Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Poet: Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"



"The Summer Day"

"Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

- Mary Oliver

The Daily "Near You?"

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
Thanks for stopping by!

"To Others And To Ourselves: Obligations"

"To Others And To Ourselves: Obligations"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When we schedule too much in our lives trying to meet our obligations, we only end up draining our energy. We all encounter obligations in life, from spending time with family and friends to being present at important functions in the lives of the people who form our community. Many times, the obligations are actually fun and fulfilling, and we want to be there. At the same time, we all sometimes experience resistance to meeting these obligations, especially when they pile up all at once and we begin to feel exhausted, longing for nothing so much as a quiet evening at home. At times like these, we may want to say no but feel too guilty at the idea of not being there. Still, our primary obligation is to take care of ourselves, and if saying no to someone else is what we have to do, then we do not need to feel bad about it.

There is a skill to balancing our obligations, and it starts with simply becoming aware of our schedule. We may notice that three invitations have arisen in one weekend, and we know that we will pay energetically if we attempt to fulfill all three. At this point, we can take the time to weigh the repercussions of not going to each event, considering how we will feel if we miss it and how our absence might affect other people. Most of the time, it will be clear which obligation we can most easily let go and which one we simply can’t miss. Sometimes we have to miss something really important to us, and that can be painful for everyone concerned. At times like this, reaching out with a phone call, a thoughtful card, or a gift lets people know that you are there in spirit and that your absence is by no means a result of you not caring.

Meeting our obligations to others is an important part of being human and not one to take lightly. At the same time, we cannot meet every obligation without neglecting our primary duty to take care of ourselves. We can navigate this quandary by being conscious of what we choose to do and not do and by finding concrete ways to extend our caring when we are not able to be there in person."

"The Idiot Culture..."

"We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal." 
- Carl Bernstein

“Ignorance Is Bliss”

“Ignorance Is Bliss”
by Michael Brenner 

“Factual information is out of fashion. American society now devalues it. Subjective attitude and opinion are considered to be as worthy as accurate renderings of reality. Many wear their ignorance as a badge of honor. The ultimate freedom for them is to avoid needless bother in knowing the truth and distinguishing it from falsity. Some of this behavior is calculated and intentional; much of it is blind indulgence of convenience and prejudice. These behaviors are commonplace among our officials, politicians, commentariat, and the citizenry at large. Insulation from any sense of shame helps perpetuate it. So, too, does the widespread absence of accountability.

Then there are those who acknowledge that there is such a thing as useful information in the abstract but operate on the lazy belief that if it's available somewhere on your computer or smart phone, there is no reason to lodge it in your grey cells. This last trait is most widespread among the young although by no means limited to them. In this essay, I make the case for information retention by examining five examples:

1. The United States Constitution- above all the Bill of Rights or first 10 amendments. Article Four stipulates that... “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The freedom to be secure in one's domicile and communications from intrusion by police authorities has been under heavy attack since 9/11. Two successive administrations have mounted a series of programs, abetted by innovations in electronic methods of surveillance, have launched a series of draconian programs which have voided fourth amendment protections of much of their practical value. All these trespasses have been declared legal and constitutional by the White House, the Department of Justice, the heads of our intelligence agencies and obedient federal courts.

Here is what General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), declared before a public body in 2005: "the phrase 'probable cause' is not in the fourth Amendment. If there is any amendment to the Constitution that we are familiar with at the NSA, it is the fourth." If there's any Amendment to the United States Constitution that the National Security Agency is familiar with, it's the Fourth."

That is an outright lie- one that he told repeatedly. None of the MSM reporting on his remarks pointed that out. The vast majority of listeners took Hayden's statement at face value. Doubtless, they had only foggiest idea of what the fourth amendment actually says and/or were too lazy to check it. Hayden, by no means a stupid man, found it convenient to misstate the amendment's wording to justify the illicit spying on Americans he was conducting.

The benefits of having the facts at one's disposable are three-fold. First, they immediately tell you that the high official up on the stage addressing a crucial civil liberties issue was engaging in gross misrepresentation. Second, in reaching for a bowdlerized version of the Constitution, he was trying to hide something that he otherwise could not defend. Third, the stark evidence of this public lying would alert you to subsequent lies on the same subject by General James Clapper, his successor, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, by CIA Director John Brennan, and by President Obama himself.

Lesson: do not accept instruction from authority figures without checking. Shameless lying nowadays pervades our public life.

2. Afghanistan. President Obama held a White House ceremony to mark the end of the Afghan war. A neat photo-op lapped up by the media. Yet, the factual truth is that the United States' military engagement has not ended and will not end. Yes, on several occasions the President had stated that American forces numbering about 10,000 would remain in place to train the Afghan national Army and to provide passive Intelligence support. That has changed, though- officially. The President announced late last year that our forces would continue to participate in search-and-destroy missions and to operate attack helicopters (not just drones) on an 'as needed" basis. That has been confirmed by recent reports of American troops leading raids, and by statements of newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Therefore, the United States' war-fighting role is not over. Whatever one thinks of the policy, the important thing is that the President has gone back on a solemn pledge that he made to the American people. He obscures the fact by hosting a ceremony to mark an ending that is contradicted by his actions. And he has felt no obligation to explain why the reversion. The MSM and the political class have ignored this shell game- in part because their brains had forgotten what was said earlier.

Lesson: Keep an attentive, skeptical eye on the news and try to retain the basic facts

3. Habeas Corpus is the oldest and most fundamental of civil liberties. Dating from the Magna Carta in the Anglo-American tradition, it is enshrined in our Constitution. The principle denies government authorities the right to arbitrarily detain citizens. Most of our criminal jurisprudence flows from this ensconcing of habeas corpus. There is nothing more hallowed in word and deed.

Yet the Congress has passed, and President Obama- the constitutional law professor- has signed into law legislation that directly contravenes that principle. The Act requires the Executive to apprehend, imprison and detain indefinitely any person who it judges to be a threat to the safety and security of other Americans, i.e. a potential terrorist. These actions involve no due process whatsoever, are to be kept secret, and even the victim's family members kept in the dark. In short, persons are to be "disappeared" as in Argentina under the military Junta, as in the old Soviet Union, as In North Korea today.

An ignorant Congress, an ignorant MSM and an ignorant public thus shred our most basic civil liberty without public debate. Although there is no guarantee that fuller awareness of what habeas corpus is and has meant would have prevented Congress and Obama from this blatantly unconstitutional act, such knowledge might have agitated the public and given our rulers pause.

Lesson: Read the Bill of Rights carefully and the entry on it in Wikipedia.

4. Vietnam. The 14 year war in Vietnam War was the greatest, and most costly, strategic failure in American history- at least until Iraq. The casualties were ten X as high; civilian deaths in the millions, even if the diplomatic price was far smaller. American society was traumatized by Vietnam. Still, in the best American tradition of turning optimistically to the future- going forward, the veil of amnesia was drawn over the war. It is barely studied in schools. It is largely ignored by students of international relations. It almost never passes the lips of our leaders. Hence, its lessons for our more recent misadventures in the Islamic world have been totally missed.

This willful ignorance has had profound effects in encouraging errors and deceitful actions to go unremarked. Here is a short list of things from Vietnam that might have profitably remembered. The United States government lied its way into war by fabricating the notorious Tonkin Gulf incident- just as the Bush administration lied about WMD and Saddam's alleged links to al-Qaida to win support for the invasion of Iraq. That's one. The United States committed atrocities on a large-scale in Vietnam. My Lai, the most infamous, was not unique. The killing of civilians, in some places and some times, verged on becoming a sport. Indiscriminate shelling and bombing of villages killed many more. Torture and rape were commonplace. By comparison, we followed Marquess of Queensberry rules in Iraq and Afghanistan. That, though, was due less to conscious adherence to higher moral standards than to the nature of the combat, the enemy and the terrain. (See the comprehensive, documented account by Nick Turse Kill Anything That Moves. There also are a number of documentaries that recount atrocious events and programs confirmed by interviews with participants).

Three, the promiscuous use of massive firepower was to the net advantage of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. It elicited popular support and served as a recruitment mechanism just as our use of violence in the "War On Terror" has served as a recruiting sergeant for various violent jihadist groups. The United States prosecuted the Vietnam War on automatic pilot even for years after it became obvious that our objectives were unachievable. Today, we stay on the Afghanistan treadmill despite the President's inability to articulate what a satisfactory outcome would look like. Deja-vu all over again!

Lesson: The lessons to be taken from Vietnam are so numerous and so profound that every dutiful citizen owes it to himself to immerse himself in its history.

5. Founts of Wisdom Former Secretary of State and CIA Director Robert Gates' recent memoir is worth reading and its contents worth retaining. It serves two purposes. It is a salutary reminder that the reflections of public men are self-serving in the extreme; therefore, any statement in them should be taken with a large dose of salt. Gates presents himself as a wise, experienced senior statesman endowed with exceptional probity of judgment. From this lofty perch, he casts aspersions at those who have disagreed with him or somehow crossed swords with him. He goes out of his way to be dismissive of Vice-President Joe Biden whose judgment on all matters foreign is disparaged. He writes: "I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." Biden's mortal sin was to argue against the Pentagon plan in 2009 for a drastic increase in American troop levels in Afghanistan open-ended in time, of which Gates was the architect and chief promoter.

Gates, the self-declared cynosure of sound judgment, said this about Mikhail Gorbachev in January 1991: "Mikhail Gorbachev is a 'drugstore cowboy' who has shown his true Bolshevik colors." (Quoted in Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft ) That was more than a year after the disintegration of the USSR's Eastern European empire and the reunification of Germany as a member of NATO. The incident that provoked Gates was when hard-liners of the dying Soviet Union broke up demonstrations in Vilnius, Lithuania. Gates also is the man who skewed CIA intelligence assessments of Soviet capabilities and intentions so as to serve the personal agenda of CIA Director William Casey in the Reagan days.

The second reason to be attentive to Gates' record is that he is issuing oracular pronouncements about prospective future American military engagements. In a speech before West Point cadets in February of last year, he declared unequivocally: "In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa 'should have his head examined." This is from a man who was an ardent backer of the invasion of Iraq and the instigator of the Obama escalation in Afghanistan.

His new-found skepticism is a piece with other such imperative warnings that senior public figures have made in the wake of one military adventure after another. In the train of the Korean War, one heard from all sides: "Never again a war on the mainland of Asia." Within little more than a decade we were up to our waist in Vietnam. That war led to a similar chorus admonishing us to avoid at all costs another such quagmire. Then came the Iraq and Afghanistan disasters.

That has been followed by a medley of Gates-like alerts that it would insane for any President to do something similar. How long will this new pledge last? So long as the United States sees itself as a global power with unique interests, unique capabilities and unique virtue- one that is committed to maintaining full-spectrum military dominance in every part of the globe- its half-life is very brief.

Lesson: Whatever comments about candidates, other persons, events or policies are made by Robert Gates should be scrutinized against this backdrop. The same skeptical attitude should be taken in reading other memoirs by public figures.

Concluding Lesson: We cannot trust our public officials to level with us. Their encounters with truth-telling are incidental. It follows that we must enable ourselves to test their veracity and the probity of their judgments by retaining a large inventory of factual knowledge by which to assess both. We're on our own.”

"How It Really Is"

Paul Craig Roberts, “The Collapse of Western Democracy”

“The Collapse of Western Democracy”
by Paul Craig Roberts

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves."
- Edward R. Murrow

"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard- the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money- the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law- men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims- then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion- when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing- when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors- when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice- you may know that your society is doomed."
- Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

"Democracy no longer exists in the West. In the US powerful private interest groups, such as the military-security complex, Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness and the extractive industries of energy, timber and mining, have long exercised more control over government than the people. But now even the semblance of democracy has been abandoned.

In the US Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential nomination. However, Republican convention delegates are plotting to deny Trump the nomination that the people have voted him. The Republican political establishment is showing an unwillingness to accept democratic outcomes. The people chose, but their choice is unacceptable to the establishment which intends to substitute its choice for the people’s choice.

Do you remember Dominic Strauss-Kahn? Strauss-Kahn is the Frenchman who was head of the IMF and, according to polls, the likely next president of France. He said something that sounded too favorable toward the Greek people. This concerned powerful banking interests who worried that he might get in the way of their plunder of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. A hotel maid appeared who accused him of rape. He was arrested and held without bail. After the police and prosecutors had made fools of themselves, he was released with all charges dropped. But the goal was achieved. Strauss-Kahn had to resign as IMF director and kiss goodbye his chance for the presidency of France.

Curious, isn’t it, that a woman has now appeared who claims Trump raped her when she was 13 years old.

Consider the political establishment’s response to the Brexit vote. Members of Parliament are saying that the vote is unacceptable and that Parliament has the right and responsibility to ignore the voice of the people. The view now established in the West is that the people are not qualified to make political decisions. The position of the opponents of Brexit is clear: it simply is not a matter for the British people whether their sovereignty is given away to an unaccountable commission in Brussels. Martin Schultz, President of the EU Parliament, puts it clearly: “It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate.”

The Western media have made it clear that they do not accept the people’s decision either. The vote is said to be “racist” and therefore can be disregarded as illegitimate. Washington has no intention of permitting the British to exit the European Union. Washington did not work for 60 years to put all of Europe in the EU bag that Washington can control only to let democracy undo its achievement.

The Federal Reserve, its Wall Street allies, and its Bank of Japan and European Central Bank vassals will short the UK pound and equities, and the presstitutes will explain the decline in values as “the market’s” pronouncement that the British vote was a mistake. If Britain is actually permitted to leave, the two-year long negotiations will be used to tie the British into the EU so firmly that Britain leaves in name only.

No one with a brain believes that Europeans are happy that Washington and NATO are driving them into conflict with Russia. Yet their protests have no effect on their governments.

Consider the French protests of what the neoliberal French government, masquerading as socialist, calls “labor law reforms.” What the “reform” does is to take away the reforms that the French people achieved over decades of struggle. The French made employment more stable and less uncertain, thereby reducing stress and contributing to the happiness of life. But the corporations want more profit and regard regulations and laws that benefit people as barriers to higher profitability. Neoliberal economists backed the takeback of French labor rights with the false argument that a humane society causes unemployment. The neoliberal economists call it “liberating the employment market” from reforms achieved by the French people. The French government, of course, represents corporations, not the French people.

The neoliberal economists and politicians have no qualms about sacrificing the quality of French life in order to clear the way for global corporations to make more profits. What is the value in “the global market” when the result is to worsen the fate of peoples?

Consider the Germans. They are being overrun with refugees from Washington’s wars, wars that the stupid German government enabled. The German people are experiencing increases in crime and sexual attacks. They protest, but their government does not hear them. The German government is more concerned about the refugees than it is about the German people.

Consider the Greeks and the Portuguese forced by their governments to accept personal financial ruin in order to boost the profits of foreign banks. These governments represent foreign bankers, not the Greek and Portuguese people.

One wonders how long before all Western peoples conclude that only a French Revolution complete with guillotine can set them free.”

The Economy: Gregory Mannarino, “The Greatest Stock Market Crash Ever Imagined Will Happen, Here's Why”

Gregory Mannarino, “The Greatest Stock Market Crash Ever Imagined Will Happen, Here's Why”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vd-fagz6fw

Related:
"The Death Of A Virtuous Cycle"

"August 15th - The Date Which Will Live In Monetary Infamy"
http://www.zerohedge.com/

“Worst “Zombie States” in America “Deteriorate Faster, Further”

“NIRP Absurdity Soars after Brexit, Hits $11.7 Trillion”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “For All Seasons”

Yanni, “For All Seasons” (HD)

"A Look to the Heavens"

“It's the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive central star BD+602522. Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the right. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way. 
Click image for larger size.
The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble's central star. The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud causing it to glow. The Bubble Nebula, pictured above in scientifically mapped colors to bring up contrast, is about 10 light-years across and part of a much larger complex of stars and shells. The Bubble Nebula can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia).”

“The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

“The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

"For I have seen the truth; I have seen and I know that people can be beautiful and happy without losing the power of living on earth. I will not and cannot believe that evil is the normal condition of mankind. And it is just this faith of mine that they laugh at. But how can I help believing it? I have seen the truth- it is not as though I had invented it with my mind, I have seen it, seen it, and the living image of it has filled my soul for ever. I have seen it in such full perfection that I cannot believe that it is impossible for people to have it. And so how can I go wrong? I shall make some slips no doubt, and shall perhaps talk in second-hand language, but not for long: the living image of what I saw will always be with me and will always correct and guide me. Oh, I am full of courage and freshness, and I will go on and on if it were for a thousand years! Do you know, at first I meant to conceal the fact that I corrupted them, but that was a mistake- that was my first mistake! But truth whispered to me that I was lying, and preserved me and corrected me. But how establish paradise- I don't know, because I do not know how to put it into words. 

After my dream I lost command of words. All the chief words, anyway, the most necessary ones. But never mind, I shall go and I shall keep talking, I won't leave off, for anyway I have seen it with my own eyes, though I cannot describe what I saw. But the scoffers do not understand that. It was a dream, they say, delirium, hallucination. Oh! As though that meant so much! And they are so proud! A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream? I will say more. Suppose that this paradise will never come to pass (that I understand), yet I shall go on preaching it. And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that's the chief thing, and that's everything; nothing else is wanted- you will find out at once how to arrange it all. And yet it's an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times- but it has not formed part of our lives! The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness- that is what one must contend against. And I shall. If only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once."

Chet Raymo, "How Things Are"

"How Things Are"
by Chet Raymo

"Any global tradition needs to begin with a shared worldview - a culture-independent, globally accepted consensus as to how things are. From my perspective, this part is easy. How things are is, well, how things are: our scientific account of Nature, an account that can be called The Epic of Evolution. The Big Bang, the formation of stars and planets, the origin and evolution of life on this planet, the advent of human consciousness and the resultant evolution of cultures - this is the story, the one story, that has the potential to unite us, because it happens to be true.

I quote from the Introduction of Ursula Goodenough's wonderful book "The Sacred Depths of Nature." Readers will know of my admiration for Ursula and her book (if you want a concise introduction to biology, you can't do better). However, I would take gentle exception to one statement in the above passage: "because it happens to be true." I would have said: "because it is the most reliable story we have at the moment."

Actually, I think Ursula would agree. Science is not an infallible body of doctrine. It is an always evolving approximation of "the way things are" based on the widest possible consensus among scientists at any given time. Is it true? It is as true as you can get until it isn't. Scientists are constantly holding the scientific story of how things are against the refining fire of experience. Generally this means tinkering here and there on the edges of "truth." Occasionally it means a wholesale revamp of fundamental ideas. One could write a book on the confirming characteristics of scientific "truth": empirical consistency, economy, beauty, parsimony, and so on. But if you want the most impressive confirmation of the reliability of the scientific story of how things are, look around you. Science is a truth system that has given us the entirety of modern technology and medical science. As the old Rheingold beer commercial used to say, "We must be doing something right."

It's a story that has the potential to unite us, as Goodenough says, and in practice it does (we all fly airplanes, use the internet, and rely on penicillin). But only in practice. I fear Ursula is too optimistic if she thinks the scientific story of how things are is about to replace any of the other stories of how things are that dominate the lives of the vast majority of humans - and set us at each other's throats, story against story.

Why are the ancient stories so resilient, in the face of the overwhelming practical success of science?  An obvious answer: Because the ancient stories promise that death is not final. Then there's the possibility of habituation: We adhere to the traditions we grew up in. The overwhelming number of Christians, for example, would almost certainly be Muslims had they been born and raised in Qom, Iran. Once a story of "how things are" gets tangled in the neurons of the brain, it's a devil of a time to shake it free.

Add to this the solace of believing that the creator of 100 billion galaxies has me - yes, me personally - in mind. It's like getting a birthday card from President Obama ("Good luck, Chet. I'm thinking of you on your special day."), except in spades. And so on. All of this against a one-size-fits-all scientific story of how things are that is hard to understand in its details and sets us adrift in an (effectively) infinite universe with no one to man the oars but ourselves.

But let me put a more congenial spin on it. We are curious creatures by nature. We want answers to the Big Questions. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is the universe the way it is and not some other way? (That is to say, why are the laws of physics what they are?) How did life begin? What is consciousness? These are fair questions. They are among the biggest questions we can ask. The fact that we ask them is a defining characteristic of our species.

The ancient stories of how things are provide answers - anthropomorphic, animistic, artificialist - stories that are satisfyingly easy to understand because they mirror our sense of self. The scientific story doesn't provide answers, at least not yet and maybe never.

Which brings me back to Ursula Goodenough; "The realization that I needn't have answers to the Big Questions, needn't seek answers to the Big Questions, has served as an epiphany," she writes. It is, in fact, a kind of liberation - freedom from thrall to the Big Questions - liberation to revel in the pure "is-ness" of creation, the inexhaustible miracle of the here and now. But "is-ness," in all of it depths and dimensions, requires attention, study, and a certain poetic openness to particulars - the flower in the crannied wall, the grain of sand. Which is why the scientific story of how things are will not replace religious myths that are there for the effortless taking."

The Poet: David Wagoner, “Old Man, Old Man”

“Old Man, Old Man”

"Young men, not knowing what to remember,
Come to this hiding place of the moons and years,
To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go?
Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree?
Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over
With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it
If our mouths have long lain empty?
Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind
All night, and turn the color of earth?
If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?
He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed.
When I move my feet, the ground moves under them.
When I lie down, I fit the earth too well.
Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones
Long in the sun and under the dry night
Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two.
There were always many places to beg for answers:
Now the places themselves have come in close to be told.
I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it:
Every secret is as near as your fingers.
If your heart stutters with pain and hope,
Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.”

- David Wagoner, “Traveling Light”

The Daily "Near You?"

Barre, Vermont, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

“America’s One-Party Government”

“America’s One-Party Government”
by Eric Zuesse

"Introduction: Today’s United States is a more realistic version of the type of society that George Orwell fictionally described in his allegorical novel "1984." Like in "1984," the American public don’t know that they’re merely the tools of some unseen aristocracy who manipulate them by fear of ‘the other’, some ‘enemy’ group- manipulate the public via the media, which the aristocracy controls. But the big failing of Orwell’s model as a portrayal of the (when he wrote it) coming fascist-corporate dystopia was that he misunderstood how and why the public would falsely believe that they live in a democracy. His central character Winston Smith worked in an unrealistically portrayed propaganda-mill. But in some other fundamentals, Orwell had it right. The public don’t know that their real enemy is their own nation’s aristocracy who are mentally holding the public in bondage by lies systematically implanted into their beliefs, by means of ‘news’ media that are controlled by their own nation’s aristocracy, who own those media and/or control the government by bribery (sometimes subtle) of the politicians whom the aristocracy’s media are being paid to promote. In any case, the aristocracy control the public’s mind, to accept the fundamental legitimacy of the regime the aristocrats are imposing. Aristocrats hire the ‘news’ media.

When two nations’ aristocracies are at war against each other, the public in each is deceived to think that, in the other, the rulers are evil and reign over their public by dictatorship, but that in one’s own nation, the rulers are truly representative of the public and therefore in some high sense are legitimate or even a democracy: rule by the public, instead of by any aristocracy at all. In some of these ‘democratic’ dictatorships, it’s called rule by ‘the people’ or ‘the Volk’ (such as in Hitler’s Germany), but in others, it’s called simply ‘democracy’.

In the case of today’s America, “democracy” is the term that’s used, because America had long been a democracy and was founded by people who wanted their nation, which they were creating out of (and leading their Revolution against) a dictatorship by a foreign, British, aristocracy, to free themselves from any and all forms of dictatorship. So: “democracy” sells better as the term to continue applying to what has become America’s dictatorship.

When America was an authentic democracy, there were always two Parties, one of which generally represented the new domestically based American aristocracy that was emerging, and the other of which was more authentically representative of the public and so democratic. However, starting when the ‘Democrat’ Bill Clinton came into the White House, and threw out FDR’s AFDC, Glass-Steagall, etc., America’s Democratic Party became a Dixie version, which tried to take back the South from the Republicans and to restore control of the entire country by Wall Street- by the megabanks. What resulted from that is the complete takeover of the American nation by America’s aristocracy: a one-party government, in which the ‘Democratic Party’ is now merely the ‘liberal wing’ of that unseen aristocracy, so that both Parties now differ only on domestic policies about minorities etc., but both stand united in their foreign policies, which have become those of an aggressive aristocracy that’s trying to conquer all other nations’ aristocracies and to exert a global empire enabling America’s aristocrats to extract from the publics everywhere, and to dole out to those subordinate aristocracies (such as those in the EU) a share of the booty which will purchase their compliance and their cooperation with what U.S. President Barack Obama repeatedly has called “the one indispensable nation”, meaning that each other nation is dispensable, only America (the American aristocracy- since it’s no longer a democracy) is not. This is America’s one-party rule over the whole world- or so America’s aristocracy hopes it to become.

How It's Imposed: Let’s start with a few of the liberal, Democratic Party, ‘news’ media, and show some of their underlying far-right, Republican Party, agenda (which is sometimes even more conservative than that of conservative ‘news’ media that appeal to self-acknowledged Republicans and conservatives):

Did you know that the owner of the super-liberal Daily Kos website is an El Salvadorean aristocrat who has worked extensively as a CIA asset and whose actual opinions are far-right? That’s Markos Moulitsas.

Did you know that the founder and Editor-in-Chief at the monotonously pro-(Clinton)Democratic-Party website the National Memo is a close friend of Hillary Clinton’s, and hires only ‘reporters’ who support her neo-conservative foreign polices (such as supporting coups in Latin America, invading Iraq in 2003, killing Gaddafi in 2011, overthrowing Assad in forever, and overthrowing pro-Russian leaders of nations anywhere)? That’s Joe Conason.

Did you know that the former owner and still top executive at Huffington Post is a lifelong social climber who places in charge of international reporting a group of anti-Russian aristocrats, the Berggruen Foundation, and who got her own big breaks by marrying a Republican millionaire and politician, and by her writing a diatribe against feminism in which she said: “Women’s Lib claims that the achievement of total liberation would transform the lives of all women for the better; the truth is that it would transform only the lives of women with strong lesbian tendencies.” That’s a bigoted statement, and it’s from Arianna Huffington.
Click image for larger size.
A rather curious statement, Arianna, considering the makeup of your own Editorial Board...
I suppose there were no qualified men or people of color anywhere on the planet?

Did you know that the person who formerly controlled Mother Jones magazine, and currently controls both Alternet and the Independent Media Institute as well as his writing for Truthout and other liberal news media, is so dedicated to the war-mongering (backed by Lockheed Martin etc.) side of the Democratic Party, that in 2011 he condemned an attempt by some Democrats to find a progressive Governor or U.S. Senator who would contest against President Obama in Democratic Party primaries in 2012 and provide Democrats a progressive Democratic alternative to the Republican-lite ‘Democrat’ Obama? This person ridicules efforts to return the Democratic Party to its pre-Clinton, FDR-dominant, anti-fascism and progressivism.  He’s Don Hazen.

Actually, the entire liberal newsmedia (except for fewer than a dozen small online-only news sites) are basically aristocratic right-wing pro-Wall-Street Democratic Party propaganda that parades as an amorphous (and typically ethnic, or Black, or Jewish, or Catholic, or gay, or other sub-cultural) ‘leftism’ that’s merely propaganda for the liberal aristocracy to dominate over the conservative aristocracy to control the public, and not at all really progressive- which instead supports eliminating political control by the aristocrats and returning this country to real democracy, FDR’s political values, in our time, no longer control by what has become the resurgent American aristocracy, the American Counter-Revolution- and its ever-increasing economic inequality and therefore increasing inequality of economic opportunity (which inequality benefits the aristocrats and their offspring at the expense of everyone else).

FDR ended mega-corporate control over the U.S. government; Republicans and Clinton-Obama ‘Democrats’ restored mega-corporate control. And now we have one-Party, mega-corporate government, in two flavors: liberal and conservative.

Conclusion: Is it hypocritical for the servants of the aristocracy to pretend to be progressive, even when they are supporting fascist candidates? How is this any different from their openly supporting Republican candidates, except for the latter politicians being openly making their appeals in their Party primaries to voters who are bigots against this or that group- Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, or whatever? After all, a fascist is bigoted against all poor people, and respects rich people (‘entrepreneurs’); they’re all social climbers at heart; they respect their ‘betters’; so, how big a difference, really, is there between liberal fascists and conservative fascists? If the rich are terrific, then the poor must be dirt, right?

This is how America became a dictatorship. Instead of there being any longer a political party that represents the aristocracy, being opposed by a political party that represents the people, there are two political parties that represent two sides of the aristocracy: on the one side (the Democratic Party) are the “noblesse oblige” aristocrats, and on the other side are the “greed is good” aristocrats. The people are merely servants; they are ‘dispensable’, just like ‘dispensable’ nations are (every nation except America)."

"How It Really Is"

 Olé!

"Total Contempt..."

“You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been
 quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.”
- Gore Vidal

And how are YOU doing, Good Citizen?

Gregory Mannarino, “The Stock Market Is Going To Face A ‘Shock And Awe’ Moment”

Gregory Mannarino, “The Stock Market Is Going To Face A ‘Shock And Awe’ Moment”

“The Epocalypse Is Here”

“The Epocalypse Is Here”
by David Haggith 

“Brexit- the second major landslide in the Year of the Epocalypse- has bankers all over the world scrambling to pick up and prop up their crumbled facades this week. This is one more jolt in the developing global economic collapse that I predicted for 2016. The ground of an entire nation just dropped several feet. Aftershocks from a drop that size will be felt frequently throughout the summer and to some extent for years to come.

As I’ve said before, US politicians will find it increasingly difficult this year to keep shoring up the US economy until the end of the election cycle. This collapse just made things a lot worse for them. Brexits, Grexits and other exits, oil defaults, job decay, manufacturing malaise and a host of other planet-sized problems are piling up so fast that it will become almost impossible to hold off collapse much longer as global problems press in on the US and other nations.

“We have now entered a global period of bailouts heaping up against the back of earlier bailouts and attempted recovery coming on the back of already failed recovery. Why? Because it is all the same Great Recession, and as I’ve maintained since I began this blog several years ago the “recovery” is nothing but a prop under the Great Recession’s monstrous belly. That prop, I said would fail this year, and we would slide into the abyss of an economic apocalypse in a series of jolting plunges and rallies.

As I quoted David Stockman in an earlier article, “At long last the tyranny of the global financial elite has been slammed good and hard. You can count on them to attempt another central bank based shock and awe campaign to halt and reverse the current sell-off, but it won’t be credible, sustainable or maybe even possible. The central bankers and their compatriots have well and truly over-played their hand. They have created a tissue of financial lies; an affront to the very laws of markets, sound money and capitalist prosperity. So there will be payback, clawback and traumatic deflation of the bubbles. Plenty of it, as far as the eye can see.”

When I say “the Epocalypse is here” or “the end is here,” I don’t mean we are now on the final leg down or that there will be no leveling off or no rally- that it's finished. Heck, the central bankers aren’t going to give up the show that easily, and this is an election year in the US where they can expect totally subservient assistance from establishment politicians on both sides of congress. The majority of elected politicians clearly deplore the possibility that Donald Trump could not only be proven right about economic collapse but could be hoisted to a success big enough to give him a political mandate to tear the establishment apart in 2017!

What I mean when I claim “the end is here” is that this is one more enormous jolt like we saw in January that is a part of the end. We are, in other words, going through the end. I’ve consistently stated the Epocalypse will take, at least, a year and half to find its bottom; so it is far from over. This is just the beginning of the end.

Each of these jolts does huge damage to the global economy, weakens banks and central banks and other corporations in substantial ways, and takes us further into the Epocalypse. This one is massive to such a degree that its damage to the establishment will only be discovered over a period of weeks or more likely months. Along the way, we also have smaller jolts like we saw when I quoted Dennis Gartman as saying a month ago: "The Bulls and the Bears left scratching their heads and wondering aloud, “What the hell just happened?” Yesterday was our worst day of the year thus far, as that which we were long of fell and that which we were short of closed unchanged. Yesterday was a disaster which we wish to put behind us."

By “Epocalypse” I mean an economic collapse on the scale of things predicted in The Apocalypse (i.e. on the same scale as biblically prophesied disasters in the Book of Revelation). The “Epocalypse” is my name for our second and deeper plunge into the belly of the Great Recession- a drop so great it will make the first slump look like it was just a dress rehearsal for the real show.

I am sure many bulls who were long on Brexit are feeling the sizzle of the frying pan in the summer heat now as they try to recover from foolhardy long positions. Those were just the first ones who didn’t listen, and they just lost over two trillion dollars. The price of continuing to bet on the bull will grow worse each time something hits. You’re going to smell a lot more barbecued bull this summer… and beyond:

A few major banks that were already stressed will likely fail in the months ahead because Brexit added more stress than they can absorb. That will probably mean more bailouts, but the populace is not inclined to accept any more bailouts, so that will mean more civil unrest if bailouts happen.

National economies that were already crumbling like Greece, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France, will fall faster. As a result, other parts of the Eurozone will likely break off like icebergs in the summer heat. They may not announce their break from the EU this summer, but you’ll see major cracks form around their circumference.

Areas of marginal economic weakness will develop visible fault lines and experience serious tremors. In the US that would include jolts to jobs and wages, more falloff in GDP, increasing social unrest, increasing corporate collapse.

In the midst of that there will likely be periods of calm created by massive central bank infusions. You’ll see central banks invent new tricks that even they didn’t know they could come up with out of desperation to save their “recoveries.” Those eddies of calm that run as counter currents to the main flow of events may beguile some rosy-eyed optimists into thinking the earth has stabilized, but it hasn’t and it won’t, and those beguiled will be hurt just as many were massively hurt by this jolt. As soon as you think the earth is steady, the next nation will fall.

The calm between January and Brexit was longer than I expected between legs down, and the expected intervening rally went twice as high as I thought it would, but this is an election year. Regardless of the extended pause, global economic breakdown is continuing along the fault lines where I’ve indicated it would and in the year when I said things would all come apart, and the scale of Brexit is as huge as I said each leg of our journey into the Epocalypse will be.

The journey into our decline has now resumed. Each part that gives way makes all the other parts weaker and their own collapse more certain and more imminent. It’s going to be a summer filled with aftershocks.

You cannot stop this collapse, nor can you talk it into happening with negativity either. It is going to happen because it has to happen. It has inevitability all over it. Economic structures that should never have been created in the first place are giving way in what will become total structural failure. They are giving way because of their own flawed design:

• You cannot create mountains of enduring wealth by carving out caverns of debt beneath them.
• You cannot create stable economies by focusing all the benefits toward the rich industrialists and hoping they will trickle down to create demand later.
• You cannot deplete your nation’s treasure with endless wars around the world by putting the wars of budget and beguiling yourself to think that means there was no cost to your own greatness.
• You cannot cram people from divergent cultures together by the millions without creating huge social costs that become economic costs.
• You cannot bail out rich bankers without creating moral hazard that entices them to repeat their sins.
• You cannot centrally manage economies in a way that benefits the periphery.

The list could be bigger. The earthquake has happened. The aftershocks will come. And then there is autumn, the time called “fall” because many things will.”
http://www.zerohedge.com/

"A wise person can want nothing better from life than 
to pay back the wrong that has been done him."
- Jean Paul Sartre

“The Reckoning”

“The Reckoning”
by Jesse

“A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death - the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, and even murders that we are not going to be held to account.”
- Czesław Miłosz

"Every man and woman on this earth will die. Now, this is of course a statement of the obvious. And yet very few really think about it, until something happens to bring that cold statement of reality into an unavoidable focus that they must confront. We are all dying, in our own way and time, from the moment that we are born; but we do our utmost not to think about it. And this is understandable. Going around constantly thinking about your own mortality would be morbid, a misuse of the time and talent that we have been given on this earth to do things, to create, and love, and to be alive.

But we tend to put any thought of our true place in the world, put it off and out of mind so much, that we also start thinking that we are uniquely different, that we are above the common state of humanity. We are so much superior to all the others that we will likely go on forever, immune to the consequences that afflict the greater mass of humanity. 

And if only this were true; but it is not. Not true for any one of us. Of this we can be certain. One thing of which we can be sure of, is that we will draw a last breath, and that the darkness will come over our eyes and hold us in a final embrace. We may fantasize about avoiding death, about living almost forever, of extending our life here on earth indefinitely, and perhaps of leaving a great monument to ourselves that will last forever in this world that will provide us a kind of immortality. But this will not happen.

We know, deep down in our very heart of hearts, that at that moment, the moment immediately after our death, the moment in which we will finally discover for ourselves whether it is to be consciousness or nothingness, the regret that one might feel at having been wrong, of having misjudged the real rules of the game, of having purposely misunderstood and deluded ourselves about the true nature and meaning of our own life? Of having squandered everything on items that have no lasting consequence?

If so, it would be more overwhelming than anything we might dare to imagine. That is what Leon Bloy means when he says that, “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” 
It is what is called Pascal's wager. But it serves us not to think about it. And so we distract ourselves with lesser things...


"Have a pleasant evening."

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Stars are forming in dark, dusty molecular cloud LDN 988. Seen near picture center some 2,000 light-years distant, LDN 988 and other nearby dark nebulae were cataloged by Beverly T. Lynds in 1962 using Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates. 
Click image for larger size.
Narrowband and near-infrared explorations of the dark nebula reveal energetic shocks and outflows light-years across associated with dozens of newborn stars. But in this sharp optical telescopic view, the irregular outlines of LDN 988 and friends look like dancing stick figures eclipsing the rich starfields of the constellation Cygnus. From dark sky sites the region can be identified by eye alone. It's part of the Great Rift of dark nebulae along the plane of the Milky Way galaxy known as the Northern Coalsack.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chet Raymo, "As Time Goes By"

 "As Time Goes By"
by Chet Raymo

"Is time something that is defined by the ticking of a cosmic clock, God's wristwatch say? Time doesn't exist except for the current tick. The past is irretrievably gone. The future does not yet exist. Consciousness is awareness of a moment. Or is time a dimension like space? We move through time as we move through space. The past is still there; we're just not there anymore. The future exists; we'll get there. We experience time as we experience space, say, by looking out the window of a moving train. Or is time…


Physicists and philosophers have been debating these questions since the pre-Socratics. Plato. Newton. Einstein. Most recently, Lee Smolin. Without resolution. What makes the question so difficult, it seems to me, is that time is inextricably tied up with consciousness. We won't understand time until we understand consciousness, and vice versa. So far, consciousness is a mystery, in spite of books with titles like "Consciousness Explained". Will consciousness be explained? Can consciousness be explained? If so, will it require a conceptual breakthrough of revolutionary proportions? Or is the Darwinian/material paradigm enough? Are we in for an insight, or for a surprise?

As I sit here at my desk under the hill, looking out at a vast panorama of earth, sea and sky, filled, it would seem, infinitely full of detail, so full that my awareness can only skim the surface, I have that uneasy sense that it's going to be damnably difficult to extract consciousness, as a thing, from the universe in its totality. I think of that word "entanglement," from quantum theory, and I wonder to what extent consciousness is entangled, perhaps even with past and future.

Who knows? Perhaps consciousness, or what I think of as my consciousness, is just a slice of cosmic consciousness, in the same way that the present is a slice of cosmic time. As a good Ockhamist, I am loathe to needlessly multiply hypotheses. But time will tell. Or consciousness will tell. Or something.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Odessa, Texas, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"It Becomes Sad..."

"Why does truth carry such a dreadful face? Why does subjugation carry
 such a happy mask? It becomes sad when people understand that they
 can lead a better life as long as they bow their heads, ignoring the truth."
- Lionel Suggs

"It's A Mess, Ain't it?"

Deputy Wendell: "It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?"
Sheriff Bell: "If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here."
- "No Country For Old Men"

A Comment: Well, folks, the mess IS here. I don't have to tell you that it feels like the whole world's gone crazy, though it may seem like it by this little blog's content. There are just so many things happening so fast now that it's impossible to keep up. Don't believe me, don't simply believe something because it's here, or another website, or TV. Everything here is active-linked so you can go and check the actual source. Please do. Verify everything, question everything, collect the information by gathering the very best version of "truth" you can find, then use your common sense to decide for yourself what that truth really is, and what it might mean to all our lives. Not saying it'll be easy, it will not be, but at least you'll have a reality-based understanding of the forces at play in this world of ours, and which will affect you personally, whether you want it or not, and that knowledge may well save your life... - CP

Musical Interlude: Kevin Kern, “Another Realm”

Kevin Kern, “Another Realm”

"How It Really Is"

Hilly, you narcissistic, psychopathic, compulsively lying swine, why wouldn't we trust you? 
Let me count the ways... no, don't have several years for that...