Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year young star cluster NGC 602. Surrounded by natal gas and dust, NGC 602 is featured in this stunning Hubble image of the region. 
 Click image for larger size.
Fantastic ridges and swept back shapes strongly suggest that energetic radiation and shock waves from NGC 602's massive young stars have eroded the dusty material and triggered a progression of star formation moving away from the cluster's center. At the estimated distance of the Small Magellanic Cloud, the picture spans about 200 light-years, but a tantalizing assortment of background galaxies are also visible in the sharp Hubble view. The background galaxies are hundreds of millions of light-years or more beyond NGC 602.”

"A Precious Moment..."

 "We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust,
swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity.
Life is eternal.
We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other,
to meet, to love, to share.
This is a precious moment.
It is a little parenthesis in eternity."

- Paulo Coelho, "The Alchemist"

"They Must Learn..."

"It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all the tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners at everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love."
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Chet Raymo, "Life"

"Life"
by Chet Raymo

"ACCTCCTCTAATGTCA
ACCTCCCCTAATGTCA

The first string of letters above represents an actual sequence of amino acids on human chromosome 10. The second string is the corresponding sequence for an elephant. I copy the strings from a New Yorker article on Neanderthals by Elizabeth Kolbert. She tosses them in more or less at random just to show what a DNA sequence looks like. Still, they jump off the page. Humans and elephants. A four-letter code.

Four molecules called neucleotides, arranged in pairs along a spiraling ladder, the double-helix - adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine, represented by the letters A, T, G and C. A always pairs with T, G with C. The complete human genome is a string of something like 3 billion As, Ts, Gs and Cs. Ditto for the elephant. Some 30,000 sequences, of variable length, are genes. Most of the strings are apparently non-functional; so-called "junk." Give the sequence to a genomist and she can tell you if it belongs to a human or an elephant. Or, for that matter, to an Asian elephant, and African elephant, or an extinct woolly mammoth. Or a modern human or a Neanderthal.

There have been some pretty exciting discoveries in science in my lifetime - plate tectonics, for example, or the cosmic microwave background radiation - that have revolutionized our understanding of the Earth and the universe. But to my mind nothing has been more stunning than the recognition that we share with all of life an elegantly simple four-letter code that determines what we are as a species. And not only our species, but the color of our eyes and the dimples in our cheeks. An identical arm's-length of DNA in every one of the trillions of cells of our bodies (except red blood cells). And somewhere in that sequence of 3 billion As, Ts, Cs and Gs is presumably the variation that let modern humans prosper at the expense of our Neanderthal neighbors.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Wakefield, Kansas, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"The World You Desired..."

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.”
 - Ayn Rand

"Our Expectation..."

“It goes against the American storytelling grain to have someone in a situation he can't get out of, but I think this is very usual in life. There are people, particularly dumb people, who are in terrible trouble and never get out of it, because they're not intelligent enough. It strikes me as gruesome and comical that in our culture we have an expectation that man can always solve his problems. This is so untrue that it makes me want to cry — or laugh.”
- Kurt Vonnegut

"We Don’t Need to Suffer: Learn and Let Flow"

"We Don’t Need to Suffer: Learn and Let Flow"
by The DailyOm

"We do not need to suffer or live in poverty to be a spiritual person. The idea that we have to suffer or live in poverty in order to be spiritual is an old one and can be found in the belief systems of many philosophies. Most of us carry this idea around subconsciously, and we may be holding ourselves back from financial or emotional well-being, believing that this is what we must do in order to be virtuous, spiritually awake, or feel less guilty for the suffering of others.

While it’s true that there can be a spiritual purpose to experiencing a lack of material well-being, it is rarely intended to be a permanent or lifelong experience. What we are meant to find when material or emotional resources are in short supply is that there is more to our lives than the physical realm. Intense relationships and material abundance can distract us from the subtler realm of the spirit, so a time of deficiency can be spiritually awakening. However, once we recognize the realm of spirit, and remember to hold it at the center of our lives, there is no reason to dwell in poverty or emotional isolation. In fact, once our connection to spirit is fully intact, we feel so compelled to share our abundance that lack becomes a thing of the past.

If you find that you are experiencing suffering in some area of your physical life, perhaps your spirit is asking you to look deeper in your search for what you want. For example, if you want money so that you can experience the feeling of security but money keeps eluding you, your spirit may be asking you to understand that security is not to be found through money. Security comes from an unshakable connection to your soul. Once you make that connection, money will probably flow more easily into your life. If relationships elude you, your spirit may be calling you to recognize that the love you seek is not to be found in another person. And yet, ironically, once you find the love, your true love may very well appear. If you feel stuck in suffering to live a spiritual life, try to spend some time writing about it. The root of the problem will appear and it may not be what you expected. Remember, the Universe wants you to be happy."
- http://www.dailyom.com/

"How It Really Is"

"The Lonely American"

"The Lonely American"
By Chris Hedges

"Michael P. Printup, president of Watkins Glen International, one of the country's largest racetracks, stood with a group of about a dozen race fans at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Next to him were boxes of free doughnuts and coffee. A line of men with towels, who had spent the night in nearby RV campers, pop-up campers and tents, stood patiently outside the door to a shower room. A light drizzle, one that would turn into a torrential downpour and lead to the races being canceled in the afternoon, coated the group, all middle-aged or older white men. They were discussing, amid the high-pitched whine of cars practicing on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit racetrack, the aging demographic of race fans and the inability to lure a new generation to the sport. "Maybe if you installed chargers for phones around the track they would come," suggested one gray-haired man.

But it is not just sporting events. Public lectures, church services, labor unions, Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, Masonic halls, Rotary clubs, the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, Grange Hall meetings, the League of Women Voters, Daughters of the American Revolution, local historical societies, town halls, bowling leagues, bridge clubs, movie theater attendance (at a 20-year low), advocacy groups such as the NAACP and professional and amateur theatrical and musical performances cater to a dwindling and graying population. No one is coming through the door to take the place of the old members. A generation has fallen down the rabbit hole of electronic hallucinations- with images often dominated by violence and pornography. They have become, in the words of the philosopher Hannah Arendt, "atomized," sucked alone into systems of information and entertainment that cater to America's prurient fascination with the tawdry, the cruel and the deadening cult of the self.

The entrapment in a world of nonstop electronic sounds and images, begun with the phonograph and radio, advanced by cinema and television and perfected by video games, the Internet and hand-held devices, is making it impossible to build relationships and structures that are vital for civic engagement and resistance to corporate power. We have been transformed into commodities. The steady decline of the white male heaven that is NASCAR- which has stopped publishing the falling attendance at its tracks and at some speedways has begun to tear down bleachers- is ominous. It is the symbol of a captive society.

"We don't see the youth coming in," Printup said. "The millennial, the younger adults 18 to 35, is our target. We spend millions of dollars a year to target that group. But it's hard. Look around. Who's the youngest person here? That's our problem. Every sport from the NFL to NHL is struggling with the 18 to 35 demographic. They call them weird. They call them difficult. They only want to look at their computers."

Printup's parent company, the International Speedway Corp. (ISC), has invested significant sums to reach this demographic with little to show for it. "We have a digital firm that represents nearly all our tracks in the ISC," he went on, noting that Watkins Glen, which drew about 16,000 fans this past weekend, is one of the few exceptions to the decline in numbers. "The digital platform is about the only way you can get to them. We target them. We buy lists. We hire an agency that tracks their Web and Internet interactions. If they bring up racing, we want to be there. When a kid Googles 'Ferrari- racing- sports car' we are one of the top 10 lists. We pay for that. It is not cheap. That's how you have got to get these kids. But it's not working the way it should."

Robert D. Putnam pointed out the decline of independent civic engagement, or what he called our "social capital," in his book "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community." He noted that our severance from local communal and civic groups brought with it not only loneliness and alienation, but also a dangerous and passive reliance on the state.

Totalitarian societies, including our own, inundate the public with a steady stream of propaganda accompanied by mindless entertainment. They seek to destroy independent organizations. In Nazi Germany the state provided millions of cheap, state-subsidized radios and then dominated the airwaves with its propaganda. Radio receivers were mounted in public locations in Stalin's Soviet Union; and citizens, especially illiterate peasants, were required to gather to listen to the state-controlled news and the dictator's speeches. These totalitarian states also banned civic organizations that were not under the iron control of the party.

The corporate state is no different, although unlike past totalitarian systems it permits dissent in the form of print and does not ban fading civic and community groups. It has won the battle against literacy. The seductiveness of the image lures most Americans away from the print-based world of ideas. The fascination with the image swallows the time and energy required to attend and maintain communal organizations. If no one reads, why censor books? Let Noam Chomsky publish as much as he wants. Just keep his voice off the airwaves. If no one attends community meetings, group events or organizations, why prohibit them? Let them be held in near-empty rooms and left uncovered by the press until they are shuttered.

The object of a totalitarian state is to keep its citizens locked within the parameters of official propaganda and permanently isolated. Propaganda and isolation make it difficult for an individual to express or carry out dissent. Official opinions, little more than digestible slogans and cliches, are crafted and disseminated by public relations specialists on behalf of the power elite. They are repeated endlessly over the airwaves until the public unconsciously ingests them. And the isolated public in a totalitarian society is unable to connect its personal experience of despair, anxiety, fear, frustration and economic insecurity to the structures that create these conditions. The isolated citizen is left feeling that his or her personal misfortune is an exception. The portrayal of society by systems of state propaganda-content, respectful of authority, just, economically secure and free- is mistaken for reality.

Totalitarian propaganda, accompanied by isolation, or what Arendt called "atomization," makes it possible for a population not to "believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal and consistent in itself." This propaganda, Arendt went on, "gave the masses of atomized, undefinable, unstable and futile individuals a means of self-definition and identification."

Corporate propaganda saturates the public, especially a generation wedded to new technology, with these lies. Its power, however, comes from the meticulous study of the moods, prejudices, whims and desires of the public, to manipulate the masses in their own language and emotions. Konrad Heiden made this point when he examined fascist propaganda in Nazi Germany, noting that propaganda must detect the murmur of the public "and translate it into intelligible utterance and convincing action."

"The true aim of political propaganda is not to influence, but to study, the masses," Heiden wrote. "The speaker is in constant communication with the masses; he hears an echo, and senses the inner vibration." Heiden, forced to flee Nazi Germany, went on: "When a resonance issues from the depths of the substance, the masses have given him the pitch; he knows in what terms he must finally address them. Rather than a means of directing the mass mind, propaganda is a technique for riding with the masses. It is not a machine to make wind but a sail to catch the wind."

Dissent will only be possible when we break the dark spell of corporate propaganda and the isolation that accompanies it. We must free ourselves from corporate tyranny, which means refusing to invest our emotional and intellectual energy in electronic images. We must build what the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin called "voluntary associations for study and teaching, for industry, commerce, science, art, literature, exploitation, resistance to exploitation, amusement, serious work, gratification and self-denial."

We know well the means by which this association of the lord, priest, merchant, judge, soldier, and king founded its domination," Kropotkin wrote. "It was by the annihilation of all free unions: of village communities, guilds, trades unions, fraternities, and medieval cities. It was by confiscating the land of the communes and the riches of the guilds; it was by the absolute and ferocious prohibition of all kinds of free agreement between men; it was by massacre, the wheel, the gibbet, the sword, and the fire that Church and State established their domination, and that they succeeded henceforth to reign over an incoherent agglomeration of subjects, who had no direct union more among themselves."

Corporate propaganda has become so potent that many Americans are addicted. We must leave our isolated rooms. We must shut out these images. We must connect with those around us. It is only the communal that will save us. It is only the communal that will allow us to build a movement to resist. And it is only the communal that will sustain us through mutual aid as climate change and economic collapse increasingly dominate our future.”

"Rich People Are the Worst: The 1%'s Vile New War on Us All"

"Rich People Are the Worst: The 1%'s Vile New War on Us All"
The wealthy and their GOP apologists talk about poor people as the takers. 
They have it completely backward.
By Sean Illing

"Rich people rarely tell you how they really feel about poor people. Occasionally, though, you get a glimpse. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a story about Rancho Santa Fe, a small but extremely wealthy enclave in Southern California. Like the rest of California, the people of Rancho Santa Fe are dealing with a drought. As you might imagine, that means water is scarce and conservation is critical. For the denizens of Rancho Santa Fe, however, conservation is someone else’s problem, namely poor people.

According to Steve Yuhas, who lives in the area and hosts a conservative talk-radio show, privileged people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.” Oh, the humanity! In case it wasn’t clear, Yuhas added that the right to water ought to scale with income: “No, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

And Yuhas isn’t alone. Gay Butler, an avid equestrian and fellow resident of Rancho Santa Fe, fumed for similar reasons. “It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” she said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?” Perhaps Butler has a point. It’s one thing to demand sacrifice in extraordinary circumstances, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right? If a woman wants to ride her finely manicured horse on a dirt-free prairie in the middle of the desert, what matters a little drought?

Brett Barbre, a fellow Orange Country aristocrat, also appears to get it. “I call it the war on suburbia,” he remarked. “California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom. It’s slowly becoming the land of one group telling everyone else how they think everybody should live their lives.” Barbre continued: “They’ll have to pry it [his water hose] from my cold, dead hands.”

You may be asking yourself: Do restrictions on water consumption during a historic drought really constitute an all-out assault on human freedom? Fair question. Most of us fail to see this issue in such grand terms. Maybe we’re missing something. Mr. Barbre is either a bold lover of liberty or a detached plutocrat with a penchant for hyperbole. You be the judge.

In any case, I see the decadence of the people in Rancho Santa Fe as a microcosm of America today, particularly corporate America. What these people exhibit, apart from their smugness, is a complete absence of any sense of collective responsibility. They can’t see and aren’t interested in the consequences of their actions. And they can’t muster a modicum of moderation in the face of enormous scarcity. Every resource, every privilege, is theirs to pilfer with impunity. These people are prepared to endanger an entire ecosystem simply to avoid the indignity of brown golf courses; this is what true entitlement looks like.

The wealthiest Americans – and their apostles in government – tell us that it’s the poor people who are entitled, who take and exploit and keep more than they deserve. But that’s a half-truth, and a dangerous one at that. Entitlement has many faces, the most destructive of which is on display in Rancho Santa Fe. These adolescent upper-crusters are entitled because they believe they have a right to everything they can get hold of – regardless of the costs. They believe living with others carries no obligations. Anyone who places their right to pristine golf courses above their responsibility to respect communal resources is a social toxin, a privileged parasite eating away at the foundations of society. It’s important that their actions be seen in this context.

There’s a lesson in Rancho Santa Fe and in California more generally. What’s happening there foreshadows our future. We’re confronted with crises on a number of fronts. From climate change to economic inequality, our institutions – and the people controlling them – are failing us. Changes are necessary, but a segment of society (the 1 percent, we’ll call them) is unwilling to sacrifice; they’re too invested in power, in comfort. Whether it’s oil profiteers distorting climate science or Wall Street banks undermining efforts to regulate the financial industry, entrenched interests are doing everything possible to preserve the status quo, even when so doing threatens to upend the whole system – just like the people of Rancho Santa Fe.

The corrosive elitism in Rancho Santa Fe is the stuff popular revolts are based on. These Dickensian vultures want to hoard until nothing remains; they’re blind to those beyond their gated communities. Disconnectedness is a close cousin of privilege, so it’s not surprising that they live in a bubble. But their persecution mania, their belief in their privileged status, is insufferable – and a public hazard. They can’t imagine what it’s like to live without, so they’ll risk anything to ensure that they don’t. California may survive the selfish stupidity of a few citizens in Rancho Santa Fe, but it’s not clear how long the country can survive the excesses and greed of Wall Street and Big Business.

Wealth, it’s worth noting, isn’t the enemy. The problem is the attitude of the wealthy, the contempt, the indifference, and the lack of anything resembling civic virtue. To be rich is no crime. To abuse privilege, to profit at the expense of others, is quite another thing – and it’s all too common these days."

“When Gold Is Declared Illegal…”

“When Gold Is Declared Illegal…”
by Bill Bonner

"Over the weekend, the lines in Greece stretched along the street. Around the corner. Down the block. Lines to get cash. Lines to buy gas. Lines of people eager to get their hands on something of value. Food. Fuel. Cash. Pity the poor guy who was last in line… the poor taxi driver, for example, standing behind 300 other people, trying to get 200 lousy euros out of an ATM. Like a tragic nightclub customer… among the last to smell the smoke. By the time he headed for the exit, it was clogged with desperate people, all struggling to get through the same narrow door at the same time. 

Remember: When a bear attacks in the woods, you don’t have to be faster than the bear. You just have to be faster than at least one other hiker… 

The Beginning of the End: Likewise, you don’t have to be the first one to get your money out of an ATM. You just want to be sure you get your money before the machine runs out of cash. And when a bear attacks Wall Street, you don’t have to be the first to sell. But you definitely don’t want to be the last. 

The Dow lost 350 points yesterday – its biggest point drop in two years. Today, Greece is expected to default on a $1.7-billion payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And on the other side of the planet, analysts are looking at “the beginning of the end for Chinese stocks.” We doubt it is the beginning of the end. More likely, it is just the end of the beginning. 

On Friday, the People’s Bank of China cut rates to a record low, after stocks in Shanghai slipped 7% in a single day (the equivalent of about 1,300 points on the Dow). Analysts expected a big rally in response to the rate cut. Instead, the Shanghai Index plunged again on Monday, dropping 3%. Greece… China… said one commentator interviewed by Bloomberg: “You have a potentially very ugly situation this week.” 

Our guess: Stocks in the U.S. and China have topped out. Old-timer Richard Russell, who has been studying markets since 1958, agrees: "I believe the top has appeared, like the proverbial thief in the night. The Dow has fallen below the 18,000-point level, and is now negative for the year. The Transports, which have led the way recently, are down triple digits for today and are only 89 points above the critical level of 8,000. The Nasdaq has closed under 5,000. At the market's close, gold was up 5.3 at 1,179."

When Gold Is Declared Illegal…: But wait… What about silver and gold? As regular readers know, we recommend having some cash on hand in case of a monetary emergency. But a reader asks: In the same vein as your reader’s question as to what good cash is when it's declared illegal, what good is gold when gold is declared illegal?

First, precious metals aren’t illegal, so far. Second, making something illegal doesn’t necessarily make it unpopular. President Roosevelt banned gold in 1933. The feds wanted complete control of money. The dollar was backed by gold. So getting control of the dollar meant getting control of gold. Once the feds had the gold, they could devalue the dollar by resetting the dollar-gold price from $20 to $35. In an instant, people lost more than 40% of their wealth (as measured by gold). That ban lasted for 42 years. It ended in 1975, largely because of our old friend Jim Blanchard. Jim set up the National Committee to Legalize Gold and worked hard to get the ban lifted. 

Today, the feds don’t need to outlaw gold. It is regarded as “just another asset,” like Van Gogh paintings or ’66 Corvettes. Few people own it. Few people care – not even the feds. They are unlikely to pay much attention to it – at least, for now. That could change when the lines begin to grow longer. Smart people will turn to gold… not just in time, but just in case. It is a form of cash – traditionally, the best form. You can control it. And with it, you can trade for fuel, food, and other forms of wealth. Lots of things can go wrong in a crisis. Cash helps you get through it. 

Generally, the price of gold rises with uncertainty and desperation. (More on the current outlook on gold in today’s Market Insight below…) Gold is useful. Like Bitcoin and dollars in hand (as opposed to dollars the bank owes you), gold is not under the thumb of the government… or the banks. You don’t have to stand in line to get it. Or to spend it. Yes, as more and more people turn to gold as a way to avoid standing in lines, the feds could ban it again. But when we close our eyes and try to peer into a world where gold is illegal, what we see is a world where we want it more than ever.’

Monday, June 29, 2015

Musical Interlude: Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”

Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”

“Defense Mechanisms: Beyond Behavior”

“Defense Mechanisms: Beyond Behavior”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“We can let go of our defense mechanisms when we are ready to be truly honest with ourselves. We all have defense mechanisms that we’ve developed over time, often without being aware of it. In times of trouble, the behaviors that have worked to get us past challenges with the least amount of pain are the ones that we repeat; even when part of us knows they no longer work. Such behavior is a natural response from our mental and physical aspects. But because we are spiritual beings as well, we have the ability to rise above habits and patterns to see the truth that lay beyond. And from that moment on, we can make choices that allow us to work directly from that place of truth within us.

Click image for larger size.

Most of our defense mechanisms were developed in childhood; from the moment that we realized crying would get us the attention we craved. Passive aggressive ways of communicating may have allowed us to get what we needed without being scolded, punished or laughed at, so we learned to avoid being direct and honest. Some of us may have taken refuge in the lives of others, discovering ways to direct attention away from ourselves entirely. Throwing ourselves into projects or rescuing others from themselves can be effective ways to avoid dealing with our own issues. And when people are truly helped by our actions, we get the added bonus of feeling heroic. But while defenses can keep away the things we fear, they can also work to keep our good from us.

When we can be honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, then we can connect our desires to the creative power of the spirit within us. Knowing that we are one with the energy of the universe allows us release any need for defense. Trusting that power, we know that we are exactly where we are meant to be, and that challenges bring gifts of growth and experience. When we can put down arms raised in defense, then we are free to use our hands, minds, hearts and spirits to mold and shape our abundant energy to create and live our lives.”
Related: "Ego Defense Mechanisms"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“On the right, surrounded by blue spiral arms, is spiral galaxy M81. On the left, marked by red gas and dust clouds, is irregular galaxy M82. This stunning vista shows these two mammoth galaxies locked in gravitational combat, as they have been for the past billion years. 
Click image for larger size.
The gravity from each galaxy dramatically affects the other during each hundred million-year pass. Last go-round, M82's gravity likely raised density waves rippling around M81, resulting in the richness of M81's spiral arms. But M81 left M82 with violent star forming regions and colliding gas clouds so energetic the galaxy glows in X-rays. In a few billion years only one galaxy will remain.”

"The Road to New Beginnings: Completion"

"The Road to New Beginnings: Completion"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Just as new beginnings are important, so is honoring the experience of closure. Life is a collage of beginnings and endings that run together like still-wet paint. Yet before we can begin any new phase in life, we must sometimes first achieve closure to the current stage we are in. That’s because many of life’s experiences call for closure. Often, we cannot see the significance of an event or importance of a lesson until we have reached closure. Or, we may have completed a certain phase in life or path of learning and want to honor that ending. It is this sense of completion that frees us to open the door to new beginnings. Closure serves to tie up or sever loose ends, quiets the mind even when questions have been left unanswered, signifies the end of an experience, and acknowledges that a change has taken place.

The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition. When we seek closure, what we really want is an understanding of what has happened and an opportunity to derive what lessons we can from an experience. Without closure, there is no resolution and we are left to grieve, relive old memories to the point of frustration, or remain forever connected to people from our past. A sense of completion regarding a situation may also result when we accept that we have done our best. If you can’t officially achieve closure with someone, you can create completion by participating in a closure ritual. Write a farewell letter to that person and then burn your note during a ceremony. This ritual allows you to consciously honor and appreciate what has taken place between you and release the experience so you can move forward.

Closure can help you let go of feelings of anger or uncertainty regarding your past even as you honor your experience – whether good or bad - as a necessary step on your life’s path. Closure allows you to emotionally lay to rest issues and feelings that may be weighing down your spirit. When you create closure, you affirm that you have done what was needed, are wiser because of your experience, and are ready for whatever life wants to bring you next.”

Chet Raymo, “Into The Pool”

“Into The Pool”
by Chet Raymo

“Let's start with a bit of late-Victorian soft porn, “Hylas and the Nymphs”, painted in 1896 by the Pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse. (Click to enlarge.) Hylas is one of the Argonauts, sailing with Jason in quest of the Golden Fleece. While the ship is stopped at an island, he goes in search of fresh water. As he stoops to fill his jug at a woodland spring he encounters a bevy of naiads, who fall madly in love with the heartbreakingly handsome youth. They invite him into the pool- and he is never heard from again.


Did he find with those immortal beauties every young man's idea of bliss? Or, mortal that he was, did his lungs fill with water and...? I'll come back to the question. But first, it is Hylas in another appearance that I want to consider: as participant in "Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous", written in 1713 by George Berkeley, Irish philosopher, later Bishop of Cloyne.

Berkeley, as every philosophy student learns, was an arch anti-materialist. The material world out there is an illusion. The only reality is in our minds. It is an old idea, going back to Plato at least. And, it must be admitted, the question of how ideas of things are related to a presumed external reality is central to philosophy. Berkeley's solution is simple: deny the existence of a physical world out there. Matter does not exist. He had a not-so-hidden agenda. By denying materialism, he meant to clear the way for belief in God and the immortality of the soul.

In the dialogues, Philonous takes Berkeley's role; his name means "lover of mind." Hylas begins the exchange as a materialist, convinced that ideas are reflections of a knowable external reality; his name means "wood" in ancient Greek, or more simply "matter." You can guess who wins the debate.

You will also remember Samuel Johnson's reaction to Boswell's report of Berkeley's anti-materialism. He kicked his foot forcibly against a stone. "I refute it thus!" said the inimitable Johnson. Today's naturalists are more impressed by Johnson's sore toe than by Philonous' long-winded philosophizing. We are the heirs of Hylas, the erstwhile materialist, confident that consensus scientific knowledge of the world reflects in some meaningful way a reality that exists independently of ourselves. We are content to let Berkeley's God and immortal souls remain phantoms of Berkeley's mind.

Which brings us back to the other Hylas, the one in the painting. He is not a philosopher. Merely mortal. Attracted to the importunings of the comely spirits of the pool, ready to plunge or be pulled into the world of nature, hoping perhaps to find there some measure of material bliss, fated for oblivion.”

"The Most Beautiful People..."

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

"A Caveman’s Account of 'Civilized Society'”

"A Caveman’s Account of 'Civilized Society'”
By Joel Bowman

"Emblazoned across the lucre-basted exterior of the Internal Revenue Service Building in Washington, D.C., is one of the most intellectually polluted quotes any free mind is ever likely to encounter: “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” Its effortlessly officious author, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., could scarcely have been more wrong in his (albeit paraphrased) assertion. Unless, that is, the mustachioed Rooseveltian meant to define “civilized society” as an arrangement that favors and promotes rule by brute force and violence, rather than one of free and voluntary association. If, indeed, that was Justice Holmes’ idea of “civilized,” we shudder to think what he regards as uncivilized. But shudder we will…

Let us consider, by way of illustration, the concept of the caveman, that apocryphal amalgam of prehistoric humans so often used to epitomize the unwashed, uncivilized elements of mankind’s past. To what does this boorish troglodyte resort when it comes to resolving complex matters of dispute? What is his go-to instrument for dealing with the problem posed by, say, the natural scarcity of goods? With what tool does he arbitrate over issues involving titles, rights, and claims?

Like Justice Holmes, Capt. Caveman’s preferred instrument of justice is… a club. Force, in other words. “It’s my way… or (insert oafish, baboonlike noises here) me club you to death.” There is no opt-out here. No choice. And therefore, it must be said, no freedom. As the author Salman Rushdie (a man who has spent a good deal of his life under threat of force and violence from a particularly hysterical clutch of our fellow primates) once remarked, “Freedom to reject is the only freedom.”

Justice Holmes may have liked paying taxes. (He may have liked being flogged with a club, too. Who are we to say?) But by mandating that others do likewise, by employing the force of the state to ensure that they do, by denying them the freedom to reject the state’s claim on their property and to defend themselves against it, he is wielding the club — dangerously disguised as a gavel — of a decidedly uncivilized version of “justice.”

There are, of course, those questionless minds among us who take false refuge in such meaningless platitudes as, “But… but… but it’s the law!” To which we reply, “What kind of law is yours that seeks to endorse violence, rather than to protect us from it?”

“The purpose of the law,” observed classical liberal theorist Frederic Bastiat, “is to prevent injustice from reigning.” It is not to cause justice, in other words, but to shield us from its opposing force. And how are we to know when a law has fallen into the service of evil? The Frenchman offers this simple litmus test: “See if the law take from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what that citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

And if we find the state of affairs to be as such? Bastiat urges us to “abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals.”

For Holmes and his wretched ilk, the difference between “them” and “us,” between savage and civilized, is not to be found in the distance between war and peace, between force and voluntarism, between slavery and freedom. His is a civilization measured in degrees according to the size and efficacy of the agent of force… and the sickening pleasure its beggarly subjects derive in forever dwelling on the harsh receiving end of it.

Of course, the liberty-minded recognize immediately, almost instinctively, that no amount of initiated force is ever tolerable in a truly just and civilized society. Indeed, this is the core tenet of the nonaggression principle. Writes noted free market economist Walter Block on the subject: “The nonaggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another.”

In stark contrast to this fundamental bedrock of freedom, Justice Holmes not only implicitly advocates the use of force… but explicitly revels in it as a kind of privilege for which to be eternally thankful. Wherever this core principle is endorsed, it betrays in its proponents a profound disgust for the human species, a disgust so visceral that it compels, urges, lusts even, for their ownership over and enslavement of others… all for the slaves’ own good, of course.

The impulse to own and to be owned is rooted in a foul and reprehensible sociopathy, one forged from a deep self-loathing, at once slavish and brutal. As such, it stands in special need of constant and public denunciation, of fierce, unapologetic, and uncompromising resistance by all who strive to further the cause of liberty.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Grass Valley, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

The Economy: “Greece Is the Canary in the Coal Mine”; “Live Updates On Greece's Debt Crisis”

“Greece Is the Canary in the Coal Mine”
by Bill Bonner

"This is an “Amber Alert” day in the markets. “Greeks Line Up at Banks; ATMs Run Dry” was the headline over at the Drudge Report. Versions of it ran throughout the financial media. Greece is the canary in the coal mine for what could one day happen to your savings. You’ll recall our prediction: In a crisis, banks will move fast to block access to your money. First, they will limit withdrawals. Then they will either close their doors or run out of cash. 

Capital Controls Have Arrived…: That’s what’s happening in Greece right now... The showdown going on there for months is reaching a climax. The Greek government has announced it will put creditor demands to a popular vote. “Hey, how do you feel about paying our national debt?” they’re going to ask the hoi polloi. And how do you think the hoi polloi are going to respond? The best guess is they’re going to say: Let’s not. 

Which will leave the banks cut off from new funds… and short of old ones. Smart depositors figured this out long ago. They took their money out of Greek banks. But the rest of the people are now wising up. In effect, they’re voting with their money – getting it out while they still can. 

Naturally, the banks tried to protect the money that isn’t theirs. Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank limited the amount you could take out. All you could get from a Piraeus ATM, for example, was €600 ($667). This made people more eager than ever to get their hands on their money. Lines formed at ATMs on Saturday. One banker estimated that €110 million ($122 million) left the banks by 11:30 a.m. 

Not all banks are open on Saturday. But even those that were normally open stayed shut. And now Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras says Greek banks will be shut, and that capital controls will be imposed, until July 7. Greeks will only be allowed to take out a maximum of €60 ($67) a day. And they’re banned from moving their savings to accounts outside of Greece. 

How Not to Manage a Bubble: The sense of panic and impending doom over the weekend was heightened, as the Chinese government took action to halt a stock market plunge. In the last two weeks, the Shanghai Composite Index has lost 20% of its value. That’s the equivalent of the Dow losing 3,600 points. It’s the kind of thing that makes investors nervous. Or desperate. If that happens in the U.S. – which it surely will – you can bet your bippy that the feds will intervene. The Chinese are doing the same. They’ve just cut the central bank lending rate to the lowest level ever. 

Will that do the trick? From John Rubino at DollarCollapse.com: "China, meanwhile, has spent the past couple of decades directing an infrastructure build-out that in retrospect was maybe twice as big as it should have been. Now it’s fiddling with all kinds of imperfectly understood fiscal and monetary levers, trying to maintain a 7% growth rate that is looking more and more fictitious. Here again, the best way to deal with a bubble is to not let it happen in the first place. The second best way is to let it pop and allow the market to clean up the mess. The absolute wrong way to manage a bubble is to intervene from the top to keep it going. Look where that has gotten Japan and the U.S."

Stay tuned for more exciting developments…" 
- http://www.thedailyreckoning.com

“Live Updates On Greece's Debt Crisis”

Satire: “Republicans Accuse Obama of Using Position as President to Lead Country”

“Republicans Accuse Obama of Using Position as President to Lead Country”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “Responding to reports that President Obama is considering signing as many as nineteen executive orders on gun control, Republicans in Congress unleashed a blistering attack on him today, accusing Mr. Obama of “cynically and systematically using his position as President to lead the country.”

Spearheading the offensive was Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who charged the President with the “wanton exploitation of powers that are legally granted to him under the U.S. Constitution.” Calling him the “Law Professor-in-Chief,” Rep. Stockman accused Mr. Obama of “manipulating a little-known section of the Constitution,” Article II, which outlines the power of the President. “President Obama looks down the list of all of the powers that are legally his and he’s like a kid in a candy store,” Rep. Stockman said. “It’s nauseating.”

The Texas congressman said that if Mr. Obama persists in executing the office of the Presidency as defined by the Constitution, he could face “impeachment and/or deportation.” Noting that the President has not yet signed the executive orders on gun control, Rep. Stockman said that he hoped his stern words would serve as a wake-up call to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, there’s still time for you to get in line. But if you continue to fulfill the duties of President of the United States that are expressly permitted in the Constitution, you are playing with fire.”

"How It Really Is"

"Insanity..."

"Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world."
- R. D. Laing

"In individuals, insanity is rare; 
but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

"The Economic Collapse Blog Has Issued A RED ALERT For The Last Six Months Of 2015"

"The Economic Collapse Blog Has Issued 
A RED ALERT For The Last Six Months Of 2015"
 By Michael Snyder

"I have never done anything like this before. Ever since I started The Economic Collapse Blog in late 2009, I have never issued any kind of “red alert” for any specific period of time. As an attorney, I was trained to be level-headed and to only come to conclusions that were warranted by the evidence. So this is not something that I am doing lightly. Based on information that I have received, things that I have been told, and thousands of hours of research that have gone into the publication of more than 1,300 articles about our ongoing economic collapse, I have come to the conclusion that a major financial collapse is imminent. Therefore, I am issuing a RED ALERT for the last six months of 2015.

To clarify, when I say “imminent” I do not mean that it will happen within the next 48 hours. And I am not saying that our problems will be “over” once we get to the end of 2015. In fact, I believe that the truth is that our problems will only be just beginning as we enter 2016.

What I am attempting to communicate is that we are right at the door of a major turning point. About this time of the year back in 2008, my wife and I went to visit her parents. As we sat in their living room, I explained to them that we were on the verge of a major financial crisis, and of course the events that happened a few months later showed that I was right on the money.

This time around, I wish that I could visit the living rooms of all of my readers and explain to them why we are on the verge of another major financial crisis. Unfortunately, that is not possible, but hopefully this article will suffice. Please share it with your friends, your family and anyone else that you want to warn about what is coming."
The rest of this fully charted and source-linked article is here:
- http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

I strongly suggest you read it, and consider the consequences, while you can...
- CP

The Economy: "GreeceFire Has Been Ignited"

"GreeceFire Has Been Ignited"
 by Karl Denninger

"Here it comes! For months the European institutions have acted on the belief that despite the election of a government in Greece that took as its mandate the cessation of austerity and repudiation of illegally contracted "bailout" debt they could continue to force Greece to accept ever-tighter restrictions in an attempt to "make good" debt that was known to be trash at the time it was contracted. There was absolutely no reason for the Greek government to have accepted any of this at the outset but then again the entire Greek entry into the EU was predicated on fraudulent behavior by both the government and the banks at that time.

In this light it's pretty easy to figure out why the Greek government tried, for as long as it did, to play this game: Their former acts were clearly fraudulent and both could and should have led to prosecution, not only of themselves but of the banks involved- and that was most of the big international concerns.

Pretending that all was ok was thus the order of the day. But like all exponential systems when you try to cover up something like this the longer you wait to admit the truth the more damage you wind up absorbing. Our Federal Reserve and the ECB have egged on this process, along with the IMF, through their so-called "liquidity" operations which are nothing of the sort but instead are simply providing cover for deficit spending, effectively imposing a tax on the public of equal amount. The ECB has been particularly egregious in treating all sovereign credit as equal and risk-free when quite-clearly it is nothing of the sort.

The result of all of this is that the ECB now holds roughly all of the Greek debt; some Eur 300 billion worth. Due to how TARGET2 works Germany is probably on the hook for something like 80 billion of this, the single largest share, with the rest spread around. What should have happened back when this began and the liability was half that amount was for the banks to be forced to eat it; this would have severely damaged or even bankrupted a number of them, but it would have been both over and half the size it is today.

The precept that a bunch of bankers can dictate public policy has always been obscene. We saw this here in the 2008 timeframe and nobody has done a damn thing about it in the United States since; it has been in play in Europe in the same form and fashion. In fact the same sort of frauds are part and parcel of how that entire business operates; it was the foundation of the 2000 Internet bubble, the 2007/08 housing bubble and now it's the foundation of so-called "liquidity" rallies in various asset prices worldwide. The "gotcha" is that the harm done in the form of this emission of credit cannot be prevented; it can only be hidden through various lies that, as they are relied upon, quite-arguably meet any rational definition of fraud.

We in America have refused to call "BS!" on this and demand it stop. We're the fools; the Greeks have finally, it would appear, had enough of it. They elected a government on the mandate to put a stop to it and the banksters attempted to coerce that government into ignoring their mandate. That government has wisely chosen to put the question to the people, perhaps out of the perception that there is a literal noose waiting for all of them should they go back on their promise without the explicit consent of the public."
Related:
"Bank Holiday: Greek Banks and Stock Market Shut Until July 7; Capital Controls Imposed"

"Greece Takes A Bank Holiday To Curb Panic"
- http://www.sbs.com.au/

"Greece: Reality Bites HARD"
-http://market-ticker.org/

Folks, globalization of the banking system means they're ALL interlocked and interconnected. They, including the American banks, will all come tumbling down causing a total economic collapse of incredible proportions, and truly horrifying consequences. But yes, I know, that could never happen here...
- CP

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Musical Interlude: Chuck Wild, "Liquid Mind: Ambience Minimus - Shadows of White"

Music by Chuck Wild, "Liquid Mind: Ambience Minimus - Shadows of White"
 Images courtesy of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, Goddard Space Flight Center,
 The Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory, ESA and NASA.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2zu1gf9Pus&feature=g-vrec

The Poet: David Whyte, "In the Beginning"

"In the Beginning"

"Sometimes simplicity rises
like a blossom of fire
from the white silk of your own skin.
You were there in the beginning
you heard the story, you heard the merciless
and tender words telling you where you had to go.
Exile is never easy and the journey
itself leaves a bitter taste. But then,
when you heard that voice, you had to go.
You couldn't sit by the fire, you couldn't live
so close to the live flame of that compassion
you had to go out in the world and make it your own
so you could come back with
that flame in your voice, saying listen...
this warmth, this unbearable light, this fearful love...
It is all here, it is all here."

~ David Whyte