Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Satire: "New Texas Law Would Require Candidates for Governor to Show Proof of I.Q."

"New Texas Law Would Require Candidates 
for Governor to Show Proof of I.Q."
by Andy Borowitz

AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report) — "A controversial new bill in the Texas House of Representatives would require those running for governor to show proof of the minimum I.Q. necessary to perform the duties of the office. If the bill were to become law, every politician in Texas with gubernatorial ambitions would be issued an I.D. card featuring his or her photo, current address, and performance on a state-administered I.Q. test.

Carol Foyler, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, acknowledged that the idea of a minimum I.Q. for candidates was viewed as incendiary in some circles, but insisted that the requirements of the I.D. card were not onerous. “All they have to do is show mastery of simple tasks, such as uttering complete sentences and things of that nature,” she said.

But the bill faces an uphill fight in the House, where representatives like Harland Dorrinson, of Plano, have vowed to defeat it. “I know that the folks behind this so-called bill are well meaning,” Dorrinson said. “But if this had been enacted fifteen years ago, it would have choked off our supply of governors.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Falling Through Time”

2002, “Falling Through Time” 

"A Look to the Heavens"

“An asterism is just a recognized pattern of stars that is not one the 88 official constellations. For example, one of the most famous (and largest) asterisms is the Big Dipper within the constellation Ursa Major. But this pretty chain of stars, visible with binoculars towards the long-necked constellation of Camelopardalis, is also a recognized asterism. 
Click image for larger size.
Known as Kemble's Cascade, it contains about 20 stars nearly in a row, stretching over five times the width of a full moon. Tumbling from the upper right to lower left in the picture, Kemble's Cascade was made popular by astronomy enthusiast Lucian Kemble. The bright object at the lower left is the relatively compact open cluster of stars, NGC 1502.”

"Thucydides In The Underworld"

 "Master, what gnaws at them so hideously their lamentation stuns the very air?"
"They have no hope of death," he answered me..." 
- Dante Alighieri, "The Inferno"

"Thucydides In The Underworld"
by J. R. Nyquist

"The shade of Thucydides, formerly an Athenian general and historian, languished in Hades for 24 centuries; and having intercourse with other spirits, was perturbed by an influx into the underworld of self-described historians professing to admire his History of the Peloponnesian War. They burdened him with their writings, priding themselves on the imitation of his method, tracing the various patterns of human nature in politics and war. He was, they said, the greatest historian; and his approval of their works held the promise that their purgatory was no prologue to oblivion.

As the centuries rolled on, the flow of historians into Hades became a torrent. The later historians were no longer imitators, but most were admirers. It seemed to Thucydides that these were a miserable crowd, unable to discern between the significant and the trivial, being obsessed with tedious doctrines. Unembarrassed by their inward poverty, they ascribed an opposite meaning to things: thinking themselves more “evolved” than the spirits of antiquity. Some even imagined that the universe was creating God. They supposed that the "most evolved" among men would assume God’s office; and further, that they themselves were among the “most evolved.”

Thucydides longed for the peace of his grave, which posthumous fame had deprived him. As with many souls at rest, he took no further interest in history. He had passed through existence and was done. He had seen everything. What was bound to follow, he knew, would be more of the same; but after more than 23 centuries of growing enthusiasm for his work, there occurred a sudden falling off. Of the newly deceased, fewer broke in upon him. Quite clearly, something had happened. He began to realize that the character of man had changed because of the rottenness of modern ideas. Among the worst of these, for Thucydides, was that barbarians and civilized peoples were considered equal; that art could transmit sacrilege; that paper could be money; that sexual and cultural differences were of no account; that meanness was rated noble, and nobility mean.

Awakened from the sleep of death, Thucydides remembered what he had written about his own time. The watchwords then, as now, were "revolution" and "democracy." There had been upheaval on all sides. "As the result of these revolutions," he had written, "there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion."

Thucydides saw that democracy, once again, imagined itself victorious. Once again traditions were questioned as men became enamored of their own prowess. It was no wonder they were deluded. They landed men on the moon. They had harnessed the power of the atom. It was no wonder that the arrogance of man had grown so monstrous, that expectations of the future were so unrealistic. Deluded by recent successes, they could not see that dangers were multiplying in plain view. Men built new engines of war, capable of wiping out entire cities, but few took this danger seriously. Why were men so determined to build such weapons? The leading country, of course, was willing to put its weapons aside. Other countries pretended to put their weapons aside. Still others said they weren't building weapons at all, even though they were.

Would the new engines of destruction be used? Would cities and nations be wiped off the face of the earth? Thucydides knew the answer. In his own day, during an interval of unstable peace, the Athenians had exterminated the male population of the island of Melos. Before doing this the Athenian commanders had came to Melos and said, "...we on our side will use no fine phrases saying, for example, that we have a right to our empire because we defeated the Persians, or that we have come against you now because of the injuries you have done us - a great mass of words that nobody would believe." The Athenians demanded the submission of Melos, without regard to right or wrong. As the Athenian representative explained, "the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept." The Melians were shocked by this brazen admission. They could not believe that anyone would dare to destroy them without just cause. In the first place, the Melians threatened no one. In the second place, they imagined that the world would be shocked and would avenge any atrocity committed against them. And so the Melians told the Athenians: "in our view it is ... useful that you should not destroy a principle that is to the general good of all men -- namely, that in the case of all who fall into danger there should be such a thing as fair play and just dealing... And this is a principle which affects you as much as anybody, since your own fall would be visited by the most terrible vengeance and would be an example to the world."

The Athenians were not moved by the argument of Melos; for they knew that the Spartans generally treated defeated foes with magnanimity. "Even assuming that our empire does come to an end," the Athenians chuckled, "we are not despondent about what would happen next. One is not so much frightened of being conquered by a power [like Sparta]." And so the Athenians destroyed Melos, believing themselves safe - which they were. The Melians refused to submit, praying for the protection of gods and men. But these availed them nothing, neither immediate relief nor future vengeance. The Melians were wiped off the earth. They were not the first or the last to die in this manner.

There was one more trend that Thucydides noted. In every free and prosperous country he found a parade of monsters: human beings with oversized egos, with ambitions out of proportion to their ability, whose ideas rather belied their understanding than affirmed it. Whereas, there was one Alcibiades in his own day, there were now hundreds of the like: self-serving, cunning and profane; only they did not possess the skills, or the mental acuity, or beauty of Alcibiades. Instead of being exiled, they pushed men of good sense from the center of affairs. Instead of being right about strategy and tactics, they were always wrong. And they were weak, he thought, because they had learned to be bad by the example of others. There was nothing novel about them, although they believed themselves to be original in all things.

Thucydides reflected that human beings are subject to certain behavioral patterns. Again and again they repeat the same actions, unable to stop themselves. Society is slowly built up, then wars come and put all to ruin. Those who promise a solution to this are charlatans, only adding to the destruction, because the only solution to man is the eradication of man. In the final analysis the philanthropist and the misanthrope are two sides of the same coin. While man exists he follows his nature. Thucydides taught this truth, and went to his grave. His history was written, as he said, "for all time." And it is a kind of law of history that the generations most like his own are bound to ignore the significance of what he wrote; for otherwise they would not re-enact the history of Thucydides. But as they become ignorant of his teaching, they fall into disaster spontaneously and without thinking. Seeing that time was short, and realizing that a massive number of new souls would soon be entering the underworld, the shade of Thucydides fell back to rest."

"Stop Being Perfect..."


“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. The things you own end up owning you. We are defined by the choices we make. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person? I say, never be complete. I say, stop being perfect. I say, let’s evolve and let the chips fall where they may…"
~ Chuck Palahniuk, "Fight Club"

Chet Raymo, “Finding It Where You Are”

“Finding It Where You Are”
by Chet Raymo

“Yes, I've been to Walden. Been there several times, in fact. With students. We sat on the earth at the site of the cabin and read from the book. And the wind stirred the pines, and the hickories, and the oaks, and rippled the pond that shone like silver in the early morning sun. And then, to honor the spirit of the man we came to visit, we sat silently, as if on the stoop of his cabin with friends, knowing that any words, even his own, intruded on the haunting beauty of the place itself.

Walden Pond

Mary Oliver has a poem called "Going To Walden," in which she recounts refusing an invitation to visit the pond, remembering "that far-off Yankee whisper:/ How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!" Going to Walden is not so easy a thing as taking oneself to Concord, she writes. Rather: "It is the slow and difficult/ Trick of living, and finding it where you are."

Maybe so. No, certainly so. And yet, and yet. I don't regret having made the journey, particularly with young people who, like me, are used to hurrying here and there, and who, maybe, just maybe, while sitting in the silence and the shadows of pines, and hickories, and oaks, caught a glimmer of the trick of living that sustained Thoreau in his anchored solitude."

“Going To Walden”
by Mary Oliver

"It isn’t very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.

Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow form hurrying here and there!

Many have gone,
and think me half a fool to miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe.
But in a book I read and cherish,
going to Walden is not so easy a thing as a green visit.
It is the slow and difficult trick of living, and finding it where you are."

The Daily "Near You?"

St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Life..."

"Life... is not about how fast you run or even with what degree of grace. 
It's about perseverance, about staying on your feet and slogging forward no matter what."
- Dean Koontz

“Once When We Were Free”

“Once When We Were Free”
By Jon Rappoport

"We’re so much more sensible now. We don’t live our lives as much as we arrange them and organize them. B follows A. D follows C. We take our medicine and our shots because the doctor says so. We’re careful, because accidents happen. We don’t say what’s on our minds a lot of the time, because other people might pass that on, and who knows? We might get into trouble.

But once upon a time, when we were young, we were free. We didn’t take any shots and when we got sick we recovered. We were stronger than kids are now. We didn’t ask for much protection and we weren’t given much, and we survived.

There was no talk about the needs of the group. When we went to school, we weren’t told about ways we could help others. That was something we learned at home. We weren’t taught about The Planet. Instead, we learned to mind our own business, and it wasn’t considered a crime.

When we played games, adults weren’t hovering or coaching every move we made. We found places to play on our own, and we figured it all out. There were winners and losers. There were no plastic trophies. We played one game, then another. We lost, we won. We competed. Losing wasn’t a tragedy.

There were no childhood “conditions” like ADHD or Bipolar, and we certainly didn’t take any brain drugs. The idea of a kid going to a psychiatrist would have been absurd.

People were who they were. They had lives. They had personalities. They had eccentricities, and we lived with that.

There was far less whispering and gossip. There were fewer cliques. Kids didn’t display their possessions like signs of their identity. A kid who did was ignored, even shunned.

Kids never acted like little adults. They didn’t dress like adults. They didn’t want to be fake adults.

Our parents didn’t consult us about what we wanted. We weren’t part of the decision-making process. They didn’t need us for that.

We weren’t “extra-special.” We weren’t delicate.

No one asked us about our feelings. If they had, we would have been confused. Feelings? What’s that? We were alive. We knew it. We didn’t need anything else.

We could spot liars a mile away. We could spot phonies from across town. We knew who the really crazy adults were, and we stayed away from them.

We didn’t need gadgets and machines to be happy. We only needed a place to play. If you wanted a spot to be alone, you found one, and you read a book.

There was no compulsion to “share.”

School wasn’t some kind of social laboratory or baby-sitting service. We were there to learn, and if we worked hard, we did. Teachers knew how to teach. The textbooks were adequate. Whether the books were new or old didn’t matter.

Kids weren’t taught how to be little victims.

Sex was a private issue. You were taught about that at home or not at all. You certainly didn’t learn about it in school. That would have been ridiculous.

Some of us remember being young, and now, we still have that North Star. We still don’t take our shots and medicines. We still don’t take every word a doctor says as coming from God. We still know losing isn’t a crime or an occasion for tragic theater.

We still know how to be alone. We still think gossip and cliques are for morons. We still feel free. We still want to live, and we do.

We still resent intrusion on our freedom, and we speak up and draw the line. We still like winning and competing. We still like achieving on our own.

We can spot self-styled messiahs at a hundred yards.

As kids, we lived in our imaginations, and we haven’t forgotten how. It’s part of who and what we are.

We aren’t bored every twelve seconds. We can find things to do.

We don’t need reassurances every day. We don’t need people hovering over us. We don’t need to whine and complain to get attention. We don’t need endless amounts of “support.”

We don’t need politicians who lie to us constantly, who pretend we’re stupid. We don’t need ideology shoved own our throats. Our ideology is freedom. We know what it is and what it feels like, and we know no one gives it to us. It’s ours to begin with. We can throw it away, but then that’s on us.

If two candidates are running for office, and we don’t like either one, we don’t vote. We don’t need to think about that very hard. It’s obvious. Two idiots, two criminals? Forget it. Walk away.

We don’t fawn, we don’t get in other people’s way. We don’t think “children are the future.” Every generation is a new generation. It always has been. We don’t need to inject some special doctrine to pump up children. We remember what being a child is. That’s enough.

When we were kids, there was no exaggerated sense of loyalty. We were independent. Now, we see what can be accomplished in the name of obligation, group-cohesion, and loyalty: crimes; imperial wars; destruction of natural rights.

It didn’t take a village to raise a kid when we were young, and it doesn’t take one now. That’s all propaganda. It panders to people who are afraid to be what they are, who are afraid to stand up for themselves.

We don’t feel it’s our duty to cure every ill in the world. But it goes a lot further than that. We can see what that kind of indoctrination creates. It creates the perception of endless numbers of helpless victims. And once that’s firmly entrenched, then magically, the endless parade of victims appears, ready-made. When some needs have been met, others are born. The lowest form of hustlers sell those needs from here to the sky and beyond. They make no distinction between people who really can use help and those who are just on the make.

We didn’t grow up that way. We don’t fall for the con now.

When we were kids, the number of friends we had didn’t matter. We didn’t keep score. Nobody kept track of the count. That would have been recognized in a second as a form of insanity.

As kids, we didn’t admire people simply because other people admired them. That was an unknown standard.

We were alive. That was enough. We were free. That was enough.

It still is.

When we were young, we had incredible dreams. We imagined the dreams and imagined accomplishing them. Some of us still do. Some of us still work in that direction. We haven’t given up the ghost just because the world is mad. The world needs to learn what we know. We don’t need to learn what the world has been brainwashed into believing."

Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet- On Laws"

"The Prophet- On Laws"

"You delight in laying down laws,
Yet you delight more in breaking them.
Like children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with
constancy and then destroy them with laughter.
But while you build your sand-towers the ocean brings more sand to the shore,
And when you destroy them the ocean laughs with you.
Verily the ocean laughs always with the innocent.

But what of those to whom life is not an ocean,
and man-made laws are not sandtowers,
But to whom life is a rock, and the law a chisel with which
they would carve it in their own likeness?
What of the cripple who hates dancers?
What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer
of the forest stray and vagrant things?
What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin,
and calls all others naked and shameless?
And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast,
and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that
all feasts are violation and all feasters lawbreakers?

What shall I say of these save that they too stand in
the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?
They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.
And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?
And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down
and trace their shadows upon the earth?
But you who walk facing the sun,
what images drawn on the earth can hold you?
You who travel with the wind,
what weather-vane shall direct your course?
What man's law shall bind you if you break your yoke but upon no man's prison door?
What laws shall you fear if you dance but stumble against no man's iron chains?
And who is he that shall bring you to judgment if you tear off
your garment yet leave it in no man's path?

People of Orphalese, you can muffle the drum,
and you can loosen the strings of the lyre,
but who shall command the skylark not to sing?"

Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet- On Laws"

"How It Really Is"

Ebola: “Top Scientist Warns This Version Of Ebola Looks Like ‘A Very Different Bug’"

“Top Scientist Warns This Version Of Ebola 
Looks Like ‘A Very Different Bug’"
by Michael Snyder

“Barack Obama and the head of the CDC need to quit saying that we know exactly how Ebola spreads.  Because the truth is that there is much about this virus that we simply do not know.  For example, a top Ebola scientist that is working in the heart of the outbreak in Liberia says that this version of Ebola looks like it could be "a very different bug" from past versions.  Other leading scientists are echoing his concerns.  And yet Barack Obama and Thomas Frieden continue to publicly proclaim that we know precisely how this virus behaves.  Not only is that bad science, but it could also potentially result in the unnecessary deaths of a very large number of people.  For example, Obama has refused to implement an Ebola travel ban because he is greatly underestimating the seriousness of this virus.  This decision could turn out to be incredibly costly.  If what you will read about below is true, we could be dealing with some sort of "super Ebola" that nobody has ever seen before.

Peter Jahrling of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is on the front lines fighting this disease in Liberia.  He is one of the top authorities in the world on Ebola, and what his team has been seeing under the microscope is incredibly sobering: "Now U.S. scientist Peter Jahrling of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believes the current Ebola outbreak may be caused by an infection that spreads more easily than it did before.

Dr Jahrling explained that his team, who are working in the epicentre of the crisis in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, are seeing that the viral loads in Ebola patients are much higher than they are used to seeing. He told Vox.com: 'We are using tests now that weren't using in the past, but there seems to be a belief that the virus load is higher in these patients today than what we have seen before. If true, that's a very different bug. I have a field team in Monrovia. They are running tests. They are telling me that viral loads are coming up very quickly and really high, higher than they are used to seeing. It may be that the virus burns hotter and quicker."

Other top scientists are making similar observations. The following comes from a recent article posted on Washington's Blog: "The head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – Dr. Michael Osterholm – is a prominent public health scientist and a nationally recognized biosecurity expert. Dr. Osterholm just gave a talk shown on C-Span explaining that a top Ebola virologist – the Head of Special Pathogens at Canada’s health agency, Gary Kobinger – has found that the current strain of Ebola appears to be much worse than any strain seen before… and that the current virus may be more likely to spread through aerosols than strains which scientists have previously encountered. I have posted video of that talk on C-Span below...


But even if we were dealing with the exact same strain of Ebola, that does not mean that our leaders are telling us the truth when they say that it is not an airborne virus. Just check out the following quotes from top scientists about the spread of Ebola from a recent Los Angeles Times article: "Dr. C.J. Peters, who battled a 1989 outbreak of the virus among research monkeys housed in Virginia and who later led the CDC’s most far-reaching study of Ebola’s transmissibility in humans, said he would not rule out the possibility that it spreads through the air in tight quarters. “We just don’t have the data to exclude it,” said Peters, who continues to research viral diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston.

Dr. Philip K. Russell, a virologist who oversaw Ebola research while heading the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, and who later led the government’s massive stockpiling of smallpox vaccine after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, also said much was still to be learned. “Being dogmatic is, I think, ill-advised, because there are too many unknowns here.“
And I have written about this before, but so many people don't know about this that it bears repeating. The following is an excerpt from a news story about a study that was conducted back in 2012 that demonstrated that the Ebola virus can be transferred from one animal to another animal without any physical contact whatsoever: "When news broke that the Ebola virus had resurfaced in Uganda, investigators in Canada were making headlines of their own with research indicating the deadly virus may spread between species, through the air.

The team, comprised of researchers from the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the University of Manitoba, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, observed transmission of Ebola from pigs to monkeys. They first inoculated a number of piglets with the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus. Ebola-Zaire is the deadliest strain, with mortality rates up to 90 percent. The piglets were then placed in a room with four cynomolgus macaques, a species of monkey commonly used in laboratories. The animals were separated by wire cages to prevent direct contact between the species.

Within a few days, the inoculated piglets showed clinical signs of infection indicative of Ebola infection. In pigs, Ebola generally causes respiratory illness and increased temperature. Nine days after infection, all piglets appeared to have recovered from the disease. Within eight days of exposure, two of the four monkeys showed signs of Ebola infection. Four days later, the remaining two monkeys were sick too. It is possible that the first two monkeys infected the other two, but transmission between non-human primates has never before been observed in a lab setting."

So when Barack Obama and Thomas Frieden get up and tell us that they know with 100% certainty that Ebola is not airborne, they are lying to you. There is so much about this outbreak that we simply do not know. Our public officials should be honest about that. Instead, it seems like they are flying by the seats of their pants and just saying whatever they think will keep everyone calm.

We are potentially facing the greatest health crisis of this generation, and bad science and false assurances are not going to help anyone. Sadly, Barack Obama just continues to make bad decision after bad decision. This includes his very foolish decision to send thousands of U.S. troops right into the heart of the Ebola death zone. It is being reported that these troops are only going to get just four hours of Ebola training, and the Pentagon is saying that they "will only need gloves and masks" to protect themselves: "Troops from the 101st Airborne Division leading the military response to Ebola in West Africa will only need gloves and masks to protect themselves from the deadly virus, so said Gen. David Rodriguez at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday.

“They don’t need the whole suit – as such – because they’re not going to be in contact with any of the people,” the commander of U.S. troops in Africa said. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne will primarily be building hospitals, ultimately leading what could be a contingent of 4,000 American service members. They’ll be housed either in tent cities at military airfields or in Liberian Ministry of Defense facilities, Rodriguez said. Soldiers’ health will be monitored through surveys and taking their temperature on their way in and out of camps. If a service member does get sick, Rodriguez said they will be flown home immediately for treatment."

Who is going to be held accountable when these young men and women start coming home sick? So far the federal response to this Ebola crisis has been a parade of incompetence. And yet we continue to be told that "everything is under control". I don't know about you, but I have a bad feeling about all of this.”

The Economy: “Poor Ron Paul...”

“Poor Ron Paul...”
by Bill Bonner

“Over the weekend, we were down in Nashville at the Stansberry Conference Series event, along with Ron Paul, Porter Stansberry, Jim Rickards and others. The question on the table: What's ahead for the US? 

Ron Paul took up the question from a geopolitical angle. He told the crowd that the military-security industry had Congress in its pocket. As a result, we can expect more borrowing, more spending and more pointless and futile wars. They may be bad for the country and its citizens, says Paul, but they are good for the people who make fighter jets and combat fatigues. "We've been at war in the Middle East for decades," he said. "We supported Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan... and the result of that was the creation of al-Qaeda. Then we supported Saddam Hussein against Iran. Saddam and bin Laden hated each other. But after 9/11 we attacked Saddam, using a bunch of lies to justify it. We sent over military equipment worth hundreds of billions of dollars. This equipment is now in the hands of ISIS – another enemy we created... and a far more dangerous one." 

Uphill Battle: Ron Paul is such a pure-hearted soul. What was a man like him doing in Congress? It must have been some sort of electoral accident. Good men rarely run for public office. And when they do, it is even rarer for them to win. Poor Ron is retired from Congress now. And he spends his time trying to "get the word out." He thinks that if people only realized what was happening they would vote for more responsible leaders and more sensible policies. Alas, that's not the way it works. The further the country goes in the wrong direction, the more people there are who have a financial interest in staying on the same road. 

We visited Ron in his office on Capitol Hill. He held a breakfast meeting with a small group of congressmen, trying to convince them to vote his way; we don't remember what was at issue.It was an uphill battle. Only a few members of Congress attended. And those few worried that their districts would lose money... or that the labor unions wouldn't like it if they voted no... or that they might not get a plum committee assignment if they bucked their own party leadership. Ron was alone. 

Politics favors blowhards, hustlers and shallow opportunists, we concluded. Which makes us wonder how Ron Paul ever got elected to Congress in the first place. But not only did he get elected... once in Washington, he never sold out. Neither to the right nor the left. He opposed zombies, malingerers and bullies wherever he found them. 

Taper on Pause? Which brings us to the subject of our own presentation to the Nashville crowd. We were following the (QE) money. "St. Louis Fed president James Bullard let the cat out of the bag last week," we explained. As Bullard told Bloomberg TV last week: "I also think that inflation expectations are dropping in the US. And that is something that a central bank cannot abide. We have to make sure that inflation and inflation expectations remain near our target. And for that reason I think a reasonable response of the Fed in this situation would be to invoke the clause on the taper that said that the taper was data dependent. And we could go on pause on the taper at this juncture and wait until we see how the data shakes out into December."

So... continue with QE at a very low level as we have it right now. And then assess our options going forward. We didn't think it would happen so fast. We thought the central bank would wait. We expected a little more hypocrisy... a bit more posturing... a little more phony resistance... a few denials... the Fed should have played it cool... coy... elusive... hard to pin down, making investors really sweat before coming to the rescue. 

We knew where the Fed would end up... but we didn't know it would go there so quickly and easily! Bullard is admitting to a staggering act of vanity and hypocrisy. In the land of free minds and free markets, apparently only the Fed knows what prices equities should fetch. Henceforth, it will approve all price movements on Wall Street. 

Hooked on Cheap Credit: To bring you fully into the picture, dear reader, the US central bank has the economy, and the markets, hooked on cheap credit and printing-press money. It has been supplying both on a grand scale for the last five years. But it had promised to stay away from the playground, beginning this month. Now that the economy is recovering, goes the storyline, the Fed will back away from its emergency measures and allow things to return to normal. 

QE ends this month. Higher interest rates are expected next year. No bubble has ever been created that didn't have a pin looking for it. And nobody likes it when the two meet up. Last week, it looked as though the Fed's bubble and Mr. Market's pin were coming closer. Then quick action by Bullard helped push them apart on Friday. 

QE began in November 2008. And zero interest rates began a month later. This has perverted prices for stocks, bonds, houses... and just about every other asset price on the planet. Stocks are worth more than twice what they were at the bottom of the crisis. The average house is worth $60,000 more. Now QE is ending. And that means a lot less money gushing into financial markets. Instead of increasing at a 40% rate as it did in 2012, what Richard Duncan calls "excess liquidity" – the difference between what the Fed pumps out via QE and what the government absorbs via borrowing – will go up only 6% this year. Next year, there will be even less. 

With less new money coming from the Fed... and still no real recovery... something's gotta give. No matter what Fed officials say. And since stocks periodically go down anyway, this seems like as good a time as any.”

“Me Thinks You Doth Protest Too Much”

“Me Thinks You Doth Protest Too Much”
 by Karl Denninger

“Sigh... I wrote the other day on a bestselling author who had written an op-ed on a person who sideswiped his parked car.  He was lamenting that the police observed that "People just aren't honest anymore." His challenge was to ask the person who hit his vehicle to prove that wrong. I went after him, and I believe justly so, pointing out just a handful of the myriad scams and frauds (that is, dishonesty) that permeates literally every nook and cranny of our society today.

“Jason has written some pretty decent little puff pieces for Fox as of late. But I gotta tell you- I still think I'm spot on with my commentary, and here's why. The simple fact of the matter is that it is Jason, and you, and I, and the rest of us, that make all these scams and schemes possible. We do it through our silence, we do it by participating, we do it when we advocate for or support forcibly taking someone's money to hand to another in the form of food stamps or AFDC, Section 8, Medicaid or otherwise. We do it when we go along with Obamacare or even allow the "traditional" health insurance rip-off model to function. We do it when we accept the claim that "2% inflation" is proper, even though that is admitting to the wanton and intentional destruction of value of what we have previously earned and, absent such intentional interference purchasing power would increase as technology improves instead. We allow politicians to run ponzi schemes that must mathematically fail and impoverish our children, grandchildren and those not yet born- screwing our own kids. We are complicit and thus to blame because we do not cast our wooden shoes into the gears of the machine, destroying it or at least slowing it down. It's only when our car gets ripped up that we write columns about honesty- or the lack thereof.”

And therein lies the gist of my post, and the message behind it.My decision to sell MCSNet was a long-considered process, just as was my decision to get the hell out of Chicago. As with my decision last year to close down most of the forum all of the various factors, including where I am in my life, what I see on the road ahead at a personal level, how much flexibility I want (and expect to need) during the months and years ahead and how I both need and want to spend the remaining sand in my hourglass (given my inability to know how much is there until it is almost gone, as is nearly-always the case) bears large on these sorts of decisions. No small part of any such decision for me is whether I believe I'm playing the part of Don Quixote or whether I'm advancing an important idea.

It's a funny thing, really- I've written recently about 3+ Sigma events and that one should not ignore them, a lesson I learned in my 20s (and then I promptly didn't follow my own advice a couple of times in my 30s.) While I would not change the outcome of those disasters, as on-balance I'm very happy with them with the benefit of hindsight, the fact remains that they were quite-arguably objectively wrong decisions without that benefit. Who knows where I'd be today had I made a different decision at those critical times; what I do know is that I wouldn't be here.

We all have one life, and there are no do-overs. But for those of us who have children, and the author that I was commenting on does (as do I), what we do extends beyond ourselves. If we take seriously the exercise of the greatest power mankind has- the power to create life- then I allege that to saddle our progeny with knowingly-fraudulent institutions and practices when they are too young to understand or do anything about them is an outrageously damnable thing to do.

I can defend walking off and disconnecting to the extent possible if you discern that you're not making headway on positive change. Others, including your children, can follow that example and while it is by no means a perfect solution it has a positive delta. I can especially defend it if, predicated on both your personal assessment and life you decide that winding it down to the extent practical will bring an increase in the number of times you smile (or better) in a day.

But what I can't support is complaining only when you get reamed by the very processes and societal "norms" that you exploit and countenance in your daily life, and which will screw your kids. It seems that more than a few people simply didn't get it. Maybe, with a bit more reflection, you will.”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Poet: Wendell Berry, "The Circles Of Our Lives"

"The Circles Of Our Lives"

"Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon,
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.

Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return,
Within the circles of our lives..."

- Wendell Berry

Musical Interlude: Loreena McKennitt, “Dante's Prayer”

Loreena McKennitt, “Dante's Prayer”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, pictured below, was captured in spectacular detail in image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. 
 Click image for larger size.
Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas, a long bright bar of stars across the center, and a bright active nucleus that likely houses a supermassive black hole. Light takes about 60 million years to reach us from NGC 1672, which spans about 75,000 light years across. NGC 1672, which appears toward the constellation of the Dolphinfish (Dorado), is being studied to find out how a spiral bar contributes to star formation in a galaxy's central regions."

The Poet: Antonio Machado, "Wayfarer"

"Wayfarer"

"Wayfarer, the only way
is your footsteps, there is no other.

Wayfarer, there is no way,
you make the way by walking.
As you go, you make the way
and stopping to look behind,
you see the path that your feet
will never travel again.

Wayfarer, there is no way -
Only foam trails to the sea."

~ Antonio Machado

"The Status Quo: Life as We Know It"

"The Status Quo: Life as We Know It"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Our lives can sometimes become status quo and that is ok as long as we aren't keeping it that way on purpose. When our lives are going well, and sometimes even when they aren’t, we may find ourselves feeling very attached to the status quo of our existence- life as we know it. It is a very human tendency to resist change as though it were possible to simply decide not to do it, or have it in our lives. But change will come and the status quo will go, sooner or later, with our consent or without it. We may find at the end of the day that we feel considerably more empowered when we find the courage to ally ourselves with the universal force of change, rather than working against it.

Of course, the answer is not to go about changing things at random, without regard to whether they are working or not. There is a time and place for stability and the preservation of what has been gained over time. In fact, the ability to stabilize and preserve what is serving us is part of what helps us to survive and thrive. The problem comes when we become more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change. For example, if we allow a situation we are in to remain stagnant simply because we are comfortable, it may be time for us to summon up the courage to challenge the status quo.

This may be painful at times, or surprisingly liberating, and it will most likely be a little of both. Underneath the discomfort, we will probably find excitement and energy as we take the risk of unblocking the natural flow of energy in our lives. It is like dismantling a dam inside ourselves, because most of the work involves clearing our own inner obstacles so that the river of our life can flow unobstructed. Once we remove the obstacles, we can simply go with the flow, trusting the changes that follow."

The Daily "Near You?"

Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"The Karamazov Question"

"Tell me yourself, I challenge you—answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature... and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears: would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”
- Dostoevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"

"There Before Their Eyes..."

"It's daylight, the sky is cloudy, and human beings believe that beyond the clouds lives an all-powerful God, guiding the fate of men. Meanwhile, look at your son, look at your feet, listen to the sounds around you: down here is the Mother, so much closer, bringing joy to children and energy to those who walk over her body. Why do people prefer to believe in something far away and forget what is there before their eyes, a true manifestation of the miracle?"
- Paulo Coelho

"Happiness"

"Happiness"

"You can't eat happiness
You can't buy it. You can't wear it.
You can't drive it, or drink it, or sell it, or steal it.
You can't lock it away. You can't negotiate for it.
You can't win it, you can't marry it, you can't inherit it,
you can't cheat it. You can't smoke it, or inject it,
or rent it or borrow it. You can't campaign for it
or beg for it, or talk other people into giving you theirs.

You can live happiness. You can create it. You can be it.
You can give it to others. You can enjoy it. You can share it.
You can claim it. You can have as much as you wish.
You can enjoy it as much as you want, at any time,
under any circumstance. You can work with it,
play with it, worship, travel, eat, and sleep with it.
Happiness is yours to live and yours to give, if only you will.
It comes from the inside, and the best way to experience
it is to get it flowing out.

Forget about trying and striving to get happy.
Just decide to be happy, and happiness is yours."

- Ralph Marston

"Oh, Such Problems... Really? How It Really Is"

"We Do Not Need Magic..."

“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” — J. K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement speech.

“Finding A Sense Of Calm In The Midst Of A Frantic Life”

“Finding A Sense Of Calm In The Midst Of A Frantic Life”
By Carolyn Gregoire


“Stress, anxiety and busyness are, unfortunately, a part of everyday life for most of us. When we operate from a place of stress and frantic energy, everything seems like a big deal, and little annoyances, setbacks and challenges keep us trapped in a cycle of negative thought patterns.

In times of stress, the idea of taking time for peace and quiet may feel like a luxury that we can't afford. But without it, we'll be hard-pressed to find any joy or fulfillment in life. "We exist too much in the minds of others. We are perpetual over-dramatizers of who we are and what we do," a School of Life video on cultivating a sense of calm explains. "We should learn to develop a readier awareness of our beautifully miniscule place in the wider scheme of things, to free ourselves from our constant, debilitating anxieties to bring a little perspective back to our needlessly tense and preciously brief lives."

“Life Brevity: Life Is Too Short”

“Life Brevity: Life Is Too Short”
by MeaningsOfLife

"Meditating in life is to meditate in its brevity. The brevity of life is one of the more common themes of human existential thought. There is authentic poetry in many ancient reflexions on this brevity, and the inevitability of death and nothingness.

Life Is Too Short Quotes:

"Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but soon fade away and are dead." - Homer, Century IX b.C., Greek poet, "Iliad"

"Having glimpsed a small part of life, men rise up and disappear as smoke, knowing only what each one has learned."- Empedocles, 483-430 b.C., Greek Philosopher, in "On Nature, of Sextus Empiricus."

"Time is a violent torrent; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by, and another takes its place, before this too will be swept away." -Marcus Aurelius, 121-180, Roman emperor and philosopher, "Thoughts"

Every instant of time is a pinprick of eternity. All things are insignificant, easily changed, vanishing away." - Marcus Aurelius, 121-180, Roman emperor and philosopher, "Thoughts"

"Our existence is a short circuit of light between two eternities of darkness."
- Vladimir Nabokov, 1889-1977, Russian writer, Na outra margem da memória

"Life’s short span forbids us to enter on far reaching hopes."
- Horace, 65-8 b. C., Roman poet, "Odes"

"Necessary, since every moment in our lives is marked by death, like a shadow from another realm, it appear to us like a vanishing point for everything. How can one meditate on live without meditating too on its brevity, its precariousness, its fragility?" - Andre Comte-Sponville, French philosopher, "The Little Book of Philosophy"

"Life Is Too Short To Waste"

"We can’t avoid thinking of our existential condition, of the shortness of our lives, of the transitory nature of everything. We do it all the time we exist, in all societies. The brevity of life torments the human spirit. The proximity of death is a source of grief during all our life." - Edgar Morin

Let us meditate on the superior way with which Homer expressed our condition as human beings: "Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but soon fade away and are dead."

Let us list the sad music springing out of the words of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, who was also a philosopher, reflecting on the shortness of our lives: "Life is a campaign, a brief stay in a strange region." "Time is a violent torrent; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by, and another takes its place, before this too will be swept away."

Or the music and poetry of the verses of Psalm 103: "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. But the wind passes over, and soon all disappears; and his place will no more exist."

These thoughts reach beyond epochs and frontiers, they plunge into the depths of our soul; they are imbued with a serene controlled sadness and poetry, associated with the awareness of our inability to overcome the brutal force of an unjust reality that crushes. In them lives the dignity of our conscience, our capacity of seeing beyond the present, of overcoming our humble origins, of assuming ourselves as the conscience and the poetry of the living universe.

In them is also consubstantiated the strength of human art, of poetry, of beauty. They are a way of nullifying the smallness and insignificance of human beings, of raising us to a much higher level. They are well above the world that condemns human beings to death. In them we claim against the injustice present in the heart of life. In their way, they immortalize us.”

"Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go."
- Henry Austin Dobson

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Point your telescope toward the high flying constellation Pegasus and you can find this expanse of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies. Centered on NGC 7814, the pretty field of view would almost be covered by a full moon. NGC 7814 is sometimes called the Little Sombrero for its resemblance to the brighter more famous M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. 
 
 Click image for larger size.
Both Sombrero and Little Sombrero are spiral galaxies seen edge-on, and both have extensive central bulges cut by a thinner disk with dust lanes in silhouette. In fact, NGC 7814 is some 40 million light-years away and an estimated 60,000 light-years across. That actually makes the Little Sombrero about the same physical size as its better known namesake, appearing to be smaller and fainter only because it is farther away. A very faint dwarf galaxy, potentially a satellite of NGC 7814, is revealed in the deep exposure just below the Little Sombrero.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Edward Abbey, "Benedicto"

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”
- Edward Abbey, "Benedicto"

The Daily "Near You?"

Bridgeport, Alabama, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

“It Is What It Isn’t: How Thoughts Create Reality”

“It Is What It Isn’t: How Thoughts Create Reality”
by Pam Grout

“Our brains continually sift through the possibilities and pick which bits of information to “see” and believe. Out of sheer laziness, the stuff we choose to perceive—and make no mistake... it is a choice—is stuff we already know. It’s stuff we decided on way back when. We see, feel, taste, touch, and smell not the real world, but a drastically condensed version of the world, a version that our brains literally concoct. The rest zooms by without recognition. John Maunsell, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, says, “People imagine they’re seeing what’s really there, but they’re not.”

Once your brain decides which bits to let in, it builds bridges between various nerve cells, interlacing nerve fibers to create neural pathways. The average human has 100 billion nerve cells, each with innumerable extensions, so different highways get built in each brain. The map of neural pathways in your brain and, say, Johnny Depp’s brain are as different as the maps of Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

Once you get the pathways set up, you quit traveling the rest of the country. Interstate 70 in my home state of Kansas makes for a perfect metaphor. Believe it or not, Kansas—the state The Wizard of Oz portrayed in black and white—actually contains lots of geological landmarks. There’s a miniature Grand Canyon in the northwest corner, for example, and a huge seven-story limestone formation called Castle Rock near the town of Quinter. But since people traveling through Kansas rarely leave I-70, nobody has a clue that these geological formations exist. They’ve literally bypassed all the beautiful, worthwhile stuff and come to the erroneous conclusion that Kansas is flat and boring.

But it’s not reality.

Like those highway planners who put I-70 on the flattest, quickest, and easiest route, we build our neural pathways on the least complicated routes—the ones we’ve traveled so many times before. But this doesn’t show us reality. Not even close. We don’t begin to see all that is there—only three and a half minutes, compared to 821 years.

The roads and highways of our brains get set up pretty early. When we’re born, every possibility exists. Let’s take language, for example. Within every newborn is the ability to pronounce every sound in every single language. The potential is there for the r rolling of the Spanish language.

It’s also there for those guttural German diphthongs. But very early on, our brains lay down neural pathways that mesh with the sounds we hear every day, eliminating other sounds from other languages. With the possible exception of Barbara Walters, pretty much everyone who speaks English can pronounce the following phrase: “Rolling Rock really rouses Roland Ratinsky.” But when people from China try to learn English, they no longer have the neural pathways to properly say their r’s, so that’s why “fried rice” becomes “flied lice.” Just so no one  thinks I’m ethnocentric, I should probably add that I’ve tried pronouncing some of those guttural German words only to discover that my German neural pathways have been shot to hell and back.

Perhaps the best example of how your mind creates its own virtual-reality game is the everyday, garden-variety dream. When Morley Safer showed up on your doorstep last night asking all those embarrassing questions, it seemed pretty darn real. But once the alarm clock went off, Morley and that virtual 60 Minutes interview popped like the flimsy soap bubble it was.

Our neural pathways establish reruns of what has gone on before. Like the three-year-old who insists on watching "The Little Mermaid" over and over and over again, we cling to our warped illusions with a tenacious grip. Get your bloody hands off my illusion! Even though it makes us miserable, we prefer to place our faith in the disaster we have made.

If you ask me, learning how to transform energy is so important it should be taught along with reading, writing, and arithmetic. And it all starts with intent, the force that lies behind everything. It’s the energy, the fuel, the electric charge that sets up a resonant field and sends out probability waves into the FP (field of possibility). Esther Hicks, who facilitates the Abraham-Hicks material, calls it “launching a rocket of desire.” Giving it attention adds mass.

The minute you make an intention, you create it. It’s instantaneous. It exists as an actual thing. You don’t see it yet because you’re still operating from linear time. You’re still sold on the old-school adage “creating things takes time.” So you keep working and waiting. You keep following the seven steps from the latest self-help book.

But here’s what physicists tell us. Things, in the quantum world, do not happen in steps. They happen immediately. So the thing you intend, the minute you intend it, exists, but like Schrödinger’s cat, a famous thought experiment devised in 1935 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, you’re only aware of the reality you choose to observe. The physical manifestation remains enfolded outside your current consciousness.

Cutting-edge physicists tell us life is multidimensional. But most of us are stuck in our one-dimensional physical reality, restricted to what we experience with our five senses. What we experience with these alleged foolproof tools of observation are nothing but what we decide to look for. It’s not even a chicken-or-egg question. What we see, experience, and feel with our five senses always comes after the decision to see, experience, and feel it.

I liken consciousness to a giant skyscraper. I may be living on the second floor, but the “thing” I created with my thought is up on the 17th floor. Until I can get to the 17th floor, it appears it’s still missing, that I’m still waiting. Another great analogy is a television set. If you have cable, more than 100 channels are yours for the clicking. TiVo aside, you can only watch one channel at a time. When you’re watching, say, Modern Family, you’re chuckling at the antics of Cam, Mitchell, Phil, and Gloria and you’re completely unaware of the other 99 (or more) channels. That’s why it’s really important to stay on the channel you want. Don’t give any airtime to the reality from which you’re trying to escape. Tune in only to your intent.”