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Showing posts from 2008

David's analysis of 2008 and how we can prepare for 2009

The South African Reserve Bank finally started reducing interest rates by .5%. You can read the full SARB report at http://www.reservebank.co.za/ Here is some food for thought: (perhaps a conspiracy theory?) THE SUBPRIME CRISIS: During the past decade the United States firstly told Freddie and Fannie, their two biggest mortage lenders to lend money to people who shouldn't be loaned money, i.e. people with bad credit records; people who couldn't get credit; bankrupt people etc. This money to be used for buying houses. These people are called sub-prime borrowers. On March the 8th this year I wrote a detailed Blog entry called: Sub Prime Crisis; renewables; the price we pay; what you can do. Then they reduced interest rates to 1%. At 1% people bought houses and maybe were paying $83 per month on a $100,000 house. (Compare that with South Africans who would have been paying $1250 per month at 15%). Remember these people are already on the edge. Then the government inc

Preventing Load Shedding (Power Failures)

Dear all There are a few very simple ways of preventing load sheeting and potentially preventing the building of any more power stations in South Africa: 1) Switch off all appliances at the plug including computers, tv's, etc, when they are not being used. If it is inconvenient to get to the plug, use an extension cord from the wall and plug the plug in the wall into the extension cord. You can then unplug the plug at any time. 2) Don't run more than one of the following appliances at the same time: washing machine, dish washer, iron, lawnmower, kettle, microwave, kitchen mixer, oven/stove. 3) Switch off your playstation when it is not in use; same with your DSTV decoder. Both draw almost as much power when they are on standby as when they are on, so if you only watch 3 hours of TV a day, you are wasting electricity for the other 21 hours. 4) Try to use a laptop instead of a PC. Laptop's can save up to 95% of the electricity that PC's use. 5) If you use air-conditi

Water Quality in Cape Town and South Africa

Dear all The recent articles and letters in our local newspapers re water quality have all dealt with one individual and seem to be missing some facts. On the 5th June 2008, our Ward Forum was presented with a "Cape town Catchment, Stormwater, River Management: Coastal and Inland Water Quality Report" for the 12 month period ending March 2008. Here are some of the findings: Coastal: "The long-term trend still indicates a decline in water quality. The significant low compliance for the False Bay is again noted" and "Reasons for non-compliance of [various] bathing areas include sewerage water ingress into the stormwater system due to aged infrastructure, and the spate of load shedding that has led to power outages and sewerage spillages." Inland: "Overall compliance remains unacceptably low." For example of our 14 rivers in greater Cape Town and with regard to E-coli measurements, 4 are over 80% compliance with government guidelines which is co

Friendship, Noah and The Flood, Toldot

28th November 2008; 1 Kislev 5769 Dear all In this recessionary time, people need each other more than ever. Many people are contemplating suicide as a way out of their predicament. Some have already taken this step. Their families may never understand. Please please share your problems with your friends and family. Take your spouse for a walk and tell them there is a problem. If you need money, tell your family and friends. If you need to talk, then just talk. If you've told your local school that you can't afford the fees and then go and buy an expensive pair of jeans or go on holiday, please keep your problems to yourself! And to the friends. Keep all your friends' confidences. If someone tells you something that you think they shouldn't know, say "I didn't know." One of the reasons for sharing is so that you can get help to step out of your vicious circle of worry and see things from a different angle. Especially at this depressing and r

Nitzavim 26 September 2008 (West Coast Temple Israel Anniversary)

26th Elul 5768 Here are the first two paragraphs from my talk I did at our West Coast Temple Israel anniversary dinner on Friday 26th September 2008. If you'd like to read the rest please let me know. email david at orbital dot co dot za Tonight is Shabbat Nitzavim where we read Deuteronomy Chapter 29 vs 13 to 14 which says: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the L-rd our G-d, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” And further on we are commanded to choose life and to circumsize our hearts that we mayest live. These passages are significant as we celebrate 10 years of being together in our West Coast community. We stand here together with the people who have joined and left, those who are still here, with all the strangers who have come into our midst and become our friends, and with those who will be here from today onwards. We have circumsized our hearts, ie we have formed a d

Shoftim 6th September 2008

This Shabbat we read Shoftim which translates as Judges. It refers to a passage in the Torah at Deuteronomy Chapter 16 vs 20 which says: "Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Justice in Hebrew is Tzedek. Tzedek is the root of the word Tzedaka which is commonly translated as charity, but Tzedek also means righteousness and justice. Therefore charity can be equated with justice. Charity not only includes giving money or time, but in a wider sense includes being charitable to another person. Being charitable in this sense involves giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, or perhaps listening more carefully to what they have to say, or enquiring after the other person’s health and wellbeing. This is a just way of behaving, ie a way that is guided by truth, reason, justice and fairness (ref http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/just). Being just in this way leads to life (“that thou m

The effect of privatisation

When I did my MBA at Cranfield University (then called Cranfield Institute of Technology) in the UK in 1991/1992 I said that electricity and other infrastructure like railways should NEVER be privatised. And that competition should be allowed. No one listened to me. I was only 28 years old and privatisation was in fashion! The reason that they should not be privatised is because private enterprise seeks to make a quick return and "knows" that if it leaves infrastructure alone, eventually the government will have no option but to renationalise those assets to pump in the required investment. Another reason is because of something called "externalities." This is where one person pays for someone else's travel. eg I go from London to Birmingham on the express. A small part of my ticket pays for a train to run on a line in the North West of England. I'm happy to pay that because one day I might need to use that line. This happened to me twice a year wh

Calling oneself a religious person

Written on Lag Ba-omer, the 33rd day of the Omer (the days between Pesach and Shavuot), ie Friday 23rd May 2008 On Pesach the Israelites had their deliverance from Egypt. In our modern time, our Egypt (Mitzrayim) is the dark places we sometimes find ourself, and we are mentally released from our bondage if we work at it and wish it to be so. On Shavuot the Israelites accepted the Torah (the 5 Books of Moses) into their lives and heard the world of God as a community, a revelation. If we wish it to be so, then today we can hear the voice and know that there is more at stake then instant gratification and what we can have today. Every time I hear of a Jewish person doing something irresponsible, I cringe. Every time I hear of a Christian person doing something irresponsible, I cringe. And for Muslims, Hindus, etc. By this I am talking of people who are happy to call themselves Jews, Christians, Moslems, Hindus, etc. The ones who go to Synagogue, Church, Mosque, Temple, regularly.

Renewables

Dear all I wrote this on 26th April 2008, but only had time today (18th May 2008) to upload it. I wish all my Jewish friends a Chag Sameach this Pesach. I wish all my Christian Orthodox friends a Happy Easter this weekend. Further to my previous email, my Renewables research continues at a pace. I attach a slide that I am using as a basis for my research. Click on the image for a bigger version. I would welcome anyone who wishes to get involved with a number of projects that I will be hosting over the next few months including: solar water heating: buy or make? photovoltaics: buy or make? wind turbine: buy or make? There is a lot of research that still needs to be done. Besides this I will be buying some of the "toy" kits that are listed in the slide. If anyone would like to build them with me, please let me know. I am looking for a school (or schools) that might be interested in learning about solar energy and I need some land for experiments, eg building a geodesic dome

Essay written in November 2007 - note how things have changed

Hi all We are witnessing world history and who knows what effect this will have on our businesses. I thought you might be interested in the following: Gold is almost at R5,500 an ounce with the Rand pretty stable and currently R6.48 to the US Dollar. Gold is currently $838.35 an ounce (up 2% so far today) = R5,432 an ounce. Silver is currently $15.87 (up 8% so far today- but been trailing gold somewhat lately) = R102.84. Both all time highs in Rands. USDX (US$ Index, a measure of the US $ in terms of 5 other major currencies, eg Yen, Pound, Euro, etc) still plummeting after following through its 30 year baseline at 80 (currently 75.324) in September when Bernanke (the Governor of the USA Reserve Bank, called the "Fed" (Federal Reserve) over there) dropped interest rates because of the sub-prime problems and record housing foreclosures in the USA. For the first time in many years internal politics superceded external politics. We are almost at gold's (nominal) all time

Sub prime crisis; renewables; the price we pay; what you can do

Dear friends For those of you who don't know, the sub prime crisis is where banks and other financial institutions lent money to people with bad credit records or people who couldn't otherwise get loans. These loans were then "securitised", i.e. packaged as triple A rate loans and then sold off to other investors. How does this happen? Well lets suppose you are the bank. You lend money to someone who can't pay or who might not be able to pay. You lend R1 million. You then take all these loans and put them into a big loan of R1 billion which you then sell to another investor. OK, it's not a loan from your point of view. It's a BOND because you are asking someone else to lend you the money so that you can lend it to the person who can't afford the repayments. The other investor sees that you are selling GOOD DEBT because YOU (the bank) have a good credit rating! The small print says that you will only pay interest on this debt if your customer

Repair Yourself / Repair Jacob

To my dear long term friends and new visitors, who hopefully will become long term friends: In 2004, I created a group of people called the Tikkun Jacob Forum because I hypothesised that each of us need repair and that our oldest book, the Bible, could lead us to this repair. Tikkun means repair. In the Bible Jacob becomes (is renamed) Israel (Genesis 32 vs 29). Jacob is renamed Israel by God after he strives to find God. I believe that we are all on an iterative path from Jacob to Israel, ie I move from Jacob to Israel in my understanding and then seek to enhance this understanding by moving from Jacob to Israel again and again in a process of rebirth or enlightenment or in my way of life or in my behaviour. I liken this to an Olympic athlete who achieves his best place of 4th in a race, but is satisfied with this place knowing that it is his personal best and he can do better. Even when the athlete achieves Gold, he can still do better, and so he tries to find other ways of be