Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Musical Interlude: Chuck Wild, Liquid Mind, "Laguna Indigo II (Aurora)"

Chuck Wild, Liquid Mind, "Laguna Indigo II (Aurora)"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size to our Milky Way Galaxy: big, beautiful M81. This grand spiral galaxy lies 11.8 million light-years away toward the northern constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major). 
Click image for larger size.
The deep image of the region reveals details in the bright yellow core, but at the same time follows fainter features along the galaxy's gorgeous blue spiral arms and sweeping dust lanes. It also follows the expansive, arcing feature, known as Arp's loop, that seems to rise from the galaxy's disk at the upper right. Studied in the 1960s, Arp's loop has been thought to be a tidal tail, material pulled out of M81 by gravitational interaction with its large neighboring galaxy M82. But a subsequent investigation demonstrates that at least some of Arp's loop likely lies within our own galaxy. The loop's colors in visible and infrared light match the colors of pervasive clouds of dust, relatively unexplored galactic cirrus only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way. Along with the Milky Way's stars, the dust clouds lie in the foreground of this remarkable view. M81's dwarf companion galaxy, Holmberg IX, can be seen just above the large spiral. On the sky, this image spans about 0.5 degrees, about the size of the Full Moon.”

Paulo Coelho, "The Cry Of The Desert"

"The Cry Of The Desert"
by Paulo Coelho

"As soon as he arrived in Marrakesh, Morocco, a missionary decided he would stroll through the desert at the city’s boundary every morning. On his first stroll he noticed a man lying on the sand, caressing the ground with his hands and leaning his ears towards the earth. “He is mad,” the missionary said to himself. But he saw the man every morning during his walks and after a month, intrigued by that strange behavior, he decided to approach the stranger.

He knelt beside him and asked, in broken Arabic, “What are you doing?”
“I keep the desert company and offer solace for its loneliness and its tears.”
“I didn’t know the desert was capable of crying.”
“It cries every day, because it dreams of being useful to mankind and turning into a huge garden where people could cultivate, flowers and sheep.”
“Well, then, tell the desert it accomplishes its mission very well,” said the missionary. “Every time I walk here, I am able to understand the true dimension of the human being, as its open space allows me to see how small we are before God. When I look at its sands, I imagine the millions of people in the world who were raised alike although the world isn’t always fair towards everyone. Its mountains help me meditate. As I see the sun rising on the horizon, my soul fills with joy and I get closer to the Creator.”

The missionary left the man and went back to his daily chores. To his surprise, he found him the next morning at the same place, in the same position. “Did you tell the desert everything I told you?” he asked.
The man nodded.
“And even so it keeps crying?”
“I can hear each of its sobs,” answered the man, his head tilted towards the ground. “Now it is crying because it spent thousands of years thinking it was completely useless and wasted all this time blaspheming God and its own destiny.”

“Well, then tell the desert that despite having a short lifespan, we human beings spend much of our days thinking we are useless. We rarely find the reason for our destiny and think God has been unfair to us. When a moment finally arrives in which we are shown the reason why we were born, we think it is too late to change and keep on suffering. And as the desert, we blame ourselves for the time we have wasted.”
“I am not sure the desert will bother to hear it,” said the man. “It is used to suffering and it can’t see things differently.”
“So then let us do what I always do when I feel people have lost faith. Let us pray.” Both of them went down on their knees and prayed; one turned to Mecca as he was a Muslim and the other joined his hands in prayer, as he was Catholic. They prayed, each one to his own God.

The next day when the missionary resumed his daily walk, the man was no longer there. The ground where he used to embrace the sand seemed to be wet as if a small spring had formed. During the following months that spring grew and the city’s residents built a well around it. The place is now called “The Well of the Desert’s Tears”. It is said that those who drink its water will be able to transform the reason of their suffering into the reason of their joy and will end up finding their true destiny.”

The Poet: William Stafford, "Starting With Little Things"

"Starting With Little Things"
 

"Love the earth like a mole,
fur-near. Nearsighted,
hold close the clods,
their fine-print headlines.
Pat them with soft hands-
Like spades, but pink and loving; they
break rock, nudge giants aside,
affable plow.
Fields are to touch;
each day nuzzle your way.
Tomorrow the world."

- William Stafford 

"The Breton Fisherman's Prayer: On Destroying What We Love"

"The Breton Fisherman's Prayer: 
On Destroying What We Love"
by Robert C. Koehler

“Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

"The Arctic ice is melting at a record pace this summer — just one more measurable phenomenon indicating that extraordinary change in the global ecosystem is in progress. As the ice melts, and the vast polar reflecting surface diminishes, the planet absorbs more and more of the sun’s energy and... grows warmer. More ice melts.

So what? Sitting at my desk in Chicago, I was tempted to opt out of caring about this — trend Republican, you might say. Put it on the back, ahem, burner. It takes a leap of consciousness to align my own well-being with the fate of the Arctic ice, the ocean, the Inuits, the polar bears.

I’ve lived my life pretty much within the gated community of the American middle class, sheltered, more or less, not just from poverty but from the challenges of weather and basic physical survival. I have lived within the bubble of a functioning economy and have been able to take the ecosystem that surrounds it for granted. No elders or teachers out of my childhood ever guided me toward awareness that I have a direct relationship with that ecosystem, and that I can act toward it either with reverence or abusive indifference. Indeed, the economy that sustained me was based on abusive indifference, which, ipso facto, was a good thing. We were winning, exercising the human mandate to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Oh limited world view! I understand it all too well. So what if the Arctic ice cover is turning, in the words of a research scientist with the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, into “a giant slushie”? So what if human beings, endlessly spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, are largely responsible? I can understand the inability to care about this. It’s simply beyond reckoning. “There are no comparisons to be made,” George Monbiot writes this week in The Guardian/UK. The melting Arctic ice “is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.”

“Oh God, thy sea is so great . . .” At some point, as I pondered all this, a memory ripped loose from my boyhood. I thought about the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer, inscribed on a wall plaque. It hung on the wall of a cottage on Lake Erie, owned by friends of my parents, which we visited every summer. The piercing simplicity of the prayer’s surrender, not to some theological abstraction but to the vast encircling natural world, beguiled and unnerved me. I wanted there to be more — something instructional, perhaps — but that was it. It hung in my heart like a Zen koan. It defined reverence.

I fear that, if we lack at least a trace of this reverence, we will remain trapped within the gated community of human dominion — trapped within the sure thing of our technology, even as the sureness vanishes.

And the hurricane-haunted Republican National Convention convenes in Tampa. “The Republican platform slated for approval at the party’s convention,” writes Ben Geman in The Hill, “includes expanded offshore oil-and-gas development, opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling rigs and thwarting Environmental Protection Agency climate change regulations.” Such a platform is no less arrogant than the Russian energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, which Greenpeace activists occupied for 15 hours last week, enduring, among other things, water cannon blasts that almost swept them into the frigid waters. “And so I write to you today,” explained Kumi Naidoo after the occupation had ended, “not as the executive director of Greenpeace International, but as one of a team of activists who stood up to say No to a Russian oil giant determined to destroy our fragile Arctic.”

What’s fragile are the complex environmental conditions that make life — human and otherwise — possible. To recognize this fragility is to recognize our own fragility. Perhaps, in a technological sense, we have “outgrown” the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer. The ocean is no longer so vast that we can’t cross it in a few hours. But our ability to do so has come at a serious cost, environmentally and, perhaps, spiritually.

The largest economic and political institutions we have thus far created — nations, multinational corporations — regard climate change primarily as opportunity. Suddenly they have access to a previously hidden part of the planet, to drill, fish, mine and otherwise exploit. In our pursuit of dominion over the seas and the heavens, have we lost the ability to love the planet that has sustained us? Do we love only our control over it?”

Chet Raymo, "Ratchet"

"Ratchet"
by Chet Raymo

"My MacBook laptop has been annoying me with glitches that are signs of old age (or planned obsolescence). Am I sorry? Not really. At last I can justify buying what I've wanted for several years - a MacBook Air. And here it is, in my trembling hands, in a package so sleek and slim that one wonders where there is room for the circuitry, flash drive and battery. For my money, the Air is the most sublime manifestation of human technology on the planet today.

As a graduate student in physics in the early 1960s, I availed myself of a Univac computer that sat in the central space of a large building built for it alone. Now I lie here on the couch holding a machine vastly more powerful than the Univac. And with a few clicks of these beautiful back-lit keys I have instant access to… well, to almost anything I can imagine that can be presented on a screen. I am reminded of Arthur Clarke's 3rd Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It was a stunning ride, from Eniac to Univac to personal computer to the Air, all in one brief lifetime.

In a recent issue of "Science," an international group of researchers addressed the question of cumulative culture. Why is it that in a few tens of thousands of years humans have advanced from small groups of hunter/gatherers armed with sharp sticks to a planet-dominating species connected by the internet and Airs, while our nearest primate cousins are still digging termites out of holes with twigs as they did all those thousands of years ago? The researchers presented young human children, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys with a puzzle box that required sequential problem-solving to obtain rewards. Well, it's a long story, but what stands out is the tendency of the human children to share knowledge and rewards, something not manifested by the chimps or capuchins.

It is no big surprise that pro-social behavior should be related to cumulative culture. The larger question is perhaps why humans evolved pro-social behaviors. Collective hunting? Fire and cooking? Language? Brain size? Delayed maturity? My goodness, there is no end of possible contributing factors, and essentially no way in this chicken-and-egg conundrum to sort out causality. Maybe we'll never know what was the evolutionary tipping point that unleashed the human rise to planetary dominance. If pro-social behaviors are the cause or result or cumulative culture hardly matters. My new Air was made in China, by people who are as much entranced by these sleek machines as I am. We are bound together by DNA and WiFi, poking at our puzzle boxes, and - when we are at our best - sharing knowledge and rewards.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Elizabethton, Tennessee, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Two Possibilities Exist..."

"Welcome to Planet Earth, the third planet from a star named the Sun. The Earth is shaped like a sphere and composed mostly of rock. Over 70 percent of the Earth's surface is water. The planet has a relatively thin atmosphere composed mostly of nitrogen and oxygen.


This picture of Earth, dubbed Blue Marble, was taken from Apollo 17 in 1972 and features Africa and Antarctica. It is thought to be one of the most widely distributed photographs of any kind. With its abundance of liquid water, Earth supports a large variety of life forms, including potentially intelligent species such as dolphins and humans. Please enjoy your stay on Planet Earth."
- http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100713.html

"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not.
Both are equally terrifying."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Carl Sagan, “The Pale Blue Dot: Where We Make Our Stand”

Carl Sagan, “Pale Blue Dot”

“10 Planetary Facts for Earth Day 2014”

“10 Planetary Facts for Earth Day 2014”
by Phil Plait

“Today is Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of our home planet. I know you’ll be hearing a lot of talk about the environment today, humanity’s global impact, and more … which is great, and I wholly support that conversation (obviously). But as an astronomer and science dork, I do love me some fun factoids. So I gathered together/calculated a few to give you a better appreciation of our planet’s place in the Universe. You might want to check out the ones I posted last year, too. You can’t know too much about Earth.

The Earth as seen from Saturn is a reminder: 
The Universe is big, and we are not. Happy Earth Day!

1) Earth Day is April 22 every year. On average (jumping over leap years and such), between subsequent Earth Days our planet moves about 940 million kilometers (580 million miles), the circumference of its orbit around the Sun. That means it’s faster—way faster—than a speeding bullet: about 30 km/sec (18 miles/sec)! Typical rifle bullets travel 1-2 km/sec, so the Earth outpaces them handily.

[UPDATE (Apr. 22 at 18:00 UTC): I'm getting some comments about this, mostly referring to how I measure that speed. Implicit in my words is that I meant relative to the Sun, so that's how quickly the Earth would move around the Sun. In general, the speed of the Earth (or anything) depends on what you're measuring its speed against. Since I'm on Earth, it's not moving at all relative to me, and if you're in a distant galaxy we're moving away at a large fraction (or even faster than) the speed of light. All motion is relative... you can quote me on that!]

2) It’s not a small world after all. The surface area of the Earth is about 510 million square kilometers, or 197 million square miles. It’s not a perfect sphere (see listing No. 4 here), but if it were, using the surface area to find the Earth’s diameter would give you a ball 12,742 km (7,900 miles) across.

3) The Earth is the biggest of the terrestrial (rocky, as opposed to Jupiter-like gas giant) planets in our solar system.

4) Venus, the closest planet in the solar system to Earth’s size, has a diameter of 12,104 km (7,504 miles), 95 percent the width of Earth. It has about 82 percent the mass of Earth, too, making it our twin. However, its thick atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, it rains sulfuric acid, the air pressure on its surface is 90 times Earth’s, and the average temperature is a lead-melting 460 C (860 F). So it’s more like our evil twin.

5) Nearly 2,000 confirmed exoplanets (worlds orbiting other stars) have been found so far. The smallest, Kepler-37b, is barely bigger than our own Moon! Another, KOI-314c, has the same mass as Earth but is so hot it’s puffy, with a huge atmosphere. The planet that has the best chance of being most like Earth is Kepler-186f, which has 1.1 times the Earth’s diameter and is the right distance from its star to have liquid water. We really don’t know what it’s like beyond that, though. It might be more like Venus, or Mars.

6) We’ve only just started looking for other planets, though. There may be billions of Earth-size planets in our galaxy alone.

7) Coming back home again, Earth has something no other planet we know of has: a lot of water on the surface. It’s about 71 percent water by area, dominated by the Pacific Ocean, which covers a staggering 155.6 million square km (60 million square miles) of the surface. That’s nearly a third of the planet.

8) Most of the Southern Hemisphere (by a long shot) is covered in water: About 80 percent of the planet’s area south of the equator is water. North of the equator it’s about 60 percent.

9) Water exists naturally in all three physical states on Earth’s surface: solid (ice), liquid, and gas (water vapor). Due to a peculiar property of water—called its triple point—it can even exist in all three states at the same location and time. So now when things go wrong, you can say, “Well it could be worse: It could be raining and snowing and steaming!”

10) The more we look, both in our neighborhood and in deep space, the more we find that our Earth is one-of-a-kind. Even if we do eventually spot those billions of other planets similar in size to Earth, it’s unlikely they will be just like ours, with our exact balance of chemistry, temperature, and life. Heck, in the distant past the Earth didn’t look like it does now, and it’s the same planet.

What this tells us is that what we have now is precious, unique, and vital to us and ours. We don’t have an emergency backup, a summer home, a spot we can retreat to. The Earth is all we’ve got. We need to treat it that way.”
- http://www.slate.com/

Satire: “Supreme Court Calls Lying By Politicians An Expression Of Their Religion”

“Supreme Court Calls Lying By Politicians An Expression Of Their Religion”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the United States declared on Tuesday that lying by politicians is protected by the First Amendment because it is an expression of their religion. By a 5–4 majority, the Court struck down an Ohio law that would make it harder to lie in political ads, arguing instead that “any attempt to restrict or punish lying by politicians is an unconstitutional infringement on a religion they have practiced for decades.”

The Court’s decision won praise from politicians of both parties, with many saying that the Justices’ recognition of lying as a religion was “long overdue.” Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts argued, “For politicians, lying is a religious observance akin to attending a church or a synagogue, except that they do it seven days a week.”

"How It Really Is"


“Extreme Climate Change And Life On This Planet”

“Extreme Climate Change And Life On This Planet”
By Andrew McKillop

“Elite Climate Change and Global Warming (CCGW): There is no need to dwell on the political elite theory and fear of CCGW except that its main goal is to enrich the crony capitalist “carbon finance” industry and reward techno-geek start ups rushing their newest gimmick able to store sunlight for nighttime use to market, and then to IPO, powered by free sunshine! The elite doomster theme of CCGW is essentially no different from that of former Nazi ideologist Gunther Schwab. In his 1958 book “Dance With The Devil” he melded Goethe's Faust with Svante Arrhenius' original CO2 global warming theory, which by 1908 was defined, debated and discussed – and disputed – in scientific circles. Schwab used his Nazi-flavored version of CCGW theory to make an “Appeal to Humanity”, to abandon non-Aryan industry and cut CO2 emissions.

Later charlatans including Al Gore, James Lovelock and James Hansen recycled the Schwab theory, called it their own, and enriched themselves with it. They deliberately melded climate change with global warming - treating them as one and the same thing – the scientific basis of which is unsure.

The Arrhenius theory was not “proto-Nazi” and was scientific. Its main scientific argument is that human emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, slightly change the chemical make-up of the planet's atmosphere and cause warming. Various effects such as “the greenhouse gas effect” and others including angular incident solar radiation effects, virtual albedo modifications, the ozone layer effect, were already suspected or under active study as climate modifiers well before Arrhenius' definitive-version warming theory of 1908. One of his critics, also a colleague,  Anders Angstrom for whom the angstrom (size of the atom) unit is named,  particularly criticized earlier versions of Arrhenius' theory, where he exaggerated the warming effect of greenhouse gas concentrations increasing, by at least two-fold. Critics and colleagues of Arrhenius also included the US astronomer Pierpoint Langley, and several other early atom scientists.

Arrhenius and the late-19th century scientific establishment were exposed to multiple shocks of drastically expanding knowledge, and changing theory. His first warming theory was for instance also affected by the publication, 20 years earlier, of Charles Darwin's evolution theory. Life was imagined to be in “fragile equilibrium” and pursuing a climate-change-free program of evolution towards English Victorian middle class values – for the human component of planetary life forms. That is 1 on the 5415 known mammal species of the planet, and 1 on the minimum of 1.5 million all known animal species on a current basis. Human arrogance has no limits, but Darwin had other interests in mind.

GRB and ECC Events: Arrhenius and the early atom scientists including Angstrom were unaware of what is studied and discussed-debated in cosmological physics and radioastronomy of today. The first scientific attempts to prove and measure cosmic radiation can be dated to 1910 and the German scientist Theodore Wulf who climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris with a geiger counter-type device (called an electroscope),  leading to balloon ascents also testing the invisible radiative environment, by scientists such as Bracciano Pacini. Other scientists, some of them receiving Nobel physics prizes such as Viktor Hess, were able to show by 1913 that gamma ray and other cosmic radiation intensity was 4 – 5 times that at ground level, when measurements are made at 7500 metres – the typical altitude of commercial jetliner flights, if not Flight MH370.  Other major and reputed atom scientists also active in pre-1914 studies on cosmic radiation included Wilhelm Roentgen and Max Planck.

Politics and war exercized a strong negative impact on cosmic radiation study and theory, due to a large number of German scientists being involved. By the early 1920s the Nobel committee had severely reduced the number of physics prizes awarded to Central Power nationals (Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia and others) and greatly increased physics prize awards to nationals of the Allied Powers (US, UK, France) and Neutral Powers including Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain and Holland.

This however in no way prevented cosmic radiation from being real!

GRB or Gamma Ray Bursts are cosmological origin, from inside or outside our “local galaxy” the Milky Way. Our solar system's position and disc-axis relationship is always changing.  As you read this article, our solar system is moving at about 865 000 kilometres per hour as it rotates in the galaxy but also moves relative to the plane of the galaxy's thin disc at a variable speed, certainly above 2500 kms per hour.  Incident GRB from novae and supernovae and other cosmological explosion events are not easily predictable but cosmologists and astronomers often utilise an approximate frequency of 1 mega event per billion years for any exposed solar system in the disc. Depending on the intensity of galactic or extra-galactic GRB, incidence angle of the radiation, and other parameters such as the type of nucleosynthesis trigggered by the GRB, cosmologists in the US, Russia and Japan today estimate the frequency may be closer to 9 ECC events every 1 billion years, for this planet.

Solar system positioning in the disc also affects the frequency. At present, our solar system is moving out of the plane. This can have a major impact on GRB incidence potentials for either north-south hemisphere, due to galactic and solar system architecture. Predicting the next GRB event which can cause an ECC event - which will always be towards intense or extreme cooling - is therefore highly speculative, simply due to geometry effects or incident angle of GRB.

While today's elite version of CCGW concerns a highly speculative warming of maybe 2 degC by about 2045 and an “extended thesis” of perhaps 5 or 6 degC warming by 2099, the type of ECC events caused by major GRB are radically intense, rapid, and always lead to large or massive cooling.

Expressed in simple easy to understand terms, cosmic rays include radiation with the incredible (to us) energy of about 10 to the power 15 times the energy intensity of light or normal photons, of the type the solar start up geeks want to store and use to their profit and kudos from “protecting the climate”. Heavy cosmic radiation literally slices through entire planets and keeps going. Planets are cut through like butter by a hot knife, whatever their type, gaseous or metallic. On its way, GRB can totally destroy ozone shields on planets like ours with a relatively delicate, relatively fixed gaseous composition. Very obviously, this is not just intense temperature change, but also has drastic impacts on prevailing climates and therefore on life forms of affected planets.

Planetary gaseous make-up is itself closely dependent on repeated cycles of radiative change of the local solar system, and radiative density change at the galactic and universal levels, concerning all types of radiation, whether visible to human beings or not. Relative to this, our present planetary CO2 concentration may be unimportant for the durability of life on this planet, for example because of GRB enabling or causing major changes of nitrogen gas and NOx (oxide derivatives of the nitrogen atom) quantities and activity when major events occur. The process is always rapid.

ECC Events and Mass Dieoffs: Evolutionists may or may not agree that massive die offs favor the emergence of new species. One leading explanation of the emergence of mammals, and therefore us, attributes this to the Triassic-Jurassic die-off event, particularly of saurians like the dinosaurs. The documented and scientifically agreed consensus view on GRB-induced mass die offs, on our planet, certainly includes the late Ordovician mass die-off, from extreme climate change, about 440 million years ago (Mya). In this event, approximately 95% of all invertebrate life disappeared. At the time, the few aquatic vertebrate life forms that existed on our planet were wiped out. No vertebrates existed on land.

The so-called “conquest by life” of non-aquatic terrestrial environments, including vertebrate evolution or emergence occurred well after 440 Mya. Previous to the Ordovician mass die off, the Earth's life forms were basically aquatic and only microbial, bacterial and a few plant organisms were able to exist on the single super-continent of this planet, Pangaea, which started to break up about 250 Mya.

The Ordovician mass die off was a global reset, for living things. The start of insect life on this planet closely corresponds with the event. Climate change was certainly massive due to features such as the almost total destruction of the ozone shield or layer. Intense global cooling was in the range of -10 degC (cooling of 10 degrees celsius) at least two times the claimed (or hoped for) global warming by 2099, of the more-hysterical CCGW charlatans anxious to peddle doomster predictions. The  penetration effects of intense gamma radiation and other high energy radiation including high speed protons and thermal neutrons, in the Ordovician event was at least 10 – 30 metres depth in all oceans and seas. Nearly all oceanic life was wiped out. The chemical make-up of the atmosphere was rapidly and massively changed, notably by the CNO (carbon-nitrogen-oxygen) process of nucleosynthesis, and by spallation, and by thermal neutron bombardment.

Cosmological physicists and stellar astronomers argue that this process – when it starts – can run very fast, not at all on the million-year scale of change, but above all it is unpredictable. They contrast the GRB-induced reset for life on this planet, with “random event change” such as the impact, in a physical sense, of bolide (asteroids and meteorites above 2 kms diameter) collisions with the Earth. These are given scientific consensus support as a main, or possibly the only cause of the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event dated at about 201 Mya, but this was however much smaller, and slower than the GRB-induced Ordovician event.

What can be called mechanical-induced climate change (bolide impacts) also interact with the constantly changing gamma ray and cosmic radiation environment. As just one example, the possible impacts of SN1987A, the 1987 supernova at about 50 kiloparsec (around 170 000 light years) distance from our solar system, possibly due to a blue supergiant EMP (low metallicity) star explosion upstream of the event, has yet to provide a corresponding predicted neutron star. There is a “missing neutron star” with a very large and calculable GRB potential. Related radiative events may or can be large or extreme in our Galaxy, but on an unpredictable time basis.

GRB events, of variable intensities but able to change Earth climate are possibly overdue at this time, and are impossible to exclude as climate changers. The known, but unexplained large variations in ozone layer thickness in Antarctica, but almost zero change of the Arctic ozone shield, is possibly explainable by different incident angles of GRB, from galactic or extra galactic sources. Galactic architecture or the exact position of our solar system relative to major gamma ray emitters is above all uncertain. This leads to the real possibility of GRB ECC events occurring - or already being under way - but assumed by human beings as due to their own CO2 emissions. Human arrogance again!”
Human life is certainly precarious, despite our arrogance... and this is very real...
Fukushima: "First thing, grasp the difficult concept that this is an ELE or Extinction Level Event. There is no escaping our fate, there are no solutions."

"The Small Beacon..."

"One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us." 
-  James Baldwin, "The Fire Next Time"

“Princeton Researchers Conclude US Political System Has Been Almost Completely Usurped”

“Princeton Researchers Conclude US Political System 
Has Been Almost Completely Usurped”
Of the elite, by the elite, for the elite.
by Steve Watson

“A recent scientific study by Princeton and Northwestern universities, which has gone somewhat under reported in the mainstream media, concludes that the US is now a fully fledged oligarchy. The paper, entitled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens”, notes that America is no longer even a Democracy, which begs the question, how far removed is the country from being the Republic envisioned and painstakingly established by Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study notes. In other words, powerful elites have taken over the country and effectively run the government, it is official. Of the people, by the people, for the people is now a thing of the distant past.


The research undertaken by the universities included the study of close to two thousand government policies enacted over a 21 year period between 1981 and 2002. Using a framework of political models – Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – researchers found that the majority of those US policies were specifically designed to benefit wealthy elites.

Policy outcomes “tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations,” the research states, meaning the US falls into the category of Biased Pluralism. Researchers concluded that the reason for the trend is that policies are made by special interest groups rather than by politicians acting on behalf of average Americans. “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” the study also notes. “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.” the study also notes.

The study points toward the conclusion that the US is nothing more than an illusion of democracy. “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association” the study notes, while warning “we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

The authors of the study, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concur that the will or opinion of the majority in the US has no effect on the way government is run. “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

“Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does,” Gilens and Page write. “Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support. But we tend to doubt it” they add.”

“Pssst... The Military-Industrial Complex Is Alive and Well”

“Pssst... The Military-Industrial Complex Is Alive and Well”
by Bill Bonner

Gualfin, Argentina. “We made an observation last week: The US empire and its credit bubble will probably come to an end at the same time. Each depends on the other. If the US were not so big and powerful, it could not impose its money as the world's reserve currency. Without its position as the issuer of the world's reserve currency (dollars instead of gold), the US wouldn't be able to flood the world with its cash. Without the rest of the world's need for dollars, the credit bubble couldn't continue growing. And without the credit growth there would be no way to pay the expense of maintaining a worldwide empire. This does not explain the miracle of "growth without savings" we discussed last week, but it gives us a hint as to what will happen when the trick no longer works. 

All Empires End: All bubbles... and all empires... eventually blow up. An empire that depends on a credit bubble is doubly explosive. All it takes is a turn in the credit cycle, and the fuse is lit. We wrote a book on the subject, along with co-author Addison Wiggin, in 2006. From the invasion of the Philippines to the Vietnam War... the US empire was financed by the rich, productive power of the US economy. 

But as the war in Vietnam was winding down, the source of imperial finance changed from current output to future output. The US switched to a purely paper money system... and turned to borrowing to finance its military adventures. Today's blockhead puffs out his chest and enjoys feeling like a big shot. He passes the bill on to tomorrow's taxpayer.

The argument for heavy security spending collapsed between 1979 (when China took the capitalist road) and 1989 (when Russia abandoned communism). But by then, the "military-industrial complex" (or the military-industrial-congressional complex) President Eisenhower warned us about was already firmly in control of Washington. Presidents – Democrat and Republican – came and went. Nothing nor nobody could keep resources from the security industry. 

One disastrous adventure led to another. Each provided a source of more funding... more status... more power... more generals... more security clearances... more clandestine, "off-budget" operations... and more jackass parasites pretending to protect Americans from unknown enemies. 

Zombie Lard: The return on investment from this spending was probably well below zero. That is to say the foreign meddling probably created more enemies than it neutralized. But it didn't matter. Besides, the same phenomenon was happening in other major industries. In health care, education and finance more and more resources were commanded by political considerations – even though these industries were still considered part of the private sector economy. 

In education, for example, the number of teachers stagnated, as the number of administrators and "educators" soared. Freighted with zombies, there were few real gains in these sectors. Meanwhile, the US manufacturing sector withered. Real wages stopped increasing. Economic growth slowed. And social welfare spending increased. "Guns and Butter" was LBJ's promise. Both were greasy and slippery. And without the strong growth of the 1950s and 1960s, it was not possible to pay for so much zombie lard. 

The US empire turned to credit. It has not had a genuinely balanced budget since. Instead, since the end of the Carter administration, deficits have increased, year after year. When the Reagan team came into office in the early 1980s there was a fierce internal battle about what to do with federal finances. The fiscal conservatives – led by David Stockman, Reagan's young budget director – felt the government had an obligation to balance its budget. The new, or "neo," conservatives were more hip to the public mood... and to the miracle made possible by increasing credit. 

"Deficits don't matter," said Dick Cheney. The neocons won. Stockman left the administration and went to work on Wall Street. Deficits soared. Later, Stockman wrote a good book, The Great Deformation, explaining how the US economy had been corrupted by its leading industries: government, security and finance. 

By the 1990s, the combination of a bull market on Wall Street, falling interest rates, the end of the Cold War and disillusionment with old-style democratic spending left the Clinton administration in a rare sweet spot. It found it couldn't spend money fast enough. Its revenues were high. Its spending opportunities were low. The result was what was feted as a "balanced budget" – but the books only balanced if you ignored the cost of Social Security! 

It was President George W. Bush, however, who really took the lid off the credit machine. Details to follow... tomorrow.”

Monday, April 21, 2014

But Not You..."

"Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you."
- Jim Rohn

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Starwalkers"

2002, "Starwalkers" 

"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).”

"Ten Rules For Being Human"

 "Ten Rules For Being Human"
by Cherie Carter-Scott 

Rule One:
You will receive a body. You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration
of your life on Earth.

Rule Two:
You will be presented with lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called 'life.'
Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons
or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.

Rule Three:
There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation,
a series of trials, errors, and occasional victories. The failed experiments
are as much a part of the process as the experiments that work.

Rule Four:
A lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons will be repeated to you in various
forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them,
you can then go on to the next lesson.

Rule Five:
Learning does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain lessons.
If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

Rule Six:
'There' is no better than 'here'. When your 'there' has become a 'here,' you will
simply obtain a 'there' that will look better to you than your present 'here'.

Rule Seven:
Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another
person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

Rule Eight:
What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need.
What you do with them is up to you.

Rule Nine:
Your answers lie inside of you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

Rule Ten:
You will forget all of this at birth. You can remember it if you want by
 unravelling the double helix of inner knowing.

- Cherie Carter-Scott,
From "If Life is a Game, These are the Rules"

Chet Raymo, “This View of Life, With Its Several Powers”

 “This View of Life, With Its Several Powers”
by Chet Raymo

“Somewhere in his "lost" notebooks Loren Eiseley writes of the pleasure of exploding a puffball in a woodland clearing, or shaking seeds out of their pods. As I recall, he takes a gleeful satisfaction in messing with evolution, in hurrying the process along.

I remember identifying with that sentiment when I read it. I like exploding puffballs too. Dropping insects into spider webs. Picking up turtles that are half-way across a road and placing them in a ditch on the other side. Most of all I like breaking off the stalks of ripe milkweeds and shaking them gloriously in a meadow on a breezy day. Love that snowstorm of fecund parachutes blowing hither and yon. Love the idea that I am helping the monarch butterflies that feed and breed exclusively on milkweed.

Yes, I know, in the great scheme of things my random intrusions into the grinding engine of evolution won't make an iota's worth of difference. The problems besetting monarch butterflies won't be significantly alleviated by one more milkweed plant. And that turtle I put in the ditch may just turn around and head back across the road. Still, I take a childish pleasure in mixing it up. Of helping the natural in natural selection. Of kicking up a little dust on the tangled bank. We live in a creative universe, Eiseley said. Let's be creative."

"Subversive And Revolutionary, Destructive And Terrible..."

"Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin – more even than death... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."

- Bertrand Russell

The Daily "Near You?"

León, Castilla y Leon, Spain. Thanks for stopping by.

“The American Dream Turns Into a Global Nightmare”

“The American Dream Turns Into a Global Nightmare”
By Paul B. Farrell

“The American Dream? Now a global nightmare? A ticking time bomb, a lethal virus spreading worldwide, could destroy the entire world, backfire, take down America and capitalism? Yes.

But, first, a little history: Five years ago Bill Gates and his Billionaires Club asked that question. But gave up. Here’s why. Gates’ billionaires essentially asked: What do you think is the single, biggest ticking time bomb that will eventually take down global economies? The absolutely biggest one with a trigger mechanism that can ignite, set off a nuclear chain reaction that will throw a permanent wrench in global economic growth, ending capitalism, potentially destroying modern civilization as we know it.

Yes, that one. The one that — if not solved soon — renders all efforts to solve all other problems in the world irrelevant, futile and virtually impossible ever to solve. Yes, that one. What is the “big one?” Several alternative predictions have also been reported:

Global wars? Pentagon warns warfare will define human life by 2020. Big Oil? Bill McKibben’s “End of Nature” prediction could ignite soon. Capitalism? Many progressives see capitalism destroying democracy. Inequality? Pope says inequality is the root of all social problems. Climate warming? 2,000 UN scientists warn humans are killing Earth. Technology? Robert Gordon says we can’t stop GDP falling to 1%.

Biggest risk? Guess again: Not warfare... not the inequality... not energy resource depletion... not global warming... not out-of-control capitalists... yes, all are important, all part of the domino effect, the chain reaction as the global clock winds down to zero.

Yes, five years ago the one-percenters thought they knew. Bill Gates and his Billionaires Club were certain, unanimous. Gates had brought together billionaire philanthropists in a supersecret meeting in Manhattan about the time the market last bottomed. Included: Buffett, Rockefeller, Soros, Bloomberg, Turner, Oprah and others. The London Times Online reported that during the afternoon session each spoke about their favorite charities.

Then, the big question: What was the underlying, core problem driving all their interests? The world’s biggest time-bomb?

Overpopulation said the billionaires. Too many people on Planet Earth. True, the United Nations predicts that by 2050 global population will explode by as much as 40%, from more than 7 billion today to 10 billion. Overcrowding. Demanding. But as Scientific American repeatedly warns in special issues, population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” The “third-rail” for politicians, ignored by the world’s political leaders.

Three delusions: the American Dream mutates into Global Nightmare: But there’s an even bigger problem that will peak and backfire as the American Dream goes viral. For a couple generations, spread by the economics of globalization, the American Dream has been exported, spreading the capitalism virus worldwide, accelerating global GDP growth, infecting every nation and individual with their own mind-set imbedded in the promise of the “perpetual prosperity” inherent in the American Dream.

The effect? Today capitalism, globalization, the new Global Dream, the virus is rapidly spreading, mesmerizing the brains of everyone... mass-producing new billionaires... global lists on Forbes, Bloomberg and CNBC report an explosion from 322 billionaires in 2000 to 1,847 in 2014... China now has 358 billionaires... Africa has 29, adding nine last year... today, 85 of the world’s richest billionaires make more that the 3.5 billion in the bottom half... Credit Suisse predicts 11 trillionaire families in the world by 2100.

But three self-destructive delusions dominate today’s billionaires:

1. Delusion 1: Perpetual economic growth on planet of limited resources: The Super Rich are trapped in a classic delusion now ingrained in the collective unconscious of the world. They have ingested a self-destructive gene. They believe the same capitalism ideology that made them superrich will continue indefinitely, that economic growth is perpetual, even on a planet of clearly limited resources. This delusion is rampant in Exxon Mobil and the energy industries as they race ahead with an unsustainable business model that’s rapidly depleting nonreplaceable natural resources.

2. Delusion 2: New technologies will replace disappearing resources: The club of billionaires believes technology will overcome the limitations of resources and thus fuel the perpetual economic growth essential to create more and more billionaires, that some of this eternal prosperity will also trickle down to the world’s poorest 3.5 billion people. Economist Robert Gordon refutes that assumption in his rhetorical National Business Research Institute piece “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” Silicon Valley technology will never overcome all the headwinds reflected by today’s raging self-destructive political, economic and religious conflicts.

3. Delusion 3: Mutant Capitalists do not need to share the future: The new billionaires in America and worldwide have forgotten that the same capitalism that fueled the American Dream since 1776, that created the democracy supporting their accumulated billions, was a legacy that, in the past, also meant hope for the masses of Americans and all nations, that everyone, no matter how poor, had equal opportunities.

Unfortunately, as Jack Bogle warns, while spreading the American Dream we’re also a spreading a new Mutant Capitalism, a virus infecting superrich billionaires: Further widening the inequality gap, stifling opportunities for most Americans and people worldwide, hoarding the power, wealth and opportunities for those already in the top one percent, already listed among global billionaires.

Billions are in denial of their self-destructive delusions: “One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, an evolutionary biologist, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.”

Harvard financial historian Niall Ferguson, author of “Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire,” was more dramatic, hard-hitting, immediate: The world will be caught by surprise, unprepared. The coming collapse will “accelerate suddenly, like a sports car... like a thief in the night.” Crashing. Shocking us wide awake.

Paradox of Prosperity: the Global Dream will also peak, collapse: Today we’re all being misled by these three delusions. As Diamond warns: “There are ‘optimists’ who argue that the world could support double its human population.” But he adds, they “consider only the increase in human numbers and not average increase in per-capita impact. But I have not heard anyone who seriously argues that the world could support 12 times it’s current impact.” But that’s exactly what happens with “all Third World inhabitants adopting First World standards.”

Every nation in the world has its own version of the American Dream, the new Global Dream. Everyone wants prosperity, success, opportunity. More is never enough, either individually or nationally. Not just 310 million Americans, but 7.3 billion people worldwide are demanding more, more... on a finite planet with dwindling natural resources, as economist Michael Klare warns in his book “The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for World’s Last Resources.”

Bottom line: As the world population explodes 40% in the next generation, “what really counts,” says Diamond, “is not the number of people alone, but their impact on the environment, the per-capita impact.” First World citizens “consume 32 times more resources such as fossil fuels, and put out 32 times more waste, than do the inhabitants of the Third World.” 

And it’s delusional to think this trend will disappear. It will get worse because billionaires are in massive denial about their delusions... the self-destructive Global Dream will continue... until a catastrophic black swan shocks us awake.”

“The Bundy Paradigm: Will You Be a Rebel, Revolutionary or a Slave?”

“The Bundy Paradigm: 
Will You Be a Rebel, Revolutionary or a Slave?”
By John W. Whitehead

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
- John F. Kennedy

“Those tempted to write off the standoff at the Bundy Ranch as little more than a show of force by militia-minded citizens would do well to reconsider their easy dismissal of this brewing rebellion. This goes far beyond concerns about grazing rights or the tension between the state and the federal government.

Few conflicts are ever black and white, and the Bundy situation, with its abundance of gray areas, is no exception. Yet the question is not whether Cliven Bundy and his supporters are domestic terrorists, as Harry Reid claims, or patriots, or something in between. Nor is it a question of whether the Nevada rancher is illegally grazing his cattle on federal land or whether that land should rightfully belong to the government. Nor is it even a question of who’s winning the showdown— the government with its arsenal of SWAT teams, firepower and assault vehicles, or Bundy’s militia supporters with their assortment of weapons—because if such altercations end in bloodshed, everyone loses.

What we’re really faced with, and what we’ll see more of before long, is a growing dissatisfaction with the government and its heavy-handed tactics by people who are tired of being used and abused and are ready to say “enough is enough.” And it won’t matter what the issue is—whether it’s a rancher standing his ground over grazing rights, a minister jailed for holding a Bible study in his own home, or a community outraged over police shootings of unarmed citizens—these are the building blocks of a political powder keg. Now all that remains is a spark, and it need not be a very big one, to set the whole powder keg aflame.

As I show in my book "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State", there’s a subtext to this incident that must not be ignored, and it is simply this: America is a pressure cooker with no steam valve, and things are about to blow. This is what happens when a parasitical government muzzles the citizenry, fences them in, herds them, brands them, whips them into submission, forces them to ante up the sweat of their brows while giving them little in return, and then provides them with little to no outlet for voicing their discontent.

The government has been anticipating and preparing for such an uprising for years. For example, in 2008, a U.S. Army War College report warned that the military must be prepared for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order”—all related to dissent and protests over America’s economic and political disarray. Consequently, predicted the report, the “widespread civil violence would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

One year later, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama issued its infamous reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism.” According to these reports, an extremist is defined as anyone who subscribes to a particular political viewpoint. Rightwing extremists, for example, are broadly defined in the report as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.”

Despite “no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” the DHS listed a number of scenarios that could arise as a result of so-called rightwing extremists playing on the public’s fears and discontent over various issues, including the economic downturn, real estate foreclosures and unemployment.

Equally disconcerting, the reports use the words “terrorist” and “extremist” interchangeably. In other words, voicing what the government would consider to be extremist viewpoints is tantamount to being a terrorist. Under such a definition, I could very well be considered a terrorist. So too could John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Roger Baldwin (founder of the ACLU), Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams—all of these men protested and passionately spoke out against government practices with which they disagreed and would be prime targets under this document.

The document also took pains to describe the political views of those who would qualify as being a rightwing extremist. For example, you are labeled a rightwing extremist if you voice concerns about a myriad of issues including: policy changes under President Obama; the economic downturn and home foreclosures; the loss of U.S. jobs in manufacturing and construction sectors; and social issues such as abortion, interracial crimes and immigration. DHS also issued a red-flag warning against anyone who promotes “conspiracy theories involving declarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps.”

Fast forward five years, with all that has transpired, from the Occupy Protests and the targeting of military veterans to domestic surveillance, especially of activist-oriented groups and now, most recently, the Bundy Ranch showdown, and it would seem clear that the government has not veered one iota from its original playbook. Indeed, the government’s full-blown campaign of surveillance of Americans’ internet activity, phone calls, etc., makes complete sense in hindsight.

All that we have been subjected to in recent years—living under the shadow of NSA spying; motorists strip searched and anally probed on the side of the road; innocent Americans spied upon while going about their daily business in schools and stores; homeowners having their doors kicked in by militarized SWAT teams serving routine warrants—illustrates how the government deals with people it views as potential “extremists”: with heavy-handed tactics designed to intimidate the populace into submission and discourage anyone from stepping out of line or challenging the status quo.

It’s not just the Cliven Bundys of the world who are being dealt with in this manner. Don Miller, a 91-year-old antiques collector, recently had his Indiana home raided by the FBI, ostensibly because it might be in the nation’s best interest if the rare and valuable antiques and artifacts Miller had collected over the course of 80 years were cared for by the government. Such tactics carried out by anyone other than the government would be considered grand larceny, and yet the government gets a free pass.

In the same way, the government insists it can carry out all manner of surveillance on us—listen in on our phone calls, read our emails and text messages, track our movements, photograph our license plates, even enter our biometric information into DNA databases—but those who dare to return the favor, even a little, by filming potential police misconduct, get roughed up by the police, arrested, charged with violating various and sundry crimes.

When law enforcement officials—not just the police, but every agent of the government entrusted with enforcing laws, from the president on down—are allowed to discard the law when convenient, and the only ones having to obey the law are the citizenry and not the enforcers, then the law becomes only a tool to punish us, rather than binding and controlling the government, as it was intended.

This phenomenon is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In the scenario that has been playing out in recent years, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s henchmen, a.k.a. its guns for hire, a.k.a. its standing army, a.k.a. the nation’s law enforcement agencies.

Indeed, there can no longer be any doubt that militarized police officers, the end product of the government—federal, local and state—and law enforcement agencies having merged, have become a “standing” or permanent army, composed of full-time professional soldiers who do not disband. Yet these permanent armies are exactly what those who drafted the U.S. Constitution feared as tools used by despotic governments to wage war against its citizens.

That is exactly what we are witnessing today: a war against the American citizenry. Is it any wonder then that Americans are starting to resist?

More and more, Americans are tired, frustrated, anxious, and worried about the state of their country. They are afraid of an increasingly violent and oppressive federal government, and they are worried about the economic insecurity which still grips the nation. And they’re growing increasingly sick of being treated like suspects and criminals. As former law professor John Baker, who has studied the growing problem of overcriminalization, noted, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”

To make matters worse, a recent scientific study by Princeton researchers confirms that the United States of America is not the democracy that is purports to be, but rather an oligarchy, in which “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy.” As PolicyMic explains, “An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military… In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.”

So if average Americans, having largely lost all of the conventional markers of influencing government, whether through elections, petition, or protest, have no way to impact their government, no way to be heard, no assurance that their concerns are truly being represented and their government is one “by the people, of the people, and for the people,” as opposed to being engineered expressly for the benefit of the wealthy elite, then where does that leave them?

To some, the choice is clear. As psychologist Erich Fromm recognized in his insightful book, "On Disobedience": “If a man can only obey and not disobey, he is a slave; if he can only disobey and not obey, he is a rebel (not a revolutionary). He acts out of anger, disappointment, resentment, yet not in the name of a conviction or a principle.”

Unfortunately, the intrepid, revolutionary American spirit that stood up to the British, blazed paths to the western territories, and prevailed despite a civil war, multiple world wars, and various economic depressions has taken quite a beating in recent years. Nevertheless, the time is coming when each American will have to decide: will you be a slave, rebel or revolutionary?”