Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pennsylvania Gas Rush

The newscast below provides an interesting and instructive overview of the potential for Marcellus shale natural gas exploration and development in Pennsylvania.

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Virtual Tour of a Marsellus Shale Fracturing Site

The vidio below provides a virtual tour of a typical Marsellus shale natural gas fracturing site, this one located in Lycoming, Pennsylvania.

Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas has become a boom business across the Marsellus shale region that extends through parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

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Marcellus Shale Region in the US

The Marcellus shale region in the US covers parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York as illustrated below.

Marcellus Shale Region [click to expand]

Those interested in learning more about Marcellus shale natural gas projects will want to visit the Marcellus Shale Coalition linked below.

Learn More

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Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Natural Gas

The video clip below provides an animated technical primer about how how hydraulic fracturing is used to extract natural gas from shale rock formations deep underground.

Follow the link below to learn more about the natural gas industry in America.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Government Employees Joining the Top 1%

Wayne Allyn Root of the Personal Liberty Digest argues that government employees are joining the economic ranks of the top 1% in America.

The long-term cost of public employees is a legitimate issue for taxpayers. I tend to believe the only pragmatic way to achieve government pension reform is through the inflation mechanism, especially given that society-at-large has apparently rejected austerity measures as extremism. Unfortunately, I have very little confidence in the government's capacity to reform itself otherwise.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Best Cognac Ever

I have been enjoying good cognac now for over 35 years. Martell XO Supreme is my absolute favorite.

The good life comes in moments...

Spring Has Arrived!

I snapped this photograph from my front balcony moments ago -- looks like spring has finally arrived here in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania...

Taken from my balcony here at home... [click to expand]

The good life comes in moments...

What is Quibbling?

intr v quib·bled, quib·bling, quib·bles
1. To evade the truth or importance of an issue by raising trivial distinctions and objections.
2. To find fault or criticize for petty reasons; cavil.

Hon Jon Stevens Corzine (1947- )

Source: The Free Dictionary

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Friday, March 23, 2012


When you’re mine once again, I’ll live by your side
Your love will be all I’ll need to survive
We’ll hide from the world and listen to the rain
Your kiss my addiction, your arms my domain

When you’re mine once again, I’ll cling to your hand
We’ll stroll in the moonlight on crystalline sand
You’ll tell me your dreams, your hopes and your goals
Unbeatable together, we’ll watch them unfold

When you’re mine once again, I’ll watch while you sleep
I’ll listen to your heartbeat and breathing so deep
I’ll lie close beside you and whisper a prayer
That when my eyes open, you’ll always be there

When you’re mine once again, I’ll kiss you awake
And coax you to linger for the love that we’ll make
I’ll touch you and thrill you like no one before
No desire unfulfilled, no fantasy unexplored

When you’re mine once again, your eyes I’ll adore
Your voice all the music I’ll ever want and more
Your smile will sustain me, your face I’ll caress
Your body my playground, your pleasure my quest

Someday I’ll reclaim you, never to let go
I’ll show you the me you never got to know
I’ll love you so perfectly, we’ll forget the lost time
Reunited forever, someday when you’re mine

~ Joyce Sterling Scarbrough

Learn more about Joyce Sterling Scarbrough's writings at AuthorsDen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Four Horsemen


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Robert Sardello: On Practice, Exercises, and Techniques

According to Dr Robert Sardello (2008):
A practice differs considerably from an exercise or a technique. A practice intends to develop new capacities by developing dimensions of attention and objects of attention that go beyond usual forms of consciousness. An exercise such as group work may, under certain conditions, produce a momentary experience of a new dimension, but there will not be enough inner strength of will to continue to experience that dimension. And techniques tend to be manipulative, often attempting to make something happen rather than helping others to discover what lies within their own abilities.

Source: Sardello, R (2008). Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness, Random House.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

US Education Crisis Affecting National Security

According to the Brookings Institute (2011), the US education crisis is now affecting national security:
It will come as no surprise to most readers that America’s primary and secondary schools are widely seen as failing. High school graduation rates, while improving, are still far too low, and there are steep gaps in achievement between middle class and poor students. Even in the midst of high unemployment rates, business owners are struggling to find graduates with sufficient skills in reading, math, and science to fill today’s jobs. School districts, teachers’ unions, and parents are engaged in fierce debates over the best way to rein in climbing costs and improve standards. Meanwhile, progress is frustratingly slow, if in fact what is taking place represents progress at all....

The domestic consequences of a weak education system are relatively well known... A world-class education system is vital to preserving not just the country’s physical security but also to reinforcing the broader components of American leadership, such as economic dynamism, an informed and active democracy, and a coterie of informed professionals willing and able to live and serve around the world....

In international tests of literacy, math, and science, American students rank far below the world’s leaders in Finland, South Korea, and Shanghai....

This failure and its consequences are not theoretical; they are real and already having a noticeable impact on individual students, particularly the neediest students for whom education is the only "intervention" capable of putting them on track to a better life, as well as on U.S. competitiveness, readiness, and future prospects. In short, America’s failure to educate is affecting its national security.

Read More

Something is apparently very wrong with the US primary and secondary education systems. Society needs to come to terms with the root causes of this national crisis, especially given the implications for national security. As with national defense, our nation needs to learn how to get "more bang for the buck."

Source: US Education Reform and National Security (2011), Brookings Institute.

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Inspiration for Your Place Somewhere

Inspiration for your quite place somewhere...

Follow the link below for more cabin inspiration.

Cabin Porn

General Electric: Specialists Replace Generalists

According to Kate Linebaugh of the Wall Street Journal:
General Electric (GE) is opening a new chapter in management philosophy. The conglomerate that once groomed jack-of-all-trades generalists is now betting on deep industry experts instead.... The shift is a change in philosophy at a corporation that for decades had made a rigorously applied but generic management tool kit central to its identity. Like all companies, GE wants some of both traits in its leaders, but the balance has tipped toward expertise.
Read More

The shift from management generalists toward industry specialists is long-overdue in enterprise, at least in my opinion. Replacing MBA generalists with MS specialists would be a positive first step. For that matter, the education industry would benefit from replacing MEd generalists with MA and MS specialists as well. The movement toward specialists in all forms of enterprise is picking up steam!

Source: Linebaugh, K (2012, March 7), The New GE Way: Go Deep, Not Wide, Wall Street Journal.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Duration of US Wars and Conflicts

The chart below depicts the duration of US involvement in every major war and conflict since the American Revolution. Observe that the length of US involvement in Afghanistan to date is unprecedented in US history.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

McKibbin's Irish Pub

Follow the link below to learn more about McKibbin's Irish Pub including franchises.

McKibbin's Irish Pub

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What is Money?

What is Constitutional Money?

What About Money Causes Economic Crises?

Give Yourself the Green Light (1954)

Let's face it, automobiles and highways were the future back in the 1950's (as was advocacy for public funding of the interstate highway system).

The future today is the Internet and wide-band access. Our nation must move beyond "super" highways and enjoin "super" networks in the 21st century. There can be no looking back...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The 4 Biggest Problems with Big Data

The following are the four biggest problems with big data according to Tibco:
  1. A comprehensive approach to using big data.
  2. Getting the right information into the hands of decision makers.
  3. Effective ways of turning “big data” into “big insights.”
  4. Big data skills are in short supply.
Read More

Source: The 4 Biggest Problems with Big Data (2012, March 14), Tibco.

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Well Said...

"Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning."

~ Erwin Rommel

Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (1891-1944)

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Cozy Homes for Real People

For those attracted to simple living accomodations, the Weller Home (Tumbleweed) may be just the thing.

The Weller Home by Tumbleweed

According to the builder:
The Weller is 107 square feet, not including the porch. The gable over the offset front door gives the Weller a distinctive look as well as a little extra loft space inside. The exterior dimensions are approximately 7' wide x 18' long. At the roof line, the Weller is 9'6" wide and 20' 6" long; and it stands at 11'2" tall (not including the foundation). The downstairs has a ceiling height of 6'6", and the loft height is 3'.
"Build it Yourself" plans for the Weller Home can be purchased for $99.00. Follow the link below for details, including the floor plan.

Learn More

Timothy Ferris: The World of the Intellectual vs The World of the Engineer

Timothy Ferris of Wired (2011) observes that intellectuals and engineers have historically taken very different paths enroute to knowledge creation.
Being an intellectual had more to do with fashioning fresh ideas than with finding fresh facts. Facts used to be scarce on the ground anyway, so it was easy to skirt or ignore them while constructing an argument. The wildly popular 18th-century thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose disciples range from Robespierre and Hitler to the anti-vaccination crusaders currently bringing San Francisco to the brink of a public health crisis, built an entire philosophy (nature good, civilization bad) on almost no facts at all. Karl Marx studiously ignored the improving living standards of working-class Londoners — he visited no factories and interviewed not a single worker — while writing Das Kapital, which declared it an “iron law” that the lot of the proletariat must be getting worse. The 20th-century philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend boasted of having lectured on cosmology “without mentioning a single fact.”
Read More

Source: Ferris, T (2011, October 13), Timothy Ferris: The World of the Intellectual vs The World of the Engineer, Wired.

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Tony Shaloub Explains Uncertainty

Sunday, March 11, 2012

NodeXL: Open-Source Network Graphing for Excel

Introducing NodeXL, an open-source template for Excel (Microsoft) 2007 and 2010 that makes it easy to explore network graphs. With NodeXL, you can enter a network edge list in a worksheet, click a button and see your graph, all in the familiar environment of the Excel window. Follow the link below to download a copy and learn more.

NodeXL Download Page

The business intelligence tools for Excel just keep getting better. The NodeXL project is sponsored by the Social Media Research Foundation, a group of researchers dedicated to creating open tools, generating and hosting open data, and supporting open scholarship related to social media.

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Well Said...

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."

~ T S Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Travel

Norman Parkinson, The Art of Travel, Vogue (1951)

Read More

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Well Said...

"There is in the worst of fortune the best of chances for a happy change."

~ Euripides

Euripides (ca 480 – 406 BC)

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Well Said...

"The object and practice of liberty lies in the limitation of government power."

~ Douglas MacArthur

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

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Friday, March 09, 2012

US Employment to Population Ratio Struggling

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the US employment to population ratio* for February 2012 stood at 58.0%, up from from 57.8% the previous month, as well as from 57.8% a year ago. The US employment to population ratio has been trending downwards since 2000.

Many economists believe that reporting the number employed as a percentage of the civilian population provides a more accurate description of the current state of employment than conjecturing the number of "unemployed" in a population. The US employment to population ratio reached an historical peak of 64.4% on an annual basis in 2000.

*The BLS defines employment and population (civilian noninstitutional) as follows:
Employment consists of all persons who, during the reference week (the calendar week including the twelfth day of the month), (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees, worked in their own business or profession or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family, or (b) were not working but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.... The civilian noninstitutional population consists of persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Foxconn: Interview Tips

Apple Computer's manufacturing subsidiary, Foxconn, recently published the following helpful interviewing tips on its employment website.

Interviewing Tips

There are three main steps in the interview process: preparation, the interview itself, and follow-up. Foxconn offers these suggestions for handling each step well, and some predictors of interview success or failure.

  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and the correct pronunciation, and his or her title.
  • Research pertinent facts about the company, such as annual sales revenue, main businesses and products, and locations. A visit to the company's web site or a short web search often provide this information.
  • Be ready to discuss how the job might impact your immediate and longer-term career growth.
  • Determine 6 to 10 questions you want to ask in the interview. This will help you understand the company better, and it lets the interviewer know you are serious about the job.
  • Review the job description, your resume, and cover letter.
  • If appropriate, prepare a portfolio of your best work. This is expected in visual arts, writing, or editing. Programmers can use screen captures, diagrams, and short descriptions of applications or other projects they've handled.
  • Rehearse answering some questions related to your resume or the career field that you think might be asked.
The interview
  • Wear proper business attire, be enthusiastic, and greet the interviewer by name, with a solid handshake and a smile.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright, and look alert and interested. Focus your attention on the interviewer at all times.
  • Follow the interviewer's leads, but try to get him/her to describe the job and duties early, so you can apply your abilities to the position throughout the interview.
  • Don't smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. Do not chew gum.
  • Remember that the interviewer is the mechanism the potential employer uses to determine a "right match."
  • Don't forget that the interview also is crucial for you to determine whether the job is right for you. It may turn out not to be a good fit.
  • Don't lie, or make unnecessary derogatory remarks about your present or former employers. Limit your comments, if you are asked, to those necessary to adequately convey why you left or are seeking different employment.
  • Don't over-answer the questions, especially if the interviewer directs the discussion into politics or other controversial issues.
  • Within one day, be sure to send a thank you letter to the interviewer. If you were interviewed by two people, send two different letters. If you were interviewed by several people, you can send one letter to the main person supervising the hiring process. Thank him/her for the interview and for the other interviews, and ask that your appreciation be extended to the other interviewers.
  • All letters should mention the name of the position and interview date.
  • Indicate that you are still interested in the position (or not, if that is the case).
  • If possible, mention something you learned or discussed in the interview. Let the interviewer know you can be reached by phone or email, and list your email address and phone number.
Predictors of success
  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • Demonstrated teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Career-related work experience
  • Knowledge of the hiring organization
  • Ask good questions
  • Flexibility and enthusiasm
  • People skills
  • Professional appearance
  • Ambitious and motivated
Predictors of failure
  • Lack of qualifications
  • Inability to communicate clearly
  • Small evidence of prior achievement
  • Lack of knowledge about or interest in the organization
  • Unwillingness to relocate
  • Appear overbearing, overaggressive, conceited
  • Too much emphasis on money and benefits
  • Failure to follow-up
Looks like Foxconn has tough interviewing standards for prospective employees. Follow the link below to learn more about career opportunities at FoxConn.

Source: Foxconn

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

What is Money?

n pl mon·eys or mon·ies
1. A medium that can be exchanged for goods and services and is used as a measure of their values on the market, including among its forms a commodity such as gold, an officially issued coin or note, or a deposit in a checking account or other readily liquefiable account.
2. The official currency, coins, and negotiable paper notes issued by a government.
3. Assets and property considered in terms of monetary value; wealth.

Source: The Free Dictionary

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Monday, March 05, 2012

Existing Digital Cameras Now Obsolete

New digital camera technology by Lytro will apparently make all existing cameras obsolete.

Well Said...

"In the long run, the public interest depends on private virtue."

~ James Q Wilson

Prof James Quinn Wilson (1931-2012)

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Sunday, March 04, 2012


This romeo is bleeding
But you can't see his blood
It's nothing but some feelings
That this old dog kicked up

It's been raining since you left me
Now I'm drowning in the flood
You see I've always been a fighter
But without you I give up

I can't sing a love song
Like the way it's meant to be
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore
But baby, that's just me

And I will love you, baby - Always
And I'll be there forever and a day - Always
I'll be there till the stars don't shine
Till the heavens burst and
The words don't rhyme
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind
And I'll love you - Always

Now your pictures that you left behind
Are just memories of a different life
Some that made us laugh, some that made us cry
One that made you have to say goodbye
What I'd give to run my fingers through your hair
To touch your lips, to hold you near
When you say your prayers try to understand
I've made mistakes, I'm just a man

When he holds you close, when he pulls you near
When he says the words you've been needing to hear
I'll wish I was him 'cause those words are mine
To say to you till the end of time

Yeah, I will love you baby - Always
And I'll be there forever and a day - Always

If you told me to cry for you - I could
If you told me to die for you - I would
Take a look at my face
There's no price I won't pay
To say these words to you

Well, there ain't no luck
In these loaded dice
But baby if you give me just one more try
We can pack up our old dreams
And our old lives
We'll find a place where the sun still shines

And I will love you, baby - Always
And I'll be there forever and a day - Always
I'll be there till the stars don't shine
Till the heavens burst and
The words don't rhyme
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind
And I'll love you - Always

~ Jon Bon Jovi

Always by Bon Jovi is available at Amazon.

Philip K Howard: The Death of Common Sense

Watch the video, and visit to support the reforms our country needs.

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Al Lewis: Psychos on Wall Street

Follow the link below to read Al Lewis's Wall Street Journal piece regarding the presence of sociopaths in Wall Street firms.

Source: Lewis, A (2012, March 3), Psychos on Wall Street, Wall Street Journal Online.

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Subject Matter Experts Prefer Excel

Charley Kyd of ExcelUser writes that subject matter experts (SME's) prefer Excel (Microsoft) over third-party alternatives for the following reasons:
  1. Excel allows SME's to begin with their own assumptions, and then build on them. Excel doesn’t force SME's to adapt to a system created by anonymous programmers on a tight schedule.
  2. Excel offers the ability to create more sophisticated models than most third-party packages offer.
  3. SME's typically help their careers more by learning Excel well than by occasionally using one of dozens of competing budgeting and analytical packages.
  4. Small companies and divisions only can afford Excel. And that represents the majority of locations where budgeting happens.
  5. Several excellent tools exist for enhancing Excel for budgeting and forecasting, rather than replacing it.
  6. In this challenging economy, forecasts and budgets often should include data from beyond a company’s four walls. But most third-party tools rely on data controlled by the IT Department, which typically prohibits most third-party data.
  7. Excel is more flexible than dedicated budgeting and forecasting software.
Read More

For the record, this SME has no intention of abandoning Excel anytime soon, if ever...

Source: Kyd, C (2012, February 18), Will Your Company Replace Excel with a Dedicated Budgeting Program? ExcelUser.

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The US Government Is Too Big to Succeed

According to Philip K Howard of The Atlantic:
America has painted itself into a corner. Unaffordable demands for social services have led to trillion-dollar deficits, but most political leaders are unwilling to propose a real solution for fear of alienating voters who want it all. Special interests maintain a death grip on the status quo, making it hard to fix things that everyone agrees are broken.....

Change is not a remote contingency, however....

Change occurs not incrementally but in big shifts. The relative stability over the past half century is misleading. What appears to be an immutable way of governing..., is just a temporary lull between episodes of big change....

Over the past 100 years, America has made three dramatic shifts in the role of government: The Progressive era at the turn of the last century, ending laissez faire; the New Deal in the 1930s, instituting social safety nets; and the rights revolution of the 1960s. Each of these represented a radical expansion of the reach of government into society....

The challenge of the 21st century is to pull government back from daily choices while still allowing it to provide regulatory oversight and safety nets. We must discipline government's appetite for social control, and push it away from the heaping table of unaffordable mandates and bloated regulation....

Like it or not, America will change its way of governing. The growing crisis of authority will force us to start over....

The villain that keeps America stuck in a swamp is an underlying presumption about government decision-making, no less insidious because it rules from our preconceptions rather than from a palace. To get out of this mess, we must depose it, and embrace a new way of making public choices.
Read More

Philip K Howard (1948- )

Mr Howard's views are a clear warning to the status quo. What is missing from Mr Howard's editorial is the reality of US occupation forces stationed "permanently" on foreign soils since World War II, coupled with a more or less constant state of military tensions or actual armed conflicts with communism followed by terrorism during the same period. Indeed, the US will soon have to reconcile its domestic and foreign policies with its emerging budget constraints, the outcome of which is likely to include deep cuts in both butter and guns for our nation.

Source: Howard, P K (2012, March 3), The US Government Is Too Big to Succeed, The Atlantic.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

A Better Way of Learning

According to Prof David Friedman:
One problem with the usual approach to education at all levels is that it mostly consists of having someone learn something not because he at the moment has any need to know it but because someone else told him to learn it, possibly on the grounds that the knowledge or skill will be useful at some time in the future. It is much easier to get someone to actually learn something if it is of immediate use to him. The best way of learning a computer language, in my view, is not to start by working your way through the manual but to start with a program you want to write. You then have an immediate incentive to learn what you need to write it, and immediate feedback as to whether you have succeeded.
Read More

Prof David Director Friedman (1945- )

My personal learning experiences align with Prof Friedman's views. Moreover, the latest generation of hand-held computing devices is now affecting how learners prefer to acquire knowledge. The emergence and popularity of "on demand" learning systems is a case in point. I sense that education as we know it is about to change in revolutionary rather than evolutionary ways. For the record, I also sense that the end of "industrial age" education regimes is near. We live in exciting times.

Source: Friedman, D (2012, March 1), A Better Way of Learning, Ideas.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Economic Consequences of War on the US Economy

Given that the US has been in a constant state of war since 9/11, and given that the US has maintained hundreds of thousands of troops on foreign soil since World War II, the historical economic benefits of military spending for the US economy are worth considering in detail. A recent report published by the Institute for Economics and Peace entitled Economic Consequences of War on the US Economy (2011) addresses this gap specifically:
The higher levels of government spending associated with war tends to generate some positive economic benefits in the short-term, specifically through increases in economic growth occurring during conflict spending booms. However, negative unintended consequences occur either concurrently with the war or develop as residual effects afterwards thereby harming the economy over the longer term.
Read More

Source: Economic Consequences of War on the US Economy (2011), Institute for Economics and Peace.

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Compressed 03

According to Kim Pimmel, the video's creator:
Compressed 03 continues my interest in telling stories through analog visual effects - everything in the film was made with physical materials and tools in my studio. By using frame by frame stop motion and time lapse techniques, fluid dynamics and magnetism are transformed into majestic explosions and seething storms.
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