Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Musical Interlude: The Grateful Dead, "Touch of Grey"

The Grateful Dead, "Touch of Grey"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uby6jFCDjE

"We will get by, we will survive..."

"Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth"

"Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth"
by Chris Hedges

"The spectacular rise of human civilization—its agrarian societies, cities, states, empires and industrial and technological advances ranging from irrigation and the use of metals to nuclear fusion—took place during the last 10,000 years, after the last ice age. Much of North America was buried, before the ice retreated, under sheets eight times the height of the Empire State Building. This tiny span of time on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old is known as the Holocene Age. It now appears to be coming to an end with the refusal of our species to significantly curb the carbon emissions and pollutants that might cause human extinction. The human-induced change to the ecosystem, at least for many thousands of years, will probably make the biosphere inhospitable to most forms of life.

The planet is transitioning under our onslaught to a new era called the Anthropocene. This era is the product of violent conquest, warfare, slavery, genocide and the Industrial Revolution, which began about 200 years ago, and saw humans start to burn a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum. The numbers of humans climbed to over 7 billion. Air, water, ice and rock, which are interdependent, changed. Temperatures climbed. The Anthropocene, for humans and most other species, will most likely conclude with extinction or a massive die-off, as well as climate conditions that will preclude most known life forms. We engineered our march toward collective suicide although global warming was first identified in 1896 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius.

The failure to act to ameliorate global warming exposes the myth of human progress and the illusion that we are rational creatures. We ignore the wisdom of the past and the stark scientific facts before us. We are entranced by electronic hallucinations and burlesque acts, including those emanating from the centers of power, and this ensures our doom. Speak this unpleasant truth and you are condemned by much of society. The mania for hope and magical thinking is as seductive in the Industrial Age as it was in pre-modern societies.

Ate and Nemesis were minor deities who were evoked in ancient Greek drama. Those infected with hubris, the Greeks warned, lost touch with the sacred, believed they could defy fate, or fortuna, and abandoned humility and virtue. They thought of themselves as gods. Their hubris blinded them to human limits and led them to carry out acts of suicidal folly, embodied in the god Ate. This provoked the wrath of the gods. Divine retribution, in the form of Nemesis, led to tragedy and death and then restored balance and order, once those poisoned with hubris were eradicated. “Too late, too late you see the path of wisdom,” the Chorus in the play “Antigone” tells Creon, ruler of Thebes, whose family has died because of his hubris.

“We’re probably not the first time there’s been a civilization in the universe,” Adam Frank, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester and the author of “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth,” told me when we met in New York. “The idea that we’re destroying the planet gives us way too much credit,” he went on. “Certainly, we’re pushing the earth into a new era. If we look at the history of the biosphere, the history of life on earth, in the long run, the earth is just going to pick that up and do what is interesting for it. It will run new evolutionary experiments. We, on the other hand, may not be a part of that experiment.”

Civilizations probably have risen elsewhere in the universe, developed complex societies and then died because of their own technological advances. Every star in the night sky is believed to be circled by planets, some 10 billion trillion of which astronomers such as Frank Drake estimate are hospitable to life. “If you develop an industrial civilization like ours, the route is going to be the same,” Adam Frank said. “You’re going to have a hard time not triggering climate change.”

Astronomers call the inevitable death of advanced civilizations across the universe “the great filter.” Robin Hanson in the essay, “The Great Filter—Are We Almost Past It?” argues that advanced civilizations hit a wall or a barrier that makes continued existence impossible. The more that human societies evolve, according to Hanson, the more they become “energy intensive” and ensure their own obliteration. This is why, many astronomers theorize, we have not encountered other advanced civilizations in the universe. They destroyed themselves.

“For a civilization to destroy itself through nuclear war, it has to have certain emotional characteristics,” Frank said. “You can imagine certain civilizations saying, ‘I’m not building those [nuclear weapons]. Those are crazy.’ But climate change, you can’t get away from. If you build a civilization, you’re using huge amounts of energy. The energy feeds back on the planet, and you’re going to push yourself into a kind of Anthropocene. It’s probably universal.”

Frank said that our inability to project ourselves into a future beyond our own life spans makes it hard for us to grasp the reality and consequences of severe climate change. Scenarios for dramatic climate change often center around the year 2100, when most adults living now will be dead. Although this projection may turn out to be overly optimistic given the accelerating rate of climate change, it allows societies to ignore—because it is outside the life span of most living adults—the slow-motion tsunami that is occurring.

“We think we’re not a part of the biosphere—that we’re above it—that we’re special,” Frank said. “We’re not special.” “We’re the experiment that the biosphere is running now,” he said. “A hundred million years ago, it was grassland. Grasslands were a new evolutionary innovation. They changed the planet, changed how the planet worked. Then the planet went on and did things with it. Industrial civilization is the latest experiment. We will keep being a part of that experiment or, with the way that we’re pushing the biosphere, it will just move on without us.”

“We have been sending probes to every other planet in the solar system for the last 60 years,” he said. “We have rovers running around on Mars. We’ve learned generically how planets work. From Venus, we’ve learned about the runaway greenhouse effect. On Venus the temperature is 800 degrees. You can melt lead [there]. Mars is a totally dry, barren world now. But it used to have an ocean. It used to be a blue world. We have models that can predict the climate. I can predict the weather on Mars tomorrow via these climate models. People who think the only way we can understand climate is by studying the earth now, that’s completely untrue. These other worlds—Mars, Venus, Titan. Titan is a moon of Saturn that has an amazingly rich atmosphere. They all teach us how to think like a planet. They have taught us generically how planets behave.”

Frank points out that much of the configurations of the ecosystem on which we depend have not always been part of the planet’s biosphere. This includes the Gulf Stream, which carries warm water and warm air up from Florida to Boston and out across the Atlantic. “Hundreds of millions of people in some of Earth’s most technologically advanced cities rely on the mild climate delivered by the Gulf Stream,” Frank writes in “Light of the Stars.” “But the Gulf Stream is nothing more than a particular circulation pattern formed during a particular climate state the Earth settled into after the last ice age ended. It is not a permanent fixture of the planet.”

“Everything we think about the earth just happens to be this one moment we found it in,” he told me. “We’re pushing it [the planet] and we’re pushing it hard. We don’t have much time to make these transitions. What people have to understand is that climate change is our cosmic adolescence. We should have expected this. The question is not ‘did we change the climate?’ It’s ‘of course we changed the climate. What else did you expect to have happened?’ We’re like a teenager who has been given this power over ourselves. Just like how you give a teenager the keys to the car, there’s this moment where you’re like, ‘Oh my God I hope you make it.’ And that’s what we are.”

“Climate change is not a problem we have to make go away, in a sense that you don’t make adolescence go away,” Frank said. “It is a dangerous transition that you have to navigate. The question is are we smart enough to deal with the effects of our own power? Climate change is not a pollution problem. It’s not like any environmental problem we’ve faced before. In some sense, it’s not an environmental problem but a planetary transition. We’ve already pushed the earth into it. We’re going to have to evolve a new way of being a civilization, fundamentally." “We will either evolve those group behaviors quickly or the earth will take what we’ve given it, in terms of new climate states, and move on and create new species,” he said.

Frank said the mathematical models for the future of the planet have three trajectories. One is a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization. The second is complete collapse and extinction. The third is a dramatic reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere and make it more diverse and productive not for human beings but for the health of the planet. This would include halting our consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet and dismantling the animal agriculture industry as well as greening deserts and restoring rainforests.

There is, Frank warned, a tipping point when the biosphere becomes so degraded no human activity will halt runaway climate change. He cites Venus again. “The water on Venus got lost slowly,” he said. “The CO2 built up. There was no way to take it out of the atmosphere. It gets hotter. The fact that it gets hotter makes it even hotter. Which makes it even hotter. That’s what would happen in the collapse model. Planets have minds of their own. They are super-complex systems. Once you get the ball rolling down the hill… This is the greatest fear. This is why we don’t want to go past 2 degrees [Celsius] of climate change. We’re scared that once you get past 2 degrees, the planet’s own internal mechanisms kick in. The population comes down like a stone. A complete collapse. You lose the civilization entirely.”

"Requiem"

“The crucified planet Earth,
should it find a voice and a sense of irony,
might now well say of our abuse of it,
"Forgive them, Father, They know not what they do."

The irony would be that we know what we are doing.

When the last living thing has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up perhaps
from the floor of the Grand Canyon,
"It is done. People did not like it here.”

- Kurt Vonnegut

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “Nostalgia” ("Live At The Acropolis")


Yanni, “Nostalgia” ("Live At The Acropolis") 
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bNal4-amdE

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 7331 is often touted as an analog to our own Milky Way. About 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, NGC 7331 was recognized early on as a spiral nebula and is actually one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog. 
 Click image for larger size.
Since the galaxy's disk is inclined to our line-of-sight, long telescopic exposures often result in an image that evokes a strong sense of depth. The effect is further enhanced in this well-framed view by the galaxies that lie beyond this gorgeous island universe. The background galaxies are about one tenth the apparent size of NGC 7331 and so lie roughly ten times farther away. Their strikingly close alignment on the sky with NGC 7331 occurs just by chance. The visual grouping of galaxies is also known as the Deer Lick Group.”

Chet Raymo, “Why Cranes Fly”

“Why Cranes Fly”
by Chet Raymo

"There were a few Comments here recently about herons, from right around the world. What is the power of this bird to touch our minds and hearts? The naturalist Aldo Leopold was intimately familiar with the cranes of Wisconsin, cousins of our New England great blue heron, the Irish gray heron, and Adam2's aosagi from Japan, and wondered about their ability to move us so deeply. In A Sand County Almanac he watches as a crane "springs his ungainly hulk into the air and flails the morning sun with mighty wings." Our ability to perceive beauty in nature, as in art, begins with the pretty, he says, then moves into qualities of the beautiful yet uncaptured by language. The beauty of the crane lies in this higher realm, he proposes, "beyond the reach of words."

Words may fail, but poets have tried to capture the ineffable.

John Ciardi sees "a leap, a thrust, a long stroke through the cumulus of trees" and stops to praise "that bright original burst that lights the heron on his two soft kissing kites."

Theodore Roethke observes a heron aim his heavy bill above the wood: "The wide wings flap but once to lift him up. A single ripple starts from where he stood."

In Chekhov's "The Three Sisters", sister Masha refuses "to live and not know why the cranes fly, why children are born, why the stars are in the sky. Either you know and you're alive or its all nonsense, all dust in the wind."

Yes, that's a Great Blue Heron in the graphic, not a crane, but I like it!

"Exactly What It Seemed..."

"There is no betrayal that cannot be explained- 
and when explained is not exactly what it seemed."
- Robert Brault

The Poet: Carl Sandburg, "What Shall He Tell That Son?"

"What Shall He Tell That Son?"

"A father sees a son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
'Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.'
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum and monotony
and guide him amid sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
'Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.'
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split a rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
So does a rich soft wanting.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
And left them dead years before burial:
The quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
Has twisted good enough men
Sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool,
yet learning something out of every folly,
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies,
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.

Tell him to be alone often and get at himself,
and above all tell himself no lies about himself,
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use amongst other people.

Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong,
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people,
if it comes natural and easy being different.

Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations,
Bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own."

- Carl Sandburg

"No Rainbow..."

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears."
John Vance Cheney

The Daily "Near You?"

Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"The Risk..."

"Biology says that we are who we are from birth. That our DNA is set in stone. Unchangeable. Our DNA doesn't account for all of us though, we're human. Life changes us. We develop new traits. Become less territorial. We start competing. We learn from our mistakes. We face our greatest fears. For better or worse, we find ways to become more than our biology. The risk of course is that we can change too much to the point where we don't recognize ourselves. Finding our way back can be difficult. There's no compass, no map. We just have to close our eyes, take a step, and hope to God we get there."
- "Grey's Anatomy"

"With Tears in Their Eyes, They Fired…"

"With Tears in Their Eyes, They Fired…"
by Bill Bonner

PARIS – "We came up to Paris to say goodbye to a daughter… who is headed back to the U.S. She chose La Closerie des Lilas for dinner, the restaurant made famous as a Hemingway hangout. And there, in front of the restaurant, on the corner of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Boulevard Saint-Michel, we found the statue of the greatest soldier who ever lived, Michel Ney, standing near the spot where he was executed.
French Superhuman: It’s when things go bad that you open your eyes. The crash of the stock market in 1929 caused people to take a new look at Herbert Hoover; even the great mining engineer couldn’t put the U.S. economy back together. Donald Trump says that he, personally, has already made America great again. What will the next crash do to the great entertainer and his reputation? We presume we will see.

And Ney? Everything went bad… But his statue still shows the unblemished energy of a real soldier. When we read Ney’s exploits during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, battle after battle… mad cavalry charges… slashing sabers and booming cannon… wounded again and again in nearly constant fighting over a 20-year period… across the barren steppes of Eurasia… the mountains of Spain… the deserts, wastes, towns, and fastnesses of Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Poland… and France itself… we hold our breath, as if it were not possible that one man had done so much.

What sort of man was this? What meat did he eat? What wine did he drink? Ney was almost superhuman… perhaps a demigod of war created by Mars himself.

Life and Death: Back then, battles were matters of life and death, with the commanders often on the frontlines. Ney, on horseback, pulled out his sword and rode straight towards the enemy muskets. How today’s Deep State warriors – such as Generals David Petraeus and Keith Alexander – must hold their manhoods cheap in comparison! Never in real danger and never short of air-conditioning and Coke, their toughest battles were fought on the carpets of the Pentagon. And then, after long careers filled with “surges,” lights at the end of tunnels, and other claptrap, the grateful nation sent the two counterfeits to enjoy the rich rewards of Wall Street.

Not so for Ney. He enjoyed no comfort-controlled duty assignments. No attractive, fawning reporters – to whom he could reveal military secrets – accompanied him on campaign. And no grateful nation provided a sinecure. Instead, it shot him.

It was amazing that Ney survived so long. He was captured by the enemy at Neuwied in modern-day Germany… and slept out in the open in Russia in temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius. He was wounded many times – thrown from his horse… sliced by swords… and struck by cannon and bullets in the thigh, wrist, and neck (any one of which should have put him under the earth).

In the Battle of Waterloo alone, he had five horses shot from under him. He even managed to get out of Russia after Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion… commanding the rear guard in a catastrophic campaign where 90% of the troops died. Legend has it that he was the last French soldier to cross the bridge at the Berezina River, firing his musket as he beat a retreat… before the bridge was taken by the Cossacks, who proceeded to massacre as many as 10,000 French and Swiss troops left behind.

French Disaster: Napoleon had planned to retreat from Russia into Poland, crossing the Berezina. The river should have been frozen solid at that time of the year. The French had counted on it. But a thaw left it uncrossable. They were trapped, with three Russian armies converging on them. Immediately, bridge builders leapt into the water to construct a 100-meter bridge. A man could survive for only about 30 minutes in the freezing river. Most of the builders died quickly. But somehow, they managed to put together a bridge, allowing the Emperor and much of his army to cross. Still, the French lost as many as 40,000 troops and stragglers in the battle. Even today, “Berezina” is interchangeable with “disaster” in French.

Most of Napoleon’s marshals went on – shrewdly – to betray him. They opened their eyes and saw it was time to change camps. But not Ney. Napoleon had been shipped off to the Isle of Elba, leaving the French to rebuild the nation under another Louis. But the Corsican escaped from Elba and was soon back on French soil, with another army no less.

Blinded by loyalty or miscalculation, Ney – who had pledged obedience to the king in the meantime – rallied to the Emperor’s cause and joined the last campaign, of the “hundred days.” Then, it was Michel Ney, the Prince of the Moskva, of course, at the front of the magnificent cavalry charges at Waterloo, waving his sword and urging his men on against Wellington’s cannon, which he briefly managed to capture. Alas, with the Prussian Blücher arriving from the east, like a hammer coming down on the English anvil, Napoleon realized that the situation was hopeless and gave the order to retreat. And then, it was over. Soon, Napoleon was captured… Ney, too.

Found Guilty: The Emperor was sent to Saint Helena, an island so remote and so inaccessible, there was no hope of getting away. Ney was tried for treason. Found guilty in 1815, the only concession the new government granted France’s greatest hero was that it let him command his own firing squad. He did so as follows: "Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her… Soldiers, fire!" The soldiers, some in tears, pulled the trigger as they had been commanded."
Related:

X22 Report: “The Global Economy Is Overdue For A Disaster & For Many This Will Come As A Shock”

X22 Report: “The Global Economy Is Overdue For A 
Disaster & For Many This Will Come As A Shock”
Related:
X22 Report: “Conspiracy, Treason, It's Time To 
Connect The Dots, The Great Awakening”

"Shooting War With China More Likely Than You Think"

"Shooting War With China More Likely Than You Think"
by Jim Rickards

"The mainstream media narrative about the U.S.-China trade war implies that Trump is on a highly damaging ego trip and China holds all the cards. The exact opposite is true. Trump has ample financial warfare weapons including tariffs, penalties, bans on direct investment, improved cybersecurity, forced divestiture and freezing of assets. 

Meanwhile, China has almost run out of room to impose tariffs. Further, they will invite retribution if they try to devalue their currency further. China’s vulnerabilities run deeper than that.  The U.S.-China trade war comes in the aftermath of a Chinese Communist Party conference that made Xi Jinping dictator for life and enshrined his doctrines on the same level as Mao Zedong. Once Xi got these powers, he proceeded on a disastrous policy course that has resulted in a slowdown of the Chinese economy, higher debt defaults, lost investment opportunities in the U.S. and declining hard currency reserves. 

The knives are now out in Beijing. Reports are circulating that Xi’s opponents are questioning his judgment and the wisdom of expanding his powers at such a critical time. Many are starting to blame Xi for the trade war almost as much as they blame Trump. Xi still has torture, firing squads and concentration camps at his disposal, but the notion of a unified, coherent leadership structure in Beijing is now seen to be a myth. 

Trump will keep up the pressure; he never backs off and always doubles down. It will be up to Xi to blink and acquiesce in many U.S. demands. The U.S. will win this trade war because Xi does not want to lose his throne. Yet there will still be material damage to the global economy and lasting animosity between Xi and Trump. But there’s more to the U.S.-China dispute than trade.

Yes, headlines and TV interviews are dominated by talk of the trade war. That escalating confrontation is a big deal, but it’s not the only flash point in U.S.-China relations, and not even the most important. China is as much concerned about a military confrontation in the South China Sea as it is about the economic confrontation in the trade wars. 

China dredged sand surrounding useless rocks and atolls in the South China Sea and converted them into artificial islands and then built out the islands to include naval ports, air force landing strips, anti-aircraft weapons and other defensive and offensive weapons systems. Not only are the Chinese militarizing rocks, but they are trampling on competing claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and other countries surrounding the sea. China is claiming control based on ancient imperial arrangements and argues that the West and its South Asian allies “stole” the territory from them. The answer is that both the ancient claims and the theft narrative are open to dispute. 

More to the point, the world has developed rules-based platforms for resolving these issues without military force. The U.S. is guaranteeing freedom of passage, freedom of the seas and the territorial rights of allies such as the Philippines.

Incidentally, I was at Norfolk naval base last week delivering a lecture on financial warfare with China. There was a "hurry up" feel to it, a definite sense of urgency. I got the impression that something must be up. So far, the U.S.-Chinese confrontation has been about naval vessels passing in close quarters and surveillance aircraft being harassed by fighter jets. The risk of such tactics is an accidental collision, a rogue shot fired or a command misunderstood. 

Any such incident could lead to retaliation, and there’s no telling where it might stop. Trump is not someone to back down, and Chinese leadership does not want to appear weak before the U.S. That’s especially true at a time of great economic uncertainty. Communist Party leadership is desperate to maintain the support of the people, or else it risks losing the “mandate of heaven.”

China does not want war at this time. But diverting the people’s attention away from domestic problems toward a foreign foe is an old trick leaders use to unite the people in times of uncertainty. Rallying the people around the flag is a tried and true method to garner support. If China’s leadership decides that the risk of losing legitimacy at home outweighs the risk of conflict with the United States, the likelihood of war rises dramatically.

I’m not predicting it, but wars have started over less. As Mick Jagger sang, a U.S.-China war is “just a shot away.” Below, I show you why China’s Cinderella growth story is coming to an end, which could translate to the kind of social unrest China fears most. Read on."
"New Reality of China’s Failing Economy Is Coming Soon"
By Jim Rickards

"I’ve written for years that Chinese economic development is partly real and partly smoke and mirrors, and that it’s critical for investors to separate one from the other to make any sense out of China and its impact on the world. My longest piece on this topic was Chapter Four of my second book, "The Death of Money" (2014), but I’ve written much else besides, including many articles for my newsletters.

There’s no denying China’s remarkable economic progress over the past thirty years. Hundreds of millions have escaped poverty and found useful employment in manufacturing or services in the major cities. Infrastructure gains have been historic, including some of the best trains in the world, state-of-the-art transportation hubs, cutting edge telecommunications systems, and a rapidly improving military. Yet, that’s only half the story.

The other half is pure waste, fraud and theft. About 45% of Chinese GDP is in the category of “investment.” A developed economy GDP such as the U.S. is about 70% consumption and 20% investment. There’s nothing wrong with 45% investment in a fast-growing developing economy assuming the investment is highly productive and intelligently allocated. That’s not the case in China. At least half of the investment there is pure waste. It takes the form of “ghost cities” that are fully-built with skyscrapers, apartments, hotels, clubs, and transportation networks – and are completely empty.

This is not just western propaganda; I’ve seen the ghost cities first hand and walked around the empty offices and hotels.Chinese officials try to defend the ghost cities by claiming they are built for the future. That’s nonsense. Modern construction is impressive, but it’s also high maintenance. Those shiny new buildings require occupants, rents and continual maintenance to remain shiny and functional. The ghost cities will be obsolete long before they are ever occupied.

Other examples of investment waste include over-the-top white elephant public structures such as train stations with marble facades, 128 escalators (mostly empty), 100-foot ceilings, digital advertising and few passengers. The list can be extended to include airports, canals, highways, and ports, some of which are needed and many of which are pure waste.

Communist party leaders endorse these wasteful projects because they have positive effects in terms of job creation, steel fabrication, glass installation, and construction. However, those effects are purely temporary until the project is completed. The costs are paid with borrowed money that can never be repaid. 

China might report 6.8% growth in GDP, but when the waste is stripped out the actual growth is closer to 4.5%. Meanwhile, China’s debts grow faster than the economy and its debt-to-GDP ratio is even worse than the U.S. All of this would be sustainable if China had an unlimited ability to rollover and expand its debt and ample reserves to deal with a banking or liquidity crisis. It doesn’t. China’s financial fragility was revealed during the 2014-2016 partial collapse of its capital account.

China had about $4 trillion in its capital account in early 2014. That amount had fallen to about $3 trillion by late 2016. Much of that collapse was due to capital flight for fear of Chinese devaluation, (which did occur in August 2015 and again in December 2015).

China’s $3 trillion of remaining reserves is not as impressive as it sounds. $1 trillion of that amount is invested in illiquid assets (hedge funds, private equity funds, direct investments, etc.) This is real wealth, but it’s not available on short notice to defend the currency or prop up banks.

Another $1 trillion of Chinese reserves are needed as a precautionary fund to bail-out the Chinese banking system. Many observers are relaxed about the insolvency of Chinese banks because they are confident about China’s ability to rescue them. They may be right about that, but it’s not free. China needs to keep $1 trillion of dry powder to save the banks, so that money’s off the table.

That leaves about $1 trillion of liquid reserves to defend the Chinese currency, if so desired. At the height of the Chinese capital outflows in 2016, China was losing $80 billion per month of hard currency to defend the yuan. At that tempo, China would have burned through $1 trillion in one year and become insolvent. China did the only feasible thing, which was to close the capital account; (interest rate hikes and further devaluation would have caused other more serious problems).

This distress might have been temporary if China had managed to maintain good trading relations with the U.S. But that proved another chimera. The trade war, which has broken out between the U.S. and China has damaged Chinese exports and raised costs on Chinese imports at exactly the time China was counting on a larger trade surplus to help it finance its mountain of debt.

Now trade is drying up and China is stuck with debt it can’t repay or rollover easily. This marks the end of China’s Cinderella growth story, and the beginning of a period of economic slowdown and potential social unrest. The coming Chinese crack-up is not just theoretical. The hard data supports the thesis.

Here’s a real-time data summary from the Director of Floor Operations at the New York Stock Exchange, Steven “Sarge” Guilfoyle: "The greater threat to financial markets will come, in my opinion from the slowing of global growth, at least partially due to the current state of international trade. This thought process is lent some credence by last night’s rather disastrous across-the-board macroeconomic numbers released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics. … For the Month of July, in China – Fixed Asset Investment.Growth slowed to the slowest pace since this data was first recorded back in 1992, printing in decline for a fifth consecutive month. Industrial Production. Missed expectations for a third consecutive month, while printing at a growth rate equaling the nation’s slowest since February of 2016. Retail Sales. Finally showing a dent in the armor, missed expectation while slowing from the prior month. Unemployment. This item has only been recorded since January. Headline unemployment “popped” up to 5.1% from June’s 4.8%. Oil Production. The NBS reported that Chinese oil production fell 2.6% in July, and now stands from a daily perspective at the lowest level since June of 2011. China will not report Q3 GDP until October 15. The National Bureau of Statistics reported annualized growth of 6.7% for the second quarter. Depending on the veracity of the data, one must start to wonder if China can indeed hang on to growth of 6.5% going forward."

This unpleasant picture Sarge paints is based on official Chinese data. Yet, China has a long history of overstating its data and painting the tape. The reality in China is always worse than the official data reveals.

This slowdown comes just months after Chinese dictator Xi Jinping was offered a dictator-for-life role by the removal of term limits and was placed on the same pedestal as Mao Zedong by the creation of “Xi Jinping Thought” as a formal branch of Chinese Communist ideology. The Book of Proverbs says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Xi Jinping now finds himself in precisely this position. His political ascension inflated his pride just as he now faces the reality of a falling economy and possible destruction of any consensus around his power and the lack of accountability. 

Trump continues to tighten the screws with more tariffs, more penalties, and a near complete shutdown of China’s ability to invest in U.S. markets. Turkey, Argentina, and Venezuela are large developing economies that are in different stages of collapse and threaten the global economy with panic through contagion. Yet, those three economies combined are not as large or important as China. Only Trump and Xi can salvage the situation with negotiation and reasonable compromise on trade and intellectual property. But, Trump won’t blink first; that’s up to Xi. So far, a spirit of compromise is not in the air. A spirit of Chinese collapse and contagion is."

"How It Really Is"

"The Mind Is Its Own Place..."

"We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies–all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.

Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.” Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves…in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience."
- Aldous Huxley

Free Download: Aldous Huxley, "The Doors of Perception"

"The Doors of Perception"
 by Psychedelic Frontier

"Aldous Huxley became a pioneer in the (practically nonexistent) field of modern psychedelic literature in 1954 when he published "The Doors of Perception", a short but detailed book about his experience with mescaline. Many people would hesitate to publish a book about such a controversial and personal topic even today, half a century later, but Huxley staked his claim smack dab in the middle of the 1950s. The term “psychedelic” hadn’t even been coined yet (though Huxley would contribute to its creation a few years later).

This book represents one of the first and best-known “trip reports”, at least in the West, placing it alongside classic documents like Albert Hofmann’s 1943 journal, which details the first ever LSD trip. By introducing curious Westerners to the idea of the psychedelic experience, and to mescaline in particular, Huxley opened the doors of perception for generations of psychonauts. They haven’t closed since.

The name of the book - which would later inspire Jim Morrison’s "The Doors"* - comes from this passage, inspired by the inimitable William Blake: "To become fully human, man, proud man, the player of fantastic tricks, must learn to get out of his own way: only then will his infinite faculties and angelic apprehension get a chance of coming to the surface." In Blake’s words, we must ‘cleanse the doors of perception’; for when the doors of perception are cleansed, ‘everything appears to man as it is - infinite.’

Here’s one of my favorite excerpts, about the ultimate solitude of each human being and the limits of communication: "We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies–all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.

Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.” Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves…in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience."

Later, Huxley looks at a bouquet of flowers and has a realization about “Is-ness” or “Suchness”, the inherent quality of existence: "I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation-the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence…"

Istigkeit– wasn’t that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? “Is-ness.” The Being of Platonic philosophy– except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.

I continued to look at the flowers, and in their living light I seemed to detect the qualitative equivalent of breathing–but of a breathing without returns to a starting point, with no recurrent ebbs but only a repeated flow from beauty to heightened beauty, from deeper to ever deeper meaning.

…The books, for example, with which my study walls were lined. Like the flowers, they glowed, when I looked at them, with brighter colors, a profounder significance. Red books, like rubies; emerald books; books bound in white jade; books of agate; of aquamarine, of yellow topaz; lapis lazuli books whose color was so intense, so intrinsically meaningful, that they seemed to be on the point of leaving the shelves to thrust themselves more insistently on my attention."

If you want to read more, including Huxley’s theory of the human mind as a “reducing valve” that funnels the super-consciousness of the Mind at Large, ruminations on manifestations of “Suchness” (real objects) compared to the emblems we use to symbolize them (like words and paintings), and the meaning of the ubiquity of folded draperies and robes in art throughout history, you’ll just have to download it below!"

Freely download "The Doors of Perception", by Aldous Huxley, here:
"The Doors" you say? OK!
The Doors, “Riders On The Storm”