Monday, July 16, 2018

"Why We Defended Trump in London"

"Why We Defended Trump in London"
by Bill Bonner

LONDON – "London is abuzz. Aflame. Doubled up in laughter. Shrieking in outrage. The U.S. president came. He saw. He went bonkers.

Down-Market: At least, that’s how the UK press puts it. “Trump leaves chaos behind him…” said one report. And The Sunday Times reported that both Prince Charles and Prince William had refused to meet the American president, leaving Queen Elizabeth to meet him alone. But first, we give readers a little advice.

Don’t come to London in July or August. The place is far too crowded with tourists and immigrants. The area around Piccadilly seems to have gone down-market; it is noisy and trashy. And you might run into Donald Trump. We lived in London several times. But we don’t remember it ever being so unpleasant. Or expensive. We had dinner with another couple at what appeared to be a moderately priced restaurant in Mayfair. The final tab: over $900 (although much of that was for two bottles of Barolo… ahem). Meanwhile…

Trump Cause: We know that many dear readers are Donald Trump fans. And many suspect your editor of being a bit cut off from the heartland… indifferent to the stars and stripes… and maybe even a traitor to the Trump cause… But when the test came, we were ready. We stood up for The Donald.

Here in London, he insulted the prime minister, Theresa May. He suggested that her rival, Boris Johnson, “would make a fine prime minister” in her place. As for Mr. Johnson, the former mayor of London, Old Etonian, and popular historian has had plenty of thoughts of his own. He said of then-candidate Trump in December 2015: "I think Donald Trump is clearly out of his mind… The only reason I don’t visit some parts of New York [his birthplace] is the very real risk of meeting Donald Trump."

Then… The Donald was late for a meeting with the Queen, keeping her waiting awkwardly. And when the two set off on a ceremonial walk amid the rows of guards, Mr. Trump walked in front, leaving the poor Queen behind. Social media exploded, clucking and harrumphing. “I couldn’t believe it,” said one of our hosts, a woman with no previously expressed political opinions. “He was so unchivalrous. Queen or not, she’s a 92-year-old woman.He should have had a little more grace.” “The man is just not a gentleman,” she went on. Our patriotic glands oozed. We rushed to his defense…

“Of course he’s no gentleman; he’s our president…”

China Blinks: Grace is not what Mr. Trump is known for. But grace is not what the voters wanted from him. They wanted someone who would fight for them, for a change. One way that The Donald claims to be fighting for the forgotten Americans is through his trade war against the “unfair” practices of the Chinese. So let’s look at the trade war. Who’s winning?

A couple of prominent gabbers – Jim Cramer, of TV’s Mad Money, and Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz – claim that the U.S. is ahead. Cramer says China has already “blinked” by not immediately countering Trump’s last $200 billion worth of trade taxes.

But Stephen Roach of Yale University, and formerly of Morgan Stanley, disagrees. CNBC: “Trade wars are not easy to win. They’re easy to lose, and the U.S. is on track to lose this trade war,” Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University and former Morgan Stanley Asia chair, told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday. “The U.S. is hugely dependent on China as a source of low-cost goods to make ends meet for American consumers. We’re hugely dependent on China to buy our Treasuries to fund our budget deficits, which as you know, are getting larger,” Roach explained.

Who’s right? Cramer or Roach? Probably neither. Trade deals are win-win. One side has something to sell. The other wants to buy. Stop the deal and both sides lose. Who suffers the most? You might as well ask who benefits the most when a child can’t find someone to play with… or when a writer can’t find his muse.

There are no winners, only losers.

China’s average trade-weighted tariff is just 3.5%. That’s down from 32% in 1992. In other words, China’s trade barriers have dropped almost 90% over the last 26 years; today, they pose no real threat to the happiness of the human race. But a trade war, on the other hand, could have noxious – or even catastrophic – consequences.

The Donald’s trade duties will amount to an additional tax on U.S. consumers of nearly $100 billion. But that’s only a piece of it. China’s countermeasures will cost U.S. producers, too – especially soybean farmers, who export some $13 billion worth of soybeans to China every year. Per The New York Times: "Beijing placed a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans last week in retaliation for the Trump administration’s levies on Chinese-made goods. Last year, soy growers in the United States sold nearly one-third of their harvest to China. In dollar terms, only airplanes are a more significant American export to China, the world’s second-largest economy."

More to Lose: El-Erian and Cramer think China will lose the trade war because it has, relatively, more to lose. It sells more to the U.S. than it buys. But this entirely ignores the other side of the win-win deal.For every buyer there is a seller, and vice versa. Cut Americans off from Chinese imports, and all of a sudden, Walmart’s “everyday low prices” aren’t quite so low.

Already, prices are rising in the U.S. June numbers showed consumer prices going up at a 2.9% rate year-to-year, while wholesale prices rose 3.4%. Typically, wholesale prices lead consumer prices… so this gives us an idea of where we are headed.

Putting this Consumer Price Index number in perspective, it is higher than current GDP growth, the Fed funds rate, and wage growth. All of which is bad news for the man in the heartland. Now, he’s a loser… thanks, at least in part, to the trade war. And he’s likely to be a much bigger loser if the U.S. makes China lose in a big way.

As we’ve pointed out many times, the U.S. and China are symbiotic – both playing a cockamamie game, where one buys with money it doesn’t have and the other sells to people who can’t afford to pay. Of the two, the Chinese economy is probably at greater risk of collapse. But since it is also the biggest buyer of raw materials in the world, the risk is shared by all her trade parties, including the U.S. If China were to go into a depression, in other words, the U.S. might not be far behind.

Win-lose is fine for the World Cup, politics, and the UFC… but not for world trade."

"The FBI and DOJ Praetorian Guard – The Beginning of the End" by LV

"The FBI and DOJ Praetorian Guard – 
The Beginning of the End"
by LV

"After Caesar Augustus gained complete control in 27 B.C. and became the first Roman Emperor, he established the Praetorian Guard for his personal protection. Over the next three centuries, the Guard exploited its nexus to the seat of power for its own interest and aggrandizement. Most notably, the Praetorians schemed and interfered with Roman politics to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming their successors.

In 193 A.D., Emperor Septimius Severus tried to disband the Praetorian Guard, but his reorganization of the Guard did not last as it regained power after his death. In 306 A.D., amidst turmoil among a tetrarchy of Roman emperors, the Praetorians turned to Maxentius and proclaimed him their emperor. In 312 A.D., Constantine the Great defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge to gain control of the Western Roman Empire. After the death of Maxentius at the battle, Constantine put an end to the Praetorian Guard by destroying their barracks and dispatching their soldiers to the outskirts of the Roman Empire.

Flash forward to the early 21st century in the U.S. and we see a replay of this sordid Roman history repeating itself with the modern-day Praetorian Guard that holds sway within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to the 2016 presidential election, FBI and DOJ leaders sought to influence the election by favoring one presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) and undermining her opponent (Donald Trump). They were so sure Clinton would be elected that they clumsily perverted justice to ensure that outcome.

This is exactly what the Roman Praetorians did two millennia ago when they hand-picked the emperors they favored time and time again. They expected to be rewarded by the grateful emperor, who would invariably shower them with gifts and power. For centuries, this rigged system of government worked extremely well for the Roman Praetorians until they overplayed their hand. Ultimately, they picked the wrong emperor, which led to their ignominious demise. As it was then, so it is now.

It is one thing to curry favor with a president who is duly elected by the people. It is quite another thing to influence an election in order to curry favor with a sitting president and his heir apparent. That’s exactly what occurred when the FBI and the DOJ did backflips to exonerate Clinton so she could campaign for the presidency unfettered by a criminal probe into her mishandling of classified information and the destruction of subpoenaed emails.

Not only were the American Praetorians careless in their execution and cover-up of the rigged Clinton investigation, they simultaneously sought to damage her adversary, Donald Trump, by launching a probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion based on a licentious phony dossier that was bought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton. It was a classic push-pull maneuver. Push Clinton toward her expected coronation as president and pull her opponent down at the same time. FBI and DOJ leaders had morphed from law enforcers into kingmakers or, in this case, queen makers.

At the time, it seemed like the Praetorians had dealt themselves a winning hand since Clinton was way ahead in the polls. Unfortunately for them, pesky American voters didn’t get the memo. Trump won; Clinton lost.

Most intelligent individuals, especially the Praetorian insiders, should have seen the writing on the wall at that point. Instead of retreating and calling off the dogs, they doubled down and pressed their attack on the new president. Such was their deep-seated animus toward Donald Trump. They were irate that their favored candidate didn’t win and were determined to unseat the victor, who had the temerity to win a national election. In their twisted minds, they knew better than the American people.

The hubris of these unelected bureaucrats was so great that it never occurred to them that they had sworn to uphold the law of the land. Instead, they acted like half-assed politicians who are accountable to no one, including congress and the president. As they see it, their primary duty is to protect the institutions of the FBI and the DOJ above all else, which means protecting themselves first and foremost. After all, who is going to investigate the FBI, the premier law enforcement agency on the planet? Nobody, that’s who. They would simply close ranks and clam up. They decided to take down Donald Trump by getting him impeached or, barring that result, they would hobble his presidency with a never-ending Trump-Russia collusion probe.

They sought and received repeated approvals from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Trump’s associates based largely on a false dossier funded by Trump’s political adversaries. Like the Roman Praetorians before them, the upper echelon the FBI and the DOJ were hell-bent on getting their way. American voters be damned. Justice be damned.

Their strong bias for one candidate over another has come to light despite the yeoman efforts of FBI and DOJ management to stonewall record requests from congress and Freedom of Information Act requests from citizen advocacy groups such as Judicial Watch. The FBI and DOJ constantly hide behind self-serving excuses to refuse the release of documents and, when forced to do so, they release heavily redacted files. They offer up the usual pretexts to fend off public disclosure such as:  the information you seek cannot be disclosed because it involves an ongoing investigation, or the information you seek involves national security, or our methods and sources will be jeopardized if the information you seek is divulged to the public. But it seems the ones who would be most harmed by public disclosure are the corrupt FBI and DOJ officials themselves, who are trying desperately to keep from embarrassing themselves, or revealing how they played politics by weaponizing our justice system.

Nonetheless, the truth has a way of surfacing through the cracks. Narrow cracks turn into deep fissures and fissures turn into a chasms. Although it may take longer than we like, the truth ultimately wins out. We can see it unfolding at the FBI and the DOJ as the corrupt officials are fired, resign, or are re-assigned. The tide has receded and the naked bodies at the FBI and the DOJ can be seen floundering on the beach. Soon they will turn on each other in much the same way they try to flip witnesses against each other. It’s the beginning of the end.

The Praetorians at the FBI and the DOJ, who fixed the Clinton investigation and sought to frame a sitting president, have no place in our justice system, except inside its correctional facilities where they belong."

"There Is No 'Right' Decision"

"There Is No 'Right' Decision"
by David Cain

"I sometimes get bogged down on major purchases, for months even. If I don’t find a printer or pair of runners that feels like the right one (for me at least) I usually retreat to go gather more information. I look up more reviews. I ask the advice of friends who seem less tormented by the prospect of shoe or printer shopping. Mostly I just let time pass.

A couple of years ago, after a month of needing but not buying a printer, I tweeted something like, “So I’m looking to buy a printer, but don’t know where to start… any advice?” Moments later, my good friend Nate responded, with something like, “Here’s how to buy a printer: you go to the store and get a printer.” I did that, and I have to admit his strategy worked at least as well as my usual three months of contemplation. I chose one of the printers they had. It prints. So I did end up getting the right printer, but at the time I felt like I just got lucky. I didn’t know it was the right choice, I just went ahead with something. It was a measured risk that happened to work out.

Much of the stress and difficulty of life comes down to making decisions, big and small, and they never stop coming. What’s the right call? Fix the old car or spring for a new one? Stay with your job or quit and go freelance? Cut your hair short or rearrange what you’ve got? And how confident do you need to be before choosing?

It sure feels good to get it right. We’ve all had the sense that we picked the right hotel room, or the right career path, or the right movie for this particular date. We also know the unmistakable feeling that the wrong choice has been made: law school was a mistake; the “hip and cozy” Airbnb turned out to be a closet overlooking a perpetual traffic jam; the Seahawks passed when they should have run.

Whether a decision was the right one or not, life goes on. If it was the right one, great. If it was the wrong one, at least you learned a few more red flags. Recently I was exposed to a brilliant idea: there are no right decisions. There’s no right call, and there never has been. All the time we’ve burned and heartache we’ve suffered trying to figure out the right reponse, the right outfit, the right bathroom tile, the right movie—it was all a wild goose chase.

We do make choices, and they do have consequences. But the idea that there’s a “correct” one is only ever a story we tell ourselves. Choices can be well reasoned or poorly reasoned. Their results can be surprisingly beneficial or surprisingly damaging. But there’s no such thing as a categorically right course of action, just an array of possible ones—and for each, a sprawling, endless web of consequences.

Let’s say you choose what you believe is the right name for your new product. On a different day, in a different mood, you could have chosen a different name, also believing it was the right one. Whichever name you chose, perhaps eighteen months later, when you’re struggling with sales, you might decide that your choice was actually the wrong one. A year after that, when you’ve sorted out that problem, you believe again that your choice of name was the right one—you just chose the wrong advertising company.

It’s only ever a story. There may be generally better and generally worse choices, but there’s no right choice. Yet we still approach many of our dilemmas as though there is, somewhere out there, a right course of action, and we desperately need to identify it. Perhaps we’ll only find out what it is the hard way, but the right choice will reveal itself one way or another. But it never really does. Even after the fact, when we’re living with the consequences, we don’t know what the right choice was. All we know is whether we like where we are or don’t like where we are.

Of course, you can attribute where you are to virtually any of the decisions you’ve ever made—choosing product name A over B, dumping your high school sweetheart, moving to the coast, hanging with potheads instead of preppies, not getting up early enough these last few years. Which ones were right or wrong exactly? It’s a meaningless pronouncement, except perhaps to use later as rhetoric, in blaming ourselves or someone else.

This might seem like a semantic distinction. Okay, there’s no “right” choice, but obviously there are still better and worse ones. But it matters. There’s a big difference between trying to make wise, well-informed choices, and trying to make the right choices.

Firstly, it means that gathering more information will never reveal the right choice. More information might be helpful, but there’s no such thing as enough—at some point, a leap is required, and afterward, you still won’t know what was best. I could have researched printers for a decade. If I got a dud, I still would have thought of it as the “wrong” choice.

Secondly, the idea of a right choice implies that the consequences of our choices are somehow cleanly connected, and isolated from everything else. You choose option A, and get consequence X. But choices and consequences aren’t paired off one-to-one, like doors in a game show bonus round, each hiding either a prize or a punishment. Every action sets off endlessly rippling consequences, a cascade of effects that are often both beneficial and detrimental, both short-term and long-term, both intended and unintended, both known and unknown.

Your choice to work from home leads to freed-up commuting time (decidedly good), more family time (good), but also more tension with your partner (bad), and a harder time getting enough exercise (bad) and who knows what else. Each of these effects influences other parts of your life, in ways seen and unseen, forever. Yet we tend to think we can look at a single dilemma in isolation, identify the right response, and execute it, as though we’re lining up a shot on a billiard table.

Giving up on the idea of right decisions doesn’t mean giving up on using our best judgment. But it’s a tremendous relief to recognize that getting it right, in any meaningful sense, is an impossible goal. Here’s how I think it really works: You’ll make a million decisions, and each will shape your life and other people’s lives in ways you’ll barely know. You will have surprising successes and surprising failures. You’ll give yourself too much credit for both. Then you’ll die.

Much more important than any decision, or its consequences, is the motivation behind the sorts of decisions you tend to make. Principles, applied over the years, have consistent, traceable trajectories. You may or may not make your choices with good intentions. You may or may not learn from your choices. You may or may not get lucky. But you will never get things right. So let yourself off the hook."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Signature in the Cell and Intelligent Design: An Introduction to Protracted Desperation"

"Signature in the Cell and Intelligent Design:
 An Introduction to Protracted Desperation"

"A question that never ceases to fascinate is that of how life originated, and how and why it has progressed as it seems to have. The official story and de rigueur explanation is that that life came about through spontaneous generation from seawater. Believing this is the mark of an Advanced Person, whether one has the slightest knowledge of the matter. In academia researchers have been fired and careers ruined for questioning it. If you doubt that scientists can be ideological herd animals, as petty, intolerant, vindictive, and backstabbing as professors, read "Heretic," by the PhD biotechnologist and biochemist Matti Leisola, who fell on the wrong side of the herd. This establishment’s continuing effort to stamp out heresy looks increasingly like a protracted desperation. 

The other, more intuitive view of life is that of Intelligent Design. When one sees an immensely complicated system all of whose parts work together with effect and apparent purpose, such as an automobile or a cell, it is natural to think that someone or something designed it. There is much evidence for this, certainly enough to intrigue those of open mind and intelligence. Those of a philosophic bent may note that Freud, Marx, and Darwin are equally relics of Nineteenth Century determinism, and that Darwin wrote when almost nothing was known about much of biology. Note also that the sciences are tightly constrained and limited by their premises, unable to think outside of their chosen box. Others, wiser, wonder whether there are not more thing in heaven and earth.

The theory of ID is seen by the official story as a form of biblical Creationism of the sort holding that the world was created in 4004 BC. This is either wantonly stupid or deliberately dishonest. There is of course no necessary connection between ID and Buddhism, Islam, or the Cargo Cult. There are scientists who are not proponents of ID but simply see that much of official Darwinism does not make sense or comport with the evidence. Some IDers are Christians, which does not affect the validity, or lack of it, orf what they say. To judge by my mail, many people have serious doubts about the official explanation without being zealots of anything in particular.

(For what it is worth, I am myself a complete agnostic. Faith and atheism both seem to me categorical beliefs in something one doesn’t know. ID certainly provides no support for the existence of a loving Sunday School god, given that in almost all places and all times most people have lived in misery and died in agony.) To me, though, things look designed. By what, I don’t know.

Two difficulties affect the presentation of ID to the public. First, most of us have been subjected to thousands of hours of vapid “science” programs and mass-market textbooks. These tell us  that doubters must be snake-handling forest Christian with three teeth.The second is that following the argument requires more technical grasp than most have. Trying to explain the question to a network-news audience is hopeless and makes those attempting it seem foolish.

Yet discussion has to be fairly technical to avoid degenerating into vague generalities. Following many of the authors requires familiarity with, or the ability to pick up quickly, such things as the nature of information, both in the Shannon sense of a reduction in uncertainty and of specified information as found in DNA and computer code. Some experience of programming helps as does a minor familiarity with organic chemistry and a nodding acquaintance with early paleontology.

And, alas, much of dispute turns on the mechanics of cell biology: DNA’s structure, codons and anticodons, polymerases and transcriptases, the functions of ribosomes, chirality of alpha amino acids, microRNA, protein folding, ORFans, developmental gene regulatory networks, Ediacaran and Cambrian paleontology (so much for 4004 BC BC), and similar technoglop, It isn’t rocket science, but it takes a bit of study to pick up. Most of us have other things to do.

The less one knows about cellular biology the easier it is to believe in spontaneous generation. Darwin knew nothing. Since then knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology has grown phenomenally. Yet, despite a great deal of effort, the case for the accidental appearance of life has remained one of fervent insistence untainted by either evidence ofrtheoretical plausibility.

What are some of the problems with official Darwinism? First, the spontaneous generation of life has not been replicated. (Granted, repeating a process thought to have taken billions of  years might lack appeal as a doctoral project.) Nor has anyone assembled in the laboratory a chemical structure able to metabolize, reproduce, and thus to evolve. It has not been shown to be mathematically possible. 

This is true despite endless theories about life arising in tidal pools, on moist clays, in geothermal vents, in shallows, in depths, or that life arrived on carbonaceous chondrites–i.e., meteors. It has even been suggested that life arrived from Mars, which is to say life came from a place where, as far was can be determined, there has never been any. Protracted desperation.

Sooner or later, a hypothesis must be either confirmed or abandoned. Which? When? Doesn’t science require evidence, reproducibility, demonstrated theoretical possibility? These do not exist. Does not the ferocious reaction to doubters of the official story suggest deep-seated doubt even among the believers?
Other serious problems with the official story: Missing intermediate fossils–”missing links”– stubbornly remain missing. “Punctuated equilibrium,” a theory of sudden rapid evolution invented to explain the lack of fossil evidence, seems unable to generate genetic information fast enough. Many proteins bear no resemblance to any others and therefore cannot have evolved from them. On and on.

Finally, the more complex an event, the less likely it is to occur by chance. Over the years, cellular mechanisms have been found to be  ever more complex. Darwin thought that in a warm pond, bits of goo clumped together, a membrane formed, and life was off and running. Immediately after Watson and Crick in 1953, the chemical mechanics of cellular function still seemed comparatively simple, though nobody could say where the genetic information came from. Today thousands of proteins are known to take part in elaborate processes in which different parts of proteins are synthesized under control of different genes and then spliced and edited elaborately. Recently with the discovery of epigenetics, complexity has taken a great leap upward. (For anyone wanting to subject himself to such things, there is The Epigenetics Revolution. It is not light reading.)

Worth noting is that the mantra of evolutionists - that “in millions and millions and billions of years something must have evolved” – does not necessarily hold water. We have all heard of Sir James Jeans assertion that a monkey, typing randomly, would eventually produce all the books in the British Museum. (Actually he would not produce a single chapter in the accepted age of the universe, but never mind.) A strong case can be made that spontaneous generation is similarly of mathematically vanishing probability. If evolutionists could prove the contrary, they would immensely strengthen their case. They haven’t. Improbabilities are multiplicative. The currents of exponentiation seem to be running ever more heavily against the monkey. If this is not true, evolutionists have not shown it not to be true.

Herewith a few recommendations for  those who may be interested. Whatever one might conclude after reading the various authors on ID, you will quickly see that they are not “pseudoscientists,” not lightweights, and have serious technical credentials. They try to explain their subjects  as they go along. Some succeed better than others.

The most accessible are "Darwin’s Black Box," which I highly recommend, and "The Edge of Evolution," both by Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. He puts the heavy-duty tech in the end notes. The intelligent reader will have no problem with these.

Also clearly written and carefully explained, are "Signature in the Cell" (mentioned above) and "Darwin’s Doubt," by Stephen Meyer (geophysicist, PhD in history and philosophy of science, Cambridge University.) The (again) intelligent reader will find these good but challenging. A third possibility in "Undeniable" by Douglas Axe (Undergrad biochemistry, Berkeley, PhD. CalTech, chemical engineering) While very sharp, he uses analogy so much to keep things simple that the science can be lost. Ann Gauger,  Science and Human Origins, has a degree in biology from MIT, a PhD in developmental and molecular biology from the university of Washington, and has done postdoc work at Harvard (on the drosophila kinesin light chain, which I don’t know what is.)

Anyway,  Meyer takes the reader clearly and comprehensively through the question of the origin of life from, briefly, ancient times through the research of Watson and Crick and then into the depths of the cell in detail. Of particular interest is his discussion of the the probabilistic barriers to spontaneous generation. Right or wrong, it is, again,  assuredly not “pseudoscience,” and is extensively documented with references.

Should you order any of these books, ask Amazon to ship them in boxes labeled "Kinky Sex Books" or "Applied Beastiality" so nobody will know that you are reading ID.

Here, allow me a thought that the writers above do not mention: Maybe nature is more mysterious than even the ID people think: The insane complexity of life might suggest a far deeper level of non-understanding than even the ID folk suspect.

Suppose that you saw an actual monkey pecking at a keyboard and, on examining his output, saw that he was typing, page after page, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", with no errors. You would suspect fraud, for instance that the typewriter was really a computer programmed with Tom. But no, on inspection you find that it is a genuine typewriter. Well then, you think, the monkey must be a robot, with Tom in RAM. But  this too turns out to be wrong: The monkey in fact is one. After exhaustive examination, you are forced to conclude that Bonzo really is typing at random. Yet he is producing Tom Sawyer. This being impossible, you would have to conclude that something was going on that you did not understand.

Much of biology is similar. For a zygote, barely visible, to turn into a baby is astronomically improbable, a suicidal assault on Murphy’s Law. Reading embryology makes this apparent. (Texts are prohibitively expensive, but "Life Unfolding" serves.) Yet every step in the process is in accord with chemical principles.

This doesn’t make sense. Not, anyway, unless one concludes that something deeper is going on that we do not understand. This brings to mind several adages that might serve to ameliorate our considerable arrogance. As Haldane said, “The world is not only queerer than we think, but queerer than we can think.” Or Fred’s principle, “The smartest of a large number of hamsters is still a hamster.” We may be too full of ourselves."

Musical Interlude: Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax galaxy cluster. 
 Click image for larger size.
This impressively sharp color image shows intense star forming regions at the ends of the bar and along the spiral arms, and details of dust lanes cutting across the galaxy's bright core. At the core lies a supermassive black hole. Astronomers think NGC 1365's prominent bar plays a crucial role in the galaxy's evolution, drawing gas and dust into a star-forming maelstrom and ultimately feeding material into the central black hole.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Anacortes, Washington, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"The World's Last Whale..."

"As I rocked in the moonlight,
And reefed the sail.
It'll happen to you
Also without fail,
If it happens to me.
Sang the world's last whale."

- Pete Seeger
“Wind On The Water”
by Graham Nash and David Crosby

"Over the years you have been hunted
by the men who threw harpoons,
And in the long run he will kill you
just to feed the pets we raise,
put the flowers in your vase,
and make the lipstick for your face.
Over the years you swam the ocean
Following feelings of your own,
Now you are washed up on the shoreline,
I can see your body lie,
It's a shame you have to die
to put the shadow on our eye.
Maybe we'll go,
Maybe we'll disappear,
It's not that we don't know,
It's just that we don't want to care.
Under the bridges,
Over the foam,
Wind on the water
Carry me home."

"Promise Me...

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
- Christopher Robin to “Pooh”

"A Tribute to Dogs"

"A Tribute to Dogs"
by George Graham Vest

"George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903 and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog. During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case:

"Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death."
- George Graham Vest, - c. 1855

Dogs are far better "people" than we can ever hope to be...

"George Carlin Was Right!"

"George Carlin Was Right!"
"The wisdom of the late George Carlin on display once again..."

"And nobody knows, nobody cares..."
- George Carlin
Hat tip to the Burning Platform