Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Musical Interlude: Deuter, "Blessing"

Deuter, "Blessing"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"A Celestial Journey"
Music: "Intergalactic Lullaby" by Aeoliah

Chet Raymo, “Out Of The Silence”

Out Of The Silence”
by Chet Raymo

"A few words about Douglas Christe's “The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology”, the title of which is drawn from the 4th-century monastic writer Evagrius of Pontus: "When the mind has put off the old self and shall put on the one born of grace, then it will see its own state in the time of prayer resembling sapphire or the color of heaven."

It is a beautiful image, although I am not at all sure what it means. We are separated from Evagrius by centuries, by a Scientific Revolution, by the Enlightenment. I am not suggesting that we have nothing to learn from the ancients, or that certain of human longings and concerns are not so deeply ingrained in our biology as to resist cultural modification. Only that the metaphors we use to describe our most profound experiences are drawn from the times in which we live, and it is difficult for a person of the 21st century to enter into the mind of a 4th-century monk.

Doug's book is about the Word, which I take as an expression of the Divine as revealed though the world. The Word graces and redeems the world; we have only to listen. Which, in Doug's view, is the importance of the contemplative tradition. His wonderful book is an extended hymn on the art- or grace- of listening. But what are we listening for? Doug quotes the early monks of the desert, who lived in a world of ghosts, dreams and spirits, physical deprivation, and (presumably) sexual sublimation. He also quotes (for example) the modern poet Theodore Roethke:

    "Voice. Come out of the silence.
    Say something.
    Appear in the form of a spider.
    Or a moth beating the curtain."

Doug's book is about the art and grace of listening, which as many poets and saints have suggested is the highest form of prayer. It is his contention that listening is a prerequisite for love, and we will only save what we care for. I imagine his "blue sapphire" is also the Earth, suspended like a jewel in the deep darkness and silence of space.

Doug's book speaks, I think, to both believers and agnostics. In the moth beating against the curtain, Doug hears the voice of the Word. I hear a moth beating against the curtain. I'm not sure the difference is as important as the hearing- for us and for the moth.”

"Hope..."

"Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road,
but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence."
- Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

The Daily "Near You?"

Temple, Texas, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

The Economy: "The Ghosts of Roman Emperors Whisper“

“The American Empire Hangs in the Balance as
the Ghosts of Roman Emperors Whisper“
by James Quinn

“The refusal of the political class to imposes losses on large bank creditors since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual in 2008 illustrates the extent to which the financialization of the western industrial economies has turned into a gradual coup d’état by the banks and the global speculators who dominate their client base.” - Chris Whalen

“We’re not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we’re moving toward a softer fascism: Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military-industrial complex, you have the medical-industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars.That’s where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism- something that’s very dangerous.” - Ron Paul

As the average American continues their epic struggle to stay afloat in these turbulent times it is clear to those with critical thinking skills, like Chris Whalen and Ron Paul, that the game is rigged in favor of those with enormous wealth and power. There is no doubt the levers of government and finance have been seized by a super rich minority of men, willing to use all means necessary to increase their wealth and power at the expense of those they consider lowly expendable peasants. The myth perpetuated by those in control of the system is that everyone in America has ample opportunity to move up the ladder, even as they push the ladders away from the parapet surrounding their castle.

The talking points of the super rich, which are pounded into the brains of slumbering Americans, are they pay all the taxes, create all the jobs, create all the wealth, and drive innovation. The facts say otherwise. The super rich aren’t creators, they are destroyers. The top 0.1% richest Americans didn’t get rich by creating new companies and letting their entrepreneurial talents shine. These 152,000 people, with an average income of $5.6 million per year are overwhelmingly executives at large corporations, banks, law firms, and real estate firms. These people account for 68% of the richest of the rich. Entrepreneurial creators and producers account for less than 10% of the richest Americans. The executives that make up the 68% are masters of creating debt, wealth for themselves by peddling debt to the middle class, and creating jobs in China and India by outsourcing U.S. jobs.

The average income of the 137 million people that sit at the bottom of the income pyramid has declined by 1% since 1970. The people at the top of the pyramid saw their average income rise by 385%. Was this because they worked harder? No. It was because they used their existing wealth to buy politicians and pay lobbyists to write laws, create loopholes, reduce regulations, and alter the tax code in their favor. This was not a conspiracy. It was human nature. Humans are driven by greed and fear. Lusting for power and wealth is a common human frailty. Those who are able to acquire wealth and power through their superior abilities and intellect are usually driven individuals. It is built into their DNA to seek more wealth and power. There are 323 million Americans but only 1.5 million would be classified as very rich or extremely rich. Many of these people associate in the same circles. This incestuous relationship is what breeds the growing inequality in our country. The game is rigged in favor of these 1.5 million people because they run the corporations, occupy the halls of Congress, peddle the debt products to the bottom 90%, and use their mass media to control the message to the under-educated, over-medicated, gadget distracted masses.

The problem with humans is they always push the envelope too far. The rich and powerful have methodically accumulated more wealth and more power since their glorious coup in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve and the personal income tax. They have used inflation and the tax code to further their agenda. The rate of their pillaging has waxed and waned over the last century as the mood of the country has oscillated during the five turnings between crisis and triumph. The rate of looting has accelerated in the last thirty years as their false message of free market capitalism, lower tax rates for the rich, and the issuance of unparalleled amounts of debt was bought hook line and sinker by the American public. Their plundering of the national wealth reached a sickening crescendo in the last ten years, as their internet bubble was replaced by their housing bubble, which has been replaced by their debt bubble of immense proportions. As the middle class has been impoverished, 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed, senior citizens have been sacrificed at the altar of Wall Street and 45 million people are forced to use food stamps, the top 1% has done fabulously. They continue to rake in a greater proportion of the national income every year.  In 2009, in the midst of an epic financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States soared by 16% to 7.8 million as despair and hopelessness spread across the land and fearful Americans were railroaded into bailing out the bankers that initiated the crisis and believing the Obama’s Keynesian solutions would actually trickle down to them.

As the game approaches its inevitable termination those in control have become increasingly audacious and frantic in their attempts to embezzle what remains of middle class wealth. The anger and disillusionment grows by the day. The mood of the country darkens like the sky before an approaching blizzard. The intensity and violence during a Fourth Turning hastens as events spiral toward a climax. The extreme actions taken by those in power since September 2008 have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to civil war. The powerful elite in government (Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, Congress) chose to bail out the powerful elite on Wall Street (Blankfein, Dimon, Pandit, Lewis) on the backs of the American middle class. TARP, QE1, QE2, and the $800 billion stimulus package were all created by the ruling elite to benefit the ruling elite, who control the vast amount of financial wealth in the country. Savers and seniors have been thrown under the wheels of a Lamborghini driven by the profligate Wall Street gamblers.

Average Americans feel betrayed by politicians, bankers and corporate America. The Tea party movement is a reflection of that anger. Fourth Turnings always sweep away the old order and replace it with a new order. The old order isn’t ready to be swept away, but their time is coming. The U.S. economic model is unsustainable and is guaranteed to collapse in the near future. Those in power are trying to engineer a controlled collapse, but they will lose control just as they did in 2008. Panic and depression will ensue. Vast amounts of wealth will be destroyed. When the middle class realizes they have been screwed again by Wall Street and K Street, and they no longer have anything left to lose, they will lose it.

The welfare class will only riot if their EBT cards stop working and the monthly welfare direct deposit ceases. It’s the critical thinkers in the middle class that will lead a revolution. There are 250 million guns [An FBI estimate claims 1 billion- CP] owned by Americans. With this amount of firepower and millions of Americans with nothing left to lose, those attempting to retain power will be at a distinct disadvantage. I believe armed vigilantes will hunt down those responsible for the destruction of the American economy and invoke their own justice. Their gated communities and penthouse suite doormen will not protect them. No politician, banker, or corporate executive will be safe. Some will escape in their Lear jets to foreign lands, but the rest of the world will be equally chaotic and unsafe for those who committed crimes against humanity. Innocent people will die. Deserve will have nothing to do with it. The very existence of our country will hang in the balance.

Atonement: “The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere– and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls– and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.” 
– Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

“Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning the way you might today distance yourself from news, national politics, or even taxes you don’t feel like paying. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted. The Fourth Turning necessitates the death and rebirth of the social order. It is the ultimate rite of passage for an entire people, requiring a luminal state of sheer chaos whose nature and duration no one can predict in advance.”
– Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

No one can predict the exact events (debt ceiling, Euro collapse, Middle East war) that will propel this Fourth Turning. But, the underlying drivers are clear: public debt, private debt, banker coup, military overreach, corporate fascism, Federal Reserve created inflation, an oil dependent society with depleting oil and rampant corruption across all levels of government. The fingers of instability grow longer as we add $4 billion per day to the national debt. A grain of sand will fall on the wrong part of the sand pile triggering a collapse of our currency. The event is unknown, the timing unclear, but the destination is certain. A dollar collapse will trigger a surge in interest rates, which will be fatal to our debt bloated society. Every previous Fourth Turning involved revolutionary aspects. The American Revolution and Civil War were wars of revolution. The stirrings of revolution were rampant in the early 1930s, with a plot foiled by General Smedley Butler. The New Deal was a response designed to quell discontent among the masses. Enough people are becoming aware of who to blame for the ills in our society that Henry Ford’s prediction is ever closer to being realized: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before morning.”

An uprising against the super rich and their banking cartel partners in crime is in the cards over the next ten years. Our society has degenerated and has been ransacked by sociopaths in suits as Jesse from Jesse’s Café Americain  so eloquently states: “Not all sociopaths wield knives and knotted cords. Some wear suits, and are exceptionally intelligent and articulate, obsessively driven, and are able to use and undermine the law and the rules for their advantage, like weapons.  It is never about the win, never about the money.  It is about the kill, the expression of their hatred, about elevating themselves with the suffering of others. Bind, torture, kill. Not only with ropes and knives, but also with power and money, and the subversion of law. Lawlessness is their addiction, their will to power. When societies become lax and complacent, these sociopaths can possess great political power through great amounts of unprincipled money.  And over time they become almost anti-human, destroyers of all that is good, all that is life, all that offends their insatiable sickness with its goodness. They twist the public against itself, and turn a broad sweep of society into their killing grounds. This is the undeniable lesson of the last century. There are monsters, and they walk among us.”

Human beings are a flawed species. We are often driven by emotion rather than reason. We are easily convinced of things we want to be convinced about. Those with superior intelligence often take advantage of those with inferior intelligence. We are prone to mass hysteria and believing things that, in retrospect, were utterly ridiculous. We can be swayed by fear and greed in alternating degrees of delusion. History teaches us that this time isn’t different. We’ve experienced depression, war and social upheaval on an epic scale three times since the founding of this country. With only three data points it is tough to discern patterns that would reveal exactly how this Fourth Turning will play out. But it is apparent to me that each Fourth Turning alternates between a mostly external struggle and a mostly internal struggle. The American Revolution was a struggle against an external oppressor– Great Britain. The Civil War was an internal struggle between the industrial North and the agrarian South. The Depression/World War II struggle was mainly against an external threat– Germany, Japan, and Italy.

The Fourth Turnings that centered upon an external threat ended with a glorious High. The Civil War Fourth Turning resolution felt more like defeat, with the country exhausted, bitter and angry. All indications are this Fourth Turning will be mainly an internal struggle between the ruling class of bankers, business elites, and politicians and the downtrodden middle class. The lying, cheating, fraud, theft and other wrongs committed by those in power will need to be atoned for. The generational dynamics in place will drive the reactions of the country moving forward. We have been badly led. A vast swath of the populace has lived beyond their means. The existing system is unsustainable. The Boomer generation does not want to yield on their perceived entitlements. The Millenial generation will be saddled with un-payable debts. Generation X is caught in the middle of this generational struggle. The huge imbalances in our society have built up over decades like flood waters behind a weakening levee. When the levee breaks the existing order will be swept away in the raging torrent that will follow.

The ruling class will be stripped of their unseemly acquired wealth; the Boomer generation will be scorned for their reckless disregard for future generations and stripped of their entitlements; Generation X will resign themselves to a lower standard of living, knowing full well by doing so, their children will not be saddled with crushing levels of debt; Millenials will have borne the burden of the revolution and violence which will be inevitable as the ruling class fights to retain their dominating position in society. Darkness descends upon our land. Storm clouds gather on the horizon. We’ve all played a part in the catastrophe that lies before us. Everyone in our crumbling society will need to atone for its sins, whether they deserve to or not. Will Munney in "The Unforgiven" was not an innocent man, but he ultimately atoned for his sins by digging deep into his soul and finding the strength and fortitude to fight the evil establishment. Each generation’s rendezvous with destiny awaits. There are no guarantees. The myth of American Exceptionalism will not protect us from the choices we’ve made. God will not shield us from the consequences of our actions. The American Empire hangs in the balance. As the ghosts of Roman emperors whisper– Glory is fleeting.    

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort– in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
 – Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning"

“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence– perhaps even our nation– might never recover.” 
– Strauss & Howe, "The Fourth Turning.”

“Argument: Stepping Back from Anger”

“Argument: Stepping Back from Anger”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“The emotional trigger that begins an argument may have little to do with your present situation, but has dug up a wound. When we find ourselves in an argument, we may feel like we are losing control of emotions that have taken on lives of their own. When we can become aware that this is happening, taking a deep breath can help us step back from the situation. Once we can separate ourselves from the heat of the moment, we may find that the emotional trigger that began the argument has little to do with the present situation, but may have brought up feelings related to something else entirely. Looking honestly at what caused our reaction allows us to consciously respond more appropriately to the situation and make the best choices.

We can make an agreement with our partners and those closest to us that asking questions can help all of us discover the source of the argument. The shared awareness can result in finding simple solutions to something physical, like low blood sugar or even a hormonal surge. Maybe we are taking ourselves too seriously, and we can just laugh and watch the tension dissolve. We could also discover that perhaps we are addicted to the excitement that drama brings and the chemicals that our body creates when we are angry. But there may be a deeper issue that requires discussion, understanding, and patience. The more we allow ourselves to step back and examine our reasons for arguing, the easier it becomes to allow real feelings to surface and guide us toward solutions that improve our lives.

When we can be clear about our feelings and intentions and communicate them clearly, we have a far better chance of getting what we want than if we lose control or allow our subconscious minds to manipulate the situation. We might take our frustrations out on the people closest to us because we feel safe and comfortable with them, but misplaced anger can cause more harm than good. Arguing for what we truly believe can empower us and help us to direct our passions toward greater life experiences. Truly knowing our reasons for arguing enables us to grow emotionally in ways that will affect our whole being.”

"Hang In There..."

"Using time, pressure and patience, the universe gradually changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamonds. You're being worked on too, so hang in there. Just because something isn't apparent right now, doesn't mean it isn't happening. It's not until the end do you realize, sometimes your biggest blessings were disguised by pain and suffering. They were not placed there to break you, but to make you."
- "The Angel Affect"

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly."
- Richard Bach 

"How It Really Is"

“Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”
Chico Marx, "Duck Soup"

"A Message From The Ministry Of Homeland Security"

"The Media: Intellectual Prostitutes"

"Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff at the New York Times, made this candid confession [it's worth noting that Swinton was called "The Dean of His Profession" by other newsmen, who admired him greatly]:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print.

I am paid $150 weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours my occupation would be gone. 

The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."
- John Swinton, 1914, former Editor, "New York Times"

"Mr. Swinton, (1828 - 1921), made the statement in 1914 in his speech at the New York Press Club during his retirement party from the "New York Times." Swinton had been managing editor of the New York Sun until he started his own journal - John Swinton's Paper in 1883. It became one of the most influential and interesting journals in the country. It played a significant role in the upheaval of the American working class in the mid 1880's. Swinton was active in the free-state movement in Kansas and later worked for the "New York Times." - Wikipedia

“Paul Craig Roberts: Fake News List Death Knell for MSM”

“Paul Craig Roberts: Fake News List Death Knell for MSM
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

"Economic expert and journalist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts thinks the recent publication of the so-called ‘fake news” list recently published by the Washington Post signals a major turning point for all of the mainstream media (MSM). Dr. Roberts explains, “I think this is the death knell for the mainstream media. I think this list essentially kills the credibility of the mainstream media and certainly the Washington Post. It has demonstrated it is completely devoid of any integrity. I am a former Wall Street Journal editor, and if we had done something like that, Warren Phillips would have fired every one of us. We would have been told to get out. You can’t carry on this kind of assault on people. I think this is a sign of desperation.”

On why the markets haven’t crashed, Dr. Roberts, who was an Assistant Treasury Secretary in the Reagan Administration, says, “The markets are all rigged. So, when you try to look at the markets in traditional ways such as price/earnings ratios, earnings growth, or sales growth or any kinds of things like this, they don’t know anything because the Federal Reserve has probably the largest trading desk in the world. They can trade anything, in fact, everything, and they have no limits on their pocketbook. In order for the Fed to protect the dollar, the dollar’s exchange value from the massive outpouring of dollars that the Fed created to buy all the bonds, they had to stop the dollar from falling in relation to gold. So, they have to go in and sell massive amounts of gold shorts in the futures markets. This is how they knock the gold price down. Unless the world runs on the dollar or unless the rest of the world abandons the dollar, I can’t see anything that would bring down this house of cards. They can continue this because the Fed can create all the money it wants. There is no limit.”

On the oligarchs trying to control Donald Trump with the threat of crashing the economy, Dr. Roberts contends, “The easiest thing for the oligarchs to do would be to orchestrate an economic crash, and they can do this easily because it’s a house of cards held up by the Fed. If they come to the conclusion that they can’t control him and he is actually a threat to them, they’ll just crash the economy, and then they’ll go to Trump and say hey look, you are blamed for this and on the defensive. If you want to get out of this, you have to appoint us, and we’ll get you out of this. That’s the sort of power that the oligarchs have over Trump. I have said from the beginning that Trump has the sort of strong will you have to have to bring change from the top down.”

On holding physical gold and silver, Dr. Roberts, who holds a PhD in economics, says, “Anyone who has surplus funds should be holding gold and silver because the dollar should be reduced already to the level of toilet paper. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has exploded. It’s grown so much. So, you have this massive increase in supply of money, but not in goods and services. The reason we are not experiencing hyperinflation is not much of that money got into the economy. It went into financial assets and bid up stock prices, bond prices and real estate prices. If the world turns on the dollar, the Fed is not going to be able to sustain it. Gold and silver have always been money. If people don’t want the currency because it’s worthless, it’s nice to have something to engage in trade with until some new monetary system can be formed. I think it is very reckless to abuse the dollar the way it has been abused.” (There is much more in the in-depth video interview.)

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, founder of PaulCraigRoberts.org.

The Economy: "Obama’s Parting Gift… With Fuse Attached"

"Obama’s Parting Gift… With Fuse Attached"
by Bill Bonner

"Poor Donald… He could be flirting with Miss America contestants and enjoying the pulchritude of beauty queens. Instead, he is stuck with the turpitude of the ruling classes. One job candidate after another. David Petraeus. Rudy Giuliani. Newt Gingrich. The president-elect seems to be reaching out…building bridges…trying to talk to just about everyone.

He has pledged to ‘drain the swamp.’ But, with a few notable exceptions, almost all the visitors to Trump Tower are crafty foxes or dangerous swamp gators. They built careers and fortunes by knowing their way around the Potomac bayous; none will want to drain it. No matter. ‘The Donald’ has peace to make…roles to fill…and not much time to study resumes and make his selections. Even one of his harshest GOP critics, Mitt Romney, has been called in for an interview.

Stuffed shirts: It’s taken us months to find a good handyman for our farm in Maryland; think how long it would take to find a good Secretary of the Treasury! Any recruiter could probably hook you up with a Secretary of State or a Secretary of Defense. The stuffed shirts and hollow men who can play those roles are a dime a dozen. Almost anybody, picked at random on the street, could do the job.

Spend a few trillion dollars bungling and bumbling around the Mideast? What could go wrong that hasn’t already gone wrong? How could you do anything more imbecilic or swinish than what has already been done? Either job is a piece of cake.

Not so for the Secretary of the Treasury. There’s a major challenge coming as the Era of Bubble Finance comes to an end. There is no avoiding it. But the politics of Washington over the next six months will probably determine how it ends: with a whimper of deflation or the bang of hyperinflation.

The entire world has a debt problem- with $223 trillion in debt, about three times global GDP. The US has a big piece of that — $63 trillion of the debt. America’s excess debt- above and beyond what its economy can comfortably support- is about $35 trillion (by our own estimate). And, sometime in the next 12 to 24 months, that debt bomb will probably explode.

Out of road: There’s no need for us to admit that we’ve been wrong about the timing before; you know that. We expected the dot-com bubble to blow up in 1998. It didn’t explode until two years later. Likewise, we warned that the recent mortgage finance bubble had found its pin at least two years ahead of time. Wrong again. And once again, we could be early.

We’re surprised that President Obama could slip away with the bubble still intact. Maybe president-elect Trump and his Secretary of the Treasury will be lucky, too. But we doubt it. Each time, during the crises of the last two decades, the feds have been able to send the bubble down the road by injecting more monetary gas. But now, they’ve run out of road. And they are surrounded by spikes, needles and prickly personalities.

The Fed has already cut its target lending rate to near zero… and left it there for 96 months straight. It could go negative- as it has in Japan, the Eurozone, Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden. But that is so absurd, it risks sending the world’s financial system into an existential tizzy. ‘Let me get this straight,’ says the puzzled investor. ‘You want me to lend you my money… and then you want me to pay YOU interest every year. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?’

Lower interest rates and low price increases are no longer on the menu; the new administration will order up bigger deficits and higher levels of inflation.

No Reagan rerun: But now, as the Trump team comes onto the field, it becomes more and more obvious that these geezers and retreads are too slow to engineer a program of fiscal stimulus and inflation. By the time they get a broad spending scheme underway, the bond market will have already raced ahead of them…and crashed into a wall. We saw a preview of this when news of Trump’s improbable election win reached the markets- investors bet that it would be good for stocks and bad for bonds. ‘Trump will cut taxes and spend more money. We’ll get a replay of the Reagan Boom,’ investors said to themselves.

The Dow, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ, and the small-cap Russell 2000 all hit new record highs. Bonds lost $2 trillion, as investors feared higher rates of inflation. But as bond prices go down, bond yields go up. Rising bond yields mean rising borrowing costs throughout the economy. That does not stimulate a boom; it pinches it off.

That’s the big difference between Reagan and Trump…between 1981 and 2017. Mr Reagan rode into office carried by solvent people who wanted an end to inflation. Mr Trump is borne along on the march to Washington by an army of debtors who would like to see more of it. Mr Reagan could enjoy a boom, as people took advantage of falling inflation and dropping interest rates. Mr Trump, alas, cannot. He will suffer a bust caused by rising rates and increasing prices.

He and his Treasury secretary will be sorely tested. The gators will snap at them. The foxes will outsmart them. The debt bomb will blow up in their faces. And the swamp will suck them down."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Musical Interlude: Jeff Bjorck, “Desert Cloudburst”

Jeff Bjorck, “Desert Cloudburst
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkEzynnbfXA

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Why is there a bridge between these two spiral galaxies? Made of gas and stars, the bridge provides strong evidence that these two immense star systems have passed close to each other and experienced violent tides induced by mutual gravity. Known together as Arp 240 but individually as NGC 5257 and NGC 5258, computer modelling and the ages of star clusters indicate that the two galaxies completed a first passage near each other only about 250 million years ago. 
Click image for larger size.
Gravitational tides not only pulled away matter, they compress gas and so caused star formation in both galaxies and the unusual bridge. Galactic mergers are thought to be common, with Arp 240 representing a snapshot of a brief stage in this inevitable process. The Arp 240 pair are about 300 million light-years distant and can be seen with a small telescope toward the constellation of Virgo. Repeated close passages should ultimately result in a merger and with the emergence of a single combined galaxy.”

The Poet: Grace Schulman, “Blessed Is The Light”

“Blessed Is The Light”

“Blessed is the light that turns to fire, and blessed the flames 
that fire makes of what is burns.
Blessed the inexhaustible sun, for it feeds the moon that 
shines but does not burn.
Praised be hot vapors in earth's crust, for they force up
mountains that explode as molten rock and cool like
love remembered.
Holy is the sun that strikes sea, for surely as water burns
life and death are one. Holy the sun, maker of change,
for it melts ice into water that bruises mountains, honing 
peaks and carving gullies.
Sacred is the mountain that promises permanence but
changes, planed by rockslides, cut by avalanche,
crushed, eroded, leeched for minerals. 
Sacred the rock that spins for centuries before it shines,
governed by gravity, burning into sight near earth's
orbit, for it rises falling, surviving night.
Behold the arcs your eyes make when you speak. Behold 
the hands, white fire. Branches of pine, holding votive
candles, they command, disturbed by wind, the fire that
sings in me.
Blessed is whatever alters, turns, revolves, just as the gods
move when the mind moves them.
Praised be the body, our bodies, that lie down and open 
and rise, falling in flame.”

~ Grace Schulman

Chet Raymo, “Take My Arm”

“Take My Arm”
by Chet Raymo

“I'm sure I have referenced here before the poems of Grace Schulman, she who in inhabits that sweet melancholy place between "the necessity and impossibility of belief." Between, too, the necessity and impossibility of love.

Belief and love. They have so much in common, yet are as distinct as self and other. How strange that two people can hitch their lives together, on a whim, say, or wild intuition, knowing little if nothing about the other's hiddenness, about things that even the other does not fully understand and couldn’t articulate even if he did. Blind, deaf, dumb, they leap into the future, hoping to fly, and, for a moment, soaring, like Icarus, sunward.

The necessity of wax. The impossibility of wax. We "fall" in love, they say. Schulman: "We tramp the road of possibility. Give me your arm."

Tecumseh, "Live Your Life..."

"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes
wise ones turn to fools and robs their spirit of its vision.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray
for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."

- Tecumseh, Shawnee

"A Look to the Human Spirit"

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

"14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands. Thanks to everyone who danced with me. Make sure to click "watch in HD" right underneath the video."

We are all one tribe, the Human Tribe. There's still hope... even though...

The Daily "Near You?"

Umm Al Fahm, Haifa, Israel. Thanks for stopping by.

The Poet: David Whyte, "The Opening of Eyes"

"The Opening of Eyes"

"That day I saw beneath dark clouds
The passing light over the water,
And I heard the voice of the world speak out.
I knew then as I have before,
Life is no passing memory of what has been,
Nor the remaining pages of a great book
Waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things,
Seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
Before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
As if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished,
Opened at last,
Fallen in love
With Solid Ground."

~  David Whyte, 
"Songs for Coming Home"

“The Mirroring World: We Are Like Nature”

“The Mirroring World: We Are Like Nature”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOm

“As humans our lives are completely intertwined with the cycles and rhythms of nature. Nature is a mirror, inspiring and teaching us, deepening our sense of belonging in the world. Wherever you look, you can see that our patterns and the patterns of the natural world are the same. You can find this resonance in every form, from molecules to plants and animals and to planets. We live our lives according to the same principles as the trees, the mountains, the clouds, and the birds.

We begin our lives in the womb, folded in on ourselves like the bud of a flower. We can see our whole lives in the mirror of this natural form. When we emerge from the womb, we slowly begin our unfolding, just as the flower begins to open its petals. At its prime, the flower draws many insects to it and also the eyes of appreciative humans. When the flower’s petals begin to fade and its life cycle comes to an end, it ceases to hold itself upright and returns to the earth. Traditionally, we return to the earth, just as all plants and animals do. Like flowers, we leave behind seeds in the forms of children and other gifts only we could have given. They continue to unfold even after we are gone. Rebirth is encoded into our lives, and death is just one part of the cycle.

Look around you, and you will find connection and insight. Notice how your moods shift from one to another like the sky shifts from bright blue to turbulent grays. Your thoughts are like clouds, appearing, changing shape, passing through, and then disappearing without a trace. The rain cleanses the sky, just as an emotional release cleanses your mind. The sky itself is your eternal awareness, unchanging underneath all these permutations. Let it reflect back to you your own abiding perfection. As you walk through the world, find your own metaphors for connectedness in nature. Flesh them out fully and follow them as they lead you through the mystery and intelligence of life.”

"Butterflies..."

"I think humans might be like butterflies; people die every day without many other people knowing about them, seeing their colors, hearing their stories... and when humans are broken, they're like broken butterfly wings; suddenly there are so many beauties that are seen in different ways, so many thoughts and visions and possibilities that form, which couldn't form when the person wasn't broken! So it is not a very sad thing to be broken, after all! It's during the times of being broken, that you have all the opportunities to become things unforgettable! Just like the broken butterfly wing that I found, which has given me so many thoughts, in so many ways, has shown me so many words, and imaginations! But butterflies need to know, that it doesn't matter at all if the whole world saw their colors or not! But what matters is that they flew, they glided, they hovered, they saw, they felt, and they knew! And they loved the ones whom they flew with! And that is an existence worthwhile!"
- C. JoyBell C.

Technology: "Virtual Reality: The 'Walking Dead' Are Real"

"The 'Walking Dead' Are Real"
by Gerald Celente

"The ongoing explosion of advanced virtual-reality technology has a strong foundation to build on- a culture, a world, especially among millennials and those even younger, primed to become fully addicted to unreality.The smartphone and all its comparable cousins, not even a decade old, are the source of numerous studies confirming a generation increasingly addicted to their devices. Scores of studies around the globe are building consensus that digital addiction is real, growing- and wrought with physical and psychological effects. As studies now confirm, the energy individuals put into operating their devices while attending events, for example, becomes the experience- instead of the actual experience itself.

Less than a decade ago, it was unimaginable that it would be normal to attend a concert, play, sporting event or family gathering and experience it by recording it on our devices, watching it later and sharing it with others. All while missing the actual sensory experience.

Nor was it anticipated that populations would aimlessly navigate sidewalks with heads bowed, pecking away at their handheld devices, utterly oblivious to their surroundings. Or, that many of those same people would identify their smartphone as the “most important thing in their life,” as concluded by Mark Griffith, a professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University.

Before iPads, smartphones and related technology became affordable and mainstream, there were virtually no studies that examined how use of these devices would alter the human experience. There was no way to accurately anticipate how chronic smartphone (and other digital gadgetry) use would lead to addictive behaviors that would come at the cost of actual human engagement. Only now is research catching up to the societal, psychological and emotional effects of digital addiction.

This technological revolution is not a generation old, yet the unprecedented speed at which technological advances make it to market challenges researchers to gauge and anticipate its impact. I like to call it the “walking-dead phenomenon.” Portability and affordability of modern technology have completed a journey into the hands of just about everyone. While anti-technology, pro-human experience movements are picking up some steam, the “walking-dead phenomenon” is fully entrenched.

Today, on the verge of an avalanche of VR technology ready to saturate public consciousness, the what-to-expect indications from the scientific, technological and business worlds are focused on only what can be measured: commerce, physiology and technological advances. The focus is on the bottom line, not the human mind.

That’s just as it was with mobile devices. Absent in the analyses of VR’s future are assessments or measurements of the human, aesthetic and abstract effects that can virtually transform human consciousness. It sounds bleak, I know. But VR isn’t just going to make zombies out of future generations.

VR applications in education, higher learning, healthcare, tourism…I could go on and on…will allow for more immersive- but educational- experiences. Medical students will learn quick-thinking techniques in a VR emergency room…high schoolers will visit the Great Wall of China through VR headsets…PTSD patients will find haven in a calming VR environment when reality becomes overwhelming.

Yes, VR technology will disrupt numerous industries, and maybe the human psyche. But for the better."

"How It Really Is"

"Of Sound Mind..."

“A man who is "of sound mind" is one who keeps 
the inner madman under lock and key.”
- Paul Valéry, 
“Mauvaises Pensées et Autres”, 1942

"Why Is There So Much Pain and Suffering?"

 
"Why Is There So Much Pain and Suffering?"
By Fred Pauser

"Mother Teresa said, “Suffering is a gift of God.” Well, it may be true that suffering tends to build character, but it also sometimes builds bitterness and criminals. In any case, we would naturally prefer to do without it, especially the extreme forms of it.

We can derive much toward answering the question from a basic knowledge of the evolution of life. Ernst Mayr succinctly summed up the process of natural selection: “Natural selection is a two-step process: (1) variations produced, and (2) variations sorted, with the elimination of the less fit so that you end up with a ‘selection’ of the best." Fitness may involve cooperative abilities as well as competitive, and the ability to adjust to varying environmental conditions.

Variations between individuals are produced by means such as mutations or genetic drift. The individuals that are most able to deal with the circumstances provided within their environmental niche are likely to be most able to reproduce and pass on their genes.

Contributions to the process of natural selection are also made by cataclysmic events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteors and asteroids, etc. It is commonly believed that most dinosaurs were destroyed by such an event. Consequently, niches were opened to species that were more fit in terms of surviving that particular environmental upheaval.

As Teilhard de Chardin could see almost a century ago, evolution is directional. If we step back to see the big picture, nearly 4 billion years of life on earth is most notably characterized by overall increasing complexity and diversity of life, accompanied by greater capabilities, including the development of consciousness. Scientists are beginning to abandon Gould’s philosophy of non-directional evolution in favor of something more like de Chardin’s view.

Einstein said, “Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain.” This is the pleasure/pain principle. It applies to virtually all life, albeit in very rudimentary form in single-celled creatures. It is fundamental.

Humans and other creatures born without the functional pain apparatus of their peers, do not live long. Clearly, without the capacity for pain and suffering, the evolution of life would not and could not happen. Certainly all higher life forms including humans would not have had even a remote chance of coming into existence.

Suppose there is a God, and s/he created the world pretty much as it is (as per the Christian fundamentalist view), except there was no pain and suffering, and all danger had been removed for all creatures. Wouldn’t it be a dull and boring place? Would there be any reason to strive for anything?

But we humans are acutely aware of our ability to experience pain, and we do what we can to avoid it, while simultaneously striving to maximize satisfaction. This more than enables us to survive. As products of evolution we mirror the directional progress of evolution of increasing capabilities. as human history indicates.

We possess a nearly unique ability among animals in that we can visualize all sorts of future possibilities, which bestows upon us the potential for a kind of pain that other creatures are capable of experiencing only minimally if at all: anxiety. Other animals probably, in general, suffer less than we humans assume they do, because we tend to anthropomorphize. Perhaps natural selection is not quite as cruel as it seems to us. Besides a minimal anxiety factor, consider that death in nature through predation is usually swift, and it often occurs before creatures can experience much of the sort of suffering we associate with old age and years of gradual loss of abilities.

The human propensity to suffer the pain of anxiety through the ability to imagine, has a plus side. It leads to a greater ability to experience empathy and sympathy (as compared to other animals). We are at a stage of development whereby our world is becoming one united economic entity. Human similarities across the world are becoming quite apparent. We are increasingly aware of our interdependence. We are coming to realize (some of us) that it is in our own self-interest to relieve suffering among our fellows. So our intellectual capabilities are being used via the pleasure and pain systems in us, to advance morally as well as technologically. The spiritual notion of profound interconnectedness and unity is becoming less abstract, more real. Ironically, none of this, including our very existence, would be possible without the billions of years of evolutionary struggle and strife that preceded us."

“What It Feels Like To Be Homeless For The Holidays In America”

“What It Feels Like To Be Homeless For The Holidays In America”
By Michael Snyder

“Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.
In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.

As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly: “By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.”

One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”: “A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction. Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago. He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.”

You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control.  In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.

On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well. You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher: “The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high. The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks. Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.”

So why is this happening? The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise. Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”: “More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness- without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found. Nearly 60 percent of all New Yorkers don’t have enough emergency savings to cover at least three months’ worth of household expenses like food, housing and rent, according to a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development.

This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything. To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie: “When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help. A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog. Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.”

Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?

Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless: “It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball. The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats. It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats. “This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.”

How marvelous is that? A single act of kindness can make a world of difference. In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty. I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this time of the year.”


"Perhaps you are fortunate enough to still have a good job, and you live in a large home and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight. Well, you should consider yourself to be very blessed, because that is definitely not the case for most of the rest of the world. The following 11 facts about global poverty come from dosomething.com, and I want you to really let these numbers sink in for a moment…
• Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population- more than 3 billion people- live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty- less than $1.25 a day.
• 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
• 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.
• More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
• In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
• Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
• As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
• 1/4 of all humans live without electricity- approximately 1.6 billion people.
• 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
• Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty– that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
• The World Food Program says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”