Saturday, November 9, 2013

Musical Interlude: Dire Straits, “Private Investigations”


Dire Straits, “Private Investigations”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxS-ICzjO6I

"How It Really Is"


“Middle School Football Team's Life-changing Play”

“Middle School Football Team's Life-changing Play”
by Steve Hartman

"Meet the Olivet Eagles, a middle-school football team from Olivet, Mich., who with the help of a learning disabled teammate, executed what may be one of the most successful plays of all time."


Hat tip to Julie Mitchell for this material.

"The Most Dangerous Man, Or Woman..."

"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself...  Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable."

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic.  He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched.  He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."
- H.L. Mencken
Few things leave me speechless, but the absolutely sheer and mind-numbing idiocy of that sign in the graphic above stopped me cold in my tracks. Please, someone, anyone, tell me that people cannot possibly be that stupid... umm, anyone at all... yeah, I already knew it, but still had to hope... - CP

"GridEx II, Solar Max, And the Carrington Effect"; A Comment

 
Fact: "The Carrington Event"
by The History Channel

"On the morning of September 1, 1859, amateur astrologer Richard Carrington ascended into the private observatory attached to his country estate outside of London. After cranking open the dome's shutter to reveal the clear blue sky, he pointed his brass telescope toward the sun and began to sketch a cluster of enormous dark spots that freckled its surface. Suddenly, Carrington spotted what he described as "two patches of intensely bright and white light" erupting from the sunspots. Five minutes later the fireballs vanished, but within hours their impact would be felt across the globe.

That night, telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp and laborers started their daily chores, believing the sun had begun rising. Some thought the end of the world was at hand, but Carrington's naked eyes had spotted the true cause for the bizarre happenings: a massive solar flare with the energy of 10 billion atomic bombs. The flare spewed electrified gas and subatomic particles toward Earth, and the resulting geomagnetic storm—dubbed the "Carrington Event"—was the largest on record to have struck the planet. Ice core samples have determined that the Carrington Event was twice as big as any other solar storm in the last 500 years.

What would be the impact of a similar storm today? According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, it could cause "extensive social and economic disruptions" due to its impact on power grids, satellite communications and GPS systems. The potential price tag? Between $1 trillion and $2 trillion."
 ◆
Fact:
“Recent Uptick In Solar Flares Could Be Real Concern For Power Grid”
by Tara Dodrill

“A reversal in the Sun’s polarity has led to an increase in solar activity, and in the past two weeks, nearly 30 solar flares have occurred. Several months ago scientists agreed that the magnetic field around the Sun was in the process of a “polarity reversal,” according to an Accuweather report. The process normally occurs when the Sun approaches the peak of its solar cycle. The potential for an Earth-directed X-class solar flare to take down America’s antiquated and overly-taxed power grid is significant. Infrastructure frailties are not a glitzy topic; they are far too mundane for mainstream media to venture away from the latest political scandal to discuss, but they are nevertheless important.
.
The current solar cycle is known as solar cycle 24. An excerpt from the latest Accuweather solar flare report reads: "With the sun recently completing what is expected to be the most active period in solar cycle 24, we have to ask ourselves if the reversal of the poles had something to do with this dramatic uptick in solar active. In the last 10 days or so, there have been at least a dozen M-class flares and 3 X-class flares. Our experts hypothesize that when the poles are in the process of reversing, the magnetic fields of the sun become twisted. This configuration leads to more openings in the chronosphere which causes more sunspots and other solar activity, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections."

An increase in solar flares near the peak of the 11-year Sun cycle shouldn’t but thought of as unusual, but since this solar maximum has been “noticeably mellow” scientists are taking note of the uptick in activity. The Sun remained unusually quiet over the summer months, prompting surprise among NOAA and NASA weather experts when multiple M-class and X-class solar flares began occurring on October 23. X-class flares are the most powerful solar storms. The majority of the solar flares originated from sunspot AR1884. That section is near the center of the sun and currently facing towards Earth.

Scientists have only been able to view, track, and understand solar flares for about the last 20 years. The most powerful known earth-directed solar flare occurred during 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event. Telegraph lines, the most advanced technology at the time, burst into flames. If such a powerful event occurred today, life as we know it in America would cease for quite a long time. The United States does not manufacture the transformers necessary to bring the power grid back online. The Lights Out Saga movie trilogy, produced by Travis Fox, very accurately details how quickly the country would falter and how many lives would be lost, after such a catastrophic natural disaster. National Geographic’s American Blackout also examined an America without electricity. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the power grid a D+ grade during a report to the government about the health of various forms of infrastructure earlier this year.

As previously reported, the first ever nationwide power grid drill (GridX II) will take place on November 13 and 14. Such a massive endeavor, along with news coverage about what the host of federal agencies will be doing during the drill, should be making headlines across the country – but barely any information has been shared or published about it."
 ◆
Factually Informed Speculation:
 
“American physicist Michio Kaku appeared on "Coast to Coast AM" with George Noory and discussed the inevitable possibility of the Earth being hit by a massive solar flare that would cripple the county's power supplies and spark food riots within days. If a Carrington Event happens, it will knock out power to 400 nuclear power plants, causing them to melt down, as they point out in this video. We need to shut them all down before they all melt down and explode. Dr. Kaku and a group of physicists went to Congress and asked for money to start working on preventing this mega disaster, but the current anti science members of Congress laughed at them and did not even give them one cent. They said it would never happen.”
 ◆
Fact:
 "GridEx II Drill 11/13-14: Prepare For A Grid-Down Scenario"
by Bob Livingston

"On Nov. 13-14, America’s major electricity generating companies along with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and government agencies in Canada and Mexico will conduct a drill to test system responses to cyberattacks and physical attacks on the North American electrical grid that cause its widespread failure. The drill is called GridEx II, and it moves the threat of a total electrical blackout that sends the country back into the 19th century from the stuff of science fiction and/or tinfoil hattery to the mainstream. According to The New York Times, the drill is designed to practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.

“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”

One goal of the drill is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities. Should the grid collapse, those with medical conditions requiring machines to keep them alive or stable could be in trouble quickly, but most people could easily survive without power for two or three days. It’s not unusual for major storms to knock out power for that long. But longer-term power outages turn into desperate situations as water and food run low and/or generators run out of fuel. Google Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy to see how some people fared during long-term localized outages.

A nationwide outage would quickly become catastrophic. Communications would be down; water and sewer wouldn’t function; the supply chain would stop, causing grocery shelves to be rendered bare within hours; and the banking system would crash. Government services, often overwhelmed with localized outages, would be completely inadequate. Within days, the weak and infirm would be dead from dehydration. Those living hand-to-mouth or subsisting on government handouts would become desperate, and rioting and looting would become rampant. Look to recent food stamp riots and headlines following Black Friday shopping madness incidents for a look at how quickly people turn into animals when they feel they are being deprived or unfairly treated over even the most trivial of things. If the grid stays down for weeks or longer, civilization as we understand it will break down completely as more people become thirsty, hungry and increasingly desperate.

Government functionaries and electric company talking heads have said for many years that the electrical grid is vulnerable to terrorist attack. One of the GridEx II scenarios has a person breaking into a substation as if to steal copper but instead uploading a virus that shuts down the system. But the grid is also in danger from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon attack or even solar flares. Experts say a Carrington-class major solar flare event would fry the entire electrical grid. A Carrington-class ejection is a reference to the 1859 EMP that melted telegraph lines in Europe and North America.”
- http://www.alipac.us/
 Related:
“Power Grid Down Drill To Be Conducted By US Government November 13-14 2013”
- http://planet.infowars.com/

"Will ‘GridEx II’ Keep Americans in the Dark?"
- http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/
 ◆
Factually Informed Speculation And Comment:
This Month USGovt's American BlackOut=Reality? "As the Langley Intelligence Group Network (Lignet.com) put it in a recent analysis: “If National Geographic’s docu-drama is unrealistic about anything, it understates the threat by creating a scenario in which a nationwide blackout lasts just 10 days.  Among seven U.S. government studies conducted since 2004, a consensus has emerged that the electric power industry is not prepared to cope with manmade or natural EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) threats that could inflict a nationwide blackout lasting not days, but months or years.” Past experience has shown that when the government executes a drill, that drill often goes live and becomes reality. In a few days, the government will execute a nationwide power blackout drill. I plan to spend this weekend buying non-perishable foods, and storing water in bottles from my local recycling center. I've already checked out my emergency generator." - John Dinardo
A comment: Long time readers are well aware that I don't engage in sensationalistic nonsense, there being no need to generate additional page views and clicks, or to entice anyone to view advertising here. There is none, no revenue whatsoever is generated by your viewing this blog, and will never be. My task is simply to present you with topics of relevance to us all, that may impact our lives for good or ill. Such is the case with this subject, none of which you'll hear on the totally controlled Main Stream Media, whose only objective- besides making money- is to keep you enthralled and distracted by "Duck Dynasty", "Big Brother", and "Dancing With the Stars", NOT to inform or educate you. Yes, I'm well aware some of the posts are lengthy, often complicated, but that's Life, isn't it? Ignore it at your own peril. Might this have anything to do with the massive Homeland Security/FEMA preparations of late? Very possibly. Nothing ever happens without a reason, however well disguised or hidden it may be, or however strange or even bizarre it may appear to you when you find it out, especially in anything relating to the government, it's all interconnected, and a lot stranger than you think. We're deluged daily by misinformation, disinformation, misdirection, propaganda and outright lies, so don't believe any of this post, do your own research and gather as much factual information as you can, and then make your own informed conclusion as to its veracity, and what if anything it may  mean to your personal life. - CP

Friday, November 8, 2013

Musical Interlude: Phil Collins, “Another Day In Paradise”


 Phil Collins, “Another Day In Paradise”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt2mbGP6vFI

Musical Interlude: 2002, “A Year And A Day”


2002, “A Year And A Day”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL7b_avTk38

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Point your telescope toward the high flying constellation Pegasus and you can find this expanse of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies. Centered on NGC 7814, the pretty field of view would almost be covered by a full moon. NGC 7814 is sometimes called the Little Sombrero for its resemblance to the brighter more famous M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. 
 
 Click image for larger size.
Both Sombrero and Little Sombrero are spiral galaxies seen edge-on, and both have extensive central bulges cut by a thinner disk with dust lanes in silhouette. In fact, NGC 7814 is some 40 million light-years away and an estimated 60,000 light-years across. That actually makes the Little Sombrero about the same physical size as its better known namesake, appearing to be smaller and fainter only because it is farther away. A very faint dwarf galaxy, potentially a satellite of NGC 7814, is revealed in the deep exposure just below the Little Sombrero.”

Chet Raymo, “November Bloomer”

 
 “November Bloomer”
by Chet Raymo

“A spray of gold against a grey November sky! It's the witch hazel, that most untypical tree, bursting riotously into bloom when everything else is closing down, thumbing its nose at impending winter.

None of my botanical handbooks explain why the witch hazel blooms in October and November, even as its leaves are falling to the ground. Where are the insects that will pollinate the blossoms? Donald Stokes, who has written a wonderful book on wild shrubs and vines, tells of watching witch hazel in bloom and seeing no visitors but ants. Thoreau records in his journal the visit of a bee to one of these late-blooming trees. Perhaps the witch hazel is nature's "all-night cafe," where the few insects of early winter can find a bite to eat when the regular establishments are closed. The tree has these late-season customers all to itself.

In any other season witch hazel would be inconspicuous. "Witch" in the tree's name may derive from the Old English wych, meaning "weak." The tree is not much more than a sprawling shrub and its blossoms are unkempt tangles of scraggly ribbons. But even this anemic display of color is welcome. Stubbornly out of step with the seasons, the witch hazel is a touch of spring in cruel November, a touch of birth in death. Thoreau, with customary transcendence, called the witch hazel thicket "a faery place... a part of the immortality of the soul."

The Halloween-blooming witch hazel is certainly a bewitching tree. Its sorcery cheered my spirits when I saw that yellow thicket at the edge of the woods. Any tree that puts on such a springlike show on the cusp of winter deserves the admiration of all of us who have entered the autumn of our lives.”

The Daily "Near You?"

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

Fukushima: "Beyond Tragic, It's A Crime"


RT, "Fukushima: Beyond Tragic, It's A Crime"


RT, “Fukushima's Radioactive Fuel Rods To Be Extracted”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kmnyNA2si4

"How It Really Is"

This cartoon is far more horrifyingly true than you may wish to believe...
- CP

“Logical Consequences and Conclusions”

“Logical Consequences and Conclusions”
Compiled by CP

“Logical consequence (also entailment) is one of the most fundamental concepts in logic. It is the relationship between statements that holds true when one logically "follows from" one or more others. Valid logical arguments are ones in which the conclusions follow from its premises, and its conclusions are consequences of its premises. The philosophical analysis of logical consequence involves asking, 'in what sense does a conclusion follow from its premises?' and 'what does it mean for a conclusion to be a consequence of premises?' All of philosophical logic can be thought of as providing accounts of the nature of logical consequence, as well as logical truth.”

Follow the story, step by step. Verify everything.
Draw your own reasoned and informed conclusions... - CP
.
The "Elite":
• "Corporatocracy Has Replaced Capitalism"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/03/mainstream-media-why-is-dhs-stockpiling.html

• "The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2012/06/matt-taibbi-scam-wall-street-learned.html

• “Inside the Psyche of the 1%”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/11/inside-psyche-of-1.html

• “Danger! Exploding Wealth Gap!”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/09/danger-exploding-wealth-gap.html
 
The Rest Of Us:  
• “29 Uncomfortable Truths About Soaring Poverty In America”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/10/29-uncomfortable-truths-about-soaring.html

• “932,000 Americans Drop Out Of Labor Force, 623,000 Full Time Jobs Lost Just Last Month”
-http://beforeitsnews.com/economy/2013/11/932000-americans-drop-out-of-labour-force-623000-full-time-jobs-lost-just-last-month-

• “Obamacare: 38 Days Away From Disaster: Ticking Time Bomb Ignored By Government & Mainstream Media”
-http://beforeitsnews.com/healthcare/2013/11/38-days-away-from-disaster-ticking-time-bomb-ignored-by-government-mainstream-media-2451822.html

Our Question:
• "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2011/02/matt-taibbi-why-isnt-wall-street-in.html

 The Bad Moon Rising, Caused By Their Infinite Greed:
• "The Horrific $1.5 QUADRILLION Derivatives Bubble"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-horrific-15-quadrillion-derivatives.html

• “An Economic Collapse that is Going to be Worse than 1929”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/07/an-economic-collapse-that-is-going-to.html

• “Demise of the Global US Fiat Dollar Reserve Currency: Entire Fiat Money System is Bankrupt”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/11/demise-of-global-us-fiat-dollar-reserve.html
.
• "Mass Economic Collapse Explained"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/08/mass-economic-collapse-explained.html

• "The 5 Stages of Economic Collapse"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/05/dmitry-orlov-5-stages-of-economic.html

• "America: The Grim Truth"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2010/04/lance-freeman-america-grim-truth.html
.
Their Strategy To Temporarily Save Themselves:
• “Are You Prepared for a US Bank Bail-In?”
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-economy-are-you-prepared-for-us.html

Our Response:
• “America’s New ‘Economic Guillotine’ is Dead Ahead”
-http://www.marketwatch.com/story/americas-new-economic-guillotine-is-dead-ahead-2013-10-16
.
• “Guns in America, a Statistical Look”
-http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/08/guns-in-america-a-statistical-look/

Their Defense:
• "Tanks on Main Street: The Militarization of Local Police"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2012/01/tanks-on-main-street-militarization-of.html
.
• "Mainstream Media: Why is DHS Stockpiling Ammo, Weapons and Armored Assault Vehicles?"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/03/mainstream-media-why-is-dhs-stockpiling.html

• Here are some Department of Homeland Security purchases.These items were purchased by the Pentagon, none for use in wars overseas:
• "Feds Buy Two Billion Rounds of Ammunition"
-http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2013/02/feds-buy-two-billion-rounds-of.html

• “We Are Already in Stage One of Martial Law”
-http://www.survivalandbeyond.net/we-are-already-in-stage-one-of-martial-law/
Conclusion:
“Conclusion: Something that you decide is true after thinking about it carefully and looking at all the evidence.”- Macmillan Dictionary; “A position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration.” - The FreeDictionary; “A reasoned deduction or inference.”-  Dictionary.com
My Conclusion:


Any questions?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-Up 11.08.13”

“Weekly News Wrap-Up 11.08.13”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

“Obama Care is the top story, and the problems keep piling up for folks losing their insurance. One reader on the USAWatchdog site told me his family plan doubled to more than $1,600 a month with much higher deductibles and co-pays. I have not had a single person on the site write me and tell me they are paying less. Forget about the website problems in the end, most people are going to be paying more and getting less for health care. This is just the individual plans where millions are finding out you cannot keep your old plan. It’s not cheaper, and in most cases, you cannot keep your doctor. This is why 16 Democratic Senators, who are all up for re-election in 2014, met with the White House this week. They are worried, and they should be. I predicted this would be an ongoing disaster for Democrats, and it is. Why do you think they put off the employer mandate?  In the end, everyone is going to take a hit and pay more for less. They are going for a single payer system and don’t care who they hurt to get there. Democrats already realize this is a loser and are going to get creamed in 2014. How do you put this genie back into the bottle? You can’t. The other big unreported story is the extremely negative drag this is going to have on the economy. You can’t take that much money from people and have a growing vibrant economy.

The major countries of the world are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. Iran wants the harsh sanctions lifted, and the West wants the nuclear plan curtailed. This headline says there’s a deal taking shape. Meanwhile, other headlines are saying Iran is demanding the right to increase the programs it has in place. The Middle East still has the potential to be the most explosive and complicated problem on earth. Keep an eye on the negotiations; everyone in the past few years has failed to produce anything meaningful. 

In economic news, a university professor from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, says the real size of the Fed exposure for rescuing the global economy from the 2008 meltdown is not nearly $4 trillion but a whopping $29 trillion!! Professor L. Randall Wray contends the Fed has dramatically underestimated the amount of cash the Fed has pumped into the global financial system. 

If the Fed has pumped that much money into the system, it should be talking off like a rocket. Instead, we keep getting headlines like this one, “Financial Firms Slashing Jobs.” 49,000 jobs have been cut, and if the economy was expanding, shouldn’t jobs be financing new projects and homes be expanding? Wait until Obama Care fully kicks in.

Finally, did you hear about the Texas size debris field floating in the Pacific Ocean that is headed for the West coast of the U.S. according to NOAA? Yes, a U.S. government website is tracking this mess. This debris is not reported to be radioactive, but there are plenty of other stories that show the West Coast of the U.S. is being hit with radiation from Fukushima. This story is being ignored by the mainstream media. Things are not getting better with Fukushima fallout, they are getting worse.

All these stories and more are analyzed by Greg Hunter in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.”

“Inside the Psyche of the 1%

 
“Inside the Psyche of the 1%- Many Actually Believe 
Their Ideology of Greed Makes for a Better World”
By Don Fitz

“Do the rich and super-rich tend to be psychopaths, devoid of guilt or shame? Are the 1% lacking in compassion? Does their endless accumulation of possessions actually bring them little to no happiness? To each of these, the answer is “yes”—but a very qualified “yes” with lots of subtleties. Even more important is what these issues suggest for building a society which does not ravage the last remnants of wilderness and rush headlong into a climate change tipping point.

Strange concepts of psychopathy: The word “psychopath” often elicits an image of a deranged murderer. Despite Alfred Hitchcock’s chair-gripping “Psycho,” stabbing victims in the shower is not a typical activity of psychopaths. They are more often con artists who end up in jail after cheating their victims. Classic definitions of psychopathy include features such as superficial charm, anti-social behavior, unreliability, lack of remorse or shame, above-average intelligence, absence of nervousness, and untruthfulness and insincerity.

Most of those in the mental health industry sternly observe that a strict set of consistent rewards and consequences is the only treatment that works with psychopaths. But they admit that even this treatment might not work too well. Progressives may dismiss observations by psychologists because the field tends to explore a behavioral pattern as it exists in a certain Western culture at a given point in history and then imagine that it characterizes all people at all times. Psychology has a long tradition of bending to current race, gender and sexual orientation biases. Its class bias is reflected by the dominant portrayal of psychopathy.

Consider what William H. Reid, MD, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio writes about psychopaths: “I have no wish to dehumanize people when I say that those who purposely endanger others in our streets, parks, and schools, even our homes, are qualitatively different from the rest of us. I care less and less about why they’re not the same as the rest of us; the enemy is at our door…There is no (reasonable) ethic which requires that we treat him as other adults; indeed, to do so is foolish.”

Reid cautions his readers: “We must stop identifying with the chronic criminal, and stop allowing him to manipulate our misplaced guilt about treating him as he is: qualitatively different from the rest of us.”

The author insists that good people must have the stamina to do what is necessary to protect themselves from the psychopathic criminal: “ …life is full of situations in which we need to do something distasteful…Most of us agree that we need to slaughter animals from time to time. We do it as humanely as possible, but we get it done…We also agree that some public health needs are important enough to require the suspension of some rights of people who have not been convicted of any crime…”  Reid chides those who recoil at the thought of suspending rights: “While we have been interminably discussing this weighty issue, the psychopaths, who don’t trouble themselves with contemplations, have been gaining ground.”

Where did these insights appear? Not in a transcript of a Rush Limbaugh interview. Not in an Ayn Rand novel. Not from someone fondly reminiscing of Ronald Reagan. These words are excerpted from an essay in the scholarly volume “Psychopathy: Anti-Social, Criminal and Violent Behavior”. The text is predominantly a collection of reports and syntheses under academic headings of “Typologies,” “Etiology,” “Comorbidity” and “Treatment.” The portions quoted illustrate that intense hostility directed towards victims of the criminal justice system is within the acceptable continuum of published academic thought on psychopathy.

A demon with two horns: The words from Reid reflect what is called the “categorical view.” It maintains that the difference between “psychopaths” and “normals” is as clear-cut as the difference between left-handedness and right-handedness.  A contrasting perspective, with a large amount of research to back it up, is the “dimensional view.” It regards psychopathy and other “personality disorders” as exaggerated expressions of normal behavior. Just as we are all more or less compassionate, we all have the ability to be manipulative and deceitful. We act so when we think that circumstances warrant it.

Some people think circumstances warrant it a whole more than others do. “Pure” psychopaths are examined in case studies of flim-flam hustlers; they make the evening news; and they become topics of TV shows. But there are many more “marginal” psychopaths who score high on some aspects of the disorder but not on others.

The dimensional view also recognizes that psychopaths can be more or less successful. A fellow psychologist once told me that she feels that the psychopaths she sees in therapy are the less successful ones. While most psychopaths are a little more intelligent than average, she thought that successful psychopaths are much more intelligent and run corporations as well as the military, government, and educational and religious institutions.

The concept of “successful psychopath” is not new. An early text described “complex psychopaths” who were very intelligent and included unscrupulous politicians and businessmen. By the 1970s it was more widely recognized that “this category includes some successful businessmen, politicians, administrators.” In other words, the unsuccessful psychopath might go to jail for swindling dozens of people with home improvement scams while successful psychopaths might swindle millions with bank deals, get bailed out by friends in government, and never spend a day in jail.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the medicalization of the disorder is how the psychiatric establishment departed from science in order to grant partial exemption from being characterized as psychopaths to the wealthy. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, in order to receive a diagnosis of “anti-social personality disorder” (i.e., psychopathy) a person must exhibit at least 3 of 7 listed behavior patterns. These include “arrest,” “physical fights or assaults,” and “failure to sustain consistent work behavior.” This means that those who can pay off cops (or never have charges pressed against them due to their social status), or pay someone else to commit violence on their behalf, or own companies instead of having to work for a living are all less likely to receive an official label of “psychopath.”

An increasing number of psychologists are becoming aware that traditional research was limited by the bias of only looking at people in jail. One wrote that subjects in psychopathy research “were usually institutionalized at the time of testing, and consequently our research may not accurately capture the internal structure and dynamics of the successful antisocial or psychopathic individual.”

Support for the concept of successful and unsuccessful psychopaths is provided by the discovery that the “Psychopathic Personality Disorder” syndrome actually has two factors. Statistical analyses have revealed an “emotional detachment” factor, which includes superficial charm and skill at manipulating others, as well as an “anti-social behavior” factor, which includes poor impulse control and the tendency to engage in activities that are illegal.

Multiple studies have confirmed that run-of-the-mill psychopaths (often studied while in jail) score particularly high on anti-social behavior while successful psychopaths score higher on emotional detachment factors. For example, Babiak  looked at “industrial psychopaths” and found that they scored higher on “emotional” factors than “deviant life style” factors. Functioning smoothly in the corporate world, they had a “charming façade” that allowed them to easily manipulate others.

In a study of “disordered personalities at work” other researchers were able to give personality tests to business managers and chief executives. They contrasted their personality scores to psychiatric patients and “mentally disordered offenders.” Compared to the mental patients, the corporate executives showed greater “emotional” components of personality disorder and less “acting out” (such as aggressiveness).

The authors concluded that “participants drawn from the non-clinical population [i.e., business managers] had scores that merged indiscernibly with clinical distributions.” There were no clear-cut differences between “psychopaths” and “normals.” The most likely explanation of psychopathy is that, like any other personality dimension, it has a bell-shaped curve: a few people have almost none of the characteristics, most people have some characteristics of psychopathy, and a few people have a lot. The most visible outlets for people high on psychopathy scales are petty con artists and corporate conniving. Operating in different worlds, their psychopathy expresses itself in different ways.

Now that it is clear that a streak of psychopathy runs through the 1%, it would be worthwhile to go back to those who espouse that “there is no ethic which requires we treat him [the psychopath] as we treat other adults” and ask if that would apply to corporate psychopaths as well. Will editors of scholarly volumes seek out articles heaping abuse on the 1% with the same vigor with which they find articles despising prison inmates? Will academics proclaim that “public health needs” dictate that we suspend civil liberties of corporate executives even if they “have not been convicted of any crime?” Will professors compare the “needed treatment” of the 1% to the “necessary slaughter” of animals?

Since academics know very well where funding for their research comes from, my guess is that they will be a wee bit less harsh on the corporate class than the jailed burglar who provides no grant money. We can be confident that the Tea Party will not be proposing that, if corporate psychopaths who blast the tops off of mountains wreak a thousand times the havoc of petty thieves who steal copper wire from air conditioners, then their punishments should be 1000 times as great. Yet, it is important not to overstate the evidence and suggest that every capitalist is a psychopath. Not all corporate executives score high on scales of psychopathy. This is likely because many actually believe their ideology of greed makes for a better world.

What causes human compassion? Compassion reflects the opposite of psychopathy. When those with wealth and power plan to strangle social security, they never say they intend to hurt people, but rather they want to help them stand on their own. When corporations drive native people from forests, they tell us it is part of their grand scheme to stop climate change. Are we to believe that they are just as compassionate as everyone else…but that they reveal their compassion in their own way? There is now good evidence that there are, in fact, class differences in levels of compassion.

By definition, the rich and powerful have more material resources and spend more of their time telling others what to do. Those with fewer material resources get told what to do. As a result, the rich value independence and autonomy while those with less money think of themselves as more interdependent with others. In other words, the rich prize the image of the “rugged individual” while the rest of us focus on what group we belong to.

How do people explain the extremely unequal distribution of wealth? Those with more money attribute it to “dispositional” causes—they believe that people get rich because their personality leads them to work harder and get what they deserve. Those with less money more often attribute inequality to “external” factors—people’s wealth is due largely to events beyond their control, such as being born into a rich family or having good breaks in life.

People with fewer financial resources live in more threatening environments, whether from potential violence, being unable to pay medical bills, or fearing the possibility of being evicted from their homes. This means that social classes differ in the way that they view the world from an early age. Children from less financially secure homes respond to descriptions of threatening and ambiguous social scenarios with higher blood pressure and heart rate. Adults with lower incomes are also more reactive to emotional situations than are those with more money.

This means that people with fewer financial resources are more attentive to others’ emotions. Since low income people are more sensitive to emotional signals, they might pay more attention to the needs of others and show more altruism in response to suffering.

This was the thinking behind research linking higher income to less compassion. In one study people either watched a neutral video or one depicting a child suffering from cancer. People with lower income had more change in their heart rate and reported feeling more compassion. But they did not rate other emotions as higher. Social class could be linked to compassion more than to any other emotion.

In another study, people reported their emotions toward a partner when the two of them went through a hypothetical job interview. Lower income people perceived more distress in their partners and expressed more compassion toward them. Again, they did not report more intense feelings of other emotions. Nor did participants show more compassion toward people with the same income level as their own.

Like most psychological research, these findings are limited by their use of university students. This makes it hard to conclude that their findings apply to those not in school. Of course, it is quite possible that effects would be even stronger in situations that are far more intense than the somewhat mild experiences that occur in psychological laboratories. A greater problem is interpreting psychological findings as showing absolute differences between groups rather than shades of grey.

It would not be accurate to claim that research proves that the 1% have no compassion while all of the 99% do. But it strongly implies that the 1% feel less compassion, whether watching a videotape of suffering or participating in a live social interaction. Also, lab studies are consistent with findings that people with fewer financial resources give a higher proportion of what they do have to charity. In economic game research, they give more to others.

This line of research confirms that (1) people with fewer financial resources identify with a larger “in-group;” (2) “attention to and recognition of suffering is a prerequisite step before compassion can take place;” and (3) “moral emotion is not randomly distributed across social classes…” Compassion toward the suffering of others is less likely among the 1%.

The happiness paradox: The endurance of the story of Scrooge reflects a deeply ingrained understanding that replacing compassion with a devotion to accumulating wealth will not bring fulfillment. But it is not that simple. What I call the “happiness paradox” flows from two consistent yet seemingly contradictory findings:

1. At a given point in time, higher income is positively associated with happiness; but,
2. Over time, per capita income can rise greatly with no rise in happiness.

Let’s look at the first of these. It is true that there is a positive correlation between income and happiness. People who make more money describe themselves as happier. But the diminishing returns of the happiness curve are profound. The greatest reason for the correlation is the huge jump in happiness as people move out of poverty into the world of survive-ability. At higher income levels, more money is associated with extremely small increases in happiness. In fact, moving from the ninth to the tenth (top) income category only increases happiness 0.02 point on a 10-point scale.

Similar effects occur when comparing countries. Those living in rich countries are happier than those living in poor countries. Again, there are diminishing returns, due to the large effects of moving out of abject poverty. Once an income of $10,000 was reached during the 1990s, additional income did very little. A 10% increase in income in a country with half the income of the US was associated with an increase in happiness of 0.0003 on a 10-point scale.

While smaller increases in happiness occur with advances to successively higher income levels, even this effect is wiped out in comparisons across time. US per capita income has increased dramatically since WWII, while happiness has not changed or even decreased slightly. Between 1946 and 1991, real income rose from $11,000 to $27,000 (in 1996 dollars) but happiness was constant. Another study found that from 1940 to 2000 people in the US earned three times as much with no increase in happiness. The most spectacular growth in the capitalist world occurred in Japan, which saw a six-fold increase in per capita income from 1958 to 1991. Yet, there was no change in happiness. 

These portraits are all painted from people’s self-reports of how happy they are. Looking at happiness in a more “objective” way suggests that it could actually have decreased at the same time that material possessions were increasing. Presumably, people who are happy have fewer bouts of major depression. If increased income resulted in more happiness, then there should have been less depression among Americans who grew up during times of greater prosperity. Exactly the opposite occurred.

Compared to those born in 1925–1935, those born in 1945–1955 had twice the probability of a major depressive episode, and those born after 1955 had the highest rate of depression. Suicide may be the most objective measure of happiness (or unhappiness). Data reveal that America’s economic growth spurt occurred simultaneous with a rise in the suicide rate of 7.6 per 100,000 in 1950 to 12.4 per 100,000 in 1990.

Though it would be false to say that money cannot buy any happiness, it would be even worse to say that money can buy lots of happiness. Why then is having more money at a given point in time associated with more happiness (even if only slightly so) while increases in income over time fail to bring more happiness? It is largely because of class divisions and the obsession of capitalist culture with material objects.

When a generation of objects first comes into being (whether jewelry, cars or cell phones), only a few can afford them. The many who cannot buy them endure a fabricated emptiness. Over the next few decades (or years or months) the price of the object falls, ownership becomes commonplace, and a new fad is concocted to stimulate desire. Though the process predates capitalism by many centuries, it is the glorification of object possession in capitalist society that inflates it beyond reason.

Before the 1920s, give or take a decade or two, capitalism was producing largely for needs, with the luxury items of the rich being the exception. But as it became clear that it was possible to satisfy the basic necessities of the vast majority, the 1% began a brave new adventure into the world of manufactured needs and planned obsolescence. Products designed to go out of style or fall apart became more frequent until they became the norm following WWII. Of course, people accepted this fetishism of things to a great or lesser degree—some Christians still thought that spirituality was more important than bowing to golden calves. One of the best known psychological critics of the emerging life style was Abraham Maslow, who coined the phrase “deficiency orientation” to explain those who wrap their lives around the illusion that happiness can be found in material goods.

Sociologists wrote of “aspiration level theory,” “positional goods” and “status symbols” to describe the purchase of objects whose major value is to demonstrate that the owner possesses something that most others do not. Studies documented that people who prize material possessions are significantly less happy. Karl Marx wrote of the prime directive of capitalism being to “Accumulate, accumulate!”  Decades before the end of the twentieth century, capitalism had spread its pathological world view and created a new law of accumulation:

Manufactured Needs = Manufactured Unhappiness: It is well documented that possessions do not bring happiness; but, then, what does? Recent research has confirmed what philosophers have written and religions have preached for millennia. Happiness is associated with close personal relationships and control over essential parts of one’s life. One study which interviewed college students found that those who were the most happy (1) spent more time with others and (2) reported more satisfying relationships. A society dominated by the 1%, however, pushes us in the opposite direction. In 1985, 75% of Americans reported having a close friend, but by 2004 that had fallen to 50%.

One of the more interesting experimental studies had some participants do five favors for people in a single day. Weeks later, they still felt better than those who did not practice altruistic behavior. Life might be less pleasant among those whose urge to get ahead makes them less compassionate and less likely to do unsolicited nice things for others.

The exponential addict: The 1% could easily find compassion getting in their way as their actions affect an increasing number of lives. Gaining enough wealth to move out of poverty makes a significant difference in the life satisfaction of a person who has little. Gaining the same amount of wealth has no effect on the happiness of the very rich. They must grab the wealth of many impoverished people in order to have a perceptible increase in happiness. As for a drug addict, the rush from an increase in material possessions of those who already have more than enough is merely a temporary fix.

Soon they will have to prevent even more from rising out of poverty if they are to get another short-term happiness rush. Whether the rush is from the actual possessions or the power that they manifest, it still won’t be enough. They must increase the rate of wealth accumulation that they push through their veins. If those with spectacular quantities of obscene wealth are to get their next high, they cannot merely snort enough happiness objects to prevent masses of people from rising out of poverty—they have to manipulate markets to grind an ever-increasing number into poverty.

The petty psychopath and the grand corporate psychopath seek happiness through the act of obtaining material possessions as much as having them. A major difference between them is that the grand psychopath has the ability to cause so much harm. Even more important, the amount of harm that corporate psychopaths cause grows at an exponential rate. Their financial schemes are no longer millions or billions, but now trillions. Not content to drive individual farmers off their land, they design trade deals that force entire countries to plow under the ability to feed their own people and replace it with cash crops to feed animals or produce biofuels.

Finding that the pollution of small communities generates insufficient funds, they blow off the tops of mountain ranges for coal, raze boreal forests for tar sands, attack aquatic ecosystems with deep sea drilling, and contaminate massive natural water systems by mining gold or fracking for gas. While the petty psychopath may become proficient enough to become a godfather, the grand psychopath is driven not merely to planetary destruction but to a frenetic increase in the rate of destruction at precisely the moment when the tipping point of climate change is most haunting.

A natural question might seem to follow: Would getting rid of the current batch of corporate psychopaths benefit the world greatly? Actually, no. It would do no good whatsoever because what psychologists call the “reward contingencies” of the corporate world would still exist. The fact that capitalism prizes accumulation of wealth by the few at the expense of the many would mean that, even if the worst corporate criminals disappeared, they would soon be replaced by marketplace clones.

Progressives should avoid using the same “categorical” model so adored by right wing theorists for its utility in hating the poor. A much better explanation for psychopathy among the 1% is that the corporate drive to put profits before all else encourages norms of manipulating people without compassion. The more readily corporate leaders succumb to this mind set, the more likely they will be to climb the ladder. As the corporate mentality dominates society, it reproduces its attitudes and expectations of behavior throughout every organization, institution and individual it touches.

In challenging what the market does to our souls, Alan Nasser said it so well: “A certain kind of society tends to produce a certain kind of person. More precisely, it discourages the development of certain human capacities and fosters the development of others. Aristotle, Rousseau, Marx and Dewey were the philosophers who were most illuminating on this. They argued that the postures required by successful functioning in a market economy tend to insinuate themselves into those areas of social intercourse which take place outside of the realm of the market proper. The result, they claimed, was that the arena for potentially altruistic and sympathetic behavior shrinks over time as society is gradually transformed into a huge marketplace.”

As mentioned, there are differences in compassion and types of psychopathy between high and low income people. But the differences are not large. Perhaps, even in the corporate board room, many feel the old norms of group loyalty. It is also possible that differences are small, not because of the unwillingness of corporate executives to be ultra-manipulative, but because capitalism pushes everyone toward a “use people” mode.

Thus, building a new society involves going beyond equalizing material wealth. It means changing the core nature of interpersonal relationships. This requires vastly reducing the emphasis on material possessions. Relationships of people to people can never flourish as long as relationships of people to objects reign supreme.

As long as society continues to be deeply divided between those who tell others what to do and those who get told, it will not be possible to establish the emotional sharing that is the basis of widespread altruism. If the 1% are to develop the same level of understanding of others that the 99% has, they will need to walk in their shoes. If they continue to be the ones who live their lives telling others what to do while the rest of us continue being told what to do, they will not develop levels of compassion typical of the 99%.

This means that in office jobs, they should be able to share the joys of typing letters rather than ordering others to type for them. If we decide mining is necessary, those who are now the 1% should get to know that work life. In work at home, they should not be excluded from washing toilets but should participate in the same human activities as the rest of society. Creating a world of universal compassion requires a world of shared experiences.”

Satire: “Study: Americans Safe from Gun Violence Except in Schools, Malls, Airports, Movie Theatres, Workplaces, Streets, Own Homes”

 
“Study: Americans Safe from Gun Violence Except in Schools,
 Malls, Airports, Movie Theatres, Workplaces, Streets, Own Homes”
by Andy Borowitz

 WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “A new study released today indicates that Americans are safe from the threat of gun violence except in schools, malls, airports, movie theatres, workplaces, streets, and their own homes. Also: highways, turnpikes, libraries, places of worship, parks, universities, restaurants, post offices, and cars. Plus: driveways, garages, gyms, stores, military bases—and a host of other buildings, structures, and sites.

National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre applauded the study, saying that it reinforced his organization’s long-held position that the United States does not need additional gun laws. “This study makes it abundantly clear that Americans are in no danger of gun violence except in these isolated four hundred and thirteen places,” he said. He added that he hoped that the study would spark a conversation “about the root cause of mass shootings: people who recklessly show up at places where they could be shot at.”

"How it Really (Always) Is"


“Demise of the Global US Fiat Dollar Reserve Currency: Entire Fiat Money System is Bankrupt”

 
“Demise of the Global US Fiat Dollar Reserve Currency:
Entire Fiat Money System is Bankrupt”

by Matthias Chang

“Major issues or trends do not change on a daily or even monthly basis. A trend may take a few years to run its course and unless there is a major factor that may affect the trend, there is hardly any need to comment any further on the trend or outcomes. The events unraveling post Bernanke’s decision not to taper QE is most significant because it confirms our analysis that the banking crisis has not been resolved in any significant way after five years of money printing and massive asset inflation. The fiat money system has but one outcome – total collapse. It will also mean the demise of the global US dollar reserve currency.

There are no solutions at hand.

Bernanke is totally discredited and his continued tenure as Chair of the FED would only accelerate the realisation that the FED and all central banks have failed. Hence, the need to change the “leadership” at the FED, but the same policies would be followed with some cosmetic changes to hoodwink the ignorant masses. It is analogous to the transition from the second Bush presidency to that of Obama and all the theatrics of “change” propaganda. In fact, Obama is Bush 2 on steroids! Yellen will be Bernanke on steroids. Why are we so certain of this outcome at Future Fast-Forward?

Our reasons are as follows: Prior to the Global Financial Tsunami of 2008, I had written several articles exposing the global Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks as financial rapists and predators and they would cause untold havoc to the financial system. Post the crisis, I had also warned that these global TBTF banks are all insolvent and the toxic assets on their balance sheets would exceed US$20 trillion at the minimum. The entire fiat money system is bankrupt. Printing toilet paper money by the trillions does not make the system solvent. It is a clear admission that the system is totally broken.

The banking Humpty-Dumpty has fallen from the wall and shattered into a thousand pieces! The confirmation for this is the fact that all central banks led by the FED have only one aim – to create massive asset inflation. How can a stock market of a bankrupt nation be at an all-time high?

The FED and central banks the world over are not interested in resolving the unemployment problem because record unemployment would not collapse the fiat money system. It may trigger massive social unrest but that can be put down by a militarised police force, supported by a battle-hardened military as is happening in the US. In the circumstances, we need to ask the US$ Trillion question – Why are all the central banks focusing on asset inflation via creation of money out of thin air?

The answer: THE FIAT MONEY SYSTEM IS THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

It used to be that the Petro-dollar was the linchpin of the global economy. However, when the derivatives market took off and became a US$800 Trillion global casino, the US$ toilet paper became the currency in global financial trading and speculation.

All the TBTF banks were leveraged to their eyeballs and the collaterals were hypothecated and re-hypothecated so many times over, it became an inverted pyramid joke. The collaterals were bundled up into CDOs etc. rated AAA by corrupt rating agencies and traded. We need not repeat this old story. The point we are making here is that not only are the collaterals junks but they are supporting a mountain of debts in the trillions. Therefore, when collaterals are impaired the TBTF banks are in a hole from which they cannot get out. The FED and other central banks have no choice but to bail out the TBTF banks if a systemic failure is to be avoided. If all the junk collaterals were to be off-loaded at once in the full glare of public scrutiny, there would be a run on all the banks. So, what was required was a stealth rescue effort. The TBTF banks were allowed to unload the junk collaterals bit by bit by the various schemes of the FED culminating in the US$85 billion a month purchases of treasury bonds and mortgages by the FED.

Additionally, newly “minted” collaterals were used to replace the junks so as to clean up the balance sheets of the TBTF banks. I have stated earlier that the minimum amount of toxic assets needed to be mopped up is US$20 trillion. After five years, the FED has just scratched the surface. It is debatable how many US$ Trillions the FED has actually pumped into the system directly and indirectly. How much and how long more can the FED continue to pump US$ toilet paper into the system without creating a massive loss of confidence in the dollar? When the balance sheet of the FED reaches US$7 Trillion or maybe US$10 Trillion? It is anybody’s guess.

For sure, there will be a point when another US$100 Billion is created on top of the stash of US$ toilet papers which will tip the scale and collapse the entire system. It is a catch-22 for the FED. If it stops creating fiat money out of thin air, the fiat money system would collapse immediately. If it continues with more money creation, it merely postpones the inevitable and more devastating end-game. This is the price we all have to pay for allowing the fiat money system to hold sway for so long.

The world was conned into accepting the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of banking and finance – the US$ Global Reserve Currency Ponzi Scheme. This scheme was created on a sand castle of debt, specifically US Treasury Bonds. The world does not need a Global Reserve Currency. Global trade can be conducted in any currency in accordance to the needs and resources of a country.

Why should there be a special privilege given to only one country to have its currency as the sole reserve currency for purposes of trade? It makes no sense as it is the result of US imperialist policies under the pretext of the Cold War. The con was based on the propaganda that the US$ should be the preferred currency and the US Treasury Bond is the “safest asset” to have in the event of an outbreak of war between the Western Imperialist camp and the Soviet bloc. We were told this arrangement was necessary if we are to enjoy the protection of the mighty US superpower! Yet, when the Soviet bloc collapsed no one questioned the need to perpetuate the system.

Another spin was propagated. The US was the linchpin in the new era of globalisation as the US market was the biggest consumer / export market. Everyone was caught in this web of deceit. The US market was a market built on a mountain of debt. Adding insult to injury, the US consumers paid for the goods produced by millions breaking their backs with US$ toilet paper money!

Some so-called currency experts have asserted that no other currency can replace the US$ toilet paper as the global reserve currency because no other country has a bond market like the US bond market, dominated by the US treasury bonds. What an idiotic statement!

If a country is not in debt, there is no need for any bonds to be issued. A bond is an I.O.U. A bond is a mere paper pledge to repay a debt. And anyone who says and continues to perpetuate the myth that a US debt is a better debt and is more secure is ignorant and misinformed! Why would anyone want to work and produce goods which are sold and paid in US$ toilet paper and then use the surplus US$ toilet paper to lend to the US government who repays the debt by merely printing more US$ toilet paper? So, do you still think the world needs a US$ toilet paper money as a reserve currency?”

The Economy: "Aiming for Aristotle’s Head"

 
 "Aiming for Aristotle’s Head"
by Bill Bonner

"Wowee! More highs in the stock market. The Dow rose 128 points yesterday. Is the US stock market headed for a bubble? Maybe… but what do we know?

Our guess is that the people who are buying stocks today have a lot more confidence in the Fed than we have. As near as we can tell, today’s stock prices owe a lot to the Fed’s manipulation of asset prices and little to the fact that the companies are more intrinsically valuable… or more likely to produce higher earnings per share. In fact, as Chris reported yesterday, earnings-per-share estimates have been falling as US stocks have been rising.

Watch out. Artificially priced markets are like huge bungee cords. You can stretch them out. But the further they get pulled out, the greater the sting when they snap back. When will that happen? We don’t know that, either. But we’re not going to stand in front of it waiting for it to happen.

There are two groups of people in the world. In one group are those who think they know things. In the other are the people who think those in the first group are idiots. These are not absolutely separate categories. Instead, they share a long border and plenty of spots for crossing under cover of night.

Aristotle was perhaps the first and foremost of those who thought he knew something. He had it all figured out more than 2,000 years ago. There was a natural order to things, he thought. Civilized people should live in city states; anyone beyond the city walls was either a “beast or a god.” And the city state itself – the ideal form of political organization – was to be ruled by… well… the rulers. That was just the way it worked. Aristotle: “For ruling and being ruled are not only necessary, they are also beneficial, and some things are distinguished right from birth, some suited to rule and others to being ruled.”

Why a city state and not a country state? Why couldn’t people rule themselves? Who was to say who the ruler should be? You could ask as many questions as you wanted. Aristotle would have just as many silly answers. But even the ancients were on to him. "None of us knows anything, not even whether we know anything or not,” said Metrodorus of Chios, aiming for Aristotle’s head.

But it was the great Pyrrho from Elis who developed the philosophy we know today as “skepticism.” Loosely, a skeptic is someone who suspects that other people don’t know nearly as much as they think they do. And loosely speaking, the skeptics are mostly right. When it comes to central banking and central economic planning, they are always right.

The planners and world improvers are reliable sources of amusement, and not much more. Tom Friedman, Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman reduce the sum of human wisdom every time they open their mouths. Bernanke thinks he can solve a debt problem… with more debt. Krugman thinks he can solve a spending problem with more spending. Friedman doesn’t think at all. But that doesn’t stop him having a solution for every problem. (And if you applied his solution, you’d have a much bigger problem.)

Our old friend Pierre Lemieux reminds us of Adam Smith’s comment: "The man of system… is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it: he seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chessboard; he does not consider that the pieces upon the chessboard have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chessboard of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it."

The idea that you can organize a society according to your own prejudices is ancient. Old, too, is the notion on which it depends: that you have some knowledge that others don’t. In fact, all you know is what everyone else knows: nothing! And we’re not even sure about that."

The Economy: “Are You Prepared for a US Bank Bail-In?”

 “Are You Prepared for a US Bank Bail-In?”
by Jeff Berwick

“If you have cash in a US bank, you can expect to have the federal government take it all the next time US banks find themselves in trouble. The days of the federal government stealing money from taxpayers, or borrowing it from the Federal Reserve, to save troubled banks — as in they did in the 2008 crisis — may be over. Congress is considering imitating the theft in Cyprus and letting troubled banks “bail-in” depositor money in order to make themselves solvent.

Jim Sinclair, chairman and chief executive officer of Tanzania Royalty Exploration Corp., and whose family started Goldman Sachs, Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers, and others, has been warning of this for a while. “Bail-ins are coming to North America without any doubt, and will be remembered as the ‘Great Leveling,’ of the ‘great Flushing’. Not only can it happen here, but it will happen here…It stands on legal grounds by legal precedent both in the US, Canada and the UK.”

Financial expert Michael Snyder adds, “When major banks fail, they are going to bail them out by grabbing the money that is in your bank accounts. This is going to absolutely shatter faith in the banking system and it is actually going to make it far more likely that we will see major bank failures all over the Western world.”

This news isn’t exactly new, but the story is still developing, the monetary system is much closer to collapse and the bail-in is imminent. In fact, US banks presented the Federal Reserve with a bail-in plan to pay for large banks’ restructuring in the event of a future crisis, The Wall Street Journal reports. The plan was presented to the US Federal Reserve in an attempt to preempt tougher rules from the regulators.

The private meeting was reportedly attended by officials from Wells Fargo & Company, Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc. and several other banks. The bail-in mechanism would be designed to place a greater burden on creditors, as opposed to the taxpayers (theft victims), in the event of a bank’s collapse. In addition to the fleecing of depositors in Cyprus, the burden keeping a bank afloat was put on bondholders already this year when the UK’s Co-operative bank unveiled a rescue package that forced the bank’s bondholders to take a £1.5 billion hit to plug the £1.5 billion hole in the bank’s balance sheet.

The proposal presented to Federal Reserve officials would involve the largest financial-services holding companies would be willing to hold a certain amount of debt and equity which would be used to prop up any failed bank subsidiary seized by regulators, but the regulators will likely stick to their own plans which involves more aggressive measures including capping bank-size, breaking-up institutions or forcing banks to take on more long-term debt.

In the end, however, it’s not just creditors who will be on the hook but depositors as well. Jim Sinclair pointed out that banks legally own depositors’ funds as soon as the depositors hand those funds over to the banks. The money becomes the banks and the “depositors” actually become unsecured creditors holding promises to pay. Previously the banks were obligated to pay back this loan on demand with cash. Under the new Federal Deposit Insurance Company – Bank of England (FDIC-BOE) plan revealed this year, however, these promises to pay become equity in the bank, which won’t be able to be used as payments for bills, which is why most people have money in the bank in the first place.

The point is that your money is not yours while it is “deposited” with a bank. And bail-ins are coming to shatter any illusion that they are for US depositors. Notice that banks are already setting up deposits for seizure. Despite the excuses of the likes of JPMorgan, the banks are indeed clamping down on outgoing international wire transfers and now putting in limits for withdrawal that they are closing the doors. If you don’t get your money out now, possibly by end of this year or sooner, you may not be able ever to get it out. Once doors are closed the federal government might do a bank holiday and bail in to make the banks “solvent” again. At best you may get some “bank equity” that is both illiquid and which will ultimately be worth a tiny fraction of the deposit it replaces.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Musical Interlide: Deuter, “Earth Shadow”


Deuter, “Earth Shadow”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COAvH95xojY

Kahlil Gibran, "The Seven Selves"; "How I Became A Madman"

 
"The Seven Selves"
by Kahlil Gibran

"In the silent hour of the night, as I lay half asleep, my seven selves sat together and thus conversed in whispers:

First Self: Here, in this madman, I have dwelt all these years, with naught to do but renew his pain by day and recreate his sorrow by night. I can bear my fate no longer, and now I must rebel.

Second Self: Yours is a better lot than mine, brother, for it is given me to be this madman's joyous self. I laugh his laughter and sing his happy hours, and with thrice winged feet I dance his brighter thoughts. It is I that would rebel against my weary existence.

Third Self: And what of me, the love-ridden self, the flaming brand of wild passion and fantastic desires? It is I the love-sick self who would rebel against this madman.

Fourth Self:
I, amongst you all, am the most miserable, for naught was given me but the odious hatred and destructive loathing. It is I, the tempest-like self, the one born in the black caves of Hell, who would protest against serving this madman.

Fifth Self:
Nay, it is I, the thinking self, the fanciful self, the self of hunger and thirst, the one doomed to wander without rest in search of unknown things and things not yet created; it is I, not you, who would rebel.

Sixth Self: And I, the working self, the pitiful labourer, who, with patient hands, and longing eyes, fashion the days into images and give the formless elements new and eternal forms—it is I, the solitary one, who would rebel against this restless madman.

Seventh Self: How strange that you all would rebel against this man, because each and every one of you has a preordained fate to fulfill. Ah! could I but be like one of you, a self with a determined lot! But I have none, I am the do-nothing self, the one who sits in the dumb, empty nowhere and no-when, when you are busy re-creating life. Is it you or I, neighbors, who should rebel?

When the seventh self thus spake the other six selves looked with pity upon him but said nothing more; and as the night grew deeper one after the other went to sleep enfolded with a new and happy submission. But the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things."
"How I Became A Madman"
by Khalil Gibran

"You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen- the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives- I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a thief in a jail is safe from another thief."

Musical Interlude: The Moody Blues, “Days of Future Passed”


 Full Album: The Moody Blues, “Days of Future Passed”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y_9hwW1eV0

"A Look to the Heavens"

“The dark Horsehead Nebula and the glowing Orion Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, they appear in opposite corners of the above stunning mosaic. 

 Click image for larger size.
The familiar Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right. Immediately to its left is a prominent reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man. Pervasive tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region.”

Chet Raymo, “The Ultimate Citadel of Humanism”

 “The Ultimate Citadel of Humanism”
by Chet Raymo

“Here I go again. It seems lately that these posts drift more and more toward memoir, toward summing up, toward drawing together the raveled treads of a life. What started almost ten years ago as a continuation of my 20 years of science essays in the Boston Globe -- essays that aspired toward a spritely objectivity -- has become willy-nilly an exercise in self-indulgence. That so many of you have stayed for the ride suggests, I hope, that we share certain life-experiences, and that together we articulate a Tao, a way, a common aspiration to "ironic tenderness."

Here is another kind of summing up, one of Rembrandt's many self-portraits, this one painted in 1660, at age 53, towards the end of the artist's life. Its permanent home is Kenwood House in London. 


I could say something here about silence and ironic tenderness. The painting embodies silence, yet speaks volumes about the inextricable tangles of the human condition. But I don't need to say anything. It has already been said by the writer John Fowles on the last page of his own summing-up novel, "Daniel Martin", in a passage I copied into my journal sometime back in the late 1970s.

Daniel Martin, the novel's protagonist, has wandered into Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath and finds himself transfixed by the Rembrandt self-portrait: “He could see only one consolation in those remorseless and aloof Dutch eyes. It is not finally a matter of skill, of knowledge, of intellect; of good luck or bad; but of choosing and learning to feel. Dan began at last to detect it behind the surface of the painting; behind the sternness lay the declaration of the one true marriage in the mind mankind is allowed, the ultimate citadel of humanism. No true compassion without will, no true will without compassion.”

After a lifetime of relationships, Dan is about to reunite with Jane, the one true love of his life. It is interesting that Fowles uses the word "compassion" rather than "love." It is, of course, what one sees in Rembrandt's face: compassion. Something that springs from somewhere deeper within than love. One can love ice cream; one does not feel compassion for ice cream. Love makes a Hollywood blockbuster; compassion makes a life.

So that, it seems, is what it was all about- the years, the inextricable tangle. Not skill, knowledge, or intellect, such as they were, but the quiet resolution we see in those soulful Rembrandt eyes. Love happens. Compassion is willed.”