Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The perils of power lines when flying low


A South African Air Force Oryx helicopter crashed on Sunday, in a part of the country I know well.  The reason for the crash illustrates one of the hazards of flying in what is now, sadly, a third world environment.

The medium transport helicopter, operated by 22 Squadron based at AFB Ysterplaat, crash-landed and ended up on its side just outside the Huguenot tunnel on the Worcester side.



An occupant of the helicopter said that they flew through newly erected wires at 300 feet before crashing onto the highway, narrowly missing a road resurfacing machine and scattering debris onto the road.

Of the three crew and five passengers aboard, only the aircraft commander received serious injuries, having fractured two lumbar vertebrae. He was admitted to 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town, for further treatment and overnight observation. The co-pilot and flight engineer were discharged, having only received moderate injuries. “All family members walked away without a scratch,” the aircraft occupant said.

. . .

The area is well known to the Cape Town based helicopter crew, but it appears that the wire the Oryx hit had only recently been erected in a valley of the Du Toitskloof Mountains.

“Wires are brand new (only put up this week) with no notams [notice to airmen],” the crew member said.

He added that not even the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) knew about the wires, despite AMS also flying extensively in the area.

There's more at the link.

I've traveled the old Du Toits Kloof Pass and its successor, the Huguenot Tunnel, many times.  It's pretty rugged country.  The passengers and crew are very lucky the helicopter crashed on the road, rather than in the rocky, mountainous terrain around it.  Here's a video clip of the old pass, to show you what I mean.





I also remember No. 2 Military Hospital, less than favorably . . . I spent 40 days there recovering from an injury in 1976.  It was no fun at all.  However, at the time, most of its buildings were so-called "temporary" wooden barracks left over from World War II.  Comfortable, they were not!  They were replaced by a modern hospital some years ago, which was recently upgraded.

I think the people aboard the helicopter are very lucky to be alive.  I wonder what will happen to the contractor(s) responsible for putting up the wires without notifying air traffic control?  That's a well-known helicopter route, particularly for air ambulances.  The Oryx just happened to be the first to use it after the wires were strung - with predictable results.

Peter

Talk about blowing them away!


A very big, heartfelt THANK YOU!!! to all my readers who've contributed to Wil Caligan's fundraiser, which I mentioned yesterday.  It's been "live" for a mere 24 hours, and has already exceeded its initial goal of $7,500 more than three times over - at the time of writing, $24,925, or 333%, to be exact.  So powerful has been the response that additional "stretch" goals have been announced.  If the campaign reaches $50,000, a third book will be commissioned;  and if (as seems likely, judging by the response so far) that goal is reached (we're already almost halfway there), I daresay further "stretch" goals will be announced.

I'm sure Wil is delighted by your support, and very grateful.  I certainly am!  I hope that the SJW's who attacked and sought to ostracize him have learned from this.  There are enough people out there who reject them and their weird, moonbattish views that they simply won't be allowed to keep a good man down.  One would have thought they'd already learned that, but they seem to be a particularly hard-headed crowd.  Oh, well . . . we'll just have to keep applying the necessary cluebats.

If you haven't already contributed to the fundraiser, may I earnestly request that you consider doing so?  I think this is a very worthy cause.  It's only open for another six days, so time is short.  Heck, if we raise enough, we might be able to get Wil to draw graphic novels of all seven of the books offered to him for the purpose!  Wouldn't that be fun?

Peter

A steam-powered Land Rover???


This thing is the very definition of "boys and their toys".

With its array of pulleys and levers and great clouds of belching steam this contraption may at first appear to be one of the fantastical machines conjured up by the great cartoonist W. Heath Robinson.

But it is in fact a perfectly roadworthy Land Rover, whose petrol engine was taken out and replaced by its owner with a steam-driven engine.

So efficient was its conversion from petrol back to the steam age that Frank Rothwell now uses the car for his daily commute.

. . .

The custom-built motor works like a traditional steam train, with a coal fired boiler heating the water up to steam pressure in order to run the small engine. Driving for an hour takes around 100 lbs of coal.

. . .

At full steam the car, which is fully taxed and insured, is capable of speeds of up to 15 mph - which may give Mr Rothwell a thrill, not to mention a sense of personal satisfaction, but is no doubt rather irritating for his fellow road users stuck behind him on the Lancashire lanes of his journey to work.

There's more at the link.

Here's a video of the Land Rover under steam power.





It's daft, it cost more than US $33,000, and it's hardly practical . . . but I still want one!  Full marks to Mr. Rothwell for his ingenuity.




Peter

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shutdown, oh, shutdown . . .


The blogosphere has been having fun with the government shutdown.

From Daily Timewaster:




From Political Clown Parade:




There are many more out there. Have fun looking for them!

Meanwhile, of course, the so-called "shutdown" leaves a lot of things running.

Peter

Here's a cause very worthy of our support


I'm sure most of my readers aren't familiar with the name of Wil Caligan.  He's a cartoon/comic artist who's just run headlong into the social justice warriors infecting the comic industry with their version of political correctness.  You can read all about it, and see screen captures of some of the comments, at that link.

Some examples of Wil's art may be seen here, among other places.  I particularly like the black-and-white drawing on the left, for reasons that should be obvious to readers of my Ames Archives Western novels.

Megan Fox reports:

In Caligan's case, he made the catastrophic mistake of voicing his opinion about a pop culture story about a straight man rebuffing a kiss from a transwoman.

A few weeks ago, rapper Ginuwine was caught in an uncomfortable situation where a transgendered male-to-female tried to kiss him. When he rebuffed the advances, the internet accused him of transphobia. The lesson here seems to be that if Harvey Weinstein tries to kiss a woman, that's assault. But if a transgendered person tries to force someone to kiss him, there is a requirement for the victim to prove a lack of transphobia by complying. Caligan posted his thoughts on this situation and then all hell broke loose.

Caligan's views on science and gender are not unique. Most people know that sex is based on genetics and DNA, and gender is a grammatical term used by the trans activists to confuse the issue. But even stating that pedestrian view jumpstarted a witch hunt.

. . .

This doesn't seem like a  proportional response. But where LGBTQWTF feelings are concerned, no depth is too low to sink. No person is too honorable to defame with epithets, even a Special Forces veteran of two wars who contracted a desert illness fighting for the rights of overweight gender-confused half-wits to speak their minds from Mommy's basement. Malikali Shabazz, a person who is supposed to be a fellow comics artist and a peer of Caligan's, is a real peach.

Shabazz believes that heterosexual men are "transphobic" because they won't have sex with other men. No, seriously. You're not allowed to be straight anymore. The LGBTQWTFs once told us that they just wanted to live their lives. Today we are required to participate in their sexuality (whether we consent or not) or face the firing squad.

There's more at the link.

As a result of Caligan's standing up for his (Christian) beliefs and a medically and scientifically accurate perspective on such matters, his relationship with Short Fuse Media has been terminated.  However, many (including myself) feel that he's the victim rather than the offender.  We've teamed up to do something about it.

A one-week fund-raiser has been launched.  It'll raise funds to produce one or more of Wil's comics through an independent publisher.  Several authors, including Lawdog, John C. Wright, Nick Cole and myself, have offered some of our books for 'conversion' to a graphic novel format, free of charge, to show our support.  You'll find the full list at the fund-raiser page.

This is a special one-week campaign designed to provide work for Will Caligan, a military veteran, a Christian, and a comic artist who was swarmed by SJWs and lost his publishing arrangement due to his willingness to stand up for his beliefs about right and wrong. All of the funds raised will go to paying for the production of one or more comics illustrated by Will that will be published by Arkhaven. The graphic novel – or novels – will be based on novels chosen by the backers that have been contributed by various authors, and comics legend Chuck Dixon will be providing the adapted scripts for free. A Gold-rate team of colorists, Arklight Studios, will provide the colors for the cover at a steep discount.

The precise size of the graphic novel will depend upon the novel adapted, but it is expected to be around 132 pages. Will Caligan’s comic will be published in a series of 22-page comics and as a single graphic novel, in black-and-white format with a full color cover. A color interior is one of the stretch goals.

Again, more at the link, including more examples of Wil's work.  The initial objective, for a single graphic novel drawn in black-and-white, with a full-color cover, is just $7,500.  If the top stretch goal of $35,000 is reached, it's hoped to produce two graphic novels with full color interiors.  I think that's entirely do-able, with everyone's goodwill and support.

I've already contributed to this fund-raiser in cash, as well as by donating the rights to one of my books if the backers should vote to select it for production in graphic format.  May I appeal to you, dear readers, to please do the same?  I think this is a cause, and an artist, eminently worthy of support.

Thanks.

Peter

EDITED TO ADD:  Wow!  The fundraiser blew past its initial target of $7,500 a mere 149 minutes after going live - less than two and a half hours!  At this rate, we might raise enough to publish all seven novels on offer in graphic form!  Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far;  and, to those who haven't, please join us.  Let's make this a smash hit!

The "Deep State" demonstrates its contempt for the law


Two events last week should make anyone sit up and take notice who upholds the constitution and laws of the United States.  They led me to do an extended analysis of what the so-called "Deep State" and its allies are apparently trying to accomplish.

First, the NSA deleted data that a court had ordered it to preserve.

Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.

However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.

. . .

“We don't know exactly how bad it is,” the lawyer said, adding: “Even if you take them at their word that this was just an honest mistake, what it shows is despite your best intention to comply with important restrictions, it can be really difficult to implement ... It shows that with the really tremendous volume of information they’re vacuuming up, it is impossible to be meticulous.”

There's more at the link.

Note the last paragraph in the above excerpt.  To my mind, that's a cop-out.  If you collect so much data that you can't guarantee you'll comply with a court order, because you can't keep track of it all, it's your duty to inform the court about that at the time the order is made - not years later, when it's too late to do anything about it!

Next, the FBI has also failed to preserve information it was legally required to retain.

The FBI “failed to preserve” five months worth of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two FBI employees who made pro-Clinton and anti-Trump comments while working on the Clinton email and the Russia collusion investigations.

The disclosure was made Friday in a letter sent by the Justice Department to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).

“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, wrote to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of HSGAC.

He said that texts are missing for the period between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.

Boyd attributed the failure to “misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.”

Again, more at the link.

If anyone actually believes that either or both agencies were guilty of a mere slip of the tongue, or a flick of a finger, I have a bridge in Brooklyn, NYC that I'd like to sell you.  Cash only, please, and in small bills.  There's just no way that this data was lost 'accidentally' - particularly when other data from the same period has apparently survived with no trouble at allI can't believe this was anything other than deliberate defiance of the law and the courts, from both agencies.  Those responsible are cocking a snook at the law - and they expect to get away with it.  Since the actual perpetrators can't be identified, they can't be punished.  Those responsible fully expect to get off scot-free.

Philip Giraldi points out:

There is a growing consensus among many observers in Washington that the national security agencies have become completely politicized over the past seventeen years and are now pursuing selfish agendas that actually endanger what remains of American democracy. Up until recently it has been habitual to refer to such activity as the Deep State, which is perhaps equivalent to the Establishment in that it includes financial services, the media, major foundations and constituencies, as well as lobbying groups, but we are now witnessing an evolutionary process in which the national security regime is exercising power independently.

. . .

Formerly intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted under the direction of the White House but without any political bias. Transitions from Democratic to Republican administrations were consequently seamless for the employees of CIA, FBI, DIA and the NSA, but this has changed. In the 2016 election a line-up of retired senior officers from those organizations openly supported the Clinton campaign and even went so far as to construct elaborate conspiracy theories regarding Trump and his associates, including the claim that Donald Trump is actually an agent of Russia.

The desire to discredit and ultimately delegitimize Trump even involved some active duty senior officers, including John Brennan, Director of CIA, who exploited Agency relationships with foreign intelligence services to develop information on Trump, and James Comey of the FBI who initiated an investigation of Trump’s associates. Both were involved in the later surfacing of the notorious Steele Dossier, a collection of fact mixed with fiction that sought to destroy the Trump presidency even before it began.

. . .

Antiwar activist Justin Raimondo ... concludes that “Our intelligence agencies are at war with the executive branch of government…to reverse the [2016] election results.” Raimondo believes that Trump is being particularly targeted because his unpredictability and populism threaten the wealth and power of the elites and he notes “If you think they’ve ruled out assassination you’re being naïve.”

Raimondo believes that something like a civil war is coming, with the war party Establishment fighting to defend its privileged global order while many other Americans seek a return to normal nationhood with all that implies. If true, the next few years will see a major internal conflict that will determine what kind of country the United States will be.

More at the link.

A very interesting article in New York magazine's online edition examines the views of Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story and has been an acerbic observer of Washington D.C. for many years.  He's criticized the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations impartially whenever he felt it necessary, which argues for his journalistic independence.  New York magazine is most emphatically not a conservative source - rather the opposite - so its willingness to publish so searching an article (even though it doesn't endorse Greenwald's views) is praiseworthy, IMHO.  Here's an extended excerpt, but you really should click through to read the entire article for yourself.  It's worth your time.

For the better part of two years, Greenwald has resisted the nagging bipartisan suspicion that Trumpworld is in one way or another compromised by a meddling foreign power. If there’s a conspiracy, he suspects, it’s one against the president; where others see collusion, he sees “McCarthyism.” Greenwald is predisposed to righteous posturing and contrarian eye-poking — and reflexively more skeptical of the U.S. intelligence community than of those it tells us to see as “enemies.”

And even if claims about Russian meddling are corroborated by Robert Mueller’s investigation, Greenwald’s not sure it adds up to much — some hacked emails changing hands, none all that damaging in their content, maybe some malevolent Twitter bots. In his eyes, the Russia-Trump story is a shiny red herring — one that distracts from the failures, corruption, and malice of the very Establishment so invested in promoting it.

. . .

“When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely ****** for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete ******* disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”

. . .

Thanks to this never-ending hot take, Greenwald has been excommunicated from the liberal salons that celebrated him in the Snowden era; anybody who questions the Russia consensus, he says, “becomes a blasphemer. Becomes a heretic. I think that’s what they see me as.” Greenwald is no longer invited on MSNBC, and he’s portrayed in the Twitter fever swamp as a leading villain of the self-styled Resistance. “I used to be really good friends with Rachel Maddow,” he says. “And I’ve seen her devolution from this really interesting, really smart, independent thinker into this utterly scripted, intellectually dishonest, partisan hack.” His view of the liberal online media is equally charitable. “Think about one interesting, creative, like, intellectually novel thing that [Vox’s] Matt Yglesias or Ezra Klein have said in like ten years,” he says. “In general, they’re just churning out Democratic Party agitprop every single day of the most superficial type.” (Reached for comment, none of these people would respond to Greenwald.)

. . .

Rather than see Trump as a product of a rotten power structure, as Greenwald does, and the 2016 election as a wild reaction against that power structure, as Greenwald also does, it was easier for most American liberals to frame his victory as an accident. And rather than look within to eradicate the conditions that wrought Trump, it was more comforting to pin his rise on an external foe.

The Russian scandal proved ideal. “Across the political aisle, American elites are preoccupied with rejuvenating a Cold War in the name of believing that all of our problems are traceable to the Kremlin,” Greenwald argued. The notion that “Putin is not some fumbling dictator but some kind of an omnipotent mastermind,” he went on, “stems very much from this human desire to believe that when things go wrong, it can’t be our fault.”

Put another way: If you believe the 2016 election was a populist uprising against complacent elites, the Russia preoccupation can seem like an effort to ignore what Trump voters — and Sanders voters — were trying to say. Alternatively, if you believe Trump’s victory was a Russia-perpetrated fraud, normalcy is restored simply by removing him from office. Which, conveniently, is what many hope Mueller’s Russia probe will do.

. . .

These critics note the irony that many who were critical of national-security abuses during the Bush and Obama years have now, in the name of defending the republic, put their faith in opaque intelligence agencies and retired generals. That uncomfortable alliance between liberals and the “deep state” is the Greenwald-Trumpworld relationship inverted; on Russia, the America Firsters in the White House share more with dovish lefties than with Washington’s centrist power elite. To borrow from the language of Brexit, the ideological split on the Russia question may be more “Leave” versus “Remain” than Republican versus Democrat. In other words, Establishment insiders versus skeptical outsiders.

“For me, the fundamental question is: How satisfied are you with the prevailing order, with the status quo?” By this, Greenwald does not mean life in the Trump era but the behavior of American elites over the past several generations. “How benevolent do you regard American power and American institutions?” The answer to that question says a lot about how you rate the Trump threat.

More at the link.

When you put together all those perspectives, I submit that there's a pattern of criminal activity, perhaps even amounting to high treason in some senior personnel.  I suggest that all the circumstantial evidence points to an underlying conspiracy.  It's become a cliche to say that "there's no smoke without fire", but in this case, the smoke is so damned thick - and there's so damned much of it - that I see no other possible conclusion.  I'm surprised those in Washington D.C. can see through the murk!

Tom Luongo suggests that the "Deep State", in which he includes the military-industrial complex, is actually at war with what he calls the "Shadow Government" of intelligence agencies.  I'm not sure he's right . . . but I'm not sure he's wrong, either.  Go read his article, and decide for yourself.

I don't have any answers to this conundrum, but I believe the evidence is clear.  The security and law enforcement agencies of the US government have apparently become a law unto themselves.  They don't see their primary loyalty as being to the elected Administration, but to their own priorities and vision of what their role should be in an America of their creation.

This is frightening - and it's more than enough reason for all Americans, whatever their political affiliation, to get behind efforts to bring these organizations under control.  If that takes criminal indictments with regard to the Comey affair, or Uranium One, or the Mueller pseudo-investigation, or the seemingly illegal activities of the Obama administration in "weaponizing" departments of state against its political opponents, then so be it.  It's long overdue.

Peter

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday morning music - government shutdown edition


I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that some musicians have used government shutdowns as inspiration for their compositions.  Here's one example.





Since many US government workers are furloughed during a shutdown, here's one for them.





There are more government shutdown songs on YouTube, if you look for them - not always very good, but sometimes funny.

Oh - in case anyone thinks I'm not taking this catastrophic event seriously, I'll let the Diplomad speak for me.

I must first remark that this, the first day of the #SchumerShutdown, dawned cold and bleak; the sun struggled to make itself felt, and its weak light cast long, sinister shadows throughout the woods surrounding my house. Those shadows, of course, come from the dying trees and the gasping fauna, unable to survive without the EPA having a full budget. The streets, too, are now almost impassable from the stacks of dead bodies, and from those millions of zombie-like Americans and immigrants left helpless and hopeless from the government shutdown, wandering the avenues and boulevards, crying, pleading, begging, all to no avail . . . I write in the full knowledge that by the time I post this piece, there will be no survivors to read it. I, therefore, leave it as a testament which might be read by alien visitors hundreds of years from now. Aliens in the sense of folks from the planet Xenon, not Mexico, you understand . . . Well, actually, I guess I will be OK as long as the people who write those Foreign Service retirement checks are deemed essential . . . 

Quite so!

Peter

Saturday, January 20, 2018

An "emotional support chicken"???


I think I've heard it all now.

The day of the service duck and emotional support chicken on airlines may be drawing to a close.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Friday it will more thoroughly vet passengers’ efforts to fly with all manner of unusual animals, which often board U.S. airlines under the guise of psychological or medical support.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more,” the airline said Friday in a news release. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.”

There's more at the link.

The only sort of "emotional support" I need from a chicken is in the form of comfort food.  That's why my emotional support chicken's initials are "KFC"!




Peter

That thing could take your leg off!


If this isn't the biggest snapping turtle ever, it'll do until a bigger one comes along.




It's swimming beneath the ice in an Arkansas lake.  It was spotted last week.  The article has a picture of another big one after the text.

That image should make anyone think twice about swimming in some Arkansas lakes . . . you could lose some vital assets, up to and including a leg!




Peter

Friday, January 19, 2018

He needs to buy a lottery ticket!


With luck like that, this Chinese motorcyclist is sure to win . . . unless he's just used it all up.








Peter

When money becomes worthless


I was reminded of my younger years when reading this article about inflation in Venezuela.

A friend recently sent me a photograph ... [of] the detritus left behind after a store was looted last week in San Felix, a city in the country’s southeast ... strewn about in the trash are at least a dozen 20-bolivar bills, small-denomination currency now so worthless even looters didn’t think it was worth their time to stop and pick them up.

. . .

Hyperinflation is disorienting. Five or six years ago, the 500 bolivars on the floor would’ve bought you a meal for two with wine at the best restaurant in Caracas. As late as early last year, they would’ve bought you at least a cup of coffee. At the end of 2016, they still bought you a cup of café con leche, at least. Today, they buy you essentially nothing ... Prices are now rising more than 80 percent per month, according to the opposition-led National Assembly’s Finance Committee. (The government itself stopped publishing official inflation data long ago.) At that rate, prices double every 34 days or so. Salaries lag far behind, leaving more and more of the country to face outright hunger. Thus, the looting.

Rule No. 1 of surviving hyperinflation is simple: Get rid of your money. Given the speed with which money is shedding its value, holding on to it means you’re losing out. The second you’re paid you run out as fast as you can to buy something – anything – while you can still afford it. It’s better to hold almost any asset than money, because assets hold their value and money doesn’t.

. . .

Under hyperinflation, money no longer works. It doesn’t store value. It just stops doing the basic things people expect money to do. It stops being something you want to have and turns into something you’ll do anything to avoid having: something so worthless you won’t even bend down and scoop it up off the floor while you’re looting.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

In South Africa, during my formative and young adult years, inflation was running at a steady 10%-20% per year.  As a result, one's wealth eroded steadily, but in a way that was more or less manageable.  One's salary increases every year had two components;  one to compensate for inflation, and the other to reward performance.  It wasn't unusual for people to get at least a 10% increase every year (at least, in the commercial sector).  Top performers might double that, and get a bonus on top.  Workers in the mines or in agriculture, occupations largely reserved for races other than white, were worse off, getting little or no increase to compensate them for inflation.  As a result, their already appallingly poor standard of living eroded steadily, adding to the social and political unrest sweeping the country.  It was one of the factors that brought an end to apartheid.  Those policies had simply become unaffordable.

Just to our north, in Zimbabwe, hyperinflation arrived during the late 1990's.  It's a well-known story, so I won't go into it here.  Suffice it to say that "Zimbabwe's peak month of inflation is estimated at 79.6 billion percent in mid-November 2008".  Those figures are, of course, meaningless.  Once one's dealing with billions of percent, one's basically guessing, sucking the numbers out of one's thumb.  There are no economic measurement systems adequate to come up with hard and fast numbers, and monetary systems become meaningless.  To illustrate, the banknote below is from the third series of Zimbabwean dollar bills, issued in January 2009.  It has a face value of one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollars, but was equivalent, at the time of issue, to only about thirty US dollars at the official exchange rate - and only $1.40 on the black market.  This, in a currency that in 1983 traded at par with the US dollar (i.e. one-for-one).




Another well-known example of hyperinflation is Weimar Germany.  Venezuela is merely the latest country to go down that path.  It likely won't be the last.

The frightening thing, to me, is the number of governments (including our own) that are deliberately understating the rate of inflation for their own purposes.  If the US government accurately calculated the rate of inflation, it would have had to raise inflation-linked payouts such as Social Security, etc. by up to 10% every year since the 1980's.  That's why it doesn't calculate it accurately, of course.  It can't afford to pay out that much - so it deceives the electorate by lying to it.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  The facts speak for themselves.  I discussed them in a two part article in 2016.  Follow those two links to learn more.  It really is worth your time to do so.  The second part of that article discusses how to cope in a high-inflation environment.  It dovetails neatly with what's happening at present in Venezuela.

Hyperinflation creeps up on us unawares.  I'm sure those currently experiencing it in Venezuela would never have dreamed, ten years ago, that they'd be in this situation today.  I'm equally sure that in Zimbabwe, no-one saw it coming - certainly not my friends and former comrades-in-arms.  In South Africa during the 1970's and 1980's, we all complained about double-digit inflation, but no-one thought much about what it would mean if that continued over an extended period.  Today, it's all too clear.  To illustrate:
  • My monthly starting salary when I entered the workforce in the 1970's - a salary on which, at the time, I could afford to own a motorcycle, and pay all my routine expenses - would today be sufficient (but only just) to buy me four entry-level burgers and fries at a South African restaurant, with a soda - nothing special, just cheap burgers without toppings.  Call it one meal per week.  There'd be nothing left over for other expenses.
  • In my top earning year in South Africa, in the late 1980's, when I'd just been appointed as a director of the small company I worked for, I made a little over one hundred times more than that 1970's entry-level salary.  Today, that same amount, in the same country, would be considered a lower-middle-class level income - probably a supervisor-level salary.

Inflation that bad hasn't struck here, yet, but it might.  It's bad enough as it is.  To take just one example, let's price the Ford F150 XL regular-cab pickup - the entry-level base model, to compare "apples to apples" - over the past 20 years.  According to Motor Trend, in 1998 the manufacturer's suggested retail price was $15,865.  Ten years later, in 2008, it had increased to $17,900 - a rise of just 12.8% from 1998.  However, this year, 2018, the manufacturer's suggested retail price is no less than $27,380 - an increase of 53% from 2008, and of 72.6% from 1998.  That illustrates how inflation in vehicle prices over the past 10 years has become significantly worse than during the previous decade.  The rate of increase is accelerating (you should pardon the expression).

I've challenged my readers before to compare the cost of your typical weekly grocery shopping bill in (say) 1998, and in 2008, and today in 2018.  If you kept accurate records, I think you'll find that grocery and household goods prices doubled every decade.  If your expenditure didn't go up that much, it was probably because you became more frugal in your buying habits, and bought less of what you really wanted, because you could no longer afford as much.  Go on, try that price test for yourself, and let us know in Comments what you found out.  The results should be interesting!

Peter