"In the center of star-forming region 30 Doradus lies a huge cluster of the largest, hottest, most massive stars known. These stars, known collectively as star cluster R136, were captured below in visible light by the Wide Field Camera peering through the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.
Click image for larger size.
Gas and dust clouds in 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, have been sculpted into elongated shapes by powerful winds and ultraviolet radiation from these hot cluster stars. The 30 Doradus Nebula lies within a neighboring galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud and is located a mere 170,000 light-years away.”
“In an essay in the 14 May, 2009 issue of “Nature”, German biologist Martin Heisenberg asks the question: "Is free will an illusion?" And he answers: No.
We are free, says Heisenberg, if our actions are self-generated, and not mere responses to external stimuli. But how can they be self-generated in a world of cause and effect? As befitting the son of Werner Heisenberg, father of the Uncertainty Principle, Martin invokes the stochastic nature of quantum mechanics. Presumably, randomly firing neurons equal free will. One does not have to be consciously aware of an action for that action to be self-generated, says Heisenberg.
I did not find his essay to be a convincing defense of free will. For one thing, no one that I know of has shown that quantum effects have anything to do with the firing of neurons. And secondly, why should we be morally responsible for actions that are triggered by quantum noise rather than cause and effect? Further, how can we be morally responsible for an action that we are not aware of until it has been initiated?
Free will has traditionally been defined within a context of philosophical dualism. Free actions are initiated by intentionality in a nonphysical realm, the immaterial soul. This assumes that conscious intention precedes brain activity. That this is not the case is shown rather convincingly in experiments described in the 8 May, 2009 issue of "Science". Researchers electrically stimulated patients undergoing awake brain surgery. The stimuli excited movements of the limbs or movement of the lips to talk. The patients became aware of intentionality after the stimulation. That is to say, conscious intention came after the brain activity that initiated action.
This is pretty important stuff, from a philosophical point of view. It suggests that a dualistic understanding of free will is untenable. Is free will then an illusion? Don't expect the debate to end soon. We have too much morally invested in the idea of free will- and of a nonmaterial self- to concede the field to the physicalists.
I have elsewhere suggested that a more satisfying place to look for free will is in what is sometimes called chaos theory. In sufficiently complex systems with many feedback loops- the global economy, the weather, the human nervous system- small perturbations can lead to unpredictable large-scale consequences, though every part of the system is individually deterministic. This has sometimes been called- somewhat facetiously- the butterfly effect: A butterfly flaps its wings in China and triggers a cascade of events that results in a snowstorm in Chicago. Chaos theory has taught us that determinism in complex systems does not imply predictability.
An example: Photons of light and odor molecules from a piece of candy stimulate neurons in my optical and olfactory organs. Signal-transduction cascades inform my brain. Mmm, candy! Do I pick it up? Do I put it in my mouth? My action depends not only upon the external stimuli and my genetically inborn taste for sweets but also upon prior experiences and anticipations of future consequences as recorded in the soft-wired sections of my brain. I pick up the candy or I do not, depending upon a hugely complex- and to an outside observer unpredictable- conversation of molecules. This is not what traditional philosophers meant by free will, but is indistinguishable from what traditional philosophers meant by free will, i.e., the power to make free choices unconstrained by external agencies. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
When all is said and done, free will is a social construct, not a scientific hypothesis. Humans long ago discovered that living peaceably in groups requires a notion of individual responsibility. Responsibility implies freedom. In contemporary society, it is the judicial system that ultimately decides to what extent our actions are "free."
"Each and every day you have the opportunity to answer your own call and take action toward creating the life you want. There are those of us who believe that our lives are predestined and that we should resign ourselves to our lots in life. Yet the truth is that it is up to each one of us to decide what that destiny will be. While each of us is born with a life purpose, it is up to us whether or not we will say yes to fulfilling it. And just like when we choose what to eat, who to keep company with, and whether to turn right or left when we leave our home everyday, choosing to say yes to your destiny is a decision that can only be realized when you take action to make that choice a reality.
Whether you believe it is your destiny to be a parent, an adventurer, an artist, a pioneer, or a spiritual guru, saying yes to your destiny is only the first step. While manifesting your destiny starts with knowing what you want and believing you can attain your goals, there are then the actions that must be taken and the decisions to be made before your destiny can truly happen. When you take responsibility for fulfilling your destiny and begin acting with the intention of doing so, you not only take fate into your own hands, but also you become the hands of your own fate. Doorways inevitably open for you to step through, and every choice you make can be a creative act toward realizing your goals and dreams. You begin to follow your instincts and intuition, recognize opportunities when they are presented to you, and seize those golden moments. You also begin to recognize the decisions that may not serve this greater picture and can more easily push them aside.
Remembering that the decision to fulfill your destiny is always a choice can be empowering. Knowing you are fulfilling your destiny because you want to, rather than because you have to, can make a huge difference. When you are freed from obligation, obstacles in your way become challenges to be overcome, and the journey becomes an adventure rather than the obligatory steps you are being forced to take. Your destiny may be waiting for you, but whether or not you meet your destiny is up to you. Your fate is in your hands."
"A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Teach me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”
“Synchronicity and Magical Thinking” By Synchrosecrets.com
“Synchronicity and magical thinking are close friends. They may even be Siamese twins who share a common heart. But what is magical thinking?
Elias Howe had an idea about a machine with a needle that would penetrate cloth. He fiddled around with various ideas – a hole through the middle of the needle, for instance – but nothing worked. One night, he dreamed he was taken prisoner by a group of cannibals who danced around him with spears. Howe noticed that the spears all had holes near the tip. When he woke up, he realized the dream had provided the solution to his problem. By locating a hole at the tip of the needle, the thread could be caught after it went through cloth thus making his machine operable. Is that magical thinking? You bet.
A man entered a tanning salon shortly before closing time and asked the female employee if he could use the restroom. She felt intuitively uneasy about the guy and asked several customers if they would check outside. The police found the man, a convicted sex offender, waiting in the parking lot with a ski mask, handcuffs, a butcher knife, and sex devices. He had opened the spa’s back door before leaving. Instead of dismissing her unease as paranoia, the female employee listened to her intuition. Magical thinking? Absolutely.
One night, Cj bolted out of a sound sleep and in the mirror at the foot of her bed, saw an image play out: a short, bulky man with shoulder-length hair walked up a sidewalk to the porch of a Victorian house that Cj recognized as her friend’s home. The man wore a red plaid shirt and held a gun and Cj had the strong impression that the man intended to kill her friend. She glanced at the clock: it was 3:30 AM. She felt the murder would happen at that time, the next night. Early the next morning, she called her friend and described the vision. Her friend called the police. Even though they were doubtful about the source of the information – a vision, a hunch – they assigned an officer to the property the next night. At exactly 3:30 am, a short bulky man with shoulder-length hair, wearing a red plaid shirt, walked onto the sidewalk approaching the porch to the house. The officer grabbed him. The man, a religious fanatic, believed Cj's friend was a witch and had intended to kill her. Magical thinking? Yes. And it saved a woman’s life.
In each of these instances, individuals acted on the basis of their personal perceptions and emotions. And yet, mainstream science says that if we trust our own perceptions and experiences, if we trust what has not been proven, we’re living in the fool’s paradise of magical thinking. Really?
Magical thinking enables us to think outside the narrow box of consensus reality and creates a fertile environment in which synchronicity is more likely to occur. It enables us to undertake the hero's journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about so movingly. Magical thinking is precisely what makes life so mysterious, so ultimately unknowable that our lives are changed in unimagined ways simply because we don't have all the answers.
Once you acknowledge the validity of your own perceptions and experiences, you discover that magical thinking and synchronicity possess momentum that cuts across cultures, religions, ethnicities. Born within our collective humanity, this momentum sweeps outward, like a force of nature."
"Our present situation, I think, can be summarized by the following three sentences: 1. The glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth. 2. The desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human. 3. Therefore, all human activities, professions, programs and institutions must henceforth be judged primarily by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human/Earth relationship." — Thomas Berry
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the diversity, stability,
and beauty of the life community. It is wrong when it tends to do otherwise."
— Aldo Leopold
"In this last day that the Universe has reflected on itself in and through Homo sapiens, for nearly 23 and a half of the past 24 hours we were in the tribal-shamanic period of Earth's cultural development; as hunter-gatherers. This is also known as the paleolithic era or Stone Age. From 11:20pm to 11:40pm, we went through the neolithic village era. Writing developed at the end of this period and, with it, the beginnings of "recorded history." The next nineteen minutes, to 11:59pm, is the period of the classical civilizations, or the age of the classical religious cultures. For the last sixty seconds we have been in the scientific-technological-industrial period. During this last minute we have toxified the air, water and soil upon which all life depends to such a degree that we are now faced with the possibility of a collapse of the planetary life-support systems, or ecocide.
The human is an expression of Earth. We are totally dependent upon the health of the community of Life for our own health. Our own healing and destiny, as individuals or as a species, depends entirely upon our relationship to the land, air, water and life of Earth. What we do to the planet, we do to our self.
It is, of course, possible that the destiny of Life may not include a human expression much longer. This will certainly be so if the destiny of the human becomes the desolation of the Earth. But whether or not our species survives, Earth will continue to evolve, eventually healing the damage done by us. The Milky Way galaxy will continue to spiral, with countless new solar systems being born, living and dying. And the Universe will continue to expand and grow more complex for billions of years after our solar system is but a distant cosmic memory. We are part of an awesome and divine Universe. We are also only a very small part of it. We must keep this perspective in mind when discussing "human destiny." Humility may be the single most important attitude of the heart we will need if we are to continue into the future. Humility and survival go hand in hand. Pride goes before a fall.
We are now at what may be the most significant turning point in the Sacred Story of Life since the 185 million year Mesozoic era, the age of the dinosaurs, came crashing to a close some 65 million years ago. That was when the dinosaurs all died out. The last 65 million years have been called the Cenozoic era, the age of the mammals and the flowering plants. As a direct result of human activity over the past two hundred years, we are now bringing to an end this 65 million year age! It is important to see things from this larger perspective.
Today, species are being eliminated at a rate faster than perhaps any other time in history. Biologist Norman Myers, a specialist in the rain forests and vegetation of the world, says that we are bringing about an "extinction spasm" that is likely to produce "the greatest setback to life's abundance and diversity since the first flickerings of life almost four billion years ago." Thanks to our addictive industrial culture, we are altering the geological structure, the chemistry, and the biological systems of the planet on a scale that would normally have taken millions of years. Yet we are accomplishing this feat in a few short decades.
As the Cenozoic era collapses around us, the logical question becomes, "What's next?" Geologian Thomas Berry suggests two possibilities. The first possibility he calls the Technozoic era. In the Technozoic, humanity would continue to understand "progress" in terms of increasing mechanistic control over the forces of nature for its own superficial, short-term benefit. Through continued scientific innovation and technological cunning, we could create delimited artificial environments to "protect" us in isolation from our despoiled and dying world. The Technozoic would be an isolated hell of existence. Humanity would become ever more alienated from the rest of Life. In the long run, of course, it could not even hope to last. Without spirit, matter decays. The Technozoic could never be sustainable.
Another possibility, perhaps the only viable option for humans, is what Berry calls the Ecozoic era. The primary aspect of the Ecozoic would be the deep somatic awareness of the natural world as our larger body, as our larger self. All species would be granted their habitat, their freedom, and their range of life expression. The Ecozoic would further be characterized by our harmonious alignment with, rather than domination over, the biological processes of the planet. This would require abandoning many of our destructive mechanistic technologies. The natural world itself would be taken as the primary referent for all that we do, and the primary model for all our technologies. In the Ecozoic, all of our activities, professions, programs, and institutions will be judged primarily by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human/Earth relationship. This is the way of human destiny!
When we see things from a larger perspective, it becomes clear that something more is needed to "save the Earth" than recycling our paper and glass, not using styrofoam, and driving our cars less. Specifically, two things are absolutely necessary if the human expression of Earth is to continue into the future.
As a species, we must make a profound shift in consciousness in the direction of deep ecology if we are to survive. We must grow from seeing ourselves as discrete, separate beings that walk around on Earth, to feeling and knowing ourselves as an expression of Earth. Our thinking and behavior must align with, and flow out of, the reality of our situation: the planet is our larger body, our larger self. We are dependent upon the community of life, air, water and soil in every conceivable way. Unless we make this shift in conscoiusness, we will continue to be a "cancer," a parasite, consuming its own host environment. We will survive only with the spiritual guidance and awareness of the body of Life as a whole with its billions of years of evolutionary wisdom.
The second thing necessary for the human expression of Earth to survive is for human beings to live in ecologically sustainable communities. We must live our lives in deep communion with each other and with our bioregion: sharing possessions and dwelling space, growing food together in a way that enhances our lives and the soil; laughing, working, playing and celebrating together; and, in short, living in love with each other and with all of Life. We must create ecological communities where we can be most truly ourselves, where we can experience loving physical touch, where we can share our finitude and brokenness and feel loved unconditionally, and where we are both supported and challenged to be all that we can be, especially for future generations.
None of us asked to be alive at this moment in Earth's history. We did not choose to be born at this juncture in the Story. We were chosen. Each of us has been chosen by Life to be alive and to participate in the most significant geological and biological transformation in 65 million years. This is a fact! Can you feel the sense of personal destiny, or a sense of mission or purpose, that such an awareness awakens within you? (If you want to, take a few moments and allow yourself to feel your connectedness to the larger body of Life, and your place in the Sacred Story of Life.) Thomas Berry calls this awareness "the grace of the present moment."
The degree that we live the values of the Ecozoic era now will be the degree to which we participate in its inauguration. Love and Truth must be our guiding realities. As we love Life with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we will quite naturally love our human and non-human neighbor, and our planet, as our self. That is the true state of affairs. Living the values of the Ecozoic requires being lovingly truthful and gently honest with ourselves and with each other. It means being real and open with the Life that is our Source, Body, and Destiny.
We are all stories within stories within stories, as we discussed at the start. The Great Sacred Story of Life is the biggest story. This story, the Universe story, provides the context for, adds meaning to, and affects the destiny of every other story in existence. That is why everything in human affairs must now be seen in light of this "big picture" in order to have any lasting meaning for present and future generations."
"For peoples, generally, their story of the universe and the human role within the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. Only through this story of how the universe came to be in the beginning and how it came to be as it is does a person come to appreciate the meaning of life or to derive the psychic energy needed to deal effectively with those crisis moments that occur in the life of the individual and in the life of the society. Such a story communicates the most sacred of mysteries... and not only interprets the past, it also guides and inspires our shaping of the future." — Thomas Berry
"Here is a story to break your heart. Are you willing? This winter the loons came to our harbor and died,
one by one, of nothing we could see. A friend told me of one on the shore that lifted its head and opened the elegant beak and cried out in the long, sweet savoring of its life which, if you have heard it, you know is a sacred thing, and for which, if you have not heard it, you had better hurry to where they still sing. And, believe me, tell no one just where that is. The next morning this loon, speckled and iridescent and with a plan to fly home to some hidden lake, was dead on the shore. I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world."
"Epic closing argument from ABC's Boston Legal that illustrates the erosion of our Constitutional liberties and abusive government. This can no longer be defined as a Republican versus Democrat issue. Both parties are equally responsible, as are we, the electorate, for we continue to vote the same quality of politician(s) into office over and over."
"Indeed... Authorities in Massachusetts announced Thursday that a police officer has been fired after fabricating a story that shots were fired at his cruiser before the vehicle crashed and caught fire. Millis Police Sergeant William Dwyer told reporters at a press conference that ballistics testing determined the only bullets found at the scene belonged to the officer. “I’m very upset and don’t know how to feel right now,” Dwyer told reporters.
You're upset? One of your sworn officers fabricated a story that led to a manhunt for someone who didn't exist? You created a lockdown in an entire town and their schools, you violated the constitutional rights of the residents of the entire area by searching for a phantom that never existed, city property was wantonly and recklessly destroyed by your so-called "officer" (which must now be paid for by the taxpayers of said town), said officer almost-certainly committed multiple crimes by shooting on, around or over a road (since he shot his own car) and all you have is that you're "upset"? (For the uneducated it is typically a crime, and often a felony, to shoot on, over, or intersecting a road except as an act of lawful self-defense. It certainly is a crime in most cases here in Florida (Sec 790.15))
Let me guess- after that you'll be surprised and unhappy if I come upon one of your officers who is on fire, I happen to have a glass of water, and I decide to drink it rather than use it to put said fire out?
That goes double for DeKalb County in Georgia, where officers fired on and shot an unarmed man after entering the wrong house for no reason other than the fact that the door was unlocked (they had received a report of a burglary but ignored the described location of the residence at which it was allegedly occurring and not only shot him, they killed his dog and shot one of their own officers as well.)
And while we're at it, let's add to the list cops in Texas who shot a man who had his hands up and was clearly surrendering, and then claimed he had a weapon in-hand and was attacking them. Their lie was discovered when not one but two videos surfaced, which the cops were unaware of at the time. Of course the officers involved are on "paid leave" at the present time.
But yes, it's just a very few incidents, you see.... never mind that any ordinary citizen who pulled any of this crap would be instantly arrested, transported to jail, and held until they were arraigned and made bond- and in the case in Texas, said bond would likely be denied given that the person shot is dead.”
GUALFIN, Argentina – "U.S. stocks were mostly flat yesterday. Investors didn’t know whether they were coming or going. We don’t know, either. But we rate the odds of “going” a lot higher than the odds of “coming.” As we pointed out yesterday, there are two possibilities… What we’ve seen over the past two weeks or so is a correction in a continuing bull market in stocks. Or we are in the early stages of a major bear market. Most likely, it will be interpreted both ways. Because we probably are at the beginning of a bear market. And also not too far away from another explosive move higher for stocks.
Fixers on the Job: Why? Because the authorities are not likely to let a bear market proceed in the normal way. Instead, as it intensifies, they are likely to intervene with such massive force (remember, this is war!) that it will send stocks flying, like the bumper of an automobile that has just hit a land mine.
Yesterday, Wall Street’s shills in the mainstream press were out in force explaining that in a pullback like this investors could expect to wait four months before the market has fully recovered. We suspected that this phenomenon describes something other than the normal functioning of a healthy market. So we asked our research team to have a look. There were two major corrections since 2009. In each case, stocks recovered all their losses within about four months. But if you look carefully, you see that this was hardly a case of natural market forces at work. Instead, the fixers from the Fed were on the job. In both instances, the Fed announced new liquidity programs near the bottom of the corrections. Stocks headed up again soon after.
Take a look at the chart. You’ll see what was going on.
What this reveals is not a solid bull market, with periodic sell-offs, followed by a healthy revival of buying. Instead, it’s a market so heavily rigged by the feds that it can only be kept aloft by huge doses of credit easing.
“Quantitative Tightening”: And as we said yesterday, U.S. dollar liquidity is drying up. The Fed is no longer expanding its balance sheet by way of QE. And bank lending is too weak to drive significant economic growth. But there is another important source of U.S. dollar liquidity: foreign nations recycling their dollar foreign exchange reserves.
Here’s our friend and economist Richard Duncan on how this works: "The Fed was not the only central bank creating fiat money and buying dollar assets last year. In order to prevent their currencies from appreciating, many central banks around the world created their own money and used it to buy the dollars entering their economies as a result of their trade surpluses with the U.S. Once they had acquired the dollars, they invested them in U.S dollar assets to earn a return. This, then, was a second source of liquidity. It can be measured by the increase in foreign exchange reserves. China – with its roughly $4 trillion in U.S. dollar reserves – was the biggest source of this kind of liquidity."
But here’s Bloomberg, reporting on how falling foreign exchange reserves in China are now leading to what it describes as “Quantitative Tightening”: "2015 will mark the peak of reserve accumulation after two decades of growth with China in the vanguard as its new currency regime means it has to pare reserves to avoid a free fall in the yuan. It has already reduced its holdings to $3.65 trillion from $3.99 trillion in 2014.
This force is likely to be a persistent headwind towards developed market central banks’ exit from unconventional policy in coming years, representing an additional source of uncertainty in the global economy,” said [George] Saravelos [head of European foreign exchange strategy at Deutsch Bank] and colleagues in a report to clients on Tuesday. “The path to ‘normalization’ will likely remain slow and fraught with difficulty.”
No Honest Market: All of this is just a warning. This is a rigged market. And the riggers are not rigging it as aggressively as they need to in order to keep prices going up. In an honest stock market, you do not need the Fed to pump in liquidity so that corporations can take advantage of cheap credit to buy their own shares. In an honest market, people invest their savings – carefully studying which stocks are likely to pay them the most reliable and/or most abundant dividends. They buy stocks in solid business, trusting management to fructify their investments with growth and income.
In an honest market, a 10% correction may be sufficient to set things right again. But that is not what you see in the chart above. The feds have pushed this market out of line. Now, it is subject to a major reversal…"
"President Obama has now gotten enough Democratic senators to sustain a veto on the Iran nuke deal. Never mind that the details of the deal are being kept secret. Never mind that the so-called side deal to inspect Iran’s military nuclear sites is not known to Secretary of State John Kerry. Remember, he told Congress he “did not have access” to them. It appears the details of UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites is also a secret to Congress. If you want to know what is really in the Iran deal, just listen to the Iranians. They have been consistent from the beginning and say their nuclear military sites are off limits and said it again this week. Also, the sanctions end when the deal is in place. The Iranians also get $150 billion to boot, and even the Obama Administration admits there is no way of stopping them from using that money to support terror. The Obama Administration is celebrating this as a big foreign policy victory. The majority of Congress, and this includes some Democrats, are against the deal. The majority of Americans are against the deal. It was not a choice between war and a deal. It should have been a choice between a deal and a better deal that actually would lead to stability and peace in the Middle East. This deal will speed up the war prospects in the region, not slow them down.
Speaking of war, Russia is moving more men and aircraft into Syria. Russian pilots are going to fly fighters and attack helicopters against ISIS. It is also reported, Russian soldiers are going to fight alongside Syrian troops with armed vehicles and tanks. The Obama Administration says this is “both destabilizing and counterproductive.” Well, that’s funny, at least one country is going to try to shut down the Islamic State, and that is “destabilizing and counterproductive”?
To be fair, the U.S. is also moving more troops and equipment to Eastern Europe. It is reported that NATO is opening a military coordination unit in Lithuania. This is a result of growing tensions over the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
Meanwhile, the Iranians continue to make preparations to “overthrow Israel and liberate Palestine.” It is also reported that Iranian military officials promise to “set fire” to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and, of course, this includes Israel. Iran military leaders also say that the Islamic Republic welcomes war with America. Please keep in mind, these are the folks that are getting $150 billion in the Iran nuke deal. The Iranian people are good, but their leaders not so much.
Here we go again on the so-called “recovery.” Headline says “Fed says Economy Expanding Slowly,” and I says bull crap on yet another phony recovery story. If we did have a real recovery, we would not need phony accounting since 2009,, and we would not need 0% interest rates, and we would not need all the QE or money printing. Yale professor Robert Shiller is warning of a steep stock market sell off and says the Dow could tumble back to 11,000 if it were priced in normal price earnings ratios. Please keep in mind, Dr. Shiller is a Nobel Prize winner in economics and warned the market was overheated in his best-selling book “Irrational Exuberance” before the crash in 2001. In other news that shows there is no real recovery, “Bond King” Bill Gross warns “future returns are likely to be limited if not downward sloping.” In a new report, Gross is worried about how to get out of 0% interest rates without “red zone losses.” Here is some more good news, Russia is going to pass a law that will outlaw the use of the U.S. dollar with its main trading partners."
"Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-up."
Correction: "In the first reference I misspoke and said the U.S. spent $150 billion to train moderate rebels in Syria. That is incorrect. The second reference is correct. I said the U.S. spent $500 million training moderate rebels in Syria".
"What caused this outburst of V838 Mon? For reasons unknown, star V838 Mon's outer surface suddenly greatly expanded with the result that it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this had never been seen before- supernovas and novas expel matter out into space.
Click image for larger size.
Although the V838 Mon flash appears to expel material into space, what is seen in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope is actually an outwardly moving light echo of the bright flash. In a light echo, light from the flash is reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient interstellar dust that already surrounded the star. V838 Mon lies about 20,000 light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros), while the light echo above spans about six light years in diameter.”
"'Nature Unveiling Herself To Science,' created by Louis Barrias in 1899, stands on a pedestal in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. The sculpture gives expression to one of the oldest themes in philosophy - and one of the most enduring. Sometime in the early 5th century B.C., Heraclitus famously said "Nature loves to hide." Forget for the moment that this three-word fragment of Greek text (phusis kruptesthai philei) lends itself to various translations. "Nature loves to hide" is how it has come down to us. From the time of the Socratics "nature" has been allegorically identified with the goddess Isis/Artemis, and the entire history of Western philosophy can be taken as a debate about the goddess and her veil.
Is nature ultimately unknowable? Does nature reveal herself as esoteric knowledge to the initiated? Can nature be known by reason? By experiment? By intuition? That is to say: Is the veil of Isis/Artemis impenetrable, does she remove the veil herself for the chosen few, or can her veil be stripped away by human cunning? And what is "nature" anyway?
As I write these words, I am sitting in a comfy chair in the stacks of the college library. All about me are thousands of volumes that in one way or another represent attempts to answer these questions. It is a measure of the profundity of those three words of Heraclitus that thousands of years later we are still trying to figure out what they mean. Many of us believe that natural science is as close as we'll get to lifting the veil. We are convinced that the dazzlingly successful applications of scientific knowledge are a sure sign we are doing something right. But a sizable part of the academic community nevertheless believes that nature cannot be known as she is, and that science is just one more stab at what lays beneath the veil, no more or less "true" than any other social construction of supposed reality. And, quite aside from the academic debates, the great majority of people believe that the only knowledge of the world that really matters has been revealed to them by God.
So there she stands, in the Musee d'Orsay, having revealed a teasing glimpse - coy smile, bared breasts, peekaboo toes - but still mostly wrapped in mystery. I suspect that another two-and-a-half millennia from now we'll still be wondering what the lovely goddess has yet to reveal.
Nature loves to hide. The aphorism is attributed to Heraclitus, although it is difficult to know exactly what he meant. "Nature" is generally taken to signify the hidden something that gives form and structure to the world. A physicist might understand it to mean the elusive "theory of everything." Johannes Kepler, in his essay on the snowflake, referred to the facultas formatrix, or "formative capacity" of nature. For the religious person, the most concise name for the hidden creative agency is "God."
The idea that God loves to hide is common in many religious traditions of the world. Christian mystics speak of the Deus absconditus, the absconded or unknowable divinity. Call it if you want Deus absconditus or facultas formatrix; the medieval mystic and the modern physicist seek the same deeply hidden essence of creation. The trouble comes when religious persons or scientists believe they have seen Isis in all her naked glory. The born-again Christian who claims to be a personal friend of the Creator, or the physicist who thinks we will soon know "the mind of God" are equally idolatrous.
In 384 C. E. the Christian emperor Gratian ordered the pagan Altar of Victory removed from the assembly hall of the Roman Senate. In an ecumenical spirit, the pagan politician Symmachus protested: "We contemplate the same stars, the heavens are common to all of us, and the same world surrounds us. What matters the path of wisdom by which each person seeks the truth? One cannot reach such a great mystery by a single path." For his tolerance, Symmachus was banished from Rome.
Nature loves to hide. We have learned much, especially through the instrumentality of science; we have much, much more to learn. Our knowledge is finite; what we have yet to learn is perhaps infinite. The assumption of knowability has been the cause of centuries of grief. A little modest agnosticism would become us all."
“Simon Cowell Moved To Tears After 'X-Factor' Contestant's Emotional Performance”
And You Might Be, Too...
by Julia Brucculieri
"Even Simon Cowell has a softer side. "The X Factor" judge, who's known to be pretty harsh at times, was brought to tears after contestant Josh Daniels' emotional audition performance. Daniels, 21, sang "Jealous," by Labrinth, a choice he explained was inspired by the loss of his best friend who died in 2013. The touching lyrics of the track, along with Daniels' beautiful execution, seemed to strike a chord with Cowell, who appeared to be choking back tears during the performance. He even wiped a tear from his eye. Fellow judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini also cried after the moving performance, and told Daniels, "That was the most captivated I've been in all the auditions so far." She then got up from the panel to give the performer a hug.
According to Hello, the segment was taped just after the death of the music mogul's mother, which may explain why he got so emotional. Julie Cowell died at the age of 89 this past July. Without making a comment, Cowell took the performance straight to a vote before sending Daniels through to the next round. "It's three yeses," he said." You can watch the entire performance below:
"Acknowledging Your Growth: Foundations of Evolution"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM
"Evolution of your soul is a natural fact of life and becomes a potent motivational force when celebrated. Since personal evolution is most often a slow and gradual process, it can be difficult to recognize the scope of the changes taking place in our lives. Yet it is important that we regularly acknowledge our ongoing growth and reward ourselves for the many wonderful feats of self-improvement we have accomplished. When we intentionally contemplate our progress, we need never feel that we are languishing between past achievements and the realization of future goals. If we look closely at our lives, we may see that much of what brings us pleasure in the present is representative of the ambitions of our past that we worked so hard to attain. At one time, the abundance we enjoy currently likely seemed like a far-off dream. Now it is simply reality—a reality we created through our diligence, passion, and unflagging determination. Whether our progress is fast or slow, we deserve to congratulate ourselves for our successes.
To remind yourself of the insights you have gained with time, temporarily adopt an outsider’s perspective and carefully consider how your life in the present differs from the range of experiences you lived through in the past. Creating a written list, in a journal or otherwise, of those strengths, aptitudes, and inner qualities you now attribute to yourself can help you accept that you are not the same person you were one year ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago. Your attitudes, opinions, and values were likely markedly different, and these differences can be ascribed to your willingness to accept that you still have much to learn. If you have difficulty giving yourself credit for these changes, think about the goals you realized, the lives you touched, the wisdom you acquired, and the level of enlightenment you attained over the past years.
Recognizing growth is neither boastful nor immodest. Evolution is a natural fact of life and becomes a potent motivational force when celebrated. Knowing that you are brighter, stronger, and more grounded than you once were, you can look forward to the changes to come. In acknowledging your growth, you build a sturdy foundation upon which you can continue to blossom well into the future."
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “Republicans, who mercilessly mocked Barack Obama’s lack of government experience before he became President, now favor Presidential candidates with no experience whatsoever, the head of the Republican National Committee has confirmed. The R.N.C. chief, Reince Priebus, said that he sees “no contradiction at all” between Republicans’ contempt for Obama’s pre-White House résumé, which included eleven years spent in public office, and their rabid enthusiasm for G.O.P. rising stars Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, whose combined years in public office total zero. “I think what bothered us Republicans the most about Obama was that he was a community organizer,” Priebus explained. “What does organizing people have to do with running a government?”
In contrast with that dubious credential, he said, Carson is “eminently qualified” to be President because of his experience as a neurosurgeon. “I think if Ben had negotiated with the Iranians we would have gotten a better deal, because he would have known how their brains worked, medically and all,” Priebus argued.
Additionally, the R.N.C. boss said that the billionaire Donald Trump’s experience puts him “leagues ahead” of President Obama. “One of President Obama’s problems is that he is out of touch with reality,” Priebus said. “Donald Trump spent fourteen seasons hosting a reality show.”
As for the former Hewlett-Packard C.E.O. Carly Fiorina, Priebus said that the excitement her résumé is generating among the Republican faithful is totally understandable. “Like a lot of Republicans, I’d love to see Carly take on ISIS,” he said. “She’s shown she can destroy a large organization.”
“Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry”
by William Edstrom
"The United States (US) government often cites $18 trillion as the amount of money that they owe, but their actual debts are higher. Much higher.
The government in the USA owes $13.2 trillion in US Treasury Bonds, $5 trillion in money borrowed by the US Federal government from Federal government trust funds like the Social Security trust fund, $0.7 trillion for state bonds issued by the 50 states, $3.7 trillion for the municipal bond market (US towns, cities and counties), $1.97 trillion still owing by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, mostly for bad mortgages in years gone by, $6.23 trillion owed by US government authorities other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $1.04 trillion in loans taken out by the US Federal government (e.g. government credit card balances, short term loans) and $0.63 trillion in loans owed by government authorities (e.g. their government credit card balances, short term loans). As of April 1, 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank’s Financial Accounts of the US report, the government in the USA has $32.77 trillion in debt excluding unfunded government pension debts and unfunded government healthcare costs
Debt is money that has to be paid. The government in the USA also has to pay $6.62 trillion for unfunded pension liabilities, as of April 1, 2015. There are thousands of government pension plans in the USA (e.g. County, State, Teacher’s, Police). The Federal Employees Pension Plan is now short $1.9 trillion according to the Fed’s March 2015 statement plus $4.7 trillion in unfunded state and municipal pension liabilities according to State Budget Solutions which calculates on actual pension returns (approx. 2.5% per year from 2009 to 2014, instead of the fantasy ‘assumption’ of an 8% return used by the Fed to guesstimate pension fund money). The largest governmental pension fund in Puerto Rico ran out money (became insolvent) in 2012 and the government now has to pay $20.5 billion for that. Pension contributions into government pension plans have been less than what these pension plans pay out to retirees which is why the government was short by $6.62 trillion for government pensions as of April 1, 2015.
The DJIA has gone down 9.5% since the Spring. $6.3 trillion in governmental pension plan money was invested in Wall Street as of April 1st. Additional government pension plan losses have been, so far this year, $0.6 trillion. As of August 29, 2015, the government in the US owes $7.2 trillion for pensions. Every additional 10% the DJIA drops is another $0.6 trillion in unfunded pension costs that the government has to pay.
The Federal government owed $1.95 trillion in unfunded entitlements for the Federal Employees Pension Fund as of April 1, 2015. Unfunded entitlements are health care benefits for retirees above and beyond Medicare benefits. States, municipalities and governmental authorities owe an additional $4.2 trillion for retiree health benefits. Medicare and Medicaid costs, about $0.83 trillion in 2014, escalate 6% a year and Obamacare adds $0.18 trillion a year in governmental health costs, mostly for subsidies. Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare costs will escalate to $1.28 trillion in 2018.
Bottom line, as of August 29, 2015, the government in the USA owes $46.1 trillion (bonds, unfunded pension costs, unfunded healthcare costs, credit card balances and loans).
Footprints. The US government has paid Wall Street’s way when Wall Street can’t pay it’s own way. Wall Street has promised to pay more than the US government has promised to pay. $0.5 trillion in margin loans and $3.95 trillion in repurchase agreements pale in comparison to $21 trillion in open credit default swaps, a type of derivative. Bankruptcy legislation in 2005 gave derivatives “super priority” status to be paid first when banks go bankrupt. According to BIS, there were $630 trillion in outstanding derivatives earlier this year, about half in the USA. Since Wall Street doesn’t have $315 trillion to pay their derivatives, who will pay this amount? And how? Even if only 15% of US derivatives go bad, that’s $47 trillion. How would the US government pay for that? The derivative liabilities arising, due to ongoing Wall Street instability, is an elephant in the room.
US government officials, who I contacted, have not responded to questions about how they intend to pay for $46.1 trillion they owe nor have they responded to questions about what their contingency plans are to pay for Wall Street derivatives gone bad. The possibility exists that US government officials don’t have plans in place to pay the $46.1 trillion they now owe or any plans in place for payment of derivatives gone bad.
Investigative reporters have to push the envelop with elected and un-elected government officials in the USA to get honest answers to honest questions about how the government plans to pay the $46.1 trillion they owe, even more money they owe with each passing month and to find out what their contingency plans are for payment of Wall Street derivatives in a moderate case, worse case and worst case scenario (like the Deagle Inc. forecast). Have they done planning, will they do planning or will they wing it? Pensions and healthcare are too vital for them to wing it. They should have plans and they should tell us what their plans are.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests may lead to discovery of what their plans are. Although, if they don’t have any plans for payment of current debts and future debts, then, no amount of FOIA requests will reveal plans that don’t exist. The point of FOIA requests is brought up because government officials have been evasive in omitting mention of many of their debts. Although the government in the USA currently owes $46.1 trillion, several government officials routinely claim $18 trillion as the US government’s debt figure, omitting government credit card balances, government loans, the debts of government authorities, state debts, municipal debts, unfunded pension debts and unfunded healthcare debts.
Government debt figures repeated often by US govenrment officials are too low and US GDP figures repeated often by government officials are too high. The government changed how GDP is calculated. The US Federal government decided as of 2013, to count Research and Development (R and D) twice each year when adding up the GDP number. Since GDP was first calculated, scientist salaries get added in with everyone else’s salaries and R and D equipment spending gets added in with all other equipment spending. Now each component of R and D gets added into the GDP number, then, the total R and D spending number gets added to the GDP number too. The US Federal government added $0.5 trillion in R and D costs (like scientist salaries, R and D equipment) then they added $0.5 trillion in total R and D costs when calculating total US GDP. Counting R and D spending only once, the US GDP was $17.02 trillion in December 2014.
A bigger gimmick is to count $2.627 trillion in “equipment depreciation” as current year GDP income. Equipment depreciation is the number that corporations use for corporate tax forms as a corporate tax deduction. In 2014, corporations wrote down $2.627 trillion on tax forms to deduct from their profits, so that corporations didn’t have to pay taxes on that $2.627 trillion. The actual $2.627 trillion is for equipment that was purchased years ago. None of the $2.627 trillion in equipment depreciation went into the economy in 2014. None of the $2.627 trillion in equipment depreciation was income (or spending) in 2014, but the Federal government accountants counted $2.627 trillion in equipment depreciation as income in 2014; it makes the USA’s GDP number look bigger by $2.627 trillion. They add “equipment depreciation” into their GDP number every year.
Subtracting equipment depreciation ($2.627 trillion) and R and D spending that was counted twice ($0.5 trillion), gives a more accurate USA GDP figure of $14.4 trillion as of December 2014. Correcting the 2nd Quarter 2015 BEA figure for GDP of $17.9 trillion minus $0.5 trillion (R and D counted twice) minus $2.627 trillion (equipment depreciation write-downs for equipment spending years ago) equals $14.77 trillion actual GDP as of July 1, 2015.
Red alert. 100% government debt to GDP is the threshold where countries are in danger of collapse from too much debt. Figures often repeated from US government officials of US government debt ‘being $18 trillion’ and ‘US GDP of $17.52 trillion’ would equal 103% government debt to GDP in the USA, a little over the 100% threshold for a country to collapse from too much debt. Greece was at just over 100% government debt to GDP in 2008 when their slow motion economic collapse began.
But, the government in the USA owes $46.1 trillion (not $18 trillion) and the US GDP is $14.77 trillion (not $17.9 trillion), as of June 2015, truth be told. 46.1 / 14.77 = 312%. Total government debt in the US is at 312% of GDP, which is well past the point of collapse for any country.
Why have government officials in the US been understating debt figures in press releases and press conferences and why have government officials in the US been overstating GDP figures? Why don’t they tell us the truth?
Before the 2008 collapse, the Fed Funds interest rate was 5.25%. The Fed lowered this interest rate to 0% to encourage lending to large banks to encourage re-lending, spending and hiring. The US Treasury printed $4.5 trillion in money out of thin air, called Quantative Easing (QE), from December 2008 to October 2014, to make more money available for no-interest lending to large banks.
Fed interest rates have been 0% since December 2008, so the Fed cannot lower rates this collapse around and printing too much money leads to hyper-inflation which leads to things worse than hyper-inflation. Brazil, for example, printed too much money in the late 1970’s. It worked out for a little while. Then hyper-inflation set in. Then Brazil’s economy collapsed and their government fell. Germany printed too much money in the 1920’s, after World War I. We all know what happened after that. So, since the Fed cannot lower interest rates and the US Treasury shouldn’t print too much money, then what will the government do to ‘rescue’ the US economy from debt collapse? US Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank officials didn’t respond to my requests for information.
A moderate case scenario is a Wall Street decline of 15% (from it’s May 2015 peak) and a GDP contraction of 3% by the Summer of 2016. Tax receipts would decline by 3%, which is a $0.1 trillion decline, government borrows $0.7 trillion every 12 months for routine government operating costs, unfunded government pension liabilities will increase by $0.9 trillion and unfunded government health benefits for retirees will increase by another $0.3 trillion. Government in the USA will then owe $48.0 trillion and GDP (BEA 7/2015 figure of $17.9 trillion minus $0.5 trillion for R and D counted twice minus $2.6 trillion for equipment depreciation) equals $14.8 trillion. 48.0 / 14.8 = 324% US government debt to GDP. More realistic scenarios show US government debt to GDP escalating to 350% by Fall 2016.
When trillions in Wall Street liabilities (e.g. derivatives gone bad) come due again, as they did with Lehman, Bear Stearns and AIG in the 2008 collapse, how will government pay for that? China has dumped $0.2 trillion in US Treasury bonds the past 12 months and oil producing states in the Middle East have dumped tens of billions of dollars in Treasury bonds the past 12 months too. With fewer investors willing to lend money to Uncle Sam, borrowing costs for the US government will rise. The Fed Funds interest rate is 0%, it cannot be lowered. How many trillions of dollars can the US Treasury print out of thin air before hyper-inflation sets in? The Ghost of 1937 will come back if the Fed raises interest rates. There is nothing the US government can do this collapse around to rescue the US economy.
Much of the $46.1 trillion owed by the US government is because of military and intelligence expenses. All of the $5.5 trillion owed by the US Federal government in 1996 was found by the Brookings Institute to be because of $5.5 trillion in costs for US nuclear weapons from 1940 to 1996. Since 1996, the military / intelligence budgets (including war costs) have averaged $0.85 trillion a year. $0.85 trillion x 20 years plus $5.5 trillion equals $22.5 trillion. The US Federal government’s direct portion of the $46.1 trillion owing by all government in the USA is $13.2 trillion in US Treasury bonds plus $5 trillion borrowed from government trust funds plus $1.04 trillion in loans owed by the Fed’s plus $1.9 trillion in unfunded Federal Employees pension costs plus $1.95 trillion in unfunded Federal Employees healthcare costs (money is fungible, money taken from Federal Employees pensions and healthcare can be spent on current military/intel spending instead) equals $23.1 trillion. The $22.5 trillion (in pre-1997 nuke costs plus military/intel costs since 1996) is almost all of the $23.1 trillion in US Federal government debts from Treasury bonds, borrowing from government trust funds, loans plus unfunded Federal Employees pension and health benefits costs. Military costs are draining Americans.
A better system is needed in the USA. A single payer health plan like Medicaid for All will cover everyone and extend our lifespans. Building enough new medical schools and university hospitals will end the doctor shortage. Together with lowered drug and device costs attained by trimming the patent monopoly from 17 years to 3 years will save the US economy $1.1 trillion a year. Raising the Social Security minimum monthly payment to $2,000 a month (plus annual increases) and having one pension for all Americans will eliminate thousands of redundent government pension plans, saving the USA $0.5 trillion in annual pension costs while eliminating poverty among Elderly Americans.
Governmental debt to GDP exceeded 100% after World War II, when income tax rates were raised to 90% to pay off much of the war/military/intel costs. We can cut taxes for the poor and middle class by raising the income tax standard deduction to $90,000 (plus annual increases). Raise the income tax rate and capital gains rate to 90%. 6.2% payroll taxes on all income over $117,000 a year plus a temporary nationwide 8.875% sales tax (same as the NYC sales tax) on all financial sales (e.g. stocks, derivatives) will have the government debt in the USA paid off within a decade. Cutting military/war/secret police spending in half in the USA will help to pay off the government’s debt faster, when taxes can again be cut for all. Greater Wall Street oversight, especially on derivatives and hedge funds is requisite.
The Roman Empire declined and fell due to excessive military costs. The US empire will decline and fall if military/intel/war/secret police costs are not reigned in. Eliminating money in politics, via public financing of elections, is needed as is effective oversight of Wall Street. Unregulated hedge fund vultures and Wall Street bankers writing hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives without the money to pay and without any oversight is a recipe for financial collapse in the USA. Health costs can be reigned in with a single payer system, enough doctors and trimming (or eliminating) the patent monopoly. Pension costs can be effectively controlled by having the single payer health system provide all health benefits and merging thousands of government pension plans into one Social Security pension plan that provides a minimum of $2,000 a month plus annual increases.
The solutions exist. The first step towards effective solutions is to clearly identify the problems. The government in the USA borrowed too much money and Wall Street wrote too many derivatives. With unregulated and unlimited powers to write hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives coupled with unlimited money in politics means the Wall Street people have the upper hand and can at any time collapse both the US economy and the US government.
The debts of the government in the USA are $46.1 trillion and the USA’s actual GDP is $14.77 trillion, which makes the US government debt to GDP ratio 312%. The reason why the US government borrowed too much money is because of too much military/war/secret police spending. The endless wars need to end. The secret police state USA needs to end too. We want peace. We want our freedom back too.
A financial and economic collapse in the USA is imminent if steps are not taken immediately to pay down the gigantic governmental debt in the USA. Steps to accomplish this were outlined: healthcare reforms, one Social Security pension for all with enhanced benefits and higher taxes on the rich. Then there’s the weakest link. The hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives [More accurately, the $1.4 QUADRILLION - CP}, written by the Wall Street people, will be terminal to the USA when even a small fraction of those derivatives go bad, intentionally or unintentionally.”
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” - Thomas Edison
Why is this blog here?
"Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.'" - Kurt Vonnegut
"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
But remember: "I didn't say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth." - Morpheus
Ad astra per aspera...
Oderint dum metuant.
Especially... Nullius in verba.
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I’m a Choctaw “Native American”/Euro mongrel, living in Arizonastan, scavenging for nuggets of truth and soul nourishment wherever they might be found. Random observations, comments, rants, satire and discoveries from the road to NowHere.
“If any man is able to show me and prove to me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change, for I seek the truth, by which no man was ever injured. It is only persistence in self delusion and ignorance that does harm.” - Marcus Aurelius
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"You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." - Morpheus