Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Fear..."

"Fear's useless. Either something bad happens or it doesn't:
 If it doesn't, you've wasted time being afraid, and if it does, 
you've wasted time that you could have spent sharpening your weapons."
- Sarah Rees Brennan
“Litany Against Fear”

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”

- Frank Herbert, “Bene Gesserit”, “Dune”
“Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
- George Addair

“Functional Illiterates Trying To Erase History”

“Functional Illiterates Trying To Erase History”
by James Quinn

"True patriotism sometimes requires men to act exactly contrary, at one period, than it does 
another, and the motive which impels them- the desire to do right- is precisely the same."

"I consider myself a student of history. I’ve always been fascinated by the personalities who drove events throughout history. I probably would have been a history major in college if I didn’t feel the need to make enough money to support myself and my family. I chose a business major and decided studying history would be my hobby. Over the years I’ve taken a particular interest in the Civil War. You could even call me a Civil War buff.

I’ve probably read 60 books on the Civil War, from Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote and numerous other historians. I’ve visited the Gettysburg battlefield a half dozen times, as it is only 150 miles from my home. My basement office is decorated with six prints depicting various scenes from the Civil War. One depicts Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg, another depicts Jackson leading his troops through Richmond, another depicts Grant taking command of Union forces, another shows Chamberlain leading the charge down Little Round Top, another portrays Lee and Longstreet making the fateful decision to send Pickett’s men on their futile charge into history, and the last showing the slaughter during Pickett’s charge.

I’ve even taken an executive education course in leadership where the final day is a trip to Gettysburg where a park ranger guides you through the three day battle and the professor asks you to assess the leadership shown by officers on both sides during that tide turning battle. My fascination with the Civil War isn’t based on rooting for one side or the other. I wanted to understand the motivations of the main characters and understand why and how they fought that bloody war. There were so many fateful decisions, errors of judgement, acts of courage, acts of cowardice, brilliantly bold maneuvers, and just plain good and bad luck.

Robert E. Lee, before the outbreak of the war, was overwhelmingly regarded as the finest military mind in the U.S. army. Winfield Scott offered him command of all Union forces at the outbreak of hostilities. But he chose allegiance to his state of Virginia, rather than the Federal government. He didn’t fight for slavery. He freed his slaves. He was fighting for states’ rights. He was an honorable God fearing noble man. Stonewall Jackson was an extremely religious man who waged war with a passion, but also taught Sunday School to slaves. Lee and Jackson must be viewed in the context of the 19th century rather than being judged by the standards of the 21st century.

The vast majority of Confederate soldiers who did the fighting and dying during that war didn’t own slaves. They weren’t fighting to maintain slavery. They were fighting because a foreign army had invaded their land. In 1860 this nation was more an amalgamation of states than a centralized government. States still had a tremendous amount of power and leeway to run their states the way they chose. The ever increasing power of a central authority occurred during and after the Civil War. The South were not the bad guys. Their leaders, generals and soldiers were not evil. They were Americans.

The revisionist history now being peddled by the left wing media and their non-thinking acolytes lacks a factual basis, historical context and a true understanding of history. The Civil War was the climax of decades of tension between the North and the South over states’ rights, economic policies, slavery, and a myriad of other complex issues. Examined within the context of generational theory, it was a Fourth Turning that was unavoidable. It was a crucial important event in U.S. history. It wasn’t the shameful episode portrayed by the brain dead faux journalists babbling on CNN and MSNBC.

Illegally pulling down statues of Confederate soldiers and taking videos of “brave” unemployed liberal arts major social justice warriors kicking the Confederate soldier is what passes for activism in today’s warped society. Liberal mayors and city councils across the south are falling all over themselves wasting time and taxpayer money to remove statues of Confederate generals to appease the left and make a display of how anti-racist they can be. Meanwhile, their cities are bankrupt, their infrastructure is decaying, black crime is rampant and their education systems matriculate functionally illiterate deranged snowflakes into society.

These courageous left wing politicians, like the mayor of New Orleans, have statues removed in the middle of the night to avoid protests by those who understand you cannot erase history by removing statues and names. In a hysterical development, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh on Monday said in a statement she intended to move forward in removing several city statutes, including those of Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I suppose the soaring murder rate, blacks rioting and burning down neighborhoods, crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, and white flight is due to a few Confederate statues. It’s good to see this diverse mayor has her priorities in order.

The ignorance and disregard for history knows no bounds for generations taught to feel rather think in our government run indoctrination centers known as public schools. The left wing media reinforces their ignorance with misinformation, fake news and government sanctioned propaganda. Snowflakes across the land melt at anything they are instructed to find offensive. Everything and everyone who doesn’t agree with their half baked views are declared racists.

Pointing out that leftist antifa thugs, without permits to protest, initiated the violence in Charlottesville is racist. The uproar against Trump’s truthful assessment of the situation by CNN, MSNBC and Fox proves there isn’t a wit of difference among these corporate media outlets. True colors are revealed. The ongoing coup attempt against Trump continues unabated.

Trump’s impromptu press conference and his push back of this false narrative was a thing of beauty. The hypocrisy of the left and their utter contempt for facts must be thrown back in their faces at every opportunity. Across the country, 718 Confederate monuments and statues remain, with nearly 300 of them in Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina. There are also 109 public schools named for Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis or other icons of the Civil War-era South. Will the left be satisfied when all 718 monuments are destroyed and all 109 schools are renamed Oprah Winfrey Middle School? No. They will find something else to be offended about, and violently attack again.

The funniest part about watching these social justice warriors wail and gnash their teeth about the racism of these monuments is knowing these unemployed functional illiterates couldn’t tell you when the Civil War occurred, name two major battles, name five generals, provide a death count within 250,000, or fill in the blank in the phrase Surrender at __________. They don’t know jack sh*t about history, the Civil War, Lincoln’s true feelings about blacks, or the fact the Democratic Party is the party which suppressed blacks for one hundred years following the Civil War. Only truly ignorant snowflakes think they can erase history by protesting it and trying to destroy monuments to those who fought and died for a cause they believed in.

Do these left wing zealots have any sense of awareness? Maybe they were too busy studying for their gender studies finals to see the reports of the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist monuments in territory they had captured. Zealots, terrorists, and extremists attempt to destroy symbols that offend them as a way to prove their strength and power. In reality, they destroy what others have built in a feckless effort to boost their self-esteem. Intellectual lightweights attempt to bring others down because they realize their lack of intelligence and inability to get ahead in life has to be blamed on someone else.
If these social justice warrior weaklings were transported back in time 154 years to the Gettysburg battlefield where real men displayed real courage and bravery, they would be covered in their own urine cowering behind a tree as Pickett’s charge commenced. Could you imagine any of the Soros paid professional antifa protestors charging across an open field towards certain death? Those pussies would be high tailing it south as fast as their fashion designer sneakers would take them.

Trump was absolutely correct in asking, “Where does it end?” Washington owned slaves. Do we get rid of all dollar bills and quarters? Do we change the name of our capital? Do we change the name of Washington & Lee University to Obama & Spike Lee University? Do we blow up the Washington Memorial? Jefferson owned slaves. Do we get rid of nickles? How about the Jefferson Memorial?

Why stop only in our country? The Egyptian pyramids were built by slaves. Should we tear those down? If these are symbols of hatred and racism that must be destroyed, why do we never hear calls from the left for the destruction of the Nazi death camps. Talk about symbols of hate. Why would we want to remember the holocaust? It couldn’t be that it doesn’t fit the left’s narrative.

This Confederate monument narrative is designed by the left to provoke a backlash from whites who are tired of being scorned, ridiculed, belittled and called racists, rednecks and deplorables by so called open minded progressives. It’s working. The cold race war is beginning to turn hot. The president has no intention of trying to bring the two sides together because it’s impossible at this point. That’s how Fourth Turnings roll. The mood of the country will continue to darken. Reactions to these types of events will intensify. More blood will be shed. It’s too bad these functional illiterates didn’t pay attention in history class or ever read a book. They are going to learn some harsh lessons over the next decade."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Johnny Reb Was No Terrorist"

"Johnny Reb Was No Terrorist"
by Bill Bonner

"St Augustine blamed the fall of Rome on the failure of its pagan gods. Historian Edward Gibbon took the opposite view: He thought the empire had been weakened by Augustine’s god. Here at the Diary, we take no position on what brought down Rome. But we have some ideas about which gods will bring down the US empire.

Side by side: Readers will note that we’ve been using the term ‘god’ loosely. It is not the same as God, for whom we maintain a wary reverence. ‘Gods’, on the other hand, are easily mixed up with heroes and myths…and other things that are largely fraudulent or incomprehensible.

Someday, perhaps more precision will be brought to bear. But that will take more hard thinking than we have time for today. We are still on our summer vacation. As a matter of habit and a point of honor, we do no hard thinking in August. This is a season to let the thoughts come easily, like a gin and tonic on a warm afternoon. And we remind readers that the subject of the Diary - at least the ostensible subject - is money. So you can be sure that our lofty ruminations on the divine will return to the muddy sty, eventually, and wallow in filthy lucre.

Wasting no time, we look at the dots. How do these Confederate monuments connect to anything else?For more than 150 years, Yankees and Rebels…abolitionists and racists…conservative and liberal…red and blue…have lived side by side, with no evident desire to murder each other. They tolerated each other’s opinions, each other’s statues, and each other’s gods.

What changed? Why is the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument - a fixture of the Bolton Hill area of Baltimore for the last 114 years, with no word of protest even from the Yankee veterans who lived in the area when it was erected - suddenly faced with a wrecking ball? Our mother, who died a few months ago, lived nearby and recalled playing on the monument as a child.

But now, City Councilman Brandon Scott says it is not enough to remove it. ‘These people were terrorists and traitors,’ he said yesterday, calling for public destruction of the monument. Poor Johnny Reb. He answered the call to serve his nation…taking up arms to protect it against invaders coming down from the North. And now he’s branded a ‘terrorist’! Why? Why now?

American depression: President Trump says we have a great economy with low unemployment, low inflation, and high stock prices. He’s creating new jobs and making America great again. He’s got a ‘tremendous tax cut’ coming…that will give a ‘tremendous stimulus’ to the economy…and create a ‘tremendous number of new jobs’.

Mr Trump is in the White House and the gods are in their heavens; what’s not to like?But the president errs and the gods fail.

As to the economy, over the past 18 years, these Diary pages…and the pages of our previous e-letter The Daily Reckoning…have recorded its decline and fall. We have not been able to confirm this - yet - but we believe that much of the country, perhaps the majority of it geographically, has been in depression for many years. Just go to the industrial heartland and have a look around.

As a whole, the US economy shows only modest growth, but even that is mostly an illusion caused by the deliberate miscalculation of inflation. Were the raw numbers adjusted for consumer price inflation, as it was reckoned during the Reagan administration, the whole country would be seeing on-again, off-again recession, much like Japan since 1989.

The jobs numbers are similarly scammy. They purport to show a nation at full employment. But the actual number of people working, as a percentage of the population, has fallen back to levels last seen 40 years ago. Good-wage jobs in the manufacturing sector have disappeared. In their place are low-paying jobs in the HES - health, education, services - complex. They leave men - particularly in the Midwest - out of luck with few ways to earn enough money to support their families…and a lot of idle time on their hands to google ‘Schwarze Sonne’ on the internet.

Hollow promises: Not only have many men lost their place in the family, but also their country has lost its place in the world. A recent study by the International Monetary Fund reports: ‘For some time now there has been a general sense that household incomes are stagnating for a large share of the population, job opportunities are deteriorating, prospects for upward mobility are waning, and economic gains are increasingly accruing to those that are already wealthy. This sense is generally borne out by economic data and when comparing the U.S. with other advanced economies.’

And Bloomberg elaborated: ‘The U.S. has been losing ground relative to other OECD members in most measures of living standards. And in the areas where the U.S. hasn’t lost ground (poverty rates, high school graduation rates), it was at or near the bottom of the heap to begin with.’

The clear message is that the US - the richest nation on Earth, as is frequently proclaimed, although it’s actually not the richest per capita - is increasingly becoming the developed world’s poor relative as far as the actual living standards of most of its population go. As he loses ground at home, the typical citizen loses faith in his gods. The promises of everlasting prosperity - financed by fake money, funded with debt, and managed by the feds - seem hollow and worthless.

He looks for something else to feel good about. What does he find? Mars, the god of war. Generals still swagger. Soldiers relish their firepower. And from their La-Z-Boys, middle-aged citizens in Dubuque or Anaheim boast that they can kick butt anywhere in the world.

But the gods of war fail most miserably of all. For 16 years…the longest war in US history…the Pentagon, assisted by profit-seeking cronies, has been unable to win in Afghanistan. More broadly, they’ve been romping around the Mideast for nearly the entire century with nothing to show for it. Except the obvious things: more than 5,000 dead soldiers, more than 1,500 missing legs, and some $7 trillion hustled from the Main Street economy to the Deep State’s enforcement arm."

More to come…”

Musical Interlude: Deuter, “Loving Touch”

Deuter, “Loving Touch”

"The Potemkin Society"

"The Potemkin Society"
by The Zman

"A Potemkin village is a fake community built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is. The term comes from stories that Grigory Potemkin erected phony portable settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River in order to fool Catherine II, the Russian Empress. After she passed, the village would be disassembled and then reassembled further down so she could pass another nice village. The story is probably exaggerated, but the concept is a useful one so the term has stuck with us.

It’s a useful term that came to mind in the run up to the Charlottesville rally. It came to mind after the riots in Berkeley. In both cases, you have fake cities that exist for no real reason, other than there is a government run college in them. In both cases, the people in charge are ridiculously unserious people, who should not be in charge of a convenience store, much less a small city. That’s because the people who put them into office are just as ridiculously unserious. They’re adult children playing grownup on the public dime.

This is not just a small city issue. The general lack of seriousness among the political class seems to be a byproduct of managerialism. Look around Washington and it is a parade of naive, clueless airheads produced by our finest colleges. It’s not just an American phenomenon. Europe’s leaders are ever bit as ridiculous. The Europeans are creating a class of politicians that are close to fictional. Emmanuel Macron, the new leader of France, may as well be a hired actor, which is why he is a disaster.

Now, Macron’s problems are not all his own making. France, like the rest of Europe, is a financial knot that can never be untied. A lot of it has to do with being vassal states for the last 70 years, but a lot of is demographics resulting from socialism. When you make having babies expensive, people stop having babies. Macron inherited a country that is old, expensive and in debt. Still, he’s proving to be incapable of doing the serious business of building coalitions and getting his program implemented.

That’s the thing you see all over Europe. The political elites carry on like administrators of a university, rather than serious political leaders. Europe is facing an invasion from the south and instead of addressing it, they engage in public pose downs. The few serious countries, like Poland, find themselves on the receiving end of the elite’s wrath, not because they are wrong, but because they are making the barren spinsters running the EU look bad. The European Union is no more serious than a faculty lounge.

Again, this is probably as much a result of managerialism as anything else. The way Western politics is run is that some segment of the political class are paid representatives of the financial elite. Another segment relies on popular support for their position. Then there is a group of professionals, who do the hard work of figuring out how to get things done. Managerialism does not produce this class of leader. Instead, it is pompous dilettantes and hired men, whose loyalty is bought by the billionaire class.

Even the financial elite struggles with a lack of seriousness. Kevin Plank is supposed to be an important businessman, yet he goes in for ridiculous showboating like this. Under Armor makes overpriced underwear that they primarily sell to blacks and teenagers. In a just society, it would not exist, because it preys on the worst instincts of the weakest minds in society. But, men are not angels and there will always be rich men who make money off the poor and stupid. The least they can do is act like adults in public.

But that’s a rare thing in the financial elite these days. Google is the most recent example of how unserious people are incapable of managing simple difficulties. Instead of strutting around like a retarded peacock, the Google CEO could have easily made the whole thing disappear. A check and an NDA would have put a quick end to a trivial issue. Instead he let some old lesbians lead him around by the nose and the result was a fiasco that promises to drag on into the court for years.

The common thread in our public discourse is that our leaders are more concerned with playing make believe than doing their duty. That’s why the word “duty” is never mentioned in public discourse. When was the last time anyone heard a politicians or a rich man talk publicly about his duty to society? The closest you get is some halfwit sportsball player talking about how he needs to give back to his community. Otherwise, we are ruled by a class of people with the maturity and fortitude of prep school teenagers.

That’s what managerialism curdles into in time. What the giants of our side, guys like Sam Francis and  James Burnham could not see in their time, is becoming clear in our time. The credentialism and parochialism of the managerial state produces people barely capable of working on a local school board committee. Their lack of exposure to the realities of the human condition cripples them spiritually. They become ruthless, overgrown adolescents playing dress up as they ascend into positions of authority.

That brings us back to Berkeley and Charlottesville. If the political class is unable and unwilling to manage the antics of Antifa and Jason Kessler, what are they going to do when smart and resourceful antagonists come along? The morons waving flags and throwing piss-bombs at each other are the easy problem to manage. The hard problem are the well organized guys with goals beyond getting themselves on TV. As I’ve said many times, Trump was a warning shot. The political class better get serious in a hurry.”

“Lost But Won”

Younes Marxieu, “Lost But Won”

“Brave Spirits: Remembering Who We Are”

“Brave Spirits: Remembering Who We Are”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“As spiritual beings having human experiences we are on an important mission to learn and grow here on earth. Most of us are familiar with the idea that we are not human beings having spiritual experiences; instead, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We hear this and even though we may experience a resounding yes in our bodies, we may not take the time to really acknowledge the truth of these statements. Integrating this idea into how we view ourselves can broaden our sense of who we are and help us appreciate ourselves as brave spirits on an important mission to learn and grow here on earth.

As spiritual beings, we are visitors in this physical realm. The fact that we came here and lost all memory of what happened to us before we were born is one of the many reasons that it takes so much courage for a soul to incarnate on earth. This is why spiritual inquiry so often feels like a remembering—because it is. Remembering that we are spiritual beings is part of the work that we are here on earth to do. When we operate from a place of remembering, we tap into the wisdom that our spirit accumulated even before we stepped into this lifetime. Remembering who we are can give us the patience to persevere when we become overwhelmed or frustrated. It can give us the courage to work through the most daunting challenges and help us trust the ancient wisdom we carry that is offered to us by our intuition.

We have chosen to be on earth because there is something we want to learn that can only happen by inhabiting a body. Some of us are here to repay a debt, learn about love, or teach forgiveness. Most of us are here for a combination of reasons, we carry this information in our souls, all we have to do is remember. As you go through your journey, try not to forget how brave you are, being here now. Honor yourself.”
- http://www.dailyom.com

The Universe

"It's not that some people in your life are mean-spirited, shortsighted, and ignorant; it's that they're grand, brilliant, and magnificent. Fellow adventurers who, at the peak of their glory, in worlds before this one, asked to dance with you in time and space, however briefly, so that they might learn a bit faster than otherwise. And you know how you love healing. It's true. Although for some reason, many also thought that here, every day would be Friday. No idea where that came from."
"In the presence of greatness," 
    The Universe

"Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!"

X22 Report, “Trade Negotiations Begin, The Elite Fire Back With Threats”

X22 Report, “Trade Negotiations Begin, The Elite Fire Back With Threats”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, 
"The World Is Changing And Nations Are Waking Up To What's Really Going On"

Musical Interlude: 2CELLOS, “Thunderstruck”

2CELLOS, “Thunderstruck”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Just after moonrise on August 12 this grain of cosmic sand fell by the sea, its momentary flash part of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. To create the Perseid meteors, dust along the orbit of periodic comet Swift-Tuttle is swept up by planet Earth. The cometary debris plows through the atmosphere at nearly 60 kilometers per second and is quickly vaporized at altitudes of 100 kilometers or so. 
Click image for larger size.
Perseid meteors are often bright and colorful, like the one captured in this sea and night skyscape. Against starry sky and faint Milky Way the serene view looks south and west across the Adriatic Sea, from the moonlit Dalmatian coast toward the island of Brac.”

Chet Raymo, “Speaking of Water…”

  “Speaking of Water…”
by Chet Raymo

“How many water molecules- H2O- are there in the world's oceans? This is the kind of time-wasting calculation I love doing, but I will leave it as an exercise for one of you.

Look up the mass of a proton in grams. A water molecule has essentially the mass of 18 protons (hydrogen=1, oxygen=8 protons + 8 neutrons; remember, this is an order of magnitude calculation). A cubic centimeter of water has (by definition) a mass of one gram. Divide for the number of water molecules in a cubic centimeter of water.

How many cubic centimeters in the oceans? Look up the radius of the Earth (in centimeters). The area of a sphere is 4πr2, and about three-quarters of the Earth's surface is ocean. The average depth is about 4 kilometers, or 4x105 centimeters. You're home free. Make it easy. Use powers of ten and round off generously.

And what did you get? A very big number indeed. A number so big it is essentially meaningless. Its meaning is its meaninglessness. Its meaning is the almost incomprehensible gulf between the world of our senses and the world of atoms. Between what we are and what we are made of.

Why even do such a calculation? Only to show that the human brain can frolic in the world of atoms and molecules with a pencil on the back of an envelope. Go for it. Have fun.”

"We Are Free..."

“The worst that could happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.”

“Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, an arm’s length behind us. Death is the only wise adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that everything is going wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can turn to his death and ask if that is so. His death will tell him that he is wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. His death will tell him, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.’”
- Carlos Castaneda

The Poet: Mary Oliver, “The Journey”

“The Journey”

“One day you finally knew 
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you 
kept shouting 
their bad advice-
though the whole house 
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug 
at your ankles. 
"Mend my life!" 
each voice cried. 
But you didn't stop. 
You knew what you had to do, 
though the wind pried 
with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations, 
though their melancholy 
was terrible. 
It was already late 
enough, and a wild night, 
and the road full of fallen 
branches and stones. 
But little by little, 
as you left their voices behind, 
the stars began to burn 
through the sheets of clouds, 
and there was a new voice 
which you slowly 
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper 
into the world 
determined to do 
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.”

~  Mary Oliver

"Pruning a Tree"

"Pruning a Tree"
by Bernie Siegel

"I have always found it hard to prune a tree and relatively easy to operate on someone. That may seem coldhearted, but when I am operating on someone I am removing a disease or correcting some defect in the person's body. I can remove dead limbs from trees, but any other pruning is upsetting because I don't want to saw through something that is alive and appears healthy.

One day I was standing in our yard next to our mimosa tree with Jeff, who is a master gardener. "Dad, you need to prune this," Jeff said, pointing to the tree. The branch he was pointing to was very large and covered with many beautiful blossoms. I told him I didn't mind that it grew at an odd angle. I didn't care about the shape or symmetry of the tree. The branch was alive and bearing blossoms and I didn't want to lose it.

Jeff listened to my impassioned plea and then said, "Dad, if you don't prune the tree, it will die." Now he was speaking my language. If we were dealing with a threat to the life of my patient, then I could understand my consultant's advice and the need to operate. I got out my saw and removed the limb.

What did Jeff and the mimosa tree teach me about life? There are times when you must be willing to give up a part of yourself to save your life. In some cases, it means literally giving up a part of your body or the loss of the use of limbs or organs.

How much you regret giving part of yourself up depends on how you define yourself. It is easier to lose parts of your body if you understand your essence and realize you are more than the sum of your parts. You have a spirit and soul that cannot be altered by pruning. Yes, the envelope can be altered and the container can be crushed, but the essence remains unaltered. Your faith and love can continue to exist no matter how badly your physical body is damaged.

This is a difficult lesson for most of us. Take a look around and you'll see the people who have gone on living and loving despite disfigurement, paralysis or loss of limb. If you see their example, learn from them and realize that you are a spirit. Then you will understand how to give up physical parts of yourself and still be capable of performing acts for the greater good.

I removed a portion of the lovely mimosa so it could go on providing us with beauty for many years to come. I believe the tree understood this more easily than we do. Whether you are pruned by surgery, aging or disease, accept the fact that you must give up portions of yourself, at times, in order to survive and continue growing toward the light. Remember that losing one part may lead to the enhancement of others. Your work of art is not finished until the day you die.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Whangamata, Auckland, New Zealand. Thanks for stopping by!

"Pure And Simple..."

"Everything Americans think they know, they learned from a televised morality play. It's all theater. You root for some good guy and boo some bad guy. You pick your own, but you dance to the tune of the men running the show. It's mind control, pure and simple, and if there is an American immune to it, then he is probably living in a snow cave somewhere in Alaska."
- Gypsy Joe Hess 

"What Would You Tell Him?"

"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - what would you tell him to do?"
"I... don't know. What could he do? What would you tell him?"
"To shrug."
- Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

"Francisco's Money Speech"

“Francisco’s Money Speech”

"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard - the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money - the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law - men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims - then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors- when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed."
An excerpt from “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.
Full text of “Francisco’s Money Speech” is here:
Freely download "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand, here:

"Why We're Doomed: Our Economy's Toxic Inequality"

"Why We're Doomed: Our Economy's Toxic Inequality"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"Anyone who thinks our toxic financial system is stable is delusional. Why are we doomed? Those consuming over-amped "news" feeds may be tempted to answer the culture wars, nuclear war with North Korea or the Trump Presidency.

The one guaranteed source of doom is our broken financial system, which is visible in this chart of income inequality from the New York Times: "Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart":
While the essay's title is our broken economy, the source of this toxic concentration of income, wealth and power in the top 1/10th of 1% is more specifically our broken financial system.

What few observers understand is rapidly accelerating inequality is the only possible output of a fully financialized economy. Various do-gooders on the left and right propose schemes to cap this extraordinary rise in the concentration of income, wealth and power, for example, increasing taxes on the super-rich and lowering taxes on the working poor and middle class, but these are band-aids applied to a metastasizing tumor: financialization, which commoditizes labor, goods, services and financial instruments and funnels the income and wealth to the very apex of the wealth-power pyramid.

Take a moment to ponder what this chart is telling us about our financial system and economy. 35+ years ago, lower income households enjoyed the highest rates of income growth; the higher the income, the lower the rate of income growth. This trend hasn't just reversed; virtually all the income gains are now concentrated in the top 1/100th of 1%, which has pulled away from the top 1%, the top 5% and the top 10%, as well as from the bottom 90%.

The fundamental driver of this profoundly destabilizing dynamic is the disconnect of finance from the real-world economy. The roots of this disconnect are debt: when we borrow from future earnings and energy production to fund consumption today, we are using finance to ramp up our consumption of real-world goods and services. In small doses, this use of finance to increase consumption of real-world goods and services is beneficial: economies with access to credit can rapidly boost expansion in ways that economies with little credit cannot.

But the process of financialization is not benign. Financialization turns evertything into a commodity that can be traded and leveraged as a financial entity that is no longer firmly connected to the real world.

The process of financialization requires expertise in the financial game, and it places a premium on immense flows of capital and opaque processes: for example, the bundling of debt such as mortgages or student loans into instruments that can be sold and traded. These instruments can then become the foundation of an entirely new layer of instruments that can be sold and traded. This pyramiding of debt-based "assets" spreads risk throughout the economy while aggregating the gains into the hands of the very few with access to the capital and expertise needed to pass the risk and assets off onto others while keeping the gains.

Profit flows to what's scarce, and in a financialized economy, goods and services have become commodities, i.e. they are rarely scarce, because somewhere in the global economy new supplies can be brought online. What's scarce in a financialized economy is specialized knowledge of financial games such as tax avoidance, arbitrage, packaging collateralized debt obligations and so on.

Though the billionaires who have actually launched real-world businesses get the media attention- Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, et al.- relatively few of the top 1/10th of 1% actually created a real-world business; most are owners of capital with annual incomes of $10 million to $100 million that are finance-generated. This is only possible in a financialized economy in which finance has become increasingly detached from the real-world economy.

Those with the capital and skills to reap billions in profits from servicing and packaging student loan debt have no interest in whether the education being purchased with the loans has any utility to the indebted students, as their profits flow not from the real world but from the debt itself.

This is how we've ended up with an economy characterized by profound dysfunction in the real world of higher education, healthcare, etc., and immense fortunes being earned by a few at the top of the pyramid from the financialized games that have little to no connection to the real-world economy.

Anyone who thinks our toxic financial system is stable is delusional. If history is any guide (and recall that Human Nature hasn't changed in the 5,000 uears of recorded history), this sort of accelerating income/wealth/ power inequality is profoundly destabilizing- economically, politically and socially.

All the domestic headline crises- culture wars, opioid epidemic, etc.- are not causes of discord: they are symptoms of the inevitable consequences of a toxic financial system that has broken our economy, our system of governance and our society."