Friday, February 28, 2014

"How It Really Is"


“Choosing Not to Look Away: Helping the Homeless”

“Choosing Not to Look Away: Helping the Homeless”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“Most of us know in our hearts that the homeless and the poor are not so very different from us. Homeless people in our communities are a fact of life, especially in big cities. Many of us don’t know how to interpret this situation or what we can do to help. We may vacillate between feeling guilty, as if we are personally responsible, and feeling angry, as if it is entirely on their own shoulders. The situation is, of course, far more complex than either scenario. Still, not knowing how to respond, we may fall into the habit of not responding at all. We may look over their heads not making eye contact, or down at the ground as we pass, falling into a habit of ignoring them. Each time we do this, we disconnect ourselves from a large portion of the human family, and it doesn’t feel right.

The poor and homeless are not so very different from us. They may be the victims of poor planning or an unavoidable crisis. Some of them are mentally ill, some are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and some are choosing to be homeless for reasons we may never understand. We can imagine that, given their lives, we would likely have ended up in the same place. This does not mean that we are meant to rescue them, as they are on their own learning path, but it does remind us that we can treat them as equals, because that is what they are. Even if we aren’t able to offer food, shelter, or money, we can offer a blessing as we pass. We can look them in the eye and acknowledge our shared humanness, even if we don’t know just how to help them. This simple act of kindness and silent or spoken blessings can be so helpful to those living on the street.

If you want to help with information, you can learn about the services in your area and share the locations of food banks, shelters, and other resources. Perhaps your family would like to have a plan ahead of time, talking with your children about how as a family you would like to handle these situations.  Whatever you decide to do, you will feel much better when you make a conscious choice not to simply look away.”

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-Up 2.28.14”

“Weekly News Wrap-Up 2.28.14”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

“All eyes are on Ukraine and its political upheaval. Pro-western protesters have forced the Ukrainian President to flee, and now there is a new president who is partial to the West. The U.S. and the EU have provided billions of dollars to fuel the uprising, and they are looking to offer more financial assistance. Ukraine is about to collapse financially. Isn’t the timing funny here? The Ukraine protests happened during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia? Before the games closed, the government was toppled, and now the U.S. is warning Russia not to “muscle in on Ukraine.” My prediction is Russia will do everything in its power both covertly and overtly to keep Ukraine under its influence. This includes outright invasion if necessary. Ukraine has a major Russian seaport. If Syria could start a world war, then Ukraine is Syria on steroids. In Ukraine, the West is playing with nuclear fire. I wonder, is Ukraine payback for blocking the U.S. intervention in Syria? Is this a way to tie up Russia so Syria can be toppled? Who knows, but the global war probabilities are increasing, not decreasing.  

China has turned into another global collapse wild card. Finance expert and money manager James Rickards says, “... investors are in for a rude awakening when they realize how much of the China story is false and how quickly it may come unraveled.” Rickards goes on to say, “China is on the verge of a financial collapse of unprecedented magnitude.” Rickards predicts this collapse could happen by 2015 and says, “A new more dangerous stage of the depression is possible.” Rickards wrote the best-selling book “Currency Wars,” and his new book “The Death of Money” will be out in April.  USAWatchdog.com is going to have Mr. Rickards back as a guest sometime near the end of next month. 

Bitcoin got another black eye this week when Japan based so-called “Mt. Gox” Bitcoin exchange went under, taking $400 million worth of Bitcoins with it. I have warned that Bitcoin is risky. Its price has been all over the map in the last year and has had several hundred dollar swings in value both up and down. I do not like Bitcoin for many reasons. One of the things I hate about it is the identity of the programmers who invented it are still anonymous. This is supposed to be cutting edge currency. It’s like Thomas Edison wanting to stay in hiding after inventing the light bulb. Why the secrecy? Is this really a government invention? On one hand, the government says it’s OK, and on the other, they are prosecuting people for money laundering. Is crypto currency coming in some form? Yes. Is Bitcoin it?  Not sure. Now there is talk of putting it on a public exchange. So much for the privacy aspect of Bitcoin as that will require some sort of government oversight, you know, like the SEC. If you do make a killing on Bitcoin, you better claim the capital gain on a tax form. I’ve said this before, if you know what you are doing and want to risk some money and trade this—fine. Bitcoin as a store of wealth—no way.  

The first good news in weeks hit the financial markets this week. New home sales were up 9.6%. This story appeared after weeks of one negative story about the economy after another was reported. Here’s a bit of bad news that was soft peddled by the mainstream media. Did you know mortgage applications were off 4% last month? Also, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications were off 15% from this time last year. You wonder why JPMorgan announced it is laying off thousands more people after laying of 15,000 mortgage bankers last year. Other big banks have and probably will do the same thing. How can there be a robust housing recovery with these kinds of layoffs and falling mortgage applications? Short answer: There’s NOT. 

Finally, former Fed head Ben Bernanke is writing a book. He’s reportedly being paid $8 million for his memoirs. I’ve got some titles for him. How about “Wrong on Everything” or “Honey, I Shrunk the World Economy” by money printing.” Join Greg Hunter as he analyzes these stories and more on the Weekly News Wrap-Up.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

“Relying on Others: The Wisdom of Surrender”

“Relying on Others: The Wisdom of Surrender”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“A deep feeling of gratitude can emerge as we open to the experience of being helped. Most of us pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. We like to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and pulling our own weight in the world. This is why it can be so challenging when we find ourselves in a situation in which we have to rely on someone else. This can happen as the result of an illness or an injury, or even in the case of a positive change, such as the arrival of a newborn. At times like these, it is essential that we let go of our feeling that we should be able to do it all by ourselves and accept the help of others.

The first step is accepting the situation fully as it is. Too often we make things worse either by trying to do more than we should or by lapsing into feelings of uselessness. In both cases we run the risk of actually prolonging our dependency. In addition, we miss a valuable opportunity to practice acceptance and humility. The ego resists what is, so when we move into acceptance we move into the deeper realm of the soul. In needing others and allowing them to help us, we experience the full realization that we are not on our own in the world. While this may bring up feelings of vulnerability, a deep feeling of gratitude may also emerge as we open to the experience of being helped. This realization can enable us to be wiser in our service of others when we are called upon to help.

It takes wisdom and strength to surrender to our own helplessness and to accept that we, just like every other human being, have limitations. The gifts of surrender are numerous. We discover humility, gratitude, and a deepening understanding of the human experience that enables us to be that much more compassionate and surrendered in the world.”

"How It Really Is"


“Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1, ‘To Be, Or Not To Be’ Soliloquy”

“Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1, 
‘To Be, Or Not To Be’ Soliloquy”
by William Shakespeare

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.”

“The Stuff of (Disturbing) Dreams”

“The Stuff of (Disturbing) Dreams”
by Dr. Michael J. Breus

“Dreams are one of the most fascinating -  and least understood -  aspects of sleep. Though science has offered possibilities, we don't yet understand the purpose of dreaming. Dreams can encompass a dramatic range of emotion, and subject matter. Some dreams seem plucked directly from our everyday lives. Most of us have had the experience of waking up shaking our heads at the odd and sometimes amusing circumstances that unfolded while dreaming.

Dreams can contend with deep emotions, dealing with loss and reunion, anger, sorrow and fear. Bad dreams and nightmares are among the most startling and emotionally potent of remembered dreams. Even a partially remembered disturbing dream can linger in our waking minds. But what do we know about this phenomenon of disturbed dreaming? And what's the difference between a bad dream and a nightmare?

Much of the research into disturbed dreaming has focused on the neurological activity of these dreams, as a way to investigate the function and purpose of dreaming. Other research has focused on the connections between disturbed dreams and psychological conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. Less attention has been paid to the content of disturbed dreams, in particular the disturbing dreams that occur as a normal aspect of sleep life among a broad and varied population. We know that nightmares and bad dreams are common experiences -  but we don't know much about what these dreams contain.

What distinguishes a nightmare from a bad dream? One common theory is that nightmares are more emotionally disturbing and intense versions of bad dreams, a more severe form of the same essential phenomenon. One way nightmares are often distinguished from dreams is in whether the dream causes a person to wake -  whether out of fear, or to put an end to the dream.

New research investigates the content of disturbed dreams, in an effort to gain a better understanding of what emotions, triggers and themes propel these dreaming experiences, and also to help further illuminate potential distinctions between bad dreams and nightmares. Researchers at Quebec's Université de Montréal recruited 572 volunteers, both men and women, to keep daily dream reports of all remembered dreams -  good and bad -  for anywhere from two to five consecutive weeks. The reports included details about dreams' narratives, the emotions present and their level of intensity, as well as the presence of sleep terrors -  brief, highly intense periods of fright during dreams, that are often accompanied by actual screaming or movement like sleepwalking. Researchers considered episodes of sleep terrors to be distinct from nightmares.

They collected nearly 10,000 dream reports on dreams of all types. From this collection, researchers identified 431 bad dreams and 253 nightmares, experienced by 331 participants, which met the criteria for evaluation. Researchers excluded dreams that were too vague to analyze, as well as dream experiences that seemed to be sleep terrors. They also excluded nightmares and bad dreams experienced by people who reported having only these two types of dreams. Researchers used the result of waking from the dream as the distinguishing characteristic between bad dreams and nightmares: nightmares resulted in awakenings, and bad dreams did not.

Researchers defined several themes for volunteers to use in identifying the content of their dreams. The themes covered common territory for disturbed dreams, including physical aggression; being chased; interpersonal conflicts; accidents; failures and helplessness; evil presences; disasters and calamities; apprehension; worry; and health concerns. Volunteers were allowed to identify both primary and secondary themes.

They also established emotional categories to further define dream content, including fear, anger, sadness, confusion, disgust, guilt and frustration. Researchers used scales of both rationality and "everydayness" to evaluate levels of bizarreness in disturbed dreams. Their results give insight into the complex emotional and thematic landscape of disturbing dreams, as well as new possibilities for delineation between bad dreams and nightmares:

• Nightmares occurred more rarely than bad dreams, according to results. Of a total of 9,796 dreams collected, nightmares made up 2.9 percent, while bad dreams accounted for 10.8 percent of all dreams.
• The most common themes in both bad dreams and nightmares were physical aggression, interpersonal conflicts and failure or helplessness. More than 80 percent of nightmares, and more than 70 percent of bad dreams contained one or more of these themes, compared to 38.2 percent of non-disturbing dreams.
• Fear was the most common emotion reported in both nightmares and bad dreams. Among nightmares, 65.1 percent contained fear as the main emotion, as did 45.2 percent of bad dreams.
• Fear was not only more common in nightmares, it also took a larger proportional share of emotional content in nightmares than in bad dreams.
• Though fear was the most prevalent emotion, nearly half of all disturbing dreams had primary emotions other than fear.
• Volunteers reported nightmares having significantly higher intensity than bad dreams.
• Nightmares contained more aggression, more frequent experiences of failure, as well as more unfortunate and negative conclusions, than bad dreams. Nightmares were also more bizarre.
• Physical aggression was 1.5 times more frequent in nightmares than in bad dreams. Evil presences and experiences of being chased were other commonly reported themes of nightmares.
• Bad dreams overall contained a wider range of themes than nightmares. After physical aggression, interpersonal conflicts and failure, bad dreams also included themes related to health concerns and apprehension and worry.
• The thematic differences between nightmares and dreams suggested to researchers that nightmares are more likely to contain threats to basic physical security and survival, while bad dreams are more apt to grapple with a broader range of psychological anxieties.

Researchers found some interesting differences between men's and women's dreams. Both men and women dreamed about the same basic range of thematic and emotional content. But men's nightmares were more heavily populated with themes of disaster and calamity, while women's nightmares were more than twice as likely to contain interpersonal conflicts.

One particularly unexpected finding? Researchers compared the presence of negative events and outcomes in everyday dreams to disturbing dreams. They found nightmares and bad dreams contained more aggressions and misfortunes, and contained fewer positive, friendly aspects than everyday dreams. However, bad dreams and nightmares contained less failure than everyday dreams. This suggests, says researchers, that our disturbing dreams deal less often with issues of competence than more ordinary, less overtly upsetting everyday dreams.

Fascinating stuff, isn't it? These results give further credence to the theory that nightmares are a rarer, stranger and more intense form of bad dreams, but that both types of disturbed dreaming are versions of the same basic experience. It's not clear what purpose these dreams serve, or what relationship the content of our disturbing dreams may have to issues and concerns in our waking lives. But these findings should make scientists -  and the rest of us -  eager to discover more about our dreaming lives. Sweet Dreams...”
Michael J. Breus, PhD, The Sleep Doctor® 
Related:
“9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Dreaming”

"The Trick..."

"The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, 
or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same."
- Carlos Castaneda

“Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan”

“Fukushima Dangerously Contaminated the USS Reagan”
by Harvey Wasserman

“A stunning new report indicates the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago. If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power.  Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy.


The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode. In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout.

Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.

Among the 81 plaintiffs in the federal class action are a sailor who was pregnant during the mission, and her “Baby A.G.,” born that October with multiple genetic mutations.

Officially, Tepco and the Navy say the dose levels were safe. But a stunning new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo confirms that Naval officers communicated about what they knew to be the serious irradiation of the Reagan. Written by Kyle Cunningham and published in Japan Focus, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias” describes the interplay between the U.S. and Japanese governments as Fukushima devolved into disaster.

Cunningham writes that transcribed conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act feature naval officials who acknowledge that even while 100 miles away from Fukushima, the Reagan’s readings “compared to just normal background [are] about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out to sea.” On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says.

Serious fallout was also apparently found on helicopters coming back from relief missions. One unnamed U.S. government expert is quoted in the Japan Focus article as saying: "At 100 meters away it (the helicopter) was reading 4 sieverts per hour. That is an astronomical number and it told me, what that number means to me, a trained person, is there is no water on the reactor cores and they are just melting down, there is nothing containing the release of radioactivity. It is an unmitigated, unshielded number." (Confidential communication, Sept. 17, 2012). The transcript then contains discussion of health impacts that could come within a matter of “10 hours. It’s a thyroid issue.”

Tepco and the Navy contend the Reagan did not receive a high enough dose to warrant serious concern. But Japan, South Korea and Guam deemed the carrier too radioactive to enter their ports. Stock photographs show sailors working en masse to scrub the ship down.

The $4.3 billion boat is now docked in San Diego. Critics question whether it belongs there at all. Attempts to decontaminate U.S. ships irradiated during the Pacific nuclear bombs tests from 1946-1963 proved fruitless. Hundreds of sailors were exposed to heavy doses of radiation, but some ships had to be sunk anyway.

Leaks at the Fukushima site continue to worsen. Despite its denials, Tepco recently admitted it had underestimated certain radiation releases by a factor of 500 percent. A new report indicates that particles of radioactive Cesium 134 from Fukushima have been detected in the ocean off the west coast of North America.

Global concerns continue to rise about Fukushima’s on-going crises with liquid leaks, the troubled removal of radioactive fuel rods, the search for three missing melted cores, organized crime influence at the site and much more. The flow of information has been seriously darkened by the pro-nuclear Abe Administration’s State Secrets Act, which imposes major penalties on those who might report what happens at Fukushima.

But if this new evidence holds true, it means that the Navy knew the Ronald Reagan was being plastered with serious radioactive fallout and it casts the accident in a light even more sinister than previously believed. The stricken sailors are barred from suing the Navy, and their case against Tepco will depend on a series of complex international challenges. But one thing is certain: neither they nor the global community have been getting anything near the full truth about Fukushima.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"A Look to the Heavens"

 “Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (lower right to upper left) along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista. Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds.
Click image for larger size.
In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak at the lower right. The famous Orion Nebula itself is off the right edge of this colorful star field. The well-framed, wide-field telescopic image spans about 4 degrees on the sky.”

"In The End... No One Left..."

“First they came for the Socialists, 
and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, 
and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, 
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
- Martin Niemöller
"Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit." 
("He who is silent is taken to agree; he ought to have spoken when he was able to.")
- Latin proverb

The Daily "Near You?"


St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Satire: “Mass Gay Migration Aims To Make Arizona Majority Gay”

“Mass Gay Migration Aims To Make Arizona Majority Gay”
by Andy Borowitz

PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)— "Rejecting calls to boycott Arizona, a newly formed gay organization is mobilizing its members to move to the state by the millions in the hopes of transforming it into the nation’s first majority gay state. The group, called Americans for a Gay Arizona, has already received commitments from a million gay Americans to move to the state within the next two months, with a target of enlisting over six million gays to move there by the end of the year.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of the group, said that the influx of six million gays would be “more than enough” to insure that Arizona would be majority gay, but he acknowledged that he did not have an exact figure of how many gays currently reside there. “We think it could be as many as a million,” he said. “But if you add in conservative politicians, that number could go much higher.”

According to one associate of Governor Jan Brewer, the plan to move six million gays to Arizona is shaping up to be the governor’s worst nightmare. “She’s always been against immigration, but nothing like this,” the associate said.”

Sometimes it's just too easy... lol.
- CP

"How It Really Is: Arizonastan!"

PHOENIX (CBS5) - "A bill allowing business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and other individuals and groups continues to draw fire from politicians, groups and businesses.The Arizona Senate formally sent Senate Bill 1062 to Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday. Monday's action starts a five-day clock for the Republican governor to act on a proposed law she herself calls controversial.

Repercussions were already being felt. The Hispanic National Bar Association in Washington, DC, on its website Wednesday announced it was pulling its 2015 annual convention from Phoenix. "The HNBA views this as a civil rights issue. As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice," stated HNBA National President Miguel Alexander Pozo.”
- http://www.kpho.com/
“Arizona's Concealed-weapon Law Takes Effect”
by Kevin Kiley, July 29, 2010 

“Today is the day gun-rights advocates have had in their sights for a long time. Starting today, Arizona residents at least 21 years old can carry a concealed weapon without a permit.”
“Arizona: Guns + Bars = Confusion”
by Larry Hendricks

“Is it legal or illegal to carry a firearm into a bar or restaurant in Arizona that has a liquor license? Yes and no- sometimes. Flagstaff police officials say confusion still exists about new gun laws that went into effect last year. They're out to remind residents and bar and restaurant owners who have liquor licenses about what the new laws do and do not allow. The answer is twofold:
- If you have a concealed carry weapons permit, you may legally enter with a firearm into a bar or restaurant that has a liquor license -- unless the bar or restaurant has a properly posted sign that prohibits it.
- If you carry a concealed weapon without a permit (as allowed by the new law), you are not allowed to carry a firearm into bars or restaurants that sell liquor- even if there is no sign prohibiting it.”
- http://azdailysun.com/
"Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen (R) says Earth is 6,000 years old." 
“Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu Confirms He's Gay,
 Denies Other Allegations”

FLORENCE, AZ - "Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced during a Saturday news conference in Florence that he is gay. The announcement came as he denied allegations that he threatened an ex-lover with deportation as reported by the Phoenix New Times.
Babeu said he had a personal relationship with a man named Jose who also volunteered to work on Babeu's website, social media sites and financial transactional system. Babeu said when others came on board in paid positions and their relationship ended Jose took control of the website and was posting as Babeu." (Sheriff Babeu handily won re-election last November, btw. I live in Pinal County, Arizona. - CP)
- http://www.abc15.com/

I hope this post doesn't get me killed, but around here, who knows... lol.
- CP

The Economy: “Why the Crowd Is About to Get Destroyed in US Stocks”

“Why the Crowd Is About to Get Destroyed in US Stocks”
by Bill Bonner

Dow down a bit yesterday. Gold up a bit. The upward trend of US stocks – and now gold – has not yet been broken. Looking broadly at major trends of the last 50 years, debt was the name of the game from 1980 to 2007. Is it still the most important thing? 

From about 160% of GDP in 1980, total debt in the US rose to about 360%. That was a big deal. Not the least because it meant that US businesses availed trillions of dollars in income with no offsetting labor charge. Stocks, earnings, GDP, employment – with all this borrowed money flowing into the economy, the whole shebang looked good. 

Dr. Jekyll, Meet Mr. Hyde: As we've been saying, debt may be the kindly Dr. Jekyll when it is expanding. But it becomes maniacal when it contracts.  Mr. Hyde showed up in 2008, and the party was over. The US went into a debt contraction. We've been living with it ever since. Until the last quarter of last year, the private sector was either paying down or defaulting on its debt. But since 2008, we've also lived with ambiguity, split personalities and confusion. As households and businesses deleveraged, Washington leveraged up.  The feds added nearly $7 trillion in debt after 2007. Overall, debt to GDP shrank... but not much. The tally fell from 360% of GDP down to 345%. 

Deleveraging was the market's natural reaction to excess debt. QE was the unnatural and monstrous response of the Fed. It expanded its balance sheet to reach a staggering $4 trillion, as it tried desperately to keep the EZ credit flowing. 

From a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch research report: “The US Fed's modus operandi worked through asset prices, and animal spirits. This involved getting stock prices up, getting corporate animal spirits up by issuing cheap debt, buying back stock with cash orcheap debt to raise EPS, lowering government borrowing and mortgage costs, and raising consumer net worth/income ratios. Also, asset bubbles were generated in emerging markets, raising their growthlabor costs and currencies.”

Sharp operators followed the Fed like vultures trailing a sick cow. They borrowed at the Fed's ultra-low rates... and bought stocks, real estate, contemporary art and emerging market debt. Anything that promised a higher yield than was available in the Treasury market. 

Monetary Mambo: QE has been the name of the game since 2008. But QE helped Wall Street, not Main Street. Just look at charts of shipping indexes, real wages or the velocity of money. You see lines that head down in 2008... and don't come back up. 

In recent Diary entries, we've focused on two factors that weigh heavily on the economy: debt and demography. And we warned that these two factors will weigh heavily on US stocks prices. But we also noticed a possible spoiler – no prediction based on history has ever included the effects of QE or Janet Yellen! Eventually, everything normalizes. Eventually, we will almost certainly be right about stock market performance. But eventually can still be a long way into the future. 

Which brings us to our updated, revised, and improved outlook: Remember our prediction six years ago? "Tokyo, then Buenos Aires," we said. The idea was that the US economy would stay in deleveraging mode for "7 to 10 years"... and then, it would be off to the races. We suspected that the feds would get tired of Tokyo. We figured they'd be ready for some Latin-style action – a little central bank salsa... a bit of monetary mambo. We predicted that QE wouldn't work... and that the Fed would want to be more activist – probably by giving up on QE and directly intervening in the money supply (which it is currently constrained from doing; the effects of QE are limited to boosting only the monetary base). 

So, what have we learned in the last six years? How has our view changed? The answer to both questions is "not much." As we guessed, an aging, deeply indebted, zombie-ridden economy will not improve by adding more debt. Instead, it is doomed to follow Japan down that long, lonesome road of low consumer prices, low growth and high debt. This road leads to eventual destruction. But when? And how? 

In the US, as in Japan, QE does not help stimulate a real recovery. But it does help simulate one. House prices are up (thanks, in part, to ultra-low mortgage rates). The middle class has more "wealth" (albeit the paper kind) due to gains in their stock market portfolios. The rich are feeling fat and sassy, too. 

The Fed can continue modest tapering. But this is likely to produce a selloff in the stock market. Then the Fed will stop tapering. But it will be too late to reverse the damage to equities. They will go down for many years... bringing us even closer to the Japanese model. 

Our guess now is that this situation will persist for a few years. As long as the pain is tolerable, the Fed will not be so bold as to abandon QE or take up more daring measures. Tokyo today. Tokyo tomorrow. After tomorrow... we'll see.”

“Howard Beale”, “Network - Mad as Hell”

“Howard Beale”, “Network - Mad as Hell”

"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)

"Forgiveness..."


"It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive."
- Gregory David Roberts, "Shantaram"

"Time..."

 
"Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalked us all our lives.
But I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey,
that reminds us to cherish every moment because they'll never come again.
What we leave behind is not as important as how we live it.
After all, Number One, we're only mortal."
- Jean-Luc Picard

"A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness"

 "If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions, I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions, I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions,
I forgive myself."

"A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Challenge from Heaven”

2002, “Challenge from Heaven”

Musical Interlude: 2002, “An Ocean Apart”

2002, “An Ocean Apart”

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

"What If?"

"What if you slept?

And what if,
In your sleep
You dreamed?

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

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

... Ah, what then?"


- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
1772-1834

"The Sole Purpose..."

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence 
is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
-  C. G. Jung

"The Philosophy Of Being"

"The Philosophy Of Being"
By E D Detetcheverrie    

"Outrageous to some, clarifying for others, a strange conversation meant to provoke further thought. Now I know why they explain it in metaphors. The truth seems surreal. We are inadequate to describe it concisely. Ask not if you have strayed from the path; there is only one path, one way, and you are always on it...

Do they call it enlightenment because there is a light?
It is not mere photons, and light is only one part of it.
Who is in charge of it all?
Yes, we are. 
Do the wicked receive their just reward?
We shall all, ultimately, resume our place in the light.
Is the simplistic lifestyle really the true way?
All ways are the pathway to the light.
So, you can do as you please and still gain entry to that Better Place?
This is the place. Every experience is a learning experience.
What are the rules we should live by in order to achieve true happiness?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be.
How do we resolve all the ills of the world?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be.
Who should we pray to?
Adoration is not necessary. Rather, pray for the benefit of those who need it most.
So, prayer is the answer?
It is merely one means of achievement. Prayer is a tool.
Where should we assemble?
Anywhere like minds may work toward the same goals.
Need we assemble?
We are all assembled.
Is suicide evil?
All experiences are learning experiences.
What is good and what is evil?
All experiences are learning experiences.
How do we delineate between right and wrong?
It is in your nature to judge one another.
What happens when we die?
The body returns to its elements. The essence better joins with what is.
Do animals have souls?
The lifeforce and the creator are One.
Which religion is the true religion?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Is evolution just a theory?
All theories are theories.
Is evolution a fact?
All facts are subject to further scrutiny.
Who is superior?
None and all.
Why do bad things happen?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Why do the innocent suffer?
All experiences are learning experiences.
Are ghosts real?
Everything which can be imagined is real for some.
What is the name of this system of belief?
Names are but vague labels which trigger different responses in different 
individuals based upon their previous experiences with elements they
perceive to be a part of that which was named.
How do I learn more about what you're describing?
Exist.
What should we fear?
Fear is the product of ignorance. Ignorance is quelled through education.
What form of education should we seek?
Life.
What is the origin of man?
Life is defined by experience.
What is the origin of the universe?
Experience creates life.
How do we save the world?
Merely be the best person you can possibly be."

"A Look to the Heavens"

“The well known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye.
Click image for larger size.
The passing young dust cloud is thought to be part of Gould's belt, an unusual ring of young star formation surrounding the Sun in the local Milky Way Galaxy. Over the past 100,000 years, part of Gould's belt is by chance moving right through the older Pleiades and is causing a strong reaction between stars and dust. Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding blue reflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly. A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified, as seen in the above deep-exposure image.”

Chet Raymo, “The Radiance Of What Is”

“The Radiance Of What Is”
by Chet Raymo

“In the summer of 1936, as I nestled snug in my mother's womb, Fortune magazine sent the young writer James Agee and the photographer Walker Evans to rural Alabama to report on how the Great Depression was affecting the poorest of the poor. For eight weeks they lived with three impoverished sharecropper families. (Pictured below is the family of Bud Fields. Click to enlarge.)


Their combined work never appeared in Fortune, but it was published as a book- “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”- in 1941. The book was not an immediate success, but decades later, after Agee won a posthumous Pulitzer for "A Death in the Family", it found a new audience and eventually a place in the American canon of literary and photographic masterpieces.

The book has a strange, difficult and self-lacerating Preamble in which Agee tries to understand what it is that he and Evans have done. Does art report or create? Have the two artists exploited the families they reported on? How do we discern the truth when we are burdened with so many limitations, preconceptions and personal agendas? How do we make ourselves neutral channels for what is and not for what we wish it to be? Is it possible to be "neutral"? Is it desirable?

These are questions that science and art struggle with perennially, each in its own way. These are questions that each of us should ask about our own constructions of reality. Agee writes:
For in the immediate world, everything is to be discerned, for him who can discern it, and centrally and simply, without dissection into science or digestion into art, but with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself like a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all of consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revised, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is.

Agee professes his desire to suspend imagination, so that "there opens before consciousness, and within it, a universe luminous, spacious, incalculably rich and wonderful in each detail, as relaxed and natural to the human swimmer, and as full of glory, as his breathing."

A marvelous aspiration. But impossible, of course. Science strives mightily for "objectivity." The artist too wants to reveal something real and wonderful, a cruel radiance. And always there, between our eyes and the world, is the imagination. And why not? It is the imagination that defines our humanity, the channel by which the world becomes conscious of itself. We read “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” or look at Evans' photographs, and we see what is and what should be, creation roaring in the heart of itself and in our hearts too.”

The Daily "Near You?"


Los Alamitos, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

“Your Most Vital Commitment: Finding Time for You”

“Your Most Vital Commitment: Finding Time for You”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“We can excel easier in our lives when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled. Within each of there is a well of energy that must be regularly replenished. When we act as if this well is bottomless, scheduling a long list of activities that fit like puzzle pieces into every minute of every day, it becomes depleted and we feel exhausted, disconnected, and weak. Refilling this well is a matter of finding time to focus on, nurture, and care for ourselves, or "you time." Most of us are, at different times throughout the day, a spouse, a friend, a relative, an employee, a parent, or a volunteer, which means that down time, however relaxing in nature, is not necessarily "you time." Though some people will inevitably look upon "you time" as being selfish, it is actually the polar opposite of selfishness. We can only excel where our outer world affairs are concerned when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Recognizing the importance of "you time" is far easier than finding a place for it in an active, multifaceted lifestyle, however. Even if you find a spot for it in your agenda, you may be dismayed to discover that your thoughts continuously stray into worldly territory. To make the most of "you time," give yourself enough time on either side of the block of time you plan to spend on yourself to ensure that you do not feel rushed. Consider how you would like to pass the time, forgetting for the moment your obligations and embracing the notion of renewal. You may discover that you are energized by creative pursuits, guided meditation, relaxing activities during which your mind can wander, or modes of expression such as writing.

Even if you have achieved a functioning work-life balance, you may still be neglecting the most important part of that equation: you. "You time" prepares you for the next round of daily life, whether you are poised to immerse yourself in a professional project or chores around the home. It also affords you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself, your needs, and your tolerances in a concrete way. As unimportant as "you time" can sometimes seem, it truly is crucial to your well-being because it ensures that you are never left without the energy to give of yourself.”
- http://www.dailyom.com

"Still And All..."

 
"Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”
 - Kurt Vonnegut

Satire: “Arizona Confronting Awkward Realization That Gay People Have Money, Buy Stuff”

“Arizona Confronting Awkward Realization 
That Gay People Have Money, Buy Stuff”
by Andy Borowitz

PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)— “The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff. Just days after the Arizona legislature passed a law that would enable businesses to discriminate against gays, it emerged that gays spend billions of dollars in Arizona each year—an unexpected development that seemed to take many legislators by surprise. Carol Foyler, a Tea Party Republican who supported the anti-gay law, said that the startling bombshell that gays play a role in the state’s economy put her and her fellow lawmakers “in a tight spot.” “Quite frankly, we were blindsided by this,” she said. “We had no idea that gays had money and bought things just like regular people do.”

Acknowledging that her vote for the anti-gay law might have been calamitous for the state’s economy, Ms. Foyler placed the blame for it squarely on the shoulders of one group: the gays themselves. “How was I supposed to know what gay people do with their money, etc., when I don’t personally know any gay people?” she asked. “I’m sorry, but it was up to the gays to tell us.”

"How It Really Is"


Oh, the inhumanity! "Forced to read"?! God forbid it! The horror, the horror...
- CP

Karl Denninger,“In Closing...”

“In Closing...”
by Karl Denninger

"In March of 2007 I began writing The Market Ticker. Some of you have heard the saga of how and why, but it bears repeating here in 2014, now 7 years later.

I was blessed in the 1990s with being in the right place at the right time.  Oh sure, it didn't start that way; there was a lot of hard work dragging myself out of a sewer that I was headed into at high velocity, beginning with a speculative trip to Chicago undertaken with what was literally my last $100 and an offer to crash on a guy's couch I had never met in person; I only knew him as someone who ran software I had written for the TRS-80 operating an online bulletin board. That Sunday upon arrival I found an ad in the Chicago Tribune for a job in Schaumberg "programming the pins off the Z-80" at a little store-front business called NSI. Russ Berube, the guy who owned the joint, gave this at-the-time young man clawing himself away from a vortex of personal and financial disaster a programming position that he sorely needed -  and the income to rent an apartment.  I still remember the workbenches and old-time PDP-11 running TSX-Plus, the cross-compiler and the EPROM burner; indeed, I spent so much time there that I could probably still walk from the little room where I worked to the can -  or to the PROM machine -  while sleeping. I remember well Mary, Denise, Don and several others. At night I slaved over my TRS-80 with a cobbled-together set of add-ons, some standard, some not-so-much, writing my own code for myself.

That was the opportunity that got me on my feet. It began my ventures as an entrepreneur, led to selling PCs along with doing network and computer integration for various firms in partnership with the guy who lent me his couch that first night. D&D Software morphed over time into both of us programming in his basement while I rented a room from him and his wife as it was closer than my first apartment (and cheaper), an expansion of the business to a small back warehouse in Mundelein where we built partitions out of wood and covered them with a remnant of carpet, a further expansion to a location in Wheeling and then, when the winds of change blew drying up business we amicably closed the firm and split up the assets as he was offered a technology position with an association and I was offered a network operations job at a project development office of a Fortune 50 company in Bannockburn. That ultimately led to me being hired by a spun-off subsidiary of another firm (VideOcart) that itself went public in Chicago proper.

When VideOcart got in trouble and it was apparent the firm was going to fail I prepared to start MCSNet - in the bedroom closet of my apartment. That little place was the second level of an old brownstone rented out by a professional landlord who owned a few of them across the city, complete with out-of-true floors but somehow "safe enough" to pass a code inspection. It began with six modems, a 56kbps leased circuit and a hand-built PC running Unix, sporting a $20 box fan blowing extra air over the open case and collection of modems to keep them from melting down. That was the genesis of MCSNet; I built it with my bare hands and I retained majority ownership of the company throughout the firm's life.

MCSNet moved to 1300 W Belmont and expanded to fill two "micro office spaces" in a shared office building, and when we ran out of room there I moved the company to 180 N Stetson, otherwise known as 2 Prudential Plaza, leasing 8300' of the 26th floor. The company ultimately employed a couple of dozen people, served over 10,000 users in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, turned several million in gross receipts a year and was acquired in 1998 by Winstar Communications -  all with not one nickel of debt being taken on, ever, and not one item on lease other than the building space and office copy machine.

Why do I bring all of this history up? Because there were many times during those years that I wondered if any of what I working toward was worth it, and there were plenty of times that it was a royal bitch too.  It wasn't just the 4AM pages to go fix something, which as the boss was my job above everyone else -  that's not a big deal. No, it was the bare-knuckle aspect of business and the utter necessity of being willing to go to the mat when threatened, whether that came from competitive forces or other, less-orthodox events. That's a key part of being a successful enterpreneur that most people don't talk about; you either have the willingness to do that and are good at it, including remaining within the bright line tests but giving no quarter, or not. What's not required is that you like it; indeed, if you do enjoy it there's probably something wrong with you.

Then, just over 18 months after the sale closed I watched the Nasdaq come apart from the Sandestin Hilton in the Florida Panhandle. I had much emotion over that event. My kid was a toddler and we were house-hunting, having decided that Chicago was not where I was going to raise her. I had been out of the market for roughly a year at the time because I saw it coming, but of course didn't know exactly when it would happen. I was angry. I remember telling Juanita and Jerry, the two Realtors that were showing us houses, that this was just the start of what was going to prove to be a monstrous crash, warning them that if they had investments in the market to pay very close attention.

That crash came from massive, outrageous fraud. It was founded in hubris, not so much in the people offering the stock in worthless companies and pipe dreams -  after all, if you're an entrepreneur you either believe in yourself and are both willing to and are good at being a bare-knuckled bastard when you need to be or you may as well quit before you start.

No, it was Wall Street, the bankers, and the puerile change in our society that had already begun to engulf us all. The media had lost its desire to look into stories and instead had become a lapdog for anyone with an ad budget. The Internet had become a monster, both enabling things nobody had ever thought of before which was good but at the same time either amplifying or at least exposing some really ugly realities about our human condition, which was bad.

The sharp drop in Asia in early 2007 woke me up from what had been a nice dream. I had spent the previous six years fishing, diving and raising my kid, and for four years had been a reasonably-active but long-only investor. I looked into what was going on and saw the same old crap that had polluted the landscape in 1999 and 2000.  It wasn't all that hard to figure out; after all I did have Realtors knocking on my door at 6:30 AM Saturdays claiming to have a couple in their car wanting to buy my house -  sight unseen, and no, it was not listed for sale.

I decided to try to make a difference. So I began to write, and ultimately set up the forum as well as a place for people to congregate, trade ideas, and hopefully get something of value -  and perhaps, just perhaps, coalesce into something worthwhile that might put a stop to this sort of garbage in the future. That appears to have been a foolish dream. It wasn't my first foolish dream; I've been a fool many times before -  and I'm sure it won't be the last time either.

You see, nobody wants to do anything about the real issues facing our nation and that we have as a people -  at least not in a productive way.  It's far more important and easier to take cheap shots, to play "gotcha" and to parade around bull**** than it is to face the facts about what our society has become, and when we play those games all we're doing is adding to the puerile and derelict nature of what our society has devolved into.

We're more-interested in whether Alec Baldwin said a bad thing on a NY Street than whether colleges are ripping off young adults. We're more interested in going after people predicated on half-truths and outright lies than the bald-faced rip-offs and outrages that are served upon us daily by those who claim to be acting in our "best interest" -  and our own culpability for same, in that virtually every one of these people holds office and power only because we consent with votes cast at either the polls or the store.  It doesn't matter that the media intentionally placed their logo in a strategic fashion when George Zimmerman got out of a cop car to hide the back of his head so you couldn't see the gash that Trayvon Martin put there, and that was just one of the first half-truths and outright distortions presented in that case; we buy the products advertised on those "news" shows and watch those networks to this day.

Harry Reid struts around the Senate pontificating on evil Republicans even though his office and he personally knows that Medicare and Medicaid will bankrupt the country -  but he'll be dead first, so he doesn't give a damn nor will he put a stop to it. Boehner and McConnell, for their part, are happy to make all sorts of noises about deficit spending, ut then when the time comes to actually stop it they fold for the same reason -  they don't give a damn either as they expect they'll leave office before it all goes to Hell and it's very profitable for them and their friends to continue the charade. Both sides of the aisle knew damn well that Obama was lying about virtually every respect of Obamacare and yet Pelosi literally said that Congress had to pass the law to know what was in it, which is a rank admission that she knew she was screwing the entire country. You don't care either because she's still in office.  CEOs come on CNBC and other media channels to tout their "greatness" just as Mozillo did -  or for that matter Dick Fuld of Lehman who promised he was going to "burn the shorts." When his own pants caught on fire instead who called him on that?  

Nobody.

What does it say about us when we're more-interested in whether Miley Cyrus is twerking with a foam finger than the rip-offs on Wall Street promulgated with HFT, blatant falsehoods spewed forth in Congressional testimony by Fed officials and outright lies by the head of the NSA? What does it say about us when a Congressperson documents that they and the President lied about your health care, intentionally destroying your insurance coverage and relationship with your physician -  and yet they still sit in their offices drawing paychecks funded with your money, voluntarily handed over, more than four years later?

What does it say about us when we're too damn busy dredging up old bull**** to demand that the foundation of this nation actually mean something? What does it mean when the most-important aspect of our lives is prattering about who's porking who (or who did pork who) instead of why we as a society tolerate grift on a wholesale basis to the point that 40% of our population gets a check that they literally steal from everyone -  including themselves and their children?

Maybe we all deserve what's happening and what's coming. Maybe we deserve the sort of thing that's happening in the Ukraine. After all, we watch those TV shows. We patronize the advertisers. We spend money making the paparazzi photo worth something; they wouldn't bother with the long lens pointed at the high-rise window or assaulting people in the street if nobody bought the magazine with the pictures. There's a whole section of magazines and newspapers in virtually every grocery store in the country filled with this crap at the checkout line and you're the reason it's there and is produced because you buy it. 

Why is it considered acceptable when you have a garf with someone to blast them by text message instead of picking up the phone -  or talking to them in person? Where has our sense of reason gone and why don't you simply walk away if you conclude that you don't like someone? What does it say about your life when you find it so compelling to see how much crap you can load on someone else? Why is destruction so much more interesting to people these days than construction?  Which moves the needle forward on balance for everyone, and which simply blows **** up for fun? How is that any different than chortling over the latest photo taken by the paparazzi?

You can't even drive to the store any more without running into someone who's hyper-aggressive about getting somewhere now and will ride your ass even though you're driving not only safely but somewhat faster than the speed limit. Nope -  they gotta go 70+ in a 55, on a bridge with one lane in each direction -  and no way to pass. When you won't accede to playing Speed Racer for a whole 30 second advantage in travel time they sit 2' from your bumper with their high beams on. Oh do I long for the days when I drove an AMC Pacer with rusted floorboards that was worth about $200 and could claim I saw a squirrel run across the road!

Why do we put up with exploding products?  Manufacturers buy intentionally-cheapened components in modern electronics that are virtually guaranteed to fail not long after the warranty runs out.  I've lost count of the number of LCD monitors and TVs I've resurrected that were felled by $5 worth of this crap made in China -  intentionally selected, I'm sure, for "lowest price." I can fix them for $5 in parts and 30 minutes with a soldering iron but how many people know that -  or know how to fix them? More to the point how many billions of dollars are wasted every year by consumers buying replacements for things that broke because they were designed to fail and how many tons of toxic waste are sitting in landfills that don't have to be there? How much of our so-called "GDP" is in fact spending driven by these intentional acts that rob us all? Why do we tolerate a "smartphone" or music player with a non user-replaceable battery that has a design life of 12-18 months when cycled from empty to full daily -  and better, why do we buy them for our kids and set that example for them? I have a Pioneer stereo receiver sitting next to me as I write this that I use for my computer speakers; it's two decades old and works perfectly. Can you say the same will be the case 20 years hence if you buy one today?

What does it say about us as a people when we build up and promote so-called "crypto-currencies" predicated on nothing more than the expenditure of electricity while intentionally ignoring the fact that they are designed to be self-extinguishing, exponentially-more-difficult to "mine" over time and the cost of verification of transactions increases with both volume and use? That's like trying to apply future value to a burning candle and yet many claim there is alleged "value" in these things -  or even worse, that they're "money." Where did the hallucinogenic drugs come from that are powering these fantasies?

What does it say about us when we build so-called "professions" up that lie to our youth as a matter of course -  and get paid for it? Why do we not only tolerate this but vote for the tax levies that fund these people instead of throwing them all out into the street on their ear? What purpose does "zero tolerance" actually have as applied to suspending children from school and giving them a permanent disciplinary record for biting into a Pop Tart in the wrong way, or pointing their finger? By the same token what does it say about us when a group of teens get a young girl drunk and then after she passes out remove her clothes, draw slurs on her thighs and assault her, and when we find out about it we make excuses for and protect the "kids" who did it even when it drives her to commit suicide? A singular, sad incident?  Nope; Steubenville Ohio anyone, and I'm sure there are more. If you think this sort of crap is new, think again; it goes back at least decades. I have my own personal list of people I believe will burn in Hell that used to work in so-called "education" with culpability for similar, if in some cases less-severe, cover-ups and white-washes. You know who you are and if you're still breathing and read this piece I place my trust in God to judge you appropriately, for that decision is not mine to make.

Why do we have Fire Stations with "Safe Place" stickers on them where a woman can drop off a newborn baby without signing anything or identifying herself, and that child is forever gone from the perspective of its father, utterly without recourse? At the same time if she chooses to keep said kid she can hammer the same man for 18 or more years of child support, file false allegations of abuse to keep him from ever seeing the child for so much as 10 seconds and never be punished for the harm done to that kid or the false allegations. At the very same firehouse, however, five firefighters can ignore a man having a heart attack across the street despite being asked for help and after he dies as a consequence one of the involved parties is allowed to retire with her pension intact. In what sort of world do we live where life has become someone's plaything to be exploited for profit, both in birth and death say much less all the time in between? Want more examples? Go to your nearest hospital; you'll find hundreds of them each and every day from the ER waiting room to the patients in the beds.

Why would anyone bother to try to write opinion pieces or even news stories when they present a concise position in a paragraph and the second sentence is intentionally ignored so as to take a cheap shot at the author's point of view and claim they support something that is 180 degrees opposite from their actual and expressed position? Is that poor reading comprehension or intentional misconduct?  Does it matter?

Maybe I have the wrong perspective here.  Perhaps I should have looked at what I do as being part of the entertainment industry. Then it would all be par for the course; paparazzi are part of the deal, you smile for the camera and you pump out whatever crap you think people want to consume, damn the truth to Hell and back again. You expect to be the subject of tabloids and similar bullcrap. Oh, and to play my part well I'd have to speak in words of less than six letters, composing sentences of less than five words. Just to make sure people can read them, of course.

But that's not why I set up The Market Ticker and Tickerforum. That's not why I spent a couple of thousand hours writing the software that runs this place (currently at version 41.4 as I pen this), say much less writing the articles herein. It is, however, quite-clear that's what the expectation is of many who are consuming what's on this site -  complete with being a recipient of all the crap that has and does come with it. There is more but I decline to dignify it with public commentary.

For all of the above reasons, enumerated and not, I decline to continue under the current arrangement. I'm seven years into this and enough is enough. I'd rather go running with actual friends and then perhaps partake of a drink at the local pub where I can have a face-to-face conversation with real people.  Or, maybe I'll go fishing.

Therefore what was is no longer. The Market Ticker will continue to publish articles at my whim if events catch my eye, much as Musings used to before The Ticker existed. I suspect there will be plenty that I want to comment on in the coming months and years. However, all comments will be moderated and will appear whenever I get around to looking at and approving them, starting here and now. The rest of what was Tickerforum has been closed.

Bonne chance mes amis.”