Thursday, April 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”

Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”

“Life During Wartime”

"Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go.
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway.
A place where nobody knows.
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I'm getting used to it now.
Lived in a brownstone, lived in the ghetto,
I've lived all over this town.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around.
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain't got time for that now.

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
Hope for an answer some day.
I got three passports, a couple of visas,
You don't even know my real name.
High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,
Everything's ready to roll.
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nighttime,
I might not ever get home.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around.
This ain't no Mudd Club, or C.B.G.B,
I ain't got time for that now.

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window,
Somebody might see you up there.
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days.
But I ain't got no speakers, ain't got no
Headphones, ain't got no records to play.

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time.
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard,
I can't write nothing at all.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco,
This ain't no fooling around.
I'd like to kiss you, I'd love you hold you,
I ain't got no time for that now.

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
We blended with the crowd.
We got computer, we're tapping phone lines,
I know that that ain't allowed.
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
Or in a suit and a tie.
I changed my hairstyle so many times now,
I don't know what I look like!

You make me shiver, I feel so tender,
We make a pretty good team.
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving,
You ought to get you some sleep.
Get you instructions, follow directions,
Then you should change your address,
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,
Whatever you think is best.

Burned all my notebooks, what good are
Notebooks? They won't help me survive.
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,
The burning keeps me alive.
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness,
Don't want to catch no disease.
Try to be careful, don't take no chances,
You better watch what you say."

"Putin Warns: The Situation With North Korea Has 'Seriously Deteriorated'”

"Putin Warns: 
The Situation With North Korea Has 'Seriously Deteriorated'”
by Mac Slavo

"While it’s easy to dismiss the rhetoric of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as the ravings of a madman, world leaders appear to hold a different view. With President Trump having deployed a Naval strike fleet to South Korea, China mobilizing over 150,000 troops to the border and Russia following suit with a mobilization on their southern border with North Korea, it appears a conflict is imminent. Whether that comes in the form of a de-escalation should North Korea eliminate their weapons program, or all out war in the form of ICBM’s, Tomahawks and boots on the ground, a resolution to the problem will likely be seen in coming weeks and months.

And while we hope that cooler heads will prevail, it appears, evidenced by statements from the Trump Administration, as well as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, that war may be the most likely scenario: "Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program is deepening after the issue dominated talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Moscow.

He and Abe believe the situation on the Korean peninsula has “seriously deteriorated,” Putin said Thursday after the Kremlin meeting. “We call on all states involved in the region’s affairs to refrain from military rhetoric and seek peaceful, constructive dialogue.” Source: Bloomberg 

"Dialogue is certainly one approach, but if a video released by North Korea today is any indication of the kind of dialogue the rogue state wants to hold, then it’s time to prepare for war:
Via Zero Hedge: "The video was released just days after North Korea conducted large-scale artillery drills, showing off conventional weaponry that can easily reach South Korea’s capital, Seoul. It also comes one day after the entire Senate was gathered at the White House to receive a briefing from Trump’s top generals on the situation in North Korea. At the same time, the US sub, USS Michigan, which carries Tomahawk cruise missiles, docked in the South Korean port of Busan this week. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, along with the destroyers and cruiser that make up its strike group, will arrive in the Korean Peninsula area this weekend."

Should a war with North Korea be initiated it will likely be over fairly quickly, (I absolutely disagree! It will not be over quickly due to the decades-long brainwashing and mind control of the N. Korean population, especially the military, with or without Kim Jong Un. - CP) especially since the first order of business will be the elimination of Kim Jong Un by U.S. special forces and China appears to be backing President Trump with troop support on the border.

The unknown in this scenario, however, is whether or not the North Koreans have nuclear capable war heads on their submarines, which could lead to a massive nuclear exchange with South Korea, Japan and the United States. Incidentally, submarine hunting aircraft and vessels were deployed off California’s coast just two weeks ago, with speculation mounting that they were looking for a North Korean sub. While their nuclear capabilities are limited and the country likely only has a handful of such weapons, it really only takes one and the entire world could be throw into panic.

Perhaps even more alarming is that North Korea has sent two satellites into space, with some positing that they could hold EMP-capable nuclear weapons on board. Should such a device be detonated 200 miles over the central United States it could render our entire grid infrastructure useless. Researchers have theorized that such a scenario could lead to the deaths of 90% of Americans within one year due to starvation, disease, and civil conflict.

Such scenarios throughout history have often been an event horizon of sorts – no one really knows what comes out the other side, which is why we urge our readers to prepare for the worst just in case.”

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-Up 4/28/2017”

“Weekly News Wrap-Up 4/28/2017”
By Greg Hunter’s

"Secretary of State Tillerson and other top U.S. officials have issued a dire warning on North Korea. In a press release this week, the Trump Administration says, “North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority.” This release was issued after a White House briefing to 100 Senators that detailed the possible threat. Another ominous sign was the test firing of an unarmed ICBM at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Meanwhile, North Korea has been making provocative videos showing a military nuclear strike on the United States and also a live fire drill with North Korean artillery. Many of North Korea’s artillery can easily reach Seoul, South Korea.

President Trump revealed a skeleton tax plan that his Administration says will be business friendly, spur growth and jobs. It proposes a top corporate tax rate of just 15%, and it doubles the standard deductions for most individuals, while taking away most private and corporate deductions.

Meanwhile, the real economy continues to show disintegrating results. The Atlanta Fed is now downgrading the growth in the first quarter to just .2 %. On top of that, store closings are projected to surpass 8,000 nationwide. At the top of the 2008 Great Recession, the store closings topped only 6,000 in the U.S.” (There is much more in the video newscast.)

"Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

X22 Report: “There Is An All Out Push To Get The Main Event Started”

X22 Report: “There Is An All Out Push To Get The Main Event Started”

Musical Interlude: Afshin, "Prayer of Change"

Afshin, "Prayer of Change"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Earth's annual Lyrid meteor shower peaked before dawn on April 22nd, as our fair planet plowed through dust from the tail of long-period comet Thatcher. Seen from the high, dark, and dry Atacama desert a waning crescent Moon and brilliant Venus join Lyrid meteor streaks in this composited view. 
Click image for larger size.
Captured over 5 hours on the night of April 21/22, the meteors stream away from the shower's radiant, a point not very far on the sky from Vega, alpha star of the constellation Lyra. The radiant effect is due to perspective as the parallel meteor tracks appear to converge in the distance. In the foreground are domes of the Las Campanas Observatory housing (left to right) the 2.5 meter du Pont Telescope and the 1.3 meter Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) telescope."

Chet Raymo, “Then To The Elements Be Free”

“Then To The Elements Be Free”
by Chet Raymo

“Be cheerful, Sir.
Our revels are now ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on: and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

“Surely one of the most beautiful passages in all of dramatic literature, these lines of Prospero in Shakespeare's "Tempest." They have a particular resonance with me because I was once involved in staging the "insubstantial pageant" and playing a part- Ariel, that tricksy spirit.

And now the actual pageant fades. The actors- friends and contemporaries- are melting into thin air. Hardy a week goes by that word does not come of another acquaintance slipping away. A sadness, yes. But Prospero whispers, "Be cheerful, Sir." And then those tender lines, so sweet and reassuring: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little lives are rounded with a sleep."

The sea. The air. The teeming creatures. Of dust and sunlight we are conjured up. A dream, each one of us, brief and fleeting and beautiful. Like flowers, like mayflies, like the Sun itself, we flourish and fade. No pageant without us. No cloud-capp'd towers, palaces or temples. We are the dream of the Earth. In us the Earth become self-aware, the universe becomes conscious.”

“Dr. Seuss”, "Don't Give Up!"

 "Don't give up! I believe in you all.
A person's a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!"

- Theodor Seuss Geisel, “Dr. Seuss”

The Poet: Robert Bly, "Things to Think"

"Things to Think"

"Think in ways you've never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it's been decided that if you lie down no one will die."

- Robert Bly, “Morning Poems”

The Daily "Near You?"

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Thanks for stopping by!

"At The Threshold Of War: 'The Choice Is Not Up To Us Anymore… It Is Being Decided Upon At This Very Moment'”

"At The Threshold Of War: 'The Choice Is Not Up To Us Anymore…
 It Is Being Decided Upon At This Very Moment'”
by Jeremiah Johnson

"As reported Monday, April 25 on almost all mainstream and alternate news sites, Britain’s Defense Minister Michael Fallon has openly declared that his country will carry out a preemptive nuclear strike even if not attacked, as such: “In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.” - Michael Fallon, BBC Today, 4-25-17

This is very serious and no longer simply rhetorical, as the Russians responded to the effect that the UK could be wiped off the face of the globe if they were to provoke the wrong party. The U.S. now has a submarine in position in South Korea that is carrying Tomahawks armed with nuclear warheads and the American Naval armada continues to sail toward the region. The North Koreans have been conducting artillery drills, as South Korea and Japan are preparing their citizens for war to break out. The United States just test-launched an ICBM from California that splashed into the South Pacific.

In the U.S., President Trump has convened a meeting in the White House for all 100 U.S. senators as reported yesterday throughout the alternative media. The mainstream media (MSM) is being notoriously silent about the whole matter, although it is plain to see the focal point of the meeting is North Korea, as announced by the White House.

Deflection has been rendered partially by the MSM by the endless barrage regarding the 9th Circuit Court trying to sabotage the Executive Order signed by the President to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary” cities trying to circumvent federal law and procedure with the illegal aliens. The “First 100 Days” of the Trump Administration is the new catch-phrase the MSM is focusing upon, much as they did with the “47 million on food stamps” phrase that virtually stayed the same for more than 3 years. Underreporting and obfuscation (if not outright lies) are the MSM’s way of keeping the public in the dark nationally and globally.

In the meantime, the Russians are beginning to redeploy ground troops to Syria. It appears that the U.S. is going to be pushed into a war in one theater or another by the progressives masquerading as conservatives. This brings to mind the ratiocination for the initiation of hostilities in either theater. For North Korea, it is simple: The North Koreans are one of the three nations not involved in the global banking cartel. In addition, a war will increase U.S. hegemony in the area regardless of what happens to South Korea or Japan in the aftermath.

Regarding Syria, the Obama administration started a proxy/indirect war with Russia over Syria, with Russia backing Bashar al-Assad and the United States its own “created boogeyman” of ISIS/ISIL. Obama did not take Russia on directly, and Russia out-maneuvered him by suggesting he fight against his own creation…which he did…and then the Russians bombed the daylights out of them. Russia then declared the bombing campaign to be over and did a “drawdown,” while still leaving enough of a force to deter Obama, who fizzled out in pusillanimous splendor.

Syria is still on the table, though, because we don’t have that pipeline running out of Qatar through Northwestern Syria to cut off Gazprom and the Russians from supplying Europe with natural gas. In addition, the House of Saud wants Assad out of Syria, and in addition to this, the U.S. needs to take Syria if it wants (and it does want) to invade Iran. The Russians bombing ISIS/ISIL prevented any more oil from being stolen from Northwest Syria and trucked across the border, where it was sold to Erdogan and his brother.

The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and their paid-for congressmen and senators (such as McCain, Graham, Ryan, ad infinitum) are the ones who stand to benefit, either in stocks held or in kickbacks to either advance or snafu legislation or policy (depending on which benefits the firms). They did it with Ukraine, as well, but the threat of directly confronting Russia was as good as an orchiotomy for Obama, and we have a stalemate between the U.S.-created Kiev government of Poroshenko and the separatists of the Eastern Ukrainian provinces.

The powers that be are intent on having a war, regardless of the consequences and effects on noncombatants. A war would also be a way to prop up the administration’s flagging ratings. Domestically we have not emerged from the “soft” police state and liberal “legislative” powers of the Courts to remake Constitutional law and circumvent Congress and the President through selective interpretation of anything and everything: These things are the true “legacy” of Obama.

Now, where from there? We are at the threshold of another major war that could erupt in any of these areas. The choice is not up to us anymore, and it is surely being decided upon at this very moment.”

"Who Are You? How Do You Know?"

"Go without a coat when it's cold; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it's all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without. In times of hardship, you find out what you're made of and what you're capable of. If you're never tested, you'll never define your character."
- Henry Rollins

Free Download: Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"

"Letters From the Earth"
by Mark Twain

"This is a strange place, an extraordinary place, and interesting. There is nothing resembling it at home. The people are all insane, the other animals are all insane, the earth is insane, Nature itself is insane. Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at is worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the "noblest work of God." This is the truth I am telling you. And this is not a new idea with him, he has talked it through all the ages, and believed it. Believed it, and found nobody among all his race to laugh at it.

Moreover - if I may put another strain upon you - he thinks he is the Creator's pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes, and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to Him, and thinks He listens. Isn't it a quaint idea? Fills his prayers with crude and bald and florid flatteries of Him, and thinks He sits and purrs over these extravagancies and enjoys them. He prays for help, and favor, and protection, every day; and does it with hopefulness and confidence, too, although no prayer of his has ever been answered. The daily affront, the daily defeat, do not discourage him, he goes on praying just the same. There is something almost fine about this perseverance. I must put one more strain upon you: he thinks he is going to heaven!"
Complete online "Letters From the Earth" is here: 

Freely download "Letters From the Earth", in PDF format,  here:

"Letters from the Earth" is a posthumously published work of celebrated American author Mark Twain (1835–1910). It comprises essays written during a difficult time in Twain's life (1904-09), when he was deeply in debt and had recently lost his wife and one of his daughters. The content concerns morality and religion and strikes a sarcastic - Twain's own term throughout the book - tone. Initially, another of his daughters, Clara Clemens, objected to its publication in March 1939, probably because of its controversial and iconoclastic views on religion, claiming it presented a "distorted" view of her father. Henry Nash Smith helped change her position in 1960. Clara explained her change of heart in 1962 saying that "Mark Twain belonged to the world" and that public opinion had become more tolerant. She was also influenced to release the papers by her annoyance with Soviet reports that her father's ideas were being suppressed in the United States. The papers were selected, edited and sequenced for the book in 1939 by Bernard DeVoto.

"Letters from the Earth" consists of a series of commentaries in essay and short story form. Many of these pieces express Twain's discomfort with and disdain for Christianity, both as a theological position and a lifestyle. The title story consists of eleven letters written by the archangel Satan to archangels Gabriel and Michael, about his observations on the curious proceedings of earthly life and the nature of man's religions. Other pieces in the book include a morality tale told as a bedtime discussion with Twain's children, Susy and Clara, about a family of cats, and an essay explaining why an anaconda is morally superior to Man."

"How to Know Whether You are a Real Person or a Simulation"

"How to Know Whether You are a Real Person or a Simulation"
by Scott Adams

"Regular readers of this blog know about philosopher Nick Bostrom’s idea that it is far more likely we are simulations created by an advanced species than we are likely to be the original species itself. The reasoning here is that every sufficiently-advanced species will create multiple simulations in which the simulated creatures believe they are real. So the odds are high that we are one of the many simulations, not the original species that created them.

But how could you tell? I have a hypothesis. There should be a difference in how a real species and a simulated species views its own history. The real species would have a real history with full details. The simulations would have something closer to history on demand. And by that, I mean the history only comes into existence when current circumstances require that history. If we are software simulations, the simulator presumably has resource constraints. That means the simulation would not create every part of the universe just in case it is needed; it would create what it needed on demand. For example, a simulated universe would not contain details about undiscovered planets. Those details would be rendered by the simulation at the time of discovery. 

To put this in simpler terms, if we are real, the past influences what we do in the present. But if we are simulations, what we do in the present could be creating the past. For example, here’s an article describing how quantum physicists have determined that the present creates the past as needed. Freaky, right?

If we are simulations, we should expect to see two additional qualities in the universe as partial confirmation:

1. We should expect that we can’t travel past the boundaries of the simulation.
2. We wouldn’t be able to observe the basic building blocks of our reality.

Sure enough, we meet both criteria.

We can’t travel beyond the edge of the universe without exceeding the speed of light, which is theoretically impossible. That’s what you would expect in a simulation. You would have some sort of rule of physics to keep the simulated people from traveling beyond the edges. Here I’m assuming the universe is expanding at the same rate as the light that is traveling in all directions, so we can never catch up to it.

The hypothetical creators of our simulation would also try to prevent us from discovering that we are not made of anything real. And sure enough, when science looks at our basic building blocks at the quantum level, all we have is probability and strangeness. 

I have viewed the world as having backwards causation (the present creates the past) since I was a young man. In my worldview, an envelope you receive in the mail doesn’t have definite contents until it is observed. Up until the moment someone sees the contents, the envelope can contain anything that known history has not yet ruled out. This model of the world explains my observations every bit as well as the idea that the past determines my future. 

In a simulated reality, we would expect to see lots of confirmation bias and lots of cognitive dissonance. Do you know why? It keeps the programming simple for the author of our reality.

If we simulations saw our personal experiences accurately, the author of the simulation would have to make your view of history and mine fit together and be consistent on every variable. That would be massively complicated with billions of simulated humans doing things that create their histories on the fly. The solution to that complexity is to allow the simulated humans to hallucinate that whatever they observe, coincidentally fits both their histories and their worldviews. That way the simulation doesn’t need to create accurate histories for all the players. We can imagine our own histories as being accurate until events in the present make that impossible. Then, and only then, does the simulation decide on a definite past. 

Consider the news this week that a recent discovery suggests humans were in North America 100,000 years earlier than scientists believed. That finding is not yet confirmed, but it still works to make my point. Given that this new finding is not yet confirmed, our human history does not need to be rewritten by the simulation. But if new discoveries confirm that humans were in North America that early, our “real” history comes into existence at the moment our observations make it impossible for any other history to be true. Until then, both histories (and more) exist as probabilities, nothing more.

I assume I got some (or all) of the science wrong in this blog post. The only point I want to defend is the idea that a simulated universe would probably need to create its history based on current events, whereas a “real” universe would have an objective history that never changes."

"Anyone Who Isn't Confused..."

"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."
- Edward R. Murrow

X22 Report, “Do You Feel It, Something Just Changed”

X22 Report, “Do You Feel It, Something Just Changed”

"How It Really Is"

The Economy: “Have We Just Reached Peak Stock Market Absurdity?”

“Have We Just Reached Peak Stock Market Absurdity?”
by Michael Snyder

“Have you ever wondered how tech companies that have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year can somehow be worth billions of dollars according to the stock market? Because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse“, there are naysayers out there that take glee in mocking me by pointing out how well the stock market has been doing. This week, the Dow is flirting with 21,000 and the Nasdaq crossed the 6,000 threshold for the first time ever. But a lot of the “soaring stocks” that have been fueling this rally have been losing giant mountains of money every single year, and just like the first tech bubble this madness will eventually come to an end in a spectacular fiery crash in which investors will lose trillions of dollars.

Anyone that cannot see that we are in the midst of an absolutely insane stock market bubble simply does not understand economics. Every valuation indicator that you can possibly point to says that we are in a bubble of epic proportions, and history teaches us that all bubbles inevitably come to an end at some point.

Earlier today, I came across an article by Graham Summers in which he persuasively argued that the price to sales ratio indicates that stock prices are far more inflated than they were just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008: "Sales cannot be gimmicked. Either money comes in the door, or it doesn’t. And if a company is caught messing around with its sales numbers, someone is going to jail. For this reason, Price to Sales is perhaps the single most objective and clear means of measuring stock valuations. This metric, above all others, you can point to and say, “this is definitively accurate and has not been messed with.” On that note, as Bill King recently noted, today the S&P 500 is sporting a P/S ratio that is massively higher than it was in 2007 and is only marginally lower than it was during the Tech Bubble (the single largest stock bubble of all time for most measures)."

To me, looking at profitability is even more important than looking at sales. Large tech companies such as Twitter certainly have lots of revenue coming in, but many of them are deeply unprofitable. In fact, Twitter has never made a yearly profit, and over the past decade it has actually lost more than 2 billion dollars. But despite all of that, investors absolutely love Twitter stock. As I write this article, Twitter has a market cap of 11.5 billion dollars.

How in the world is that possible? How can a company that has never made a single penny be worth more than 11 billion dollars? Twitter is never going to be more popular than it is now. If it can’t make a profit at the peak of its popularity, when will it ever happen? And guess what? ABC News says that Twitter actually just reported a decline in revenue for the most recent quarter: "Twitter has never turned a profit, and for the first time since going public in 2013, it reported a decline in revenue from the previous year. Its revenue was $548.3 million, down 8 percent. Net loss was $61.6 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $79.7 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier." The only reason why financial black holes such as Twitter can continue to exist is because investors have been willing to pour endless amounts of money into them, but now that bubble is starting to burst.

In his most recent article, Simon Black discussed how Silicon Valley investors are starting to become more cautious because so many of these “unicorns” are now going bust. One of the examples that he cited in his article was a company called Clinkle: "(Given that investing in an early stage company is high-risk, investors might provide a few hundred thousand dollars in funding, at most. Clinkle raised $25 million.) The company went on to burn through just about every penny of its investors’ capital. There were even photos that surfaced of the 21-year old CEO literally setting bricks of cash on fire. At the end of the farce, Clinkle never actually managed to build its supposedly ‘world-changing’ product, and the website is now all but defunct."

Most of you may have never even heard of Clinkle, but I bet that you have definitely heard of Netflix. Netflix has revolutionized how movies are delivered to our homes, and that revolution helped drive movie rental stores to the brink of extinction. There is just one huge problem.  It turns out that Netflix is losing hundreds of millions of dollars: " Netflix might be my favorite example. The company’s most recent earnings report for the period ending March 31, 2017 shows, yet again, negative Free Cash Flow of MINUS $422 million. Not only is that a record loss, it’s 62% worse than in Q1/2016, and over twice as bad as Q1/2015. Netflix just keeps losing more and more money. But even though Netflix is losing money at a pace that is exceedingly difficult to imagine, investors absolutely love the company." I just checked, and at this moment Netflix has a market cap of 68.4 billion dollars.

Sometimes I just want to scream because of the absurdity of it all. Companies that are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year at the peak of their popularity should not be worth billions of dollars. Nobody can possibly argue that these enormously inflated stock prices are sustainable. Just like with every other stock market bubble in our history, this one is going to burst too, and I have been warning about this for quite a long time.

But for the moment, the naysayers are having their time to shine. Despite the fact that U.S. consumers are 12 trillion dollars in debt, and despite the fact that corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and despite the fact that the federal government is 20 trillion dollars in debt, they seem to be convinced that this irrational stock market bubble can keep inflating indefinitely. Perhaps they can all put their money where their mouth is by pouring all of their savings into Twitter, Netflix and other tech company stocks. In the end, we will see who was right and who was wrong.”
Insanity, stupidity, who knows what to call it anymore. 
But then at Christmas along came this:

"Looking for a unique Christmas gift for that special somebody (or the geologist in your life)? Nordstrom has just what you need with a suave, 21st Century update of the Pet Rock known as a "medium wrapped leather stone" that costs $85.
For a mere $85 at Nordstrom, this unique rock, 
or "medium wrapped leather stone," can be yours.”

“Choose this over food,” wrote one reviewer. “As a single mother, it is often difficult to put food on the table for my 5 children. However, when I saw this piece of rock, I couldn’t help it but to purchase this item. Yes, no one in my family will eat this month, however I have a piece of rock. I can’t believe the rock is made by hand too! I was always told rocks were made through thousands of years of erosion, guess I was wrong.” 
And they sold out!
I simply don't know the words for this level of incomprehensible idiocy. $85, for a rock... 
But, in the spirit of obviously successful free market capitalism, I too will jump in!

SALE! Arizona Desert Dust! SALE!

Why settle for a mere rock when you can have rare and unique "Arizona Desert Dust"? For the special introductory price of a $100 donation to the blog, payable at the PayPal link on the sidebar, we'll send you a 2 oz. vial of genuine beige "Arizona Desert Dust", authenticity guaranteed! And for a limited time we'll double your order for only $200! Such a deal! But hurry, quantities are limited by the size of the desert! Get your rare "Arizona Desert Dust" now, be the envy of your friends and neighbors! Be sure to leave your name and address shipping information in the PaylPal message to insure prompt order processing! Hurry, this offer won't last! Satisfaction guaranteed! Offer not available in stores, order now!

Words fail me sometimes at the astounding depths of human stupidity... lol
- CP

"A New Wave of Violence in the Valley"

"A New Wave of Violence in the Valley"
by Bill Bonner

‘Watch out, Bill. The originarios almost killed someone up the valley,’ our lawyer warned us. ‘He’s still in a coma.’ The latest news isn’t very encouraging. The originario problem was supposed to have calmed down.

Ranch invasion: Last year, they invaded our ranch and blocked the roads. We called the police, who came and cleared them out. Then, a judge ordered them to back off. That’s where it stood for nine months. When the populist government in Buenos Aires was thrown out at the end of 2015, we thought the originarios would give up. They lost their financial support. The local activist - who had been visiting our farm regularly and inciting insurrection - stopped coming. Apparently, he was out of funds.

But then, as though in desperation, a new wave of violence and absurdity began. We’ll finish this story in just a moment… First, let’s put it in perspective:

There are a lot of ways to steal. Computer hackers and holdup men operate privately and illegally. The police get on the case. But The Washington Post reports that the cops steal more property than the burglars: ‘…boil down all the numbers and caveats above and you arrive at a simple fact: In the United States, in 2014, more cash and property transferred hands via civil asset forfeiture than via burglary.’ Robbers only took about $4 billion. The sticky-fingered police took $5 billion, with no due process…and no charges filed.

Typically, with civil asset forfeiture, the police stop someone for a traffic violation. They find some cash in the car. They take the money and use it to put a Jacuzzi in the police station, or to beef up their pension funds. A well-financed victim with a clean police record will hire a lawyer and eventually get the money back…maybe. But often, the amount is too small to justify the cost of recovery. And many times, victims fear the police and are afraid to contest the matter.

Grand larceny: Government is meant to protect us from thieves. But the $5 billion taken by the police is peanuts compared to what the government takes from the tax system. This year, it’s expected to haul in some $3.5 trillion in stolen goods. The common myth is that this money is used to ‘run the government’. But it’s not true. A little, teeny bit of the money is used for genuinely useful government activities such as national defense. But most of it is merely transferred from the outsiders to the insiders…from the makers to the takers…and from the losers to the winners.

‘Taxes are the price we pay for civilization,’ said Oliver Wendell Holmes. What was he thinking? Civilization is based on win-win, voluntary exchanges and consensual relationships. It is courtship, not rape. Taxes are a residual form of slavery. People have no choice. They feel the lash on their backs. They bend over…pulling their plows…toting their bales…and lifting their burdens…for the benefit of someone else. Yes, of course the thieves say, ‘It is for your own good.’ But they would, wouldn’t they?

But let us turn back to the larceny going on right here in our own backyard…

Violence and absurdity: On Sunday, we saddled up two horses and rode through the pass that separates our ranch from our neighbors. The ride through the canyon takes a few hours, but it is breathtaking.
Bill traverses the canyon on horseback.

We trotted along in shallow water, admiring the huge rocks sculpted by wind and water. On the other side, there was an abandoned vineyard, and some fields that seem to have been neglected altogether. But we eventually came to a larger river, with green pastures on the other side.

Cops and robbers: That land has been in the same family for more than 100 years. It was bought by an enterprising fellow who made his living trading skins and mules in Chile, on the other side of the Andes.

The trek was almost unbelievably difficult. It passed through some of the highest and least hospitable land on Earth. But somehow, he made a profit and used the money to buy the farm - about 30,000 acres…with maybe only 200 acres usable for agriculture. He has long since died. Now his grandchildren own the land. One of them, a granddaughter, sold her interest to her brothers. But then she announced that she was an originario - the people pretending to have ‘indigenous rights’ and claiming almost all the big farms in the Calchaquí Valley. As such, she said she should own the whole place!

New crisis: When the Inca invaded the area in the 1400s, they seized the land and turned the locals - called the Diaguita - into slave laborers (‘taxpayers’, in modern parlance). What happened to them after is unknown. But the language disappeared even before the Spanish arrived. Then the conquistadors conquered the Inca Empire. They spent more than 100 years mopping up local resistance. And the Spanish crown gave land grants to its captains and cronies.

One of them got much of this section of the Calchaquí Valley. It passed from one owner to the next, by voluntary transactions, for the last 300 years, down to your humble editor. Over the years, groups of local ‘Indians’ staged uprisings. None successfully. Most were put down in bloody reprisals. But now, a law enacted in faraway Buenos Aires has created a new crisis.

The law gives ‘indigenous people’ the right to claim the land where they have lived according to their ‘traditional ways’. Trouble is, who’s to say who is ‘indigenous’ and who lives ‘traditionally’? Is a guy with a pickup truck living traditionally? No trace of the language or culture of the Diaguita remains, say the experts. But now people declare themselves ‘Diaguita’ and claim land that belongs to someone else.

Fuzzy laws: In one case, the local ‘Diaguita’ wanted the house of a small electrical contractor. They moved in and said they weren’t leaving unless ordered to do so by the courts. Here, courts can move slowly, especially when they are dealing with an issue as vague and mushy as ‘indigenous land titles’. In fact, the poor man had to live with these intruders for more than a year until a court finally tossed them out.

Fuzzy laws produce fuzzy outcomes. People see an opening for mischief. In the northern part of the valley, a local ‘indigenous person, a Diaguita’ has proclaimed himself ‘chief’ of the tribe. It didn’t seem to matter that his mother was German, or that his father, who may or may not have roots in the area, refused to recognize him.

Across the mountains in front of our house, a friend has a small farm. She and her husband are from Switzerland. They were enchanted by the people, the place and the project - a biodynamic vineyard. She uses no chemicals. She does almost all the work herself, by hand, or with a workhorse. She has one employee, who helps her and looks after the place when she is gone. He lives in a house on the property. Well, she apparently had a falling out with her employee. We don’t know what was said or why. But the employee had an ace up his sleeve. He said he was an originario and that the place should belong to him. If she didn’t like it, she could leave!

There seems to be no end to it. All a person has to do is declare himself an originario - with no evidence and no proof necessary - and he can set himself up as the owner of your land. Then, depending on the politics of the situation, you may be able to hold on to it…or maybe not. We’re taking no chances. We’re claiming originario status for ourselves.”