Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Satire: “Furious Obama Says Calls to Putin Going Straight to Voice Mail”

“Furious Obama Says Calls to Putin Going Straight to Voice Mail”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “In what he called “a provocative and defiant act,” President Obama charged on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has started letting his calls go directly to voice mail. Speaking at the White House before this week’s NATO summit, a visibly furious Obama said that Putin’s new practice of letting his calls go straight to voice mail “hampers our ability to discuss the future of Ukraine and other important issues going forward.”

Having left dozens of voice mails for the Russian President, Obama said that he tried to reach him via e-mail on Monday night but received an out-of-office auto reply. “Given what he has been up to in Ukraine over the past few weeks, I find it impossible believe he has been out of the office,” Obama said. The President hinted that Putin’s failure to respond to his voice mails could result in additional sanctions and signaled that he did not intend to call the Russian President again. “I have left my last voice mail for him,” he said, adding that the last time he called Putin his mailbox was full.”

"In The Time Of Your Life..."

"In the time of your life, live - so that in good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle... and have no regret. In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it."

- William Saroyan, "The Time of Your Life" (1939)

The Universe

“I so love mornings. All of earth's energies are zipping, zapping and crackling in alignment. The stars have been tucked in bed. The nightingales begin dreaming their dreams. And the sugar plum fairies try hard not to be seen. But best of all I love mornings because it's when the "Giants" return to earth - stretching, yawning, squinting and rolling - remembering without quite remembering, sometimes for just the flickering of a second, that all is right in the world and that their greatness has never needed to be proven. Now, to work on remembering this for the rest of the day...”
Like you, "Big Foot" - 
    The Universe

“Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!”

Monday, September 1, 2014

Musical Interlude: Justin Hayward, “The Way of the World”

Justin Hayward, “The Way of the World”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. 
 Click image for larger size.
About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful composite image, starlight from the central bluish bar contrasting with the telltale reddish glow of ionized atomic hydrogen gas. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies and is the home of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A. The prominent patch at top left is 30 Doradus, also known as the magnificent Tarantula Nebula. The giant star-forming region is about 1,000 light-years across.”

"The Tune..."

"Life calls the tune, we dance."
- John Galsworthy, “Five Tales”

Chet Raymo, “Making Peace”

“Making Peace”
by Chet Raymo

"An issue of “Science” (May 18, 2012) was devoted to human conflict. If I can summarize 60 pages of discussion: It's US versus THEM. It seems our long evolutionary history has favored group solidarity. Empathy and cooperation within the group; distrust and aggression toward those outside. The first groups were those of kin, tribes, and then ethnicity. As societies grew, groups identified themselves in more complex ways. Some researches would suggest that religions evolved as group adhesives.

WE are moral, beautiful, enlightened, favored by God. THEY are wicked, ugly, ignorant, blighted by Providence. Red state and blue state. The 99% and the 1%. Black and white. Christian and Muslim. I mean, admit it. WE are the best. It’s commonsense. Meaning, common sense.

In the final comments of his lectures on literature, delivered at Wellesley and Cornell in the 1940s-50s, Vladimir Nabokov had some things to say about common sense and human conflict: "It is instructive to think that there is not a single person in this room [he told his students], or for that matter in any room in the world, who, at some nicely chosen point in historical space-time would not be put to death there and then, here and now, by a commonsensical majority in righteous rage. The color of one's creed, neckties, eyes, thoughts, manners, speech, is sure to meet somewhere in time or space with a fatal objection from a mob that hates that particular tone. And the more brilliant, the more unusual the man, the nearer he is to the stake. Stranger always rhymes with danger.

Nabokov, who had first fled Russia from the Bolsheviks, then Germany from the Nazis, was urging his students to eschew any form of group self-righteousness, and to cultivate instead imagination, memory and an artistic sense. The best temperament for resisting the siren call of the group, he said, is a combination of artistic and scientific.”

The Daily "Near You?"

North Vernon, Indiana, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"The Pig Farmer"

"The Pig Farmer"
by John Robbins

"One day in Iowa I met a particular gentleman—and I use that term, gentleman, frankly, only because I am trying to be polite, for that is certainly not how I saw him at the time. He owned and ran what he called a “pork production facility.” I, on the other hand, would have called it a pig Auschwitz. The conditions were brutal. The pigs were confined in cages that were barely larger than their own bodies, with the cages stacked on top of each other in tiers, three high. The sides and the bottoms of the cages were steel slats, so that excrement from the animals in the upper and middle tiers dropped through the slats on to the animals below.

The aforementioned owner of this nightmare weighed, I am sure, at least 240 pounds, but what was even more impressive about his appearance was that he seemed to be made out of concrete. His movements had all the fluidity and grace of a brick wall. What made him even less appealing was that his language seemed to consist mainly of grunts, many of which sounded alike to me, and none of which were particularly pleasant to hear. Seeing how rigid he was and sensing the overall quality of his presence, I—rather brilliantly, I thought—concluded that his difficulties had not arisen merely because he hadn’t had time, that particular morning, to finish his entire daily yoga routine.

But I wasn’t about to divulge my opinions of him or his operation, for I was undercover, visiting slaughterhouses and feedlots to learn what I could about modern meat production. There were no bumper stickers on my car, and my clothes and hairstyle were carefully chosen to give no indication that I might have philosophical leanings other than those that were common in the area. I told the farmer matter of factly that I was a researcher writing about animal agriculture, and asked if he’d mind speaking with me for a few minutes so that I might have the benefit of his knowledge. In response, he grunted a few words that I could not decipher, but that I gathered meant I could ask him questions and he would show me around.

I was at this point not very happy about the situation, and this feeling did not improve when we entered one of the warehouses that housed his pigs. In fact, my distress increased, for I was immediately struck by what I can only call an overpowering olfactory experience. The place reeked like you would not believe of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and other noxious gases that were the products of the animals’ wastes. These, unfortunately, seemed to have been piling up inside the building for far too long a time.

As nauseating as the stench was for me, I wondered what it must be like for the animals. The cells that detect scent are known as ethmoidal cells. Pigs, like dogs, have nearly 200 times the concentration of these cells in their noses as humans do. In a natural setting, they are able, while rooting around in the dirt, to detect the scent of an edible root through the earth itself. Given any kind of a chance, they will never soil their own nests, for they are actually quite clean animals, despite the reputation we have unfairly given them. But here they had no contact with the earth, and their noses were beset by the unceasing odor of their own urine and feces multiplied a thousand times by the accumulated wastes of the other pigs unfortunate enough to be caged in that warehouse. I was in the building only for a few minutes, and the longer I remained in there, the more desperately I wanted to leave. But the pigs were prisoners there, barely able to take a single step, forced to endure this stench, and almost completely immobile, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and with no time off, I can assure you, for holidays.

The man who ran the place was—I’ll give him this—kind enough to answer my questions, which were mainly about the drugs he used to handle the problems that are fairly common in factory pigs today. But my sentiments about him and his farm were not becoming any warmer. It didn’t help when, in response to a particularly loud squealing from one of the pigs, he delivered a sudden and threatening kick to the bars of its cage, causing a loud “clang” to reverberate through the warehouse and leading to screaming from many of the pigs. Because it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide my distress, it crossed my mind that I should tell him what I thought of the conditions in which he kept his pigs, but then I thought better of it. This was a man, it was obvious, with whom there was no point in arguing.

After maybe 15 minutes, I’d had enough and was preparing to leave, and I felt sure he was glad to be about to be rid of me. But then something happened, something that changed my life, forever—and, as it turns out, his too. It began when his wife came out from the farmhouse and cordially invited me to stay for dinner. The pig farmer grimaced when his wife spoke, but he dutifully turned to me and announced, “The wife would like you to stay for dinner.” He always called her “the wife,” by the way, which led me to deduce that he was not, apparently, on the leading edge of feminist thought in the country today.

I don’t know whether you have ever done something without having a clue why, and to this day I couldn’t tell you what prompted me to do it, but I said Yes, I’d be delighted. And stay for dinner I did, though I didn’t eat the pork they served. The excuse I gave was that my doctor was worried about my cholesterol. I didn’t say that I was a vegetarian, nor that my cholesterol was 125.

I was trying to be a polite and appropriate dinner guest. I didn’t want to say anything that might lead to any kind of disagreement. The couple (and their two sons, who were also at the table) were, I could see, being nice to me, giving me dinner and all, and it was gradually becoming clear to me that, along with all the rest of it, they could be, in their way, somewhat decent people. I asked myself, if they were in my town, traveling, and I had chanced to meet them, would I have invited them to dinner? Not likely, I knew, not likely at all. Yet here they were, being as hospitable to me as they could. Yes, I had to admit it. Much as I detested how the pigs were treated, this pig farmer wasn’t actually the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. At least not at the moment.

Of course, I still knew that if we were to scratch the surface we’d no doubt find ourselves in great conflict, and because that was not a direction in which I wanted to go, as the meal went along I sought to keep things on an even and constant keel. Perhaps they sensed it too, for among us, we managed to see that the conversation remained, consistently and resolutely, shallow. We talked about the weather, about the Little League games in which their two sons played, and then, of course, about how the weather might affect the Little League games. We were actually doing rather well at keeping the conversation superficial and far from any topic around which conflict might occur. Or so I thought. But then suddenly, out of nowhere, the man pointed at me forcefully with his finger, and snarled in a voice that I must say truly frightened me, “Sometimes I wish you animal rights people would just drop dead.”

How on Earth he knew I had any affinity to animal rights I will never know—I had painstakingly avoided any mention of any such thing—but I do know that my stomach tightened immediately into a knot. To make matters worse, at that moment his two sons leapt from the table, tore into the den, slammed the door behind them, and turned the TV on loud, presumably preparing to drown out what was to follow. At the same instant, his wife nervously picked up some dishes and scurried into the kitchen. As I watched the door close behind her and heard the water begin running, I had a sinking sensation. They had, there was no mistaking it, left me alone with him. I was, to put it bluntly, terrified. Under the circumstances, a wrong move now could be disastrous. Trying to center myself, I tried to find some semblance of inner calm by watching my breath, but this I could not do, and for a very simple reason. There wasn’t any to watch.

“What are they saying that’s so upsetting to you?” I said finally, pronouncing the words carefully and distinctly, trying not to show my terror. I was trying very hard at that moment to disassociate myself from the animal rights movement, a force in our society of which he, evidently, was not overly fond. “They accuse me of mistreating my stock,” he growled. “Why would they say a thing like that?” I answered, knowing full well, of course, why they would, but thinking mostly about my own survival. His reply, to my surprise, while angry, was actually quite articulate. He told me precisely what animal rights groups were saying about operations like his, and exactly why they were opposed to his way of doing things. Then, without pausing, he launched into a tirade about how he didn’t like being called cruel, and they didn’t know anything about the business he was in, and why couldn’t they mind their own business.

As he spoke it, the knot in my stomach was relaxing, because it was becoming clear, and I was glad of it, that he meant me no harm, but just needed to vent. Part of his frustration, it seemed, was that even though he didn’t like doing some of the things he did to the animals—cooping them up in such small cages, using so many drugs, taking the babies away from their mothers so quickly after their births—he didn’t see that he had any choice. He would be at a disadvantage and unable to compete economically if he didn’t do things that way. This is how it’s done today, he told me, and he had to do it too. He didn’t like it, but he liked even less being blamed for doing what he had to do in order to feed his family. As it happened, I had just the week before been at a much larger hog operation, where I learned that it was part of their business strategy to try to put people like him out of business by going full-tilt into the mass production of assembly-line pigs, so that small farmers wouldn’t be able to keep up. What I had heard corroborated everything he was saying.

Almost despite myself, I began to grasp the poignancy of this man’s human predicament. I was in his home because he and his wife had invited me to be there. And looking around, it was obvious that they were having a hard time making ends meet. Things were threadbare. This family was on the edge. Raising pigs, apparently, was the only way the farmer knew how to make a living, so he did it even though, as was becoming evident the more we talked, he didn’t like one bit the direction hog farming was going. At times, as he spoke about how much he hated the modern factory methods of pork production, he reminded me of the very animal rights people who a few minutes before he said he wished would drop dead.

As the conversation progressed, I actually began to develop some sense of respect for this man whom I had earlier judged so harshly. There was decency in him. There was something within him that meant well. But as I began to sense a spirit of goodness in him, I could only wonder all the more how he could treat his pigs the way he did. Little did I know that I was about to find out. . .
We are talking along, when suddenly he looks troubled. He slumps over, his head in his hands. He looks broken, and there is a sense of something awful having happened. Has he had a heart attack? A stroke? I’m finding it hard to breathe, and hard to think clearly. “What’s happening?” I ask. It takes him awhile to answer, but finally he does. I am relieved that he is able to speak, although what he says hardly brings any clarity to the situation. “It doesn’t matter,” he says, “and I don’t want to talk about it.” As he speaks, he makes a motion with his hand, as if he were pushing something away.
For the next several minutes we continue to converse, but I’m quite uneasy. Things seem incomplete and confusing. Something dark has entered the room, and I don’t know what it is or how to deal with it. Then, as we are speaking, it happens again. Once again a look of despondency comes over him. Sitting there, I know I’m in the presence of something bleak and oppressive. I try to be present with what’s happening, but it’s not easy. Again I’m finding it hard to breathe. Finally, he looks at me, and I notice his eyes are teary. “You’re right,” he says. I, of course, always like to be told that I am right, but in this instance I don’t have the slightest idea what he’s talking about. He continues. “No animal,” he says, “should be treated like that. Especially hogs. Do you know that they’re intelligent animals? They’re even friendly, if you treat ’em right. But I don’t.”
There are tears welling up in his eyes. And he tells me that he has just had a memory come back of something that happened in his childhood, something he hasn’t thought of for many years. It’s come back in stages, he says. He grew up, he tells me, on a small farm in rural Missouri, the old-fashioned kind where animals ran around, with barnyards and pastures, and where they all had names. I learn, too, that he was an only child, the son of a powerful father who ran things with an iron fist. With no brothers or sisters, he often felt lonely, but found companionship among the animals on the farm, particularly several dogs, who were as friends to him. And, he tells me, and this I am quite surprised to hear, he had a pet pig.
As he proceeds to tell me about this pig, it is as if he is becoming a different person. Before he had spoken primarily in a monotone; but now his voice grows lively. His body language, which until this point seemed to speak primarily of long suffering, now becomes animated. There is something fresh taking place. In the summer, he tells me, he would sleep in the barn. It was cooler there than in the house, and the pig would come over and sleep alongside him, asking fondly to have her belly rubbed, which he was glad to do.

There was a pond on their property, he goes on, and he liked to swim in it when the weather was hot, but one of the dogs would get excited when he did, and would ruin things. The dog would jump into the water and swim up on top of him, scratching him with her paws and making things miserable for him. He was about to give up on swimming, but then, as fate would have it, the pig, of all people, stepped in and saved the day. Evidently the pig could swim, for she would plop herself into the water, swim out where the dog was bothering the boy, and insert herself between them. She’d stay between the dog and the boy, and keep the dog at bay. She was, as best I could make out, functioning in the situation something like a lifeguard, or in this case, perhaps more of a life-pig.

I’m listening to this hog farmer tell me these stories about his pet pig, and I’m thoroughly enjoying both myself and him, and rather astounded at how things are transpiring, when once again, it happens. Once again a look of defeat sweeps across this man’s face, and once again I sense the presence of something very sad. Something in him, I know, is struggling to make its way toward life through anguish and pain, but I don’t know what it is or how, indeed, to help him.

“What happened to your pig?” I ask.
He sighs, and it’s as though the whole world’s pain is contained in that sigh. Then, slowly, he speaks. “My father made me butcher it.”
“Did you?” I ask.
“I ran away, but I couldn’t hide. They found me.”
“What happened?”
“My father gave me a choice.”
“What was that?”
“He told me, ‘You either slaughter that animal or you’re no longer my son.’”
Some choice, I think, feeling the weight of how fathers have so often trained their sons not to care, to be what they call brave and strong, but what so often turns out to be callous and closed-hearted. “So I did it,” he says, and now his tears begin to flow, making their way down his cheeks. I am touched and humbled. This man, whom I had judged to be without human feeling, is weeping in front of me, a stranger. This man, whom I had seen as callous and even heartless, is actually someone who cares, and deeply. How wrong, how profoundly and terribly wrong I had been.

In the minutes that follow, it becomes clear to me what has been happening. The pig farmer has remembered something that was so painful, that was such a profound trauma, that he had not been able to cope with it when it had happened. Something had shut down, then. It was just too much to bear. Somewhere in his young, formative psyche he made a resolution never to be that hurt again, never to be that vulnerable again. And he built a wall around the place where the pain had occurred, which was the place where his love and attachment to that pig was located, which was his heart. And now here he was, slaughtering pigs for a living—still, I imagined, seeking his father’s approval. God, what we men will do, I thought, to get our fathers’ acceptance.

I had thought he was a cold and closed human being, but now I saw the truth. His rigidity was not a result of a lack of feeling, as I had thought it was, but quite the opposite: it was a sign of how sensitive he was underneath. For if he had not been so sensitive, he would not have been that hurt, and he would not have needed to put up so massive a wall. The tension in his body that was so apparent to me upon first meeting him, the body armor that he carried, bespoke how hurt he had been, and how much capacity for feeling he carried still, beneath it all.

I had judged him, and done so, to be honest, mercilessly. But for the rest of the evening I sat with him, humbled, and grateful for whatever it was in him that had been strong enough to force this long-buried and deeply painful memory to the surface. And glad, too, that I had not stayed stuck in my judgments of him, for if I had, I would not have provided an environment in which his remembering could have occurred.

We talked that night, for hours, about many things. I was, after all that had happened, concerned for him. The gap between his feelings and his lifestyle seemed so tragically vast. What could he do? This was all he knew. He did not have a high school diploma. He was only partially literate. Who would hire him if he tried to do something else? Who would invest in him and train him, at his age? When finally, I left that evening, these questions were very much on my mind, and I had no answers to them. Somewhat flippantly, I tried to joke about it. “Maybe,” I said, “you’ll grow broccoli or something.” He stared at me, clearly not comprehending what I might be talking about. It occurred to me, briefly, that he might possibly not know what broccoli was.

We parted that night as friends, and though we rarely see each other now, we have remained friends as the years have passed. I carry him in my heart and think of him, in fact, as a hero. Because, as you will soon see, impressed as I was by the courage it had taken for him to allow such painful memories to come to the surface, I had not yet seen the extent of his bravery.

When I wrote "Diet for a New America," I quoted him and summarized what he had told me, but I was quite brief and did not mention his name. I thought that, living as he did among other pig farmers in Iowa, it would not be to his benefit to be associated with me. When the book came out, I sent him a copy, saying I hoped he was comfortable with how I wrote of the evening we had shared, and directing him to the pages on which my discussion of our time together was to be found. Several weeks later, I received a letter from him. “Dear Mr. Robbins,” it began. “Thank you for the book. When I saw it, I got a migraine headache.”

Now as an author, you do want to have an impact on your readers. This, however, was not what I had had in mind. He went on, though, to explain that the headaches had gotten so bad that, as he put it, “the wife” had suggested to him he should perhaps read the book. She thought there might be some kind of connection between the headaches and the book. He told me that this hadn’t made much sense to him, but he had done it because “the wife” was often right about these things.

“You write good,” he told me, and I can tell you that his three words of his meant more to me than when the New York Times praised the book profusely. He then went on to say that reading the book was very hard for him, because the light it shone on what he was doing made it clear to him that it was wrong to continue. The headaches, meanwhile, had been getting worse, until, he told me, that very morning, when he had finished the book, having stayed up all night reading, he went into the bathroom, and looked into the mirror. “I decided, right then,” he said, “that I would sell my herd and get out of this business. I don’t know what I will do, though. Maybe I will, like you said, grow broccoli.”

As it happened, he did sell his operation in Iowa and move back to Missouri, where he bought a small farm. And there he is today, running something of a model farm. He grows vegetables organically—including, I am sure, broccoli—that he sells at a local farmer’s market. He’s got pigs, all right, but only about 10, and he doesn’t cage them, nor does he kill them. Instead, he’s got a contract with local schools; they bring kids out in buses on field trips to his farm, for his “Pet-a-pig” program. He shows them how intelligent pigs are and how friendly they can be if you treat them right, which he now does. He’s arranged it so the kids, each one of them, gets a chance to give a pig a belly rub. He’s become nearly a vegetarian himself, has lost most of his excess weight, and his health has improved substantially. And, thank goodness, he’s actually doing better financially than he was before.

Do you see why I carry this man with me in my heart? Do you see why he is such a hero to me? He dared to leap, to risk everything, to leave what was killing his spirit even though he didn’t know what was next. He left behind a way of life that he knew was wrong, and he found one that he knows is right.

When I look at many of the things happening in our world, I sometimes fear we won’t make it. But when I remember this man and the power of his spirit, and when I remember that there are many others whose hearts beat to the same quickening pulse, I think we will. I can get tricked into thinking there aren’t enough of us to turn the tide, but then I remember how wrong I was about the pig farmer when I first met him, and I realize that there are heroes afoot everywhere. Only I can’t recognize them because I think they are supposed to look or act a certain way. How blinded I can be by my own beliefs.

The man is one of my heroes because he reminds me that we can depart from the cages we build for ourselves and for each other, and become something much better. He is one of my heroes because he reminds me of what I hope someday to become. When I first met him, I would not have thought it possible that I would ever say the things I am saying here. But this only goes to show how amazing life can be, and how you never really know what to expect. The pig farmer has become, for me, a reminder never to underestimate the power of the human heart.

I consider myself privileged to have spent that day with him, and grateful that I was allowed to be a catalyst for the unfolding of his spirit. I know my presence served him in some way, but I also know, and know full well, that I received far more than I gave. To me, this is grace—to have the veils lifted from our eyes so that we can recognize and serve the goodness in each other. Others may wish for great riches or for ecstatic journeys to mystical planes, but to me, this is the magic of human life."


"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction,
 check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
- Ayn Rand

“No Escape from Existential Reality”

“No Escape from Existential Reality”
by Sartre

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
- Philip K. Dick

"Finally agreement! No one can dispute the reality that we all will die. Since most choose to block out this fate or find it discomforting to consider, the roots of denial are sown. Refusal to confront the one great similarity that all humans share, is a trait that has greatly affected our political and social lives. Life is to be lived, no doubt. But how you live it greatly depends upon how you treat the final ending.

Death, freedom, existential isolation, and seeming meaninglessness are central themes that involve our presence in and of this world. Since a spiritual realm is often shunned and frequently denied by the most unstable elements within society, it comes as no surprise that a rush for status and political power becomes a substitute for empyrean beliefs.

Because dying is inevitable, the populace fears social isolation because the idea that life is meaningless is so intolerable. The freedom they exhibit has the instincts of the herd. However communal it becomes, the fact that each person accepts the pack, is personal in its most basic decision. Yes, determinism seems to be normal for most; but the nature of that resignation lies in an acceptance that no other course is possible.

Surely, the cognizant capacity within each person retains the autonomy to continue on with his life. Forgoing the forcible taking of a life, the individual selects living by the mere fact of taking another breath. Notwithstanding, this urge, few will acknowledge that solitude is the natural state of each person. Politics often confuses this reality. In its most basic form, social organization is the end result of individual conflict. When there is no distinct meaning, all that is left is what one can take from the environment. The origin of egocentrism stems from a false sense of the inherent condition of being a unique person.

When a person concludes there is nothing but the moment and that any action is acceptable, they reject that their existence has meaning. Satisfaction is not purpose. The existential experience is merely the admission that we are each alone, struggling to find our way in a world that seldom demonstrates sense. Deducing that this seemingly absurd dilemma is unnatural, confuses the intensity of individuals to contest the character of their nature. Simply, people possess the freedom to make the wrong choices.

Politicians are creatures that fill the void. The vacuum from unsatisfactory answers or a lack of individual discontent, is the fertile field that office seekers harvest. Since we are all alone in our personal journey to a known destination, the notion that systems of social structure can and should intercede and chart the route, illustrates the foolishness that the multitude have resigned themselves to accept. All the rhetoric, promises and pledges are meaningless political theater.

Forced compliance, coercive punishment, arbitrary contrivance and systemic regimentation are all symptoms of the basic disease. A denial of the inevitable- death- and the fear of- personal isolation. Despite this common infliction, the patient can and should heal thyself. Achieving meaningful freedom is the joy of existence. When one is at peace with the inescapable- no man, party, ideology or mob can steal your primacy.

Isn’t it asinine to volunteer and relinquish your natural independence for a phony social contract that steals your dignity? Well, that is exactly what citizens amiably do because they are free to be foolish. Does or can the State become a substitute for your own isolation? How many times do people seek comfort among the fleeced and defend being sheered? The reason they are so vulnerable to the artificial charms of political benefactors, rests upon their dread of being alone. When in reality that is the universal condition of our existence and denying that reality, does not change the circumstance.

The entire culture of dependency is based upon a the false premise that society can improve the social condition. The extent of this deceit is visible by all the vassals that work for government. Whether they retire at full salary or reap early compensation, they happily accept tainted tribute for their loyalty to a system, who’s purpose is to deny the existential reality of life.

Life does not have to be meaningless; however, most work overtime to make it that way. When one is pegged a social misfit, most of the time that translates into being a threat who acts as an individual. The fear for the State is not death- it’s essence is to survive at any cost. How can an artificial structure possess life, when it functions with total disrespect towards those who are alive? The meaninglessness that consumes most people fosters the flawed freedom to accept servitude. By denying their own natural isolation, the common folk kneel to the most ruthless and sinister elements, because they are not willing to hasten or risk their final demise. That’s the commonality that allows elitists to fabricate their fraud.

You are free to create meaning when you accept you are alone and willing to suffer death as natural. Sure rare individuals are feared by the controller of governments. Such existential freedom is the silver bullet that can slay the blood thirsty monster. Impaling heads is the business the State performs best. Dracula lives within the draconian society that permeates this artifice - popular culture. Liberation is possible, when and after you free yourself from the need to be part of and belong to a synthetic society. The existential reality prevails- there is no escape- learn to accept it, free yourself and create meaningful purpose. What do you have to lose, we all are meant to die...”

"You Better Decide..."

“A wise man once said you can have anything in life, if you sacrifice everything else for it.
What he meant is, nothing comes without a price. 
So before you go into battle you better decide how much you're willing to lose."
- "Grey's Anatomy"

"Centered and Safe: Keeping Your Energy Strong"

"Centered and Safe: Keeping Your Energy Strong"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Keeping our energy strong and pure throughout the day is vital to somebody that is sensitive. Being a sensitive person in this world can sometimes feel very draining due to the fact that we are very receptive to the energy of the people and environment around us. Still, we want to be part of situations that involve small or large groups of people, and we would like to do it without becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. With a few simple strategies we can entertain at home and socialize in the world without running the risk of losing ourselves in someone else’s energy or giving our energy away. All this takes is a little time and practice, and the result—being part of social events without ending up depleted—is well worth the effort.

The whole purpose of this self-care ritual is to help keep yourself strong energetically when you are in a situation that could potentially be draining. For example, if you are having a party, you might take some time to prepare beforehand. Just as you spend time cleaning your home and preparing food, it is essential to prepare your inner home for the event. This can be as simple as taking a mindful walk or a cleansing bath, or engaging in any other activity that gives you energy. You can even just sit alone for a set period of time, tuning in to your energy and connecting to yourself so that you are less easily carried away by the energy outside of yourself. You may employ a mantra such as “I am centered and safe in the home of myself.” You can also charge a crystal or gemstone or any piece of jewelry with protective energy and wear it or carry it with you. This can be helpful during the event when just seeing it or touching it can remind you that you are centered and safe.

Keep in mind that it is always acceptable to excuse yourself for a bathroom break or to step outside for a moment. This can give you the time and space you need to check in with yourself and correct any energetic imbalances you detect. Whether you are at home or out in the world, taking care of yourself in this way enables you to keep your energy strong, even as you open yourself to others."

"How It Really, Tragically, Is"

"Humanity will destroy itself, body and soul, 
before it will learn a simple lesson."
- Dave Wells

“The Blueprint for World War III: ‘This War Will Be Utterly Devastating’”

“The Blueprint for World War III: 
‘This War Will Be Utterly Devastating’”
by Dave Hodges

SHTFplan Editor’s Note: ”A lot has happened in the last 72 hours. By all indications the east and west are once again positioning for a face off that may well result in the next global conflict. Last time this happened over 60 million people across the planet were dead before it was all said and done. This time around humanity has weapons at its disposal that are so capable of widespread destruction that we could literally be facing the annihilation of the majority of the human race. Make no mistake, both Russia and the United States are prepared to use them. Yes, our leaders may be working to peacefully resolve this crisis, but so too did global leaders prior to World Wars I and II. We know how that turned out.

It is impossible to determine a “time frame” on such events, but the rhetoric being disseminated on both sides of the pond is indicative of a continued build up of tensions. On one hand, we have President Vladimir Putin declaring major successes in “New Russia,” the region we here in the West refer to as the Ukraine. On the other, President Obama has stepped up efforts to mobilize thousands of NATO troops in the region and has unequivocally stated that any attack on Balkan nations will be reciprocated with force under NATO Article 5 declarations – an attack on one, is an attack on all. Both leaders are now using threats of nuclear force as deterrents. All it will take is for the right triggering event, whether real or manufactured, and the rhetoric will turn to actuality.

In the analysis below Dave Hodges notes, “our children picked a very bad time to be born.” Indeed, the world stands on the brink of a conflagration of unprecedented scale and destruction.”

“The Blueprint for World War III”
by Dave Hodges

“This article is the first of a two part series which details the coming war. This war will not be a simple war of occupation such as what we saw in Iran and presently in Afghanistan. This war will be utterly devastating and has the potential to escalate into a conflict befitting the over-used term, “Armageddon”. Part one of this series will present what boxing fans call, “the tale of tape”. The “tale of the tape” entails identifying the combatants, their respective sides as well as the relative strengths of the participants and their military forces.”

The entire article can be read here:
This is an absolute must read, folks...
- CP

“The Economics of Perpetual War”

“The Economics of Perpetual War”
By Matt McCaffrey 

"We've always been at war with Eastasia."
George Orwell, “1984”

“The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I seems like an ideal opportunity to spread a message of peace and economic cooperation; sadly, 2014 has so far been a year of new and renewed conflict far more than one of reconciliation. By now, talk of the horrors of war is nothing new. Everyone knows about the total destruction war brings; in fact, we’ve known for millennia. As Lew Rockwell points out, “just about everyone makes the perfunctory nod to the tragedy of war, that war is a last resort only, and that everyone sincerely regrets having to go to war”—but war continues all the same. Even classical military strategists like Sun Tzu believed war should only be used only as a last resort, and argued that military campaigns could bankrupt states and ultimately, destroy them. Art of War actually states that “no country has ever profited from protracted warfare,” and cautions generals to “fight under Heaven with the paramount aim of ‘preservation.’” Yet as far back as we have historical records, these sorts of ideas have fallen on deaf ears among governments and military organizations alike.

Economics offers many insights into war making and why it persists, but the most fundamental explanation is an institutional one. It’s tragically simple: warnings about the horrors of war go unheeded because the power to make war—as well as “justify” it in the eyes of those forced to fight and finance it—lies in the hands of the state and its business and intellectual allies. States are monopolists of organized force, and as such decide when and how to use their power on a grand scale, especially when they wish to confront other monopolists.

In fact, economic reasoning tells us that conflict is an integral part of the logic of states, which are inherently prone to warfare and imperialism. That war is an essential and practically inevitable behavior of government has been known since ancient times: for instance, "Art of War" begins by stating that “War is the greatest affair of state, the basis of [its] life and death, the Tao to survival or extinction.”

The central problem is that government is based on the use of the “political means” rather than the “economic means” of social organization. States are not producers of goods and services in the market; rather, they operate by forcible redistribution. They are therefore founded on a conflict of interest between the rulers and the ruled, especially between the winners and losers of the redistribution process.

Furthermore, because state decisions are not guided by entrepreneurial calculation, they result in the waste and destruction of resources, resources that must be replenished if the ruling class hopes to continue to consume. States therefore search constantly for new sources of revenue to support themselves, and to that end they use traditional methods of public finance: taxation, borrowing, and inflation. But these policies ultimately compound their difficulties, generating poverty and inequality, and intensifying social conflict.

Every way they turn, states face recurring economic problems and the need to distract or suppress the victims of exploitation; war making serves the dual purpose of (a) disguising fundamental social conflicts by refocusing attention and/or blame, and (b) providing economic gains to the state and its allies. This then is one economic explanation of how organized violence on a small scale leads to organized violence on a massive scale.

If we want to understand why war persists, we have to take account of the economic foundation of the state. We can’t reason in an institutional vacuum, like the many people throughout history who believed it was enough to simply point out the obvious calamity of war, while leaving the power to make it in the hands of a ruling class.”

The Economy: “When?”

by Bill Holter

“I have had many people tell me they agree with my thought process on events, but don’t understand “why” or “how” the financial system has held together. Why of course is the easy part, no one wants to see the system come apart at the seams, especially the ones running the casino and benefitting the most from it?  I think the better question is “when.” I am constantly asked when I think we will see a systemic cascade and my standard answer is “it should have been two (or more) years ago as the question has not been “if” but when for at least that long. Actually, it was pretty clear in 2012 that QE was not working and not the answer, we should have collapsed then. Were they to have allowed this thing to go over the cliff in 2009, we would be in a real recovery already but no, bailing wire and chewing gum has been used to keep the charade going.

As for how the can has been kicked this far down the road, it is obvious there are two (actually 3) feet that have and are kicking the can furiously. These are all obvious but I will repeat them here. 1. The ability to freely and in unlimited quantities print money (and thus borrow). 2. The availability of derivatives contracts to “make” the price of anything … any price desired and 3. “leverage.”  These 3 techniques combined have hidden the reality of bankruptcy …by making us even more bankrupt!

As for “when,” I will point to several events which all point toward the decline of American status into chaos. One huge and obvious clue is our lesser status in international circles. This has been a process over many years and has been speeding up rapidly in recent years. All you need to do is look at the various conferences where the U.S. is no longer put out front and center for photo ops. Another telltale sign is how John Kerry has been received (or not) at several diplomatic meetings. In fact, “disrespect” is the word I would choose to describe his treatment. Please understand that when it comes to diplomacy, nothing ever is done by mistake or oversight. The Chinese in particular are extremely careful in what they do and the messages which they might send. The most recent “Top Gun” like aerial events and then the following statement by China speaks volumes. Can you imagine even 5 years ago the U.S. being called a “disgusting thief spying over his neighbor’s fence?” It appears our relationship with China (and the rest of the world) has taken a very bad turn for the worse. Recently there have been airstrikes into Libya by the UAE and Egypt where the U.S. says they had no foreknowledge of them. Really? If this is true then what in the world are our so called “allies” thinking? Were these strikes carried out because we would not? I find it hard to believe we had no knowledge, but if this is truly the case, our “coalition” is folding. And what of the aid being withheld to Israel? What does or could this mean in the longer run? What of the Saudis? Will they continue taking dollars and only dollars for oil? And our now “new” relations with Russia?  My point is this, no matter where you look internationally, the power and “iron fist” of the U.S. is weakening.

That said, I believe we have been “allowed” to continue on and even expand the façade of solvency. You have read my theory that the Chinese are the proxies behind the huge open interest in COMEX silver, this may or may not be so. What is “so” is China has become the largest creditor of the U.S. and also holds the largest dollar reserve position.  In my opinion, China could have pulled the plug at any time since the fall of 2008 but they have not. In fact, I believe they have carried us along and even “enabled” us to dig our fiscal hole even deeper, this seems like it may be changing. I believe we have been “milked” for many things over the years from our consumer market purchases to technology and of course our gold. What does the U.S. have left to offer our creditor(s)?

Another thing that’s changing is the Fed. They have boxed themselves into a corner with zero percent interest rates and QE supposedly ending (or not). They cannot ever raise interest to any significant degree without blowing up the derivatives complex. As for QE, they can no longer continue because they have taken too much “collateral” out of the system already. But, they MUST continue pumping free money into the system to keep the bubbles from collapsing, quite a dilemma. I am sure the Fed will in some way or manner figure out how to replace the $85 billion per month that was QE in “public.” Whatever the form, the Fed will now out of necessity need to do it under the table and out of sight. You may recall a year ago, China began last fall calling attention to us becoming “responsible” with our fiscal and monetary policies, have we?

One other area to look at is the fact that the Shanghai metals exchange will be fully live by October. Quite interesting however is the status of their silver inventory. This has now dropped to a tiny 103 tons, down from 1,143 in Jan. 2013, just 19 months ago. How will this exchange settle without inventory? Will the Chinese replenish the inventory from the supposed COMEX stocks? Will the COMEX stocks even make through the September delivery period as more contracts are still outstanding than there is silver for delivery? I assure you, if any exchange anywhere in the world is found not able to deliver, a scramble for metal will ensue where not even the strongest “leg” in the world will be able to kick the can further!

So back to “when,” when do the wheels fall off? If I knew this I would have told you five years ago and not written again until 30 days before the “date.” All I can say is that the U.S. has obviously lost power and prestige internationally and recent displays of a “lack of respect” may very well be a sign. A “sign” that the plug will be pulled soon. The U.S. I believe fully understands this which is why the desire to get a war, any war started as soon as possible.

I have thought over the last 5 years that a complete financial crash could have taken place at any time.  In hindsight with 20/20 vision I still believe the same thing. At any time for any variety of reasons our markets and banking systems could have seized up. The Fed (and Treasury) have done anything and everything they could to forestall it …and I believe we had foreign “help.” You must wonder where this “help” will come from going forward as our ability to purchase goods and deliver gold ends? My answer to the question remains the same, our markets and banks can close for an extended and unscheduled holiday on any given day and for any number of possible causes. No one knows when nor what the trigger event will be. I have looked at this from every angle of the Devil’s advocate. I have not seen one single scenario suggesting the system is sustainable for any length of time that is logical. ALL of the math, logic and common sense points towards a train wreck which grows in size for each day that it doesn’t arrive. “It cannot happen because it hasn’t ever happened” does not apply.”

“6 Unhinged Right-Wing Moments This Week: Fox's Comical Beyoncé Freakout”

“6 Unhinged Right-Wing Moments This Week: 
Fox's Comical Beyoncé Freakout”
By Janet Allon

1. Bill O’Reilly’s 'Achey breaky heart' about Beyoncé videos. Young women of America, please stop watching Beyoncé videos. It breaks Bill O’Reilly’s heart for some strange reason he has yet to coherently explain. The good folks at Fox News were mightily confused this week after viewing the pop diva’s performance at the Video Music Awards in which she appeared in front of a huge screen with the word “FEMINIST.” But here's the thing: she seemed to have forgotten her pants. Her pants! How can you be a feminist when you don’t have any pants on? They were stumped.

Later in the week, O’Reilly was chatting away with Dr. Ben Carson about the usual stuff, how black people are to blame for all their own problems, welfare, blah blah blah. It’s very disappointing for O’Reilly; he thought he had already given black people all the moral instructions they need. Because, in the past, there were some really good black people. Why can’t today’s black people be more like black people of the days of old? “You remember Motown. Do you not?” O’Reilly reminisced. “Wasn't that a fabulous, fabulous music industry, uplifting? You remember Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. Weren’t they fabulous athletes — I idolized Willie Mays....”

Awww, thanks for sharing that, Uncle Bill. We’re always up for hearing more about the black people you approve of. Alas, there are fewer and fewer of them. “And what do we have now?” O'Reilly continued. “What do we have now? Gangster rappers, you know, Beyoncé. The most famous, you know, doing these videos that show these kinds of things to young, 9, 10, 11-year-old girls? I mean — and it’s celebrated. It’s celebrated. You know, that’s the big change.”

He was obviously pretty worked up because he was having some trouble stringing those thoughts together into sentences, you know, that's a problem. It's widespread. It's widespread! Ben Carson said some things, including thanking Bill O’Reilly for his leadership on these issues (yes, leadership). Then Bill O’Reilly, the great civil rights leader, broke in and declared, “It breaks my heart! It really does.”

Stop, stop, we’re weeping, Uncle Bill. Can't stand to see you suffer so.

2. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly: If women were more focused on getting married, maybe men wouldn’t sexually assault them so much. Phyllis Schlafly shared some pearls of wisdom with young women on her radio show this week: Stop focusing on your career so much and get hitched. That’ll stop the menfolk from raping.

Brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that?

Wise old Phyllis asked a question she already had an answer for: “What’s the answer for women who worry about male violence?" (Wait, isn't that all women? And all people?) "It’s not to fear all men," Schlafly continued. "It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent 'hookups,' which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.” Hell, what are young ladies even going to college for? To selfishly get educated? What’s next? Are they going to selfishly go out and support themselves? And have boyfriends or girlfriends? That is pretty much asking to be raped.

Had enough crazy? Here’s more.

3. Ex-college president says women should be trained not to drink so they can punch their sexual assaulters in the nose accurately. Direct your letters to Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University, and apparent expert on Greek life and women’s drinking habits. While appearing on the Diane Rehm Show, this beacon of higher education said we should not blame the victims of sexual assault. Then he proceeded to blame them. "One of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave," he said, perhaps thinking he was being clever, or kind of cool for that nose-punch line. "And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard."

Wait, did we miss the part where he said young men should drink less, and stop raping people? We must have.

4. Always wrong on Iraq and everything else, war-loving Bill Kristol says Obama should bomb them faster and more. The editor of the Weekly Standard does not let the fact that he was dead-wrong about Iraq last time the U.S. invaded the country stand in the way of his desire to mouth off about what we should do there now. He does not like the fact that Obama is taking so long to bomb ISIS (a.k.a. ISIL) in Iraq, even though Obama had already started bombing Iraq when Kristol said this, so, what the hell is he talking about? Does he even know what he is talking about? It appears not.

He was particularly critical of Obama’s speech in which the President said the whole world is “appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.” Kristol apparently found this statement “appalling" because the President is doing “nothing,” which we suppose is the word in Kristol-speak for launching airstrikes and helping to arm Kurdish militias to fight ISIL. (Although it is not the usual definition of “nothing” as others know it.)

Here’s an example of how Kristol, who no one in their right mind would listen to since he is unfailingly wrong, would handle the problem with ISIS (and possibly every other problem ever, like, say, having to wait too long in a checkout line). “You know, why don’t we just [bomb]?” he asked military expert Laura Ingraham on her show. “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?”

Yeah, just bomb. That never hurts anything.

5. Fox News contributor: Can Michael Brown really be considered an “unarmed” teen when he was just so big? This bit of genius comes from Fox contributor Linda Chavez, who was on the air this week doing her darndest to dismantle what she regarded as the “mantra” about Michael Brown, namely, the "unarmed black teenager shot by a white cop.” She would prefer a different mantra, perhaps something like Ommmm.

What she does not like about the description, “unarmed black teen shot (six times) by a white cop” is this: “We’re talking about an 18-year-old man who is six-foot-four and weighs almost 300 pounds.”
So, our question is this? What exactly is the size cut-off? When does a person become too big to be considered unarmed? When exactly does flesh morph into a weapon? 

We know, we know, when the flesh is black.

6. Tea Partier, former presidential hopeful Herman Cain: Obama is plotting to be impeached. Remember Herman Cain? The Godfather’s Pizza mogul from Georgia who ran for the Republican presidential nomination and made Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich look, well, sane? He’s still kicking. In fact, in his recollection he “damn near won” that nomination, which isn’t how anyone else recollects it... probably because it didn’t happen.

So, the Tea Partier is no stranger to delusional thinking. Cain recently shared a theory with Rick Wiles' End Times radio show. His theory is that Obama is trying to get impeached. It’s all part of his devilish scheme to keep Democrats in power. Kind of counter-intuitive, right? Cain specializes in that. Also, nonsense.

Cain says the way Obama will accomplish this feat is by issuing an executive order that provides undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship. This will cause Hispanic voters to turn out in droves in the midterm election (and vote for Democrats). But even better for Obama, it will force Republicans to impeach him, which he loves. Everyone loves getting impeached. Just ask Bill Clinton. Here’s how Cain figures it: "The Democrats would love for the media to be obsessed with impeachment proceedings leading up to November because the Democrats do not want the media to be focusing on failed economic policy, no foreign policy, [and] corruption that's going on in all of the various departments."

So, there it is. The whole dastardly plot. You've been warned.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

Have a safe and happy Labor Day folks, and thanks for stopping by!

"The Invitation"

"The Invitation"

"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking
like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know
if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by
life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance
with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember
the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you
can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand
on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to
know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like
the company you keep in the empty moments."

- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

"A Look to the Heavens"

“This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. 
Click image for larger size.
The above image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second.”

"The Essential Thing..."

"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. 
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
- Pierre de Courbertin