuffed upstairs. I could hear them crying, not knowing what was happening.”
These are the tactics you use against hardened Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, not Americans that may be subject to a thousand dollar fine.  There is not a single, rational justification for this use of force.

How about you call the guy and tell him you need to discuss something (like his ex-wife's false accusations)?  Send three cops to his house.  As he comes out of the house, have one cop give him the warrant to search his property, have the other two go in, clear everybody out, and search the joint.

Why would you feel the need to employ this level of violence for this potential offense?

[This came to my attention while I was writing this piece]

My condensed version [full version and entire dash cam footage here]:  Dad and son have argument over dad's refusal to buy son some cigarettes.  Son takes dad's work truck.  Dad calls cops "to teach his son a lesson".  Cop sees truck, starts pursuit.  Cop lights up son, son does not respond.  Son backs truck/trailer into front of cop car.  Son races through town, dispatch suggests cop stop pursuit.  He continues pursuit, and notes that the son is on the wrong side of the road, blowing thru red lights, etc.  Dispatch, again, suggests he break off pursuit because, "we know who he is."  Cop catches up with son, son rams him again, another cop shows up, they chase him around, cops ram him, son crashes into a tree.  Cop gets out and shoots him 6 times when he refuses to turn off and exit the truck.  Son is dead.

Good God Almighty.  While the son had earlier attacked the officer with a deadly weapon (the truck), after that point in time (around 1:57 in the video), he was told to stop his pursuit, and chose not to do so.  At around 3 minutes, the cop was again told to "back it off".  No deal.  One minute later, the kid was dead.  At the time of the shooting, the kids truck was stopped, was apparently disabled, and could no longer be used as a weapon.  Even if it wasn't disabled, it was not in a position to put either of the officers in harm's way.

With the information at hand, this is murder.  You and I are held to a standard of, "threat of imminent death or grave bodily harm" if we make the decision to fire our gun in self defense.  At the time the shots were fired, no threat was present.  If it is shown that, off camera, the kid was pulling out a gun or something that would threaten the lives of the officers, that would obviously change things.

[I just participated in a rather heated discussion over at Claire's place regarding the recent shooting of a 13 year old by a Sonoma County deputy.  With the evidence and information that is now publicly available, I continue to believe that the shooting was legitimate.  Horrible, tragic, but legitimate.  If information changes, I'll modify my opinion as I see necessary.  I'll likely discuss that case here at a later date.]

These actions by government employees have serious implications.  I could fill ten post with nothing more than links to articles about abusive government and police tactics.

I don't have to.  The Cato Institute is on the job with the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project [link].   They list 10 to 20 incidents.  Each day!

But, there is some push back.  And, I predict, if the police and bureaucrats don't start policing themselves, I believe hell is going to rain down on their heads.  The push back will become more common, more covert and more aggressive.

It is already happening on a sporadic basis.  The recent shooting at LAX was by a guy pissed off at TSA tactics.  There was just some guy in Arkansas that was caught blowing up electrical transmission lines.  Christopher Dorner - the former LA cop - went off on a killing spree because he felt the system was being stacked against him.

This government 'superiority complex' is out of control.

You can't buy a big soda.  You can't buy trans-fats.  You can't buy your own health insurance.  You can't buy a gun, drive a car, start a business, cut down a tree or add a room to your house without first getting permission.  You can't catch a flight, catch a train or drive your car without the potential to be subjected to unconstitutional searches.

Land Of The Free?  My ass.

When abuses happen, government officials need to ensure punishment is administered quickly, publicly and unambiguously.  And this 'government immunity' crap has got to be dismantled.  A municipality, state or federal agency that allows its employees to display this type of conduct needs to be held accountable.

But we all know nothing will change.  In fact, it will get worse.  If, as I predicted, people start shooting back,  sabotaging government facilities and assets, and in general, making life unpleasant for TPTB, the police and government officials will only clamp down even tighter.  We'll have more restrictions, more intrusions, more checkpoints, more abuse.  This will bring more retribution.

It will be a vicious, vicious circle.

My advice?  Right now, I've got no idea.  I'd seen the financial storm that is now upon us, and have planned and acted accordingly.  I don't know what to do about this tyranny.  There are lots of moving parts, and there are truly life-or-death consequences for making a wrong move.

This is going to take some noodling.  More to come.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards.

I think I've mentioned before that Mrs. Chief Instructor is a 5th grade teacher.  Even though she works at a private religious school, they still get influenced by the goings-on in government schools.

You know, like restrictions on competitive activities during recess.  Football, basketball - even tetherball, for Gods sake.  Dodgeball is considered a mortal sin.  Anything where someone wins and someone else loses is verboten.  Only organized, after-school teams are allowed to compete.

We've got 'helicopter moms' to make sure that Bobby or Suzie have the socially proscribed number of 'play dates' each week.  We've got parents - even those who pay out of their own pockets to send their kids to private schools - doing their kids homework.  Every second of their lives is monitored, metered and rewarded with the obligatory, "Good job!" ** for the slightest "accomplishment".

Everyone has equal outcomes.  No one is allowed to excel nor fail.  The seed of "self" is never allowed to germinate.  Peace, love and social conformity dope.

Like the government schools, the big topic of the past few years has been bullying.  No form of aggressive behavior, thought or speech is quartered.  This includes pictures of aggressive inanimate objects (how do you like THAT oxymoron?), like guns or tanks or fighter jets.  We wouldn't want someone to feel uncomfortable because of a picture.

Through all of this process - making parents and government school administrators the 24/7 protectors of our children - we're not allowing our kid the chance to learn how to be independent.  In fact, just the opposite:  We're teaching them how to only be dependent.

As a result, we're producing a nation of frail, brittle, untempered children who break easily.

A while back, a 12 year old girl committed suicide over bullying.

When this became public, I said to my wife, "This girl isn't dead because of the bullies, but because of her parents and the government schools."

Yeah, that got a reaction.

If she was a typical, government school "educated" child, she was never given the opportunity to learn the skills needed to deal with the assholes she'd encounter in her life.  She's had this imaginary force field around her to protect her from harm.  Real life is full of real bullies, and thinking your child won't be exposed to them - just because you wish it so - is a fantasy.

Bullying laws are the "gun free zones" of government education.  Write a law, look really serious about it, and give those being "protected" a false sense of security.  In actuality, you're doing nothing more than removing the tools the victims need to defend themselves.

We are truly teaching them helplessness.  Whenever there's a problem, run to mommy, daddy or some component of Uncle Sugar, and we'll fix it for you.  It's the polar opposite of what we're supposed to be teaching our kids:  self-reliance.

I'd bet a pile of money that the parents of this girl were the, "Good Job!" kind of folks.  Why?  Because this thing had been going on for nearly a year, and little had been done.  It seems as though it had escalated beyond the, "sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me," phase, and was outside of the skill set of a typical 12 year old, so the parents put her in another school.  A great first step.

But apparently, it was their only step.  Why didn't the parents use the legal system to sue the abuser AND HER PARENTS for libel?  How about a restraining order regarding posts and other contact until it had been adjudicated?

No.  They kept allowing the crap to continue, and now their daughter is dead at her own hands.  The daughter - and apparently the parents - have been socially conditioned to keep taking the punishment until someone else fixes the problem.

Don't be aggressive in your self-defense.  Don't take the initiative.  Wait for someone else to fix your problem because that's what you've been taught.

Their daughter is dead because no one showed her how to deal with crappy situations.  How to develop the attitude and skills of, "I'm not going to allow you to push me around anymore."  Her only perceived option for stopping the pain was to take her own life.

Since the girl's death, the police have now arrested two girls for 'aggravated stalking', and the mother of one of the girls was arrested for a video posted to Youtube of her beating one of her other kids.

Too bad the dead girl's parents didn't ACT earlier and bring this band of psychos to the attention of the authorities.

When my kids were younger, the schools they attended all had the, "no fighting" rules.  Even for self-defense.  I made it crystal clear to my kids that if they were ever attacked, they could - should - defend themselves - school rules be damned.  Tell them, "My dad said it was OK."  I'd take whatever heat the school officials handed out, and if it meant moving them to another school, so be it.

Victimhood has never been allowed in my household.

On the flip-side, they knew equally as clearly that if they were picking on someone, it would not be tolerated.  Their punishment would be both swift and enduring.  (No, I'm not talking about beating my kids.  Previously earned freedoms, sports participation, TV, video games, etc., would be revoked.  Yard work, toilet cleaning, etc., would fill their non-scholastic waking hours.)

Consequences - good and bad - are a direct result of your actions and choices.  They understood that then, and (knock on wood) still understand it now that they're out on their own.

** This past weekend, I was picking up my new hunting license and some wild pig tags at a local sporting goods store.  A father and his son - I'd guess 12 or 13 years old - walk into the store.  Dad asks why there was no garbage can out front.  The clerk explained that punks kept tipping it over, so it was moved inside.  It was behind the counter, and I was standing between the kid and the can.  I saw the kid had a crumpled up piece of paper in his hand, so I stepped back so he could toss it into the can.  He did so, from a staggering distance of, oh, 2 feet.  In to the can goes the paper, and the proud papa gives him the, "Good Job!" praise.  Seriously, I wanted to scream.  Your kid is so emotionally fragile that you must praise him when he throws garbage into the can? At age 13?!?!  We're so screwed.

Accept The Challenge

Look what this Learned Helplessness has wrought.  Able bodied "kids" living at home into their 30's, a "take care of me" welfare state, droves of kids taking their own lives because they have no idea how to deal with the bumps inherent in life outside of the force field.  They have no survival mechanism.

I strongly believe that the role of a parent is to prepare your kids to be out on their own.  To teach them what real accomplishment is, not this idea of, "Trying your best is all that matters," and everyone who participates gets a trophy.  To let them fail and learn from the experience.

Aside from it being the right thing to do, if you were a new parent, think how this type attitude would set your children apart from the scores of drones in their midst.  Teach them independence by allowing them to have independent actions.  Don't micro-manage every aspect of their lives.  Richly reward them with earned praise.  Teach them how to win.  And above all, counter the Learned Helplessness beamed into their lives through government schools, government programs, and compliant media.

Bless them with the skills to thrive independently.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Covering Your Ass(ets)

I recently read an article outlining the upcoming Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) session.  It put me into my typical despair-then-anger-then-planning-then-action cycle.

Let me take a step back and explain how the Constitution, the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch and the SCOTUS were taught to me as a kid.

The Constitution is the rule book.  All participants in our nation must follow these rules.  The Legislative Branch proposes laws, the Executive Branch does the work required by those laws, and the SCOTUS assures the American people that both the laws and how they're being carried out follow the rules detailed in the Constitution.

Pretty simple.

A key part of this education was that the Constitution is not a list of suggestions, or a rough outline of how our country is to be run.  It is hard and fast rules.  Its purpose is to limit the power of the federal government and to strengthen the power of state and local governments, and of the people.

My teacher repeatedly pointed us to the Tenth Amendment as the unambiguous declaration of these facts.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The cool thing was, if we decided we wanted to change the hard and fast rules, or we wanted to grant or restrict certain rights, we could do so via the amendment process.  Get enough Americans to agree on a change, and you could make it so.

And we have.  Seventeen times since the first ten were enacted.

The process works.

Well, not really.  It works when used, but the politicians in the Legislative and Executive branches have found ways around the time consuming, onerous amendment process.  They just write laws or executive orders, usually granting themselves or others super-constitutional powers, and the SCOTUS lets them pass.

The Despair Phase

I enter this phase when I read some article that is about expanding government, or a new class of special citizen, or crap along those lines.  I think one of the things that causes the despair is that so few Americans give a damn.  Really, they just don't care - or choose not to care.

I think the term is 'cognitive dissonance'.  You start making up excuses for the crumbling of the world around you.  Eh, Alpo for dinner ain't so bad.... at least I'm not hungry...

Here's an example.  This article on the upcoming SCOTUS session contains this little nugget -
On Oct. 15 -- provided the court remains open -- the justices will consider whether the state of Michigan violated the Equal Protection Clause by amending its state Constitution to prohibit affirmative action.

The case, referred to Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, reviews a 2006 Michigan ballot initiative that bans the consideration of race or sex in public [government .ed] education, government contracting and public [government .ed] employment.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan initiative -- because it came in the form of a constitutional amendment -- "reordered the political process" in a way that put special burdens on racial minorities. [emphasis mine]
I'm thinking to myself, "Good Lord.  We've got a state constitutional amendment which PERFECTLY dovetails with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment - everyone gets treated the same by any government entity.  It's being challenged, not because the state amendment unjustly removes a right from the general citizenry, but because it takes away a special right granted ONLY to a specific type of citizen, and is not equally available to all other citizens."

The despair deepens as I continued with the article, and the twisted (il)logic of the proponents of the law -
"Rather than undoing an act of popularly elected officials by simply repealing the policies they created, Michigan voters repealed the admissions policies that university officials created and took the additional step of permanently removing the officials' power to reinstate them," the appeals court wrote.  
Let that sink in:  Their argument is that the state amendment removed the state government officials ability to continue acting unconstitutionally.  And that's a bad thing.

It continues -
"Had those favoring elimination of all race-conscious admissions policies successfully lobbied the universities' admissions units, just as racial minorities did to have these policies adopted in the first place, there would be no equal protection concern."

What?!  So if they had put political pressure upon the government officials - like the racial minorities had previously done - it would have been, "all good".  Seriously?  A federal appeals court is saying that constitutional issues are supposed to be decided by lobbying prowess, and not by, well, the Constitution?

We're done, as a Constitutional Republic.  The law and the Constitution are essentially irrelevant.  The despair deepens, but is soon replaced by...

The Anger Phase

I find I'm passing through this phase much more quickly.  Why get angry?  It serves no purpose and does nothing to protect or enhance my personal interests.

I still find myself angry that, regardless of what I do, nothing will change - big picture-wise.  I've accepted that the fix is in, and there's not one damned thing I can do to change it.

Government size and control will continue to grow, regardless of how loudly I protest or how often I stand on the electronic soapbox and scream.  I get it.

All I can do is to make plans to minimize the negative impact.  For me and my family.

The Planning Phase

It all comes down to money.  Virtually every plan I make has something to do with money.  Usually getting more so I can apply it to a new plan.

I've never worked for the sake of making more money than the next guy, but I've always recognized that money gives you options.  The more money you have, the more options you have.  Without money, you're destine to come under the control of the state, at one level or another.

Can't afford health insurance?  We'll give you ObamaCare, but you've got to follow these rules.  No money to feed the 3 kids you had out of wedlock?  We'll give you an EBT card, but we'll restrict what you can buy, and where you can buy it.  No housing?  No problem!  We're gonna pay for it, but you can only live in housing of which we approve.

You get the idea.  I want options on how and where I live my life, and the more financially independent I am, the more choice I have on how to live that life.   By no stretch of the imagination do I have to be rich, but I do have to at least be prudent where I spend my bucks.

I also understand that the various flavors of government want a piece of my personal pie.  An ever-growing piece.  Obviously, prudent tax and asset planning is crucial to minimizing that bite.

Our plan is - over the next 10 years or so - to start tapping into the retirement accounts we've established.  This includes Social Security.  We plan on having a nice piece of property where we'll live and thrive and do as we wish.

We also plan for these plans to go all to hell.  No single part of our plan requires us to "put all of our eggs in one basket".  As I teach in my self-defense classes:  Assume Failure.  If your gun misfires, if your pepper spray is out of juice, if your stun gun is out of batteries - what are you going to do then?  Roll up into a ball and give up?

Sorry, I'm not built that way, and I don't plan that way.  Options B, C  and D may not be as comfortable as Option A, but they keep me out of The System, and that's the over-riding goal.

Staying independent.

The Action Phase

Start doing something.

You've got to know in your heart-of-hearts that the government will continue to grow, and will continue to consume greater portions of private wealth.

A couple of things to keep in mind when building plans to keep the government out of your pockets:

  1. Move.  The single biggest reason my family is leaving California is the taxes.  There is a whole list of other reasons, but taxes is the top of the hit parade.  Staying in a state such as California reeks of the earlier mentioned Cognitive Dissonance.  It's really not that bad.  Yeah, it is, and you know it.  It will all get better.  Really?  How?  Face it, man-up and get out while you still can.
  2. At least right now, your ObamaCare premium is wholly dependent upon your income.  They don't even look at your assets.  That may change, it may not (I think it will).  If you're like me - nearing retirement age - your health care needs will be going up, but your premium will be going down.  I intend on "banking" that difference, and giving it to my kids at some time in the future, since they're the ones that will be subsidizing my health insurance costs.
  3. At least right now, your Social Security checks are reduced based upon how much money you're still earning (link - PDF) from other sources.  Note that they count some sources, and don't count others.  They don't even look at your assets.  That may change, it may not (I think it will - expect heavy 'means testing' in the future).
  4. The government can't tax or confiscate what it doesn't know you have.  Ask the people of Argentina if they wished they had more money squirreled away in precious metals.  Ask the people of Cyprus, Argentina and Poland if they wished they has less money in banks when the confiscations started.
  5. Right now, the sale of used personal goods is not taxable, unless you have a company specifically in that business.  Have you noticed a whole lot of the same people on Craigslist selling stuff?  
  6. Land is the least portable asset you can own.  Don't tie up every dime you've got in land and improvements, because you don't ever really own it.  The taxing authority does.  If you envision a scenario with you heroically fighting off the government goons intent on taking your home, lose that little dream right now.  They've got a lot more bullets than you do.  And money, time and resources.  You still end up losing the property, and being dead to boot.  That's not a plan.  At least not a good one.  There are other ways to peel that apple.
  7. Countries that have gone down the path we seem to be taking have all ended up commie or heavily socialist.  That always means that private assets become the property of the state to be fairly distributed or utilized by and among all citizens.  See number 4 from above.
  8. Live below your means, at least publicly.  Having income of $20,000 a year and driving a new $60,000 truck between trips to Europe and the Caribbean raises red flags.  We don't like red flags.
  9. Build multiple streams of income.  Seriously, get on it.  Placing your future in the hands of the bureaucrats in DC to keep the SSI checks and Medicare/ObamaCare gravy train intact is insane.  Do the math.  It can't last.  YOU are your last, best hope.  You need to look at SSI and Medicare as one of the streams of income you get, not your solitary or primary one.
  10. Review, rethink, revise.  Constantly.

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Old School Sugar Squeezin's

I've recently had a number of questions regarding brewing.  Questions about how to convert corn into sugar to be fermented (queue banjo twang).  Corn IS occasionally used in beer brewing, so I've got some insights I thought I'd share.

I've been brewing for a long damned time.  Since 1980 - just a few short years after Nanny graciously allowed us to convert four freely available ingredients - water, malted grain, yeast and hops - into a bubblin' brew.

I've also dabbled in wines, mostly mead (honey-based wine) and ciders.

A key difference between my style of brewing, and that of most other folks is that I don't use kits.  You can find a brew store online, and get a kit with the proper amount of malted barley syrup or powder.  Add water, boil, add yeast and drink after it ferments and carbonates.

I go, 'old school'.  I buy my malted grains, grind them, make a mash (converting grain starches into sugars), sparge the grains (rinsing the sugars from the grains in the mash), THEN boiling and everything else.

But what if malted grains weren't available?  And what the hell is malting, anyways?!  And I thought this was about corn!

Hold your water, sport.

Let's take a step back and understand the science behind brewing.  All grains are made up primarily of starch.  We want to turn that starch into fermentable sugars.

The starches are tightly bound at the molecular level.  We've got to do something to open them up so we can convert them into sugars.

We have two paths to that goal:  malting and gelatinization.

With malting, you take your grain - be it barley, corn, rice, rye, etc. - and soak it in warm water.  You throw them into a sack and place them in a warm, dark place.

The grain begins to sprout.  As it's doing this, the kernel is producing an enzyme called amylase.   Amylase enzyme is what turns the starch into sugar.

Once the grain sprouts (different lengths for different grains, but about equal to the length of the kernel), you usually halt the growth process with heat (you don't want Mother Nature to take over and consume all of the starch).  You roast the grain.  A shorter duration roast gets you a light malt for a light Pilsner beer, and a longer roast will get you a dark malt for a heavier Stout beer.

Now, I said 'usually'.  You can also just knock off the sprouts, grind up the grain, and begin your brewing.  This is what is done very often with corn, for instance.

Now that we've got our malted grain, we're now ready for the mash to allow the amylase enzyme to convert the starch to sugar (more on this later).

The other option mentioned is gelatinization.  Gelatinization uses heat and loosens up those tight molecular bonds on the starch so that we can add amylase enzyme to convert that starch to sugars.

Let's say you don't have access to whole corn kernels.  All you have is corn meal.  Or maybe you have whole corn, but you don't want to go through the time and hassle of turning it into malt (about a week).

You take your ground, unmalted grain (say, feed corn) or corn meal, and cook it.  The temperature varies by grain.  For corn, it's right around 170f.  You add 1 pound of ground corn (like corn meal) and add 2 quarts of water.  Bring it to temperature, constantly stirring.   You'll end up with a thick corn mush (not mash).  Think grits or polenta.

When you get to the 170f, you need to keep it there for about a half hour.  You can just turn off the heat, cover it, and go get a cold adult beverage while you wait.  You now have gelatinized corn.

Now, it's time to mash.  Again, mashing is the process of adding a starchy grain to water, and adding amylase enzyme to get the starch to convert into fermentable sugar.

If we're using the malted corn that's just been malted (meaning it's still moist), we pulverize the corn, and add approximately 1 1/2 quarts of water for every pound of dry corn we started with.  If we dried the malted corn for future use, we add 2 quarts of water per pound.

TEMPERATURE IS KEY HERE.  If we bring this corn up above 165f, we'll deactivate the amylase enzyme that's present, and not get any sugar out of it.  The sweet spot is between 145f and 160f.

A trick that beer brewers employ is to bring the water all by itself (no grain present) to slightly above your sweet spot, then turn off the heat.  Add your grains, and the thermal mass of the grains will bring you to your sweet spot.  For corn, I'd bring the water to 160f, then slowly add your pulverized corn while constantly stirring.  You'll end up with a mush.

Cover your pot, wrap it in towels, and set your timer for 30 minutes.  At that time, open the pot, give everything a nice stir, and cover it up again for another 30 minutes.  You'll notice that the mush has gotten VERY soupy.  That's the enzyme liquefying those long starch molecules into short, fermentable sugars.

If we're using gelatinized corn, we need to introduce the amylase enzyme.  Two ways to do that:  First, you can just buy the enzyme from virtually any homebrew store.  Since we're goin' Old School, we're going to add a bit of malted grain (barley) to the gelatinized corn, and let nature do its biz.

So, our corn mush, looks like this after it's been gelatinized -

Think corn mush, polenta or grits.  We need to add malted grain equal to between 25% and 30% of the original weight of the corn.  BUT we need to bring the temperature down to 160f first (remember, we had this at 170f to gelatinize it).  Take the lid off, stir every 10 minutes, and in a half hour, you should be down to 160f.

The grain you use needs to be cracked -

You can buy it just like this from a homebrew store.  Since I brew a lot, I buy it in 25lb bags, uncracked (it lasts longer this way).

In this case, I started with 3lbs of corn meal, so I added 3/4 of a pound of 2-row pale malt barley (tip:  If you only buy grain to do this, buy 6-row, as it has more amylase present, and will get you more sugar).

Cover this bad-boy up, wrap it in towels and set the time for a half hour -

After a half hour, give it a stir, then cover it up again for another half hour.  Just like with the all-malted corn mash, you'll notice the mash has gotten very soupy.  Nature!

After your hour mash, if you try and scoop up your stuff, this is what you'll get (compare this to the previous picture with the mush pre-mash) -

I'm going to use these corn squeezin's in an American Lager beer.  Light body, low hops, high alcohol content.

Advanced, mind numbing stuff follows.  Even some math.  Proceed at your own peril.

Every grain has a given sugar potential.  It's expressed as PPG - Points per Pound per Gallon.  For instance, 1 pound of white sugar in 1 gallon of water has 46 points.  On a beer hydrometer (a tool that measures the amount of sugar in your mash results), you'd see this as 1.046

It's a linear scale.  Add two pounds of sugar to one gallon, and you'd have 92 points (46 x 2).  This is important, as you want to know how much alcohol your brew is going to produce.  The higher the points, the higher the alcohol content.

With grains, there is a little detour.  Corn, for instance, has a PPG of 39.  BUT, unlike already processed white sugar, it's virtually impossible to get every molecule of sugar out of the kernel.  On average, you can expect to get about 75% efficiency from your mash.  So, I'd expect to get only 29.25 PPG from my corn (39 x 75%).

So, in my example, I used 3 pounds of corn meal with 6 quarts (1.5 gallons) in my gelatinization.  If I take my expected PPG (29.25) and multiply that by the 3 pounds of grain used, I get 87.75 points.  Since I used 1 1/2 gallons of water, I need to divide this number by 1.5.  That gives me 58.5 points.

If I take my mash results (called a wash or wort), I should see a reading right around that on my hydrometer.  Well, well, well, lookee here!

Each of the lines below the 50 are two points each.  I ended up with 56 points instead of 58.5.  I probably should have actually had a little bit more, as the malted barley gave up some sugar as well.  My efficiency was probably around 72% or 73%.  Sue me.

If you do your mash in the low 150f range, and use 6-row malt, you could easily hit 80% or 85% efficiency.

Oh, and I heard once somewhere on the Interwebs that the grain bill for corn whiskey is 60% corn, 40% barley, or close enough to that.

One last thing:  If you're going to use rice as your fermentable grain, its gelatinization needs to be at 195f.  There are charts all over the Internet for the gelatinization temperatures of most grains.  Corn and rice are both used in lots of commercial American lagers (Bud, Miller, et al) because they're cheaper than barley, and pack quite the punch per pound.

One more one last thing:  If you're a wimp and don't want to gelatinize your own corn meal (hey, learn a skill, will ya?!), you can buy flaked maize from homebrew stores.  It's corn that's already been gelatinized, and is just waiting for the addition of the amylase enzyme.  At two bucks a pound, it's much more expensive than corn meal from the bulk section of your store, or feed corn from the feed store (make sure your feed corn is hormone- and pesticide-free).

As noted before, this corn juice is going into an American Light Lager.  I'll let you know how it turns out.... in about 4 months!  Cooler weather is lagering weather!

Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.