Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rightwing Nuthouse: “4 Right Wing Lunacies this Week: Phil Robertson's Insane Bloody Atheist Fantasy”

“4 Right Wing Lunacies this Week: 
Phil Robertson's Insane Bloody Atheist Fantasy”
And an Arizona Senator proposes a law requiring everyone to go to church.
By Janet Allon 

“1. Phil Robertson is a deeply disturbed man with a fantasy about beheading atheists. Apparently, the version of Christianity that ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson believes in is a very bloody, vengeful, sexually sadistic and psychopathic one. Either that, or the dude is just insane. The right-wing darling got off this week on spinning out a fantasy involving raping, decapitating and castrating an atheist family during a speech he gave at a Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast.


“I’ll make a bet with you,” Robertson said in that aw shucks folksy way he has. “Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

Just a few points: first, he did not make good on that offer of making a bet. Second, decapitating her head off? Third, and yeah, sort of the most important. The definition of atheism is a little off. It’s not believing in God, Sir Duck Commander, not the inability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Robertson’s fantasy continued, we’re going to say, perversely. “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

Wait, who’s sick in the head?

2. Tucker Carlson and his brother Buckley are even worse than everyone thought. Tucker and Buckley (yep, that’s his name) Carlson must have one proud mama. At least she can rest easy that she instilled in them a deep respect for women. Ha!

In leaked emails from the nasty, smug conservative brother act to a female staffer for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week, Buckley referred to the woman as “Labiaface!” Hey Buckley, do you talk to your mother with that mouth?

And no points for creativity either. There was a lot of mundane sexism in those emails tool, as well as sophomoric jokes about the woman’s name. The staffer, Amy Spitalnick, had simply reached out to to a writer for Tucker Carlson’s conservative website the Daily Caller asking for a correction to a story. Or as some might call it, doing her job. Things escalated and Tucker jumped in to tell her she was being whiny. Tucker and his brother then engaged in a little backchannel complaining about Spitalnick, accidentally cc-ing her on their e-mails. Whoops.

Highlight: "Great response," Buckley wrote to Tucker. "Whiny little self-righteous bitch. Appalling? And with such an ironic name, too…Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don’t think so. More like LabiaFace."

Mama Carlson?

3. Arizona GOP State Senator just thinks church attendance should be mandatory. While taking part in her state's appropriations debate this week, GOP Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen made a modest proposal: “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend the church of their choice.”

Probably, yeah.

Afterwards, reporters tried to get Allen to elaborate on that idea mashing up church and state. She scrambled away like a cornered animal. Then the next day, back on the state Senate floor, she doubled down, saying that she really did not understand why her suggestion that “America is in a need of a moral rebirth,” and that Americans be “legally required to go to church” was so controversial and “newsworthy.” Back in her day, people had morals and they prayed all the time, and she never even heard of heroin. And that is why not going to church should be against the law.

Let us pray.

The same towering intellect who truly believes the Earth is 6,000 years old...

4. Mark Levin: Barack Obama should take his seat right next to Hitler. On his show this week, rabid Conservative radio host Mark Levin initially wondered if he should really express what was in his heart. He wrestled with it, but not for long. Then he decided he just had to say it. It practically burst out of his mouth. “Barack Obama is the greatest threat that Jews face since the 1930’s.”

That’s it. That’s his position, and he’s sorry about having to say it. Wait, no he isn’t. He loved saying it. Barack Obama just loves “arming up this Islamonazis,” Levin said. No one loves Nazis, of any kind, more than the country’s first black president. Levin hastened to point out that he did not mean Obama threatens the Jews “in this country.” He meant the Jews in Israel. Although, he also thinks Obama is a terrible threat to this country, too. Practically goes without saying. So, in that sense, he's a threat to the Jews in this country, too.

And to everyone else."

Just couldn't make this stuff up...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Also known as the Cigar Galaxy for its elongated visual appearance, M82 is a starburst galaxy with a superwind. In fact, through ensuing supernova explosions and powerful winds from massive stars, the burst of star formation in M82 is driving the prodigious outflow of material. Evidence for the superwind from the galaxy's central regions is clear in this sharp composite image, based on data from small telescopes on planet Earth. 
 Click image for larger size.
The composite highlights emission from filaments of atomic hydrogen gas in reddish hues. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light-years. Some of the gas in the superwind, enriched in heavy elements forged in the massive stars, will eventually escape into intergalactic space. Triggered by a close encounter with nearby large galaxy M81, the furious burst of star formation in M82 should last about 100 million years or so. M82 is 12 million light-years distant, near the northern boundary of Ursa Major.”

"A Perpetual Illusion..."

"Human life is thus only a perpetual illusion; men deceive and flatter each other. No one speaks of us in our presence as he does of us in our absence. Human society is founded on mutual deceit; few friendships would endure if each knew what his friend said of him in his absence, although he then spoke in sincerity and without passion. Man is then only disguise, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in himself and in regard to others. He does not wish any one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others, and all these dispositions, so removed from justice and reason, have a natural root in his heart."
- Blaise Pascal

"The First Rule Of Life..."

"The first rule of life is to reveal nothing, to be exceptionally cautious in what you say, in whatever company you may find yourself. If you have a secret, you have only to whisper it to your dearest friend with the strictest injunction that it will go no further, and within half a day the story is all over town, and when you do make what would seem to be a perfectly sensible remark, you will find it reported in the most grotesque form, thus incurring no end of criticism to rebound upon you."
    - Elizabeth Aston

The Daily "Near You?"

Bolton, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by.

The Poet: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "What If?"

"What If?"

"What if you slept?
And what if,
In your sleep
You dreamed?

And what if,
In your dream,
You went to heaven
And there plucked
A strange and
Beautiful flower?

And what if,
When you awoke,
You had the flower
In your hand?

... Ah, what then?"

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Chet Raymo, “The Silence”

“The Silence”
by Chet Raymo

“The hiding places of my power
Seem open; I approach, and then they close;
I see by glimpses now; when age comes on,
May scarcely see at all, and I would give,
While yet we may, as far as words can give,
A substance and a life to what I feel...”

"These few lines from Wordsworth's "The Prelude" leapt off the page at me this morning. They capture well enough what my life has become. All those years of teaching, of writing in the Boston Globe, were years of sharing public knowledge, knowledge that had been vetted by the scientific community. The work was not about me. The teacher was me, the writer was me, but what I taught and wrote was reliable, consensus knowledge of the world. A student in my classes or a reader of my newspaper columns would have been hard pressed to know my politics or my religion or the nature of the questions that came in the darkest hours of the night. And that is the way it should have been; that was my homage to objectivity.

Those were valuable years, years of building up a sturdy polder in the sea of mystery, a place to stand with a firmness of foot. And now, in retirement, with time on my hands- and on my mind- I find myself more inclined to explore what Wordsworth called "the hiding places of my power." I approach. They close. I touch with my hand the surface of the pond that Pat wrote about the other day; my hand comes out of the depths to meet me. I see by glimpses. It is, I suppose, a kind of forgetting. With the forgetting comes a certain freshness. My fingertip touches the surface of the world from above and from below, and concentric circles spread outwards, rippling, like a soundless sound, and I struggle, in words, as best I can, to give a substance and a life to what I feel.

This does not mean, I trust, that I am going soft, finding supernaturalist religion or getting all New Age squishy as "age comes on." I keep my feet planted on solid fact and read my weekly "Science" and "Nature" along with my Wordsworth. No, it is rather a simple freedom to explore the hiding places, attending to private particulars as opposed to public universals, listening for the small voice that whispers from the nooks and crannies of yet unassimilated reality.

There is a passage in "The Prelude" where a young Boy (the poet?), standing in evening air by the glimmering lake, makes a mimic hooting with his hands to his mouth and the owls answer. Twooo-twooo. And the reply. Twooo-twooo. Then, unaccountably, the answers cease. And in the silence the boy becomes more keenly aware than ever of water, rocks, and woods, and mountain torrents, "that uncertain heaven, received into the bosom of the steady lake." Thoreau has something similar. He rejoiced in owls; their hoot, he said, was a sound well suited to swamps and twilight woods. The interval between the hoots was a deepened silence, suggesting, to Thoreau, "a vast and undeveloped nature which men have not recognized." It is that that I now attend: the deepened silence between the hoots.”

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity, In the World and in Ourselves"

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity, In the World and in Ourselves"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and knowing this allows us to find compassion. From time to time, we may all feel fed up with humanity, whether it’s from learning about what’s going on around the world, or what’s going on next door. There are always situations that leave us feeling as if people are simply not capable of behaving in a way that is coming from a place of awareness. Often it seems as if people are actually geared to handle things in the worst possible way, repeatedly. At the same time, none of us wants to linger in a judgmental mood about our own species. As a result, we might tend to repress the feelings coming up as we take in the news from the world and the neighborhood.

It is natural to feel let down and disappointed when we see our fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into despondency. As with any emotional response, we honor our feelings by feeling them fully, without judging or acting on them. Once we’ve done that—and we may need to do it every day, as part of our daily self-care—we can begin to consider ways that we might help the situation in which humanity finds itself.

As always, we start with ourselves, utilizing our awareness of the failings of others to renew our own commitment to be more conscious human beings. We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and remembering this keeps us in check, as well as allowing us to find compassion for others. We may find ourselves feeling compelled to serve people who are suffering injustices at the hands of other people, or we may begin to speak out when we see something that we don’t think is right. Whatever the case, the only thing we can do is pledge to serve the best, rather than the worst, of what humanity has to offer, both in the world, and in ourselves."

The Poet: Maya Angelou, "Good Morning"

"Here, on the pulse of this new day,
You may have the grace to look up and out,
And into your sister's eyes,
 and into your brother's face, your country,
 And say simply,
Very simply, 
 With hope -
Good morning." 

- Maya Angelou

"How It Really Is"

“Parasitic Derivatives - One Quadrillion Dollars: Too Big to Understand”

“Parasitic Derivatives - One Quadrillion Dollars: Too Big to Understand”
By David Hague

“I recently returned from two weeks of ‘high level’ meetings with a group of Bankers [this is code for two weeks of subsidized debauchery with bankers] in Rome. As I sat at my desk, I was hoping to motivate myself to pursue a more chaste and pure existence. Unfortunately the Polar Vortex experienced by North America drained me of my good intentions. The bone chilling cold once again had me reaching for my trusty bottle of Jack Daniels for warmth and inspiration. My time in Rome had not been completely ‘wasted’, so to speak. I had secured a contract from the European Central Bank [ECB] to research the topic of Derivatives. I was to present my findings at the upcoming World Economic Forum  in Davos later that month.

One Quadrillion Dollars: Too Big to Understand: Dear Reader, please resist your natural instinct to click away from this commentary at the mere mention of the word ‘Derivatives’. I am acutely aware of the boredom and befuddlement that this word instills in you. At this point I would simply remind you that the derivatives market is estimated to exceed one quadrillion dollars. [This stupidly large number is actually an accurate estimate of the size of the derivatives marketplace]. Despite the fact the derivatives market eclipses the market capitalization of the NYSE by an exponential factor, it is not discussed, reported or tracked because it is simply too complicated and opaque. Warren Buffet’s, comment about ‘weapons of mass financial destruction’ seem to be the beginning and end of any discussion on the topic.

Derivatives are a parasitic financial instrument: For those of you who are unschooled on the topic of derivatives, allow me to explain. Derivatives are abstract financial instruments, which, like parasites, can attach themselves to all manner of stocks, bonds, mortgages, commodity, debt obligations, currency exchange, interest rate fluctuations…in short, anything. Derivatives exist in the ‘twilight zone’ of the banking industry. Like black holes, their presence and massive influence are acknowledged yet the true influence on the global economy of this quadrillion dollar ‘event horizon’ is only theoretical. The near catastrophic disasters at Barings, JP Morgan and AIG are small examples of their destructive powers. However I will offer you Investorpedia’s more clinical definition. “A security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties.” 

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, {Kenny Rogers}: One might think of derivatives as a random game of online poker, you don’t know who your opponents are [your counterparty], you do not know if you will be paid [counterparty risk], you do not know if the game is legitimate, [lack of regulation], and your opponents are probably able to see what cards you are holding, [market domination by large banks]. As well, you are making bets that in many instances neither you nor your opponents fully grasp [complexity of the market]. With each wager you are potentially risking not only your current assets, but your future assets as well. [Leverage]. In some cases you do not know how much you are betting. Imagine as well, that you play this game every day with trillions of dollars that you do not have. This is the global derivatives market.

It is all Greek to me: Alternately, as derivatives are often created as a form of insurance, think of them as an insurance policy in which you:

- Do not know the name, address or any contact information relating to your insurer.
- Do not know if your insurer has the resources to pay a claim.
- Do not understand the insurance contract as it is written in Greek.
- Must rely on a shadowy third party [ISDA]  to decide what constitutes a claim. [Credit event]
- Do not know whether your insurer is itself vulnerable to the particular risk you have contracted with it to insure.

His moral lassitude allowed him to excel: Dear Reader, I digress, let me return to my narrative. The aforementioned lucrative contract was secured by two key factors. The first factor was my friendship with Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre, the European Central Bank’s [ECB] Global Director of Statistical Creation. My relationship with such an esteemed member of the ECB traced its roots back to Gustavo’s days as a bookie for Wall Street’s elite. I referred so much business to him we became very good friends. His station in life took a remarkable turn when a senior member of the ECB, while in New York on a ‘fact finding mission’ [this is code for visiting his favorite escort] made an outrageously large and incorrect wager on the outcome of the 2010 World Cup. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the term ‘derivative’ is commonly used in sports betting!) The only way the debt could be settled was for the banker to offer Gustavo a highly paid sinecure at the ECB. Gustavo became the Global Director of Statistical Creation with the responsibility of making up statistics to support whatever fantastical and deranged policies Central Banks around the world were initiating. Remarkably Gustavo’s aptitude for numbers, coupled with his moral lassitude allowed him to excel at his job. It was Gustavo who invented the term ‘Quantitative Easing’ as a benign euphemism for runaway money printing.

Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise’: The second factor that secured the contract for me was a chance remark I made as Gustavo and I enjoyed a ‘working lunch’, with several senior executives who represented many of the world’s largest banks. The working lunch was held at Rome’s exclusive Blue Moon Gentleman’s Club. As the featured dancer left the stage I happened to mention to the assorted luminaries that I had read an article on the subject of derivatives. The bankers looked at me with something akin to awe and reverence. Gustavo whispered to me that the topic of derivatives had been discussed in a recent conference call by the world’s bankers. The conclusion reached at that time was that derivatives were too boring and too complicated for bankers to grasp. Despite JP Morgan’s very public, expensive and monumentally stupid 5 billon dollar derivatives trading loss bankers still choose to remain cocooned in a ‘Cloak of Ignorance’ as it relates to derivatives. Thomas Gray’s lament that where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise could easily be the mission statement of the global banking industry.

I had read a complete article, I was a ‘de facto expert’: Dear reader, I am not being rude and offensive in my remarks about JP Morgan. Surely you would agree with me that any large bank that loses $5 billion in derivatives trading is ignorant of the properties and risks of derivatives?  The fact that I had actually read a complete article on the subject made me a de facto expert on the topic. Gustavo, in an act of kindness, seized the opportunity on my behalf and pressed his colleagues to retain me to research the topic and make a presentation at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos. Thus I found myself preparing to dazzle the world’s financial elite with my insights into the risks and opportunities presented by the global derivatives market.  In a rush to complete the deal before the next dancer took the stage it was agreed that I would receive the standard banker’s honorarium of $5,000/hour up to a maximum of ‘whatever it takes’.

At $5,000/hr., you would surely not expect me to be brief: I sat at my desk, sipping ‘Gentleman Jack‘ while I looked out at the bleak weather that made Brooklyn so depressing in the winter. My TV was tuned to CNBC, as I waited for Wall Street to open. I put my crack pipe in its case. Dear reader like many of you [especially those of you who work in the banking industry], I have learned all too well, the dangers of mixing crack cocaine with whiskey on an empty stomach. [Have we not all indulged, to our regret, that particular venial sin  at least once?] I collected my thoughts and began to write my lengthy tome on the derivatives market. Dear reader at $5,000/hr., you would surely not expect me to be brief.

Lions and Tigers and Bears [and derivatives] Oh My!: I do not want to frighten you. However I will share with you some facts about derivatives that will have you reacting as nervously as Dorothy did in the Wizard of OZ when confronted with the thought of Lions and Tigers and Bears. ‘Derivatives, Oh My’, will I suspect be the words that escape your lips.

Size of the derivatives market: 1 Quadrillion dollars
Size of Global Stock and bond markets:  175 trillion dollars
Who regulates the Derivatives market? LOL, Regulation is a ‘work in progress’ dominated by the big banks.

How dangerous are derivatives? They almost destroyed the world’s largest insurance company, AIG, as well as the global economy. Seriously, you don’t remember? Just Google the words AIG and collapse. Alternately you might call Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan  and ask him if Derivatives are dangerous. Have recent regulatory changes made the world economy less likely to implode from a derivative fuelled explosion? Actually as one might expect, thanks to regulatory enhancements that had to run the gauntlet of bank lobbyists prior to their approval, the world’s economy is in more danger than ever from a derivatives inspired meltdown.

‘Duck Dynasty’ and ‘Real Housewives’ to the rescue: How much attention does the Main Street pay to the world’s largest and riskiest casino? [AKA: the Derivatives market]. If one were to Google the word derivatives, one will get 34 million ‘hits’. Alternately, if one does a similar search for the words stocks bonds and markets one will get 400 million ‘hits’. The 34 million ‘hits’ generated by a Google search of the word derivatives compares unfavorably with the 37 million ‘hits’ generated by a search of the term ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’, the 209 million ‘hits’ generated by a search of the term ‘Duck Dynasty’ or the 713 million ‘hits’ generated by searching the word ‘Sex’. One must conclude that only when derivatives are discussed by one of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ posing nude in bed with one of the cast members of ‘Duck Dynasty’ will derivatives receive the attention they deserve.

Reality bites: Derivatives can only be discussed as ‘Fake News’: Where can one find insights and coverage of the Derivatives Market in the mainstream media? Is Fox News or CNN my best choice? Sadly Dear reader your best choice would be The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Despite the calamitous risk and obvious importance of this topic only Mr. Stewart and his team have dared to share information with the general public. Given the outlandish and frightening risks derivatives constitute to the Global Economy, perhaps Mr. Stewart is correct that it can only be discussed in the ‘Fake News’ format.

Derivatives: better suited for Ripley’s Believe it or not than the Wall Street Journal: How bizarre is the derivatives market? How is the concept of money for nothing propagated by the derivatives market? What is the difference between a chump and a champion in the derivatives market? I will leave it to Shah Gilani in his excellent post in Wall Street: Insights and Indictments  to explain. Suffice to say that one is able to buy insurance in the derivatives market. One can then cause the insured event to occur by collaborating with a third party. All that remains is to collect the insurance proceeds. [To be clear the proceeds are usually in the tens of millions of dollars.] The derivatives market makes the Ponzi-like money printing of the Central banks look like ‘Amateur Hour’.

Who needs ‘Crack’? Dear reader, usually I needed a little help from my friend Mr. Crack to feel as paranoid and euphoric as I did at this moment. Paranoid, because it was clear to me that the derivatives market was truly a weapon of mass financial destruction. Euphoric because I knew that my research would make my ‘Derivatives’ presentation at the World Economic Forum a  groundbreaking ‘tour de force’ that would vault me to the forefront of ‘talking heads’ that pass for experts on mainstream media. Fame, fortune, a book deal and perhaps that elusive Nobel Prize would surely follow. My twenty minutes of painstaking research, had made me one of the world’s foremost experts on this complex subject. [BTW Dear Reader by reaching this point in my commentary, you surely now know more about derivatives than most bankers and traders on Wall Street. You should be quite pleased.]

David, you are an imbecile: I decided to reach out to my pal Gustavo and share some of my findings. I knew that it was 3:30 in the afternoon in Paris so I would be able to catch Gustavo just as he arrived for another day of work. “Gustavo”, I intoned, breathless with excitement. “I have uncovered some startling, controversial, and frightening information about derivatives. The luminaries and leading lights who attend my presentation in Davos will be utterly gobsmacked  by my revelations. The media will undoubtedly ensure that my findings go viral. The topic of derivatives will no longer exist only in the dark shadows of the banking industry. The danger that derivatives pose to the global economy will permeate the consciousness of Main Street.”. Gustavo sighed, “David, I do not know if you are stupid or naïve. Every September when you bet $1,000 that the perennially atrocious Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup, I assumed you were simply ingenuous. Your comments today have convinced me that you are an imbecile. Let me assure you that those will not be the findings that you present at the World Economic Forum. Rather you will inform the world that derivatives are a financial instrument that is being used by brilliant and prudent financial professionals to mitigate risk and make the world a safer place.”

The ‘Truth Will Out’: “Gustavo”, I groaned, "that would be a lie. I cannot in good conscience, sacrifice my integrity, my honor, my core beliefs and my good name simply to placate Wall Street and the Central Banks. I have a responsibility to my readers on Main Street to inform them, to warn them, to prepare them for the likely financial chaos that derivatives will cause”. “Gustavo”, I said with iron willed determination, “the Truth Will Out”. “David”, Gustavo snarled, “If you change the tenor of your presentation and indicate that derivatives are the most benign form of financial instrument, somewhat akin to Treasury bills, we will double your fee”.

Move along nothing to see here: Dear Reader, in summary let me say that derivatives are the most benign form of financial instrument, somewhat akin to treasury bills. Gustavo’s immutable logic and persuasive argument was instrumental in helping me reach the correct conclusion regarding the risks to the Global economy posed by derivatives. So Dear Reader, move along, there is nothing to see here." 

“Proof Positive That the "Recovery" is a Lie and the Fed Is Only Interested in the TBTFs”

“Proof Positive That the "Recovery" is a Lie 
and the Fed Is Only Interested in the TBTFs”
by Phoenix Capital Research

"By basing the whole “recovery” argument on fraudulent data, the Fed and Federal Government have backed themselves into a corner. After all, anyone with a functioning brain knows that the unemployment data, and, GDP growth data are massaged at best and totally bogus at worst. By using these data points as bricks to build the argument that somehow spending $4 trillion in newly printed money (and issuing $11 trillion in new debt) was needed only reinforces one of two things:

1) None of the people in charge of steering the economy have a clue what they’re doing …
2) The whole thing was in fact a giant lie used to cover up the fact that none of the money was spent to try and generate economic growth.

How do we know the US is not in recovery? It’s really quite simple. If it were, the Fed wouldn’t have any issue with raising rates. Take a look at the below chart. Every other recession going back to 1954 saw rates begin to rise a few years into the recovery.

The Fed and Feds can talk about recovery all they want. But it’s just talk. If the US was truly in recovery, interest rates would be rising. So… if the money wasn’t spent on creating growth, why was it spent? To stop the bond bubble from blowing up. The bond bubble was $80 trillion going into 2008. Today it’s over $100 trillion. The US had $5 trillion in public debt going into 2008. Today it has over $18 trillion.

Here’s out latest “recovery.” We are now five to six years into it and rates are effectively at zero. The old adage says “actions speak louder than words.” You could literally skip all of the Fed FOMC minutes, speeches, and Q&A sessions. The below chart is exponentially louder than anything Yellen or the other Fed leaders could say.

Part of this money went towards expanding the already bloated government with endless programs and social spending. But a significant portion of it went towards rolling over old debt. The US never had an extra $5 trillion lying around to pay off its old debts to begin with. And so it has been issuing new debt to cover for old debt that was coming due. Indeed, between October and November of last year, the Federal Government issued $1 trillion in new debt… because it didn’t have the money to pay back old debt that was coming due. That’s just $1 trillion. Total US debt is above $18 trillion.

There is no recovery. There is only the bond bubble. And everything has been done to prop it up because when it bursts (as all bubbles do), entire countries (including the US) will go bust. But the Fed doens't even really care about this... it cares about the $555 TRILLION in interest rate-based derivatives sitting on the TBTF bank balance sheets. (Other estimates place that figure at $1.4 QUADRILLION. - CP) This situation will result in a Crash far larger than 2008. The markets involved are larger as is the risk and the leverage.”

Friday, March 27, 2015

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, “When Time Slows (Born Star)”

Chuck Wild, Liquid Mind, “When Time Slows (Born Star)”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"If not perfect, then this spiral galaxy is at least one of the most photogenic. An island universe of about 100 billion stars, 32 million light-years away toward the constellation Pisces, M74 presents a gorgeous face-on view. Classified as an Sc galaxy, the grand design of M74's graceful spiral arms are traced by bright blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes. 
 Click image for larger size.
The above image covers half the width of the full Moon and was obtained using 19 hours of exposure on the 1.23-meter telescope at Calar Alto Observatory in the Sierra de Los Filabres mountain range in Spain. Spanning about 30,000 light-years across the face of M74, it includes exposures recording emission from hydrogen atoms, highlighting the reddish glow of the galaxy's large star-forming regions."

"A Look to the Human Spirit"

"What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious - few people are able to watch the above video without smiling."

"The Legend Of The Thornbird"

“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the price of great pain… or so says the legend."

"How Is One To Live..."

“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”
- Barry Lopez

"Do You Find it Difficult to Trust Others?"

"Do You Find it Difficult to Trust Others?"
by Jonathan

"Are you naturally trusting, or do you tend to be suspicious of other people’s motives? Have you ever been taken advantage of by someone you trusted? Do you feel that trusting others is naive? Sadly, there is no shortage of people in this world who will try to take advantage of you. How many weird emails do you get telling you that you have won a lottery, or there’s a question about your item on Ebay, or that you are the beneficiary of millions of dollars from overseas someplace? What do all these messages have in common? Someone is trying to take advantage of you. Does this mean that it’s unwise to be trusting of others? Well, sometimes it is unwise, but then again, being suspicious of everyone you meet is not a very positive way to live your life. So what’s the answer?

Before we delve into answers, let’s consider how we are affected by our own attitude toward trust. As with everything else, your level of trust, or suspicion, sends a subtle message to those around you. People respond to that message in various ways, and their response will have a direct impact on your quality of life. How do you feel when you meet somebody, and right away you sense that they don’t trust you? Consider three possibilities:

1) Does it make you feel like you have to prove that you are trustworthy? That’s not a very comfortable feeling because it immediately puts you on the defensive.
2) Perhaps it causes you to jump to negative conclusions about that person, thinking, “what is their problem anyway?” In this case, you reacted with suspicion to their lack of trust. Again, not a comfortable feeling.
3) If you are someone who struggles with a lack of self confidence, how do you think it would feel to have someone who doesn’t even know you, be suspicious of you? Needless to say, it is very difficult to build self confidence with that kind of negative emotional feedback.

In all three of these examples, having someone else treat us with a lack of trust had a negative influence on our mental and emotional state. If that is how they made us feel, we need to ask ourselves… Are those the feelings I want to bring out in other people? The truth is, we don’t like it, and neither do they. 

Now, let’s look at the flip side. How does it make you feel when you first meet somebody, and you immediately sense that they are trusting toward you? It makes you feel good, right? In fact, you like that person right off, don’t you? If they make you feel good, and you like them, you are much more likely to treat them with respect in return. If you want others to treat you with trust and respect, do the same for them. In most cases, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Trusting others sets up a subconscious desire in them, to live up to your trust. Many times, that is all that is needed to help them rise to the occasion.
Everybody likes approval: Trust is a form of approval, and when someone else feels your approval, they will generally respond in a very positive way. Approval is one of the strongest motivators there is. People seek out approval, and will go to great lengths to gain it. If they view you as a source of approval, they will feel drawn to you without even realizing why. Making people feel good about themselves is a win-win situation.
Successful relationships are built on trust: The more we count someone as trustworthy, the higher they rate on our internal people-meter. Obviously, complete trust is something that must be earned. But, could we begin every relationship by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt? Who do you like to do business with, and who are your best friends? The answer to both of those questions is directly related to who has earned your trust. When we feel that we have good reasons for trusting a company and their products, we become repeat customers. When we feel that we have legitimate reasons for trusting other people, they become our friends. Now, let me ask you this: who is the most important person in your life? Isn’t it the person that you trust above all others? Trust is a factor in all positive relationships. The greater the level of trustworthiness, the stronger the relationship.
Back to our opening question: In a world where some people are looking to take advantage, is it unwise to trust others? Only if you have some legitimate reason not to trust them. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about trusting somebody you just met with your newborn baby or life savings. All we are talking about here is the attitude you project toward people you meet for the first time. So use common sense and exercise caution when caution is called for. But, don’t let the spammers and scammers of this world mold your opinion of people in general. If you greet most people with trust and give them the benefit of the doubt, you will not be disappointed. Helping others to feel good about themselves will raise the quality of their life, and yours.”

"The Oyster and the Cormorant"

"The Oyster and the Cormorant"
by CoyotePrime

“Brandt's Cormorants feed either singly or in flocks, and are adaptable in prey choice and undersea habitat. It feeds on small fish from the surface to sea floor, obtaining them, like all cormorants, by pursuit diving using its feet for propulsion. Prey is often what is most common: in central California, rockfish from the genus Sebastes is the most commonly taken, but off British Columbia, it is Pacific Herring. Brandt's Cormorant have been observed foraging at depths of over 40 feet.” -WikiPedia

Westport is a small fishing town on the western coast of Washington, a place we visited for fishing from their public dock. Pelicans, terns, sea gulls and many other birds are abundant there. My favorite was the cormorant, a sleek bird known for diving like an arrow into the water to catch its prey. One sunny afternoon we saw a strange sight among the many Brandt’s cormorants floating near the rock jetty. One apparently had something large stuck to its beak, and was in distress. Walking closer, we saw to our horror that it was really a very large oyster, encrusted with barnacles, which must have weighed several pounds. The cormorant, while diving for food, had obviously poked his beak into the oysters shell, which the oyster promptly closed, trapping them both in a death grip. Despite the cormorants frantic efforts at removing the oyster it remained firmly in place. Barely able to breath, the effort to keep the oysters weight from pulling him underwater was rapidly exhausting the bird. Desperately he pulled his head above water, trying to catch a breath, until the weight of the oyster slowly pulled his head back under. Helpless, all we could do was watch as the birds head was gradually pulled beneath the surface for longer periods of time, until finally they both disappeared beneath the waves.

This made me wonder what “oysters” many of us invisibly carry around, the possessions or experiences we “REALLY” believe we must have or possess, which turn out to harm us in the long run: debt stress from the house and new car; job problems; health problems; relationship problems; family problems; losses of all kinds, all adding to the weight of the “oyster” attempting to drown us. Are they really worth it?
What’s YOUR oyster made of? Can you safely remove it before it drowns you?

The Daily "Near You?"

Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Eckhart Tolle, “The Beggar”

“The Beggar”
by Eckhart Tolle

“A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for thirty years. One day a stranger walked by.
"Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar.
"I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you're sitting on?"
"Nothing " replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I've been sitting on it for as long as I can remember."
"Ever look inside?," asked the stranger.
"No," said the beggar. "What's the point, there's nothing in there."
"Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. 
The beggar, reluctantly, managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.”

"The Edge..."

“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take a step into 
the darkness of unknown, we must believe one of two things will happen. 
There will be something solid to stand on, or we will be taught how to fly.”
- Patrick Overton

Chet Raymo, “Our Better Angels”

“Our Better Angels”
by Chet Raymo

“I have just finished reading Andrea Levy's “Little Island,” a novel that won or was shortlisted for many prizes in 2004- and which was dramatized on the BBC this past December. Levy was born in Britain to Jamaican parents in 1956. She lives and works in London today. Her novel explores racism in Jamaica, Britain and India during and just after the Second World War, through the lives of two women and two men, black and white, Jamaican and British. 

My children, and especially my grandchildren, would scarcely recognize the world she describes. To me, it is intensely familiar. I came of age at the time of her novel, in a thoroughly segregated Chattanooga, Tennessee. Jim Crow ruled. Public toilets, water fountains, lunch counters, restaurants, movie theaters, parks and recreation facilities were separated by race, and woe betide the person who crossed the line.

All that is gone now. Gone in Chattanooga. Gone in Britain. Gone in these Caribbean islands. Which is not to say that latent racism doesn't still exist. But on the whole things have changed enough that we can read Levy's novel and wonder that we were once beholden to so much hate.

What was the nature of the transformation? Did human nature change? Did a fear of the other inbred by millions of years of evolution suddenly vanish? Or was fear of the other suppressed by a cultural upwelling of an innate altruism? Maybe it wasn't biological at all? Maybe both the racism and its amelioration are driven by cultural imperatives? Maybe we truly discover our better angels as we evolve culturally?

Since I was raised in a racist culture (although not by racist parents) and now count myself without prejudice (I hope), it would seem that self-reflection might provide something of an answer. I suspect that both fear of the other and solidarity within a group are deeply embedded in our cultural traditions and maybe our DNA. In which case, it is a broadening of "us" that has diminished the "other", probably driven by technology- radio, television, movies, air travel, the internet. 

Then too, I suspect the growing promise of empirical knowledge over faith-based knowledge-  seeing what is there to see, not what we want to see or have been taught to see- has lessened our beholdenness to the past and to our genes.”

Satire: “Indiana Defines Stupidity as Religion”

“Indiana Defines Stupidity as Religion”
by Andy Borowitz

INDIANAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)— “In a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion. Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.” The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.

While Pence’s action drew the praise of stupid people across America, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not among them. “Even I wasn’t dumb enough to sign a bill like that,” she said.”

What's this all about?
"Indiana Gov. Pence Signs Anti-Gay 'Religious Objections' Bill"

"How It Really Is"

“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

The Economy: “Your Money, Your Life”

“Your Money, Your Life”
By Gerald Celente

'How many times do you have to get hit over the head until you figure out who's hitting you?”
- Harry S. Truman 

“There has been nothing like this in the History of the World. In full view of the public, and at their expense, governments loot treasuries to enrich those responsible for committing the highest of economic crimes and the most horrific of misdemeanors.

First there was TARP. As a pretext to stem equity-market turmoil following Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program just one month later. That allowed the US Treasury to insure up to $700 billion of “troubled assets,” a.k.a., White Shoe Boy lingo for covering the massive bad bets and criminal acts made by big banks and Wall Street high rollers.

Shortly after, newly elected President Barack Obama sold the nation his $900 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The largest such plan in American history, Obama said, “Four hundred thousand men and women are gonna go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrade mass transit (and) build high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation.”

The only “roads” the nearly $1 trillion repaired was Wall Street. Concurrently, the US Federal Reserve ratcheted down interest rates to record lows and launched unprecedented Quantitative Easing policies that fueled a boom on Wall Street at the cost of Main Street. The Dow soared from 8,000 in 2009 to 18,000 in 2014, while an estimated 95 percent of the income gains went to America’s wealthiest 1 percent. Yet, during that same period, Gross Domestic Product has plodded along at 2.2 percent on average, never hitting the “escape velocity” Washington keeps touting and the financial press keeps selling.

Following the Fed’s plan, Japan’s Abenomic money-pumping scheme, announced in December 2012, has achieved similar results. The Nikkei recently hit 15-year highs while Japan’s GDP fluctuates between sharp declines and meek growth.

Now, the European Central Bank has begun a QE program that will inject $1.3 trillion into the financial system over the next 16 months — and more if deemed necessary. The end result, as with the US and Japan, will be the same. The record low interest rates and flow of cheap and easy money will temporarily boost equity markets while eurozone economies fluctuate between moderate growth and deepening recession.

Among the biggest losers is the general public, with no place to put its savings, especially with more European banks charging customers negative interest rates to hold their money. And, with bonds paying negative yields, insurance companies that sell products and annuities and invest that money in government and corporate bonds — with the expectation that the return on bonds is greater than what they will have to pay to the insured — has now been destroyed.

In anticipation of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s QE plan, which he admits is “unconventional,” investors (high-stake gamblers) already have pumped some $36 billion into European equity markets. Meanwhile, for the man on the street, he has just seen his purchasing power dramatically decline as the euro continues its freefall from $1.39 last March to a recent low of $1.04 — and with forecasts to hit near or below parity with the dollar in the not-too-distant future.

Breaking Point 2.0: Central banks’ multi-trillion-dollar monetary injections, zero-interest-rate policies, negative interest rates, negative bond yields, and the colossal scale of cheap money that artificially pumped up equity markets and fueled the investment capital/private equity group/hedge fund gambling binge, are unprecedented in the History of the World. And, when the Greatest Speculative Bubble on Earth bursts, it will be the shock heard and felt throughout the world — for generations.”