Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Mad World"

"Mad World"
by James Quinn

"And I find it kinda funny,
 I find it kinda sad
,
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
.
I find it hard to tell you, 
I find it hard to take
,
When people run in circles it’s a very very 

Mad world, mad world."

"The haunting Gary Jules version of the Tears for Fears’ "Mad World" speaks to me in these tumultuous mad times. It must speak to many others, as the music video has been viewed over 132 million times. The melancholy video is shot from the top of an urban school building in a decaying decrepit bleak neighborhood with school children creating various figures on the concrete pavement below. The camera pans slowly to Gary Jules singing on the rooftop and captures the concrete jungle of non-descript architecture, identical office towers, gray cookie cutter apartment complexes, and a world devoid of joy and vibrancy.

The song was influenced by Arthur Janov’s theories in his book "The Primal Scream." The chorus above about his “dreams of dying were the best he ever had” is representative of letting go of this mad world and being free of the monotony and release from the insanity of this world. Our ego fools us into thinking the madness of this world is actually normal. Day after day we live lives of quiet desperation. Despite all evidence our world is spinning out of control and the madness of the crowds is visible in financial markets, housing markets, politics, social justice, and social media, the level of normalcy bias among the populace has reached astounding levels, as we desperately try to convince ourselves everything will be alright. But it won’t.

The opiate of the masses is not just religion, but the propaganda, misinformation, lies and technological distractions designed by the invisible government ruling class to provide the masses with pleasant illusions about their country, society, and material situation. If the masses were to wake up and realize they are being manipulated, oppressed, and corralled like sheep, revolution would sweep the land. People are being driven mad by an overwhelming feeling of cognitive dissonance.

The mental masturbation required by a vast swath of the population who see the evidence of decline, created by excessive use of debt and systematic corruption of government, finance, and the media, has created a society of mentally stressed zombies. They know things aren’t right, but to admit the truth would shatter their delusions and require them to act. It’s easier to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol and losing themselves in their technological fantasy world of social media. They would rather believe comforting lies than deal with uncomfortable truth. They go along with the lies because to do otherwise would produce tremendous mental discomfort.

"All around me are familiar faces,

Worn out places, worn out faces
.
Bright and early for their daily races
,
Going nowhere, going nowhere.

Their tears are filling up their glasses,

No expression, no expression
.
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow,

No tomorrow, no tomorrow."

The lyrics can be interpreted differently by different people, but the lyrics above paint a clear panorama of our mad world for me. We are running in circles, getting up early every morning, following the same routine, dutifully going to our work cubicles, seeing the same people, doing the same thing, and pretending it matters, for a paycheck worth less each day. We do this because we are trained like animals to believe buying shit we don’t need on credit is the way to get ahead in life.

Materialism, consumerism, greed, and keeping up with the Joneses has been embedded in our brains through years of government school indoctrination and media propaganda. Very few people succeed in getting ahead. They are just running on a hamster wheel and going nowhere. This is why there is so much depression, anger, and misplaced priorities in our lives.

Walking along a street in any crumbling urban area in this country you see miserable faces staring blankly as they trudge through their lives on the road to nowhere or wasting time absorbed by trivialities and bullshit emanating from their iGadgets. The lives of so many are a meaningless march of misery and mindless repetition of daily chores. There is an overwhelming cloud of sadness permeating the lives of the masses as our repulsive culture, built on fulfilling desires, consumerism, selfishness and greed, ultimately results in delusional, disappointed and desperate human beings.

This dysfunctional culture has resulted in soaring levels of suicide, drug overdoses, depression, and the formation of mentally unstable people who periodically go on shooting rampages for no foreseeable reason. Turn on the 24 hour news and try not realizing the world has gone mad.

"Children waiting for the day they feel good.

Happy birthday, happy birthday
.
Made to feel the way that every child should
,
Sit and listen, sit and listen.

Went to school and I was very nervous,

No one knew me, no one knew me.
Hello teacher, tell me what’s my lesson
,
Look right through me, look right through me."

Our society did not become so ludicrous, misguided and defective overnight. It has been decades in the making. And it can be attributed to the purposeful effort by those in control of the government in destroying our educational system and replacing it with a social indoctrination system. Children are no longer taught how to think, but how to feel. Children are being raised by the state as nothing more than cogs in the machine.

The family unit has self-destructed as millions of children are raised in fatherless households, broken households, or dysfunctional households. They are not taught how to act and think by loving parents at home, so they are easily susceptible to the social justice dogma jammed down their throats by low IQ government robots inhabiting the classrooms of our public schools. As Frank Zappa pointed out years ago, you need to educate yourself and not let government schools rot your mind. We didn’t heed his advice.

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.” 
- Frank Zappa

Children who question authority or do not act in a subservient manner are immediately diagnosed with ADD and drugged into submission. The public-school system doesn’t want high performers, critical thinkers or anyone questioning their government mandated orthodoxy. The ruling class (aka Deep State) wants controllable, malleable, non-thinking automatons to do the menial low paying jobs, buy cheap foreign crap with their credit cards, and be dependent upon the state for their miserable existence. 

George Carlin figured it out many years ago: “They want obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passably accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.  It’s a big club. And you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long, beating you over the in their media telling you what to believe - what to think - and what to buy. The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care.”   

Unhappy, drugged up, deluded children, who have been treated like a number, grow up to be unhappy, overly medicated, easily manipulated adults, creating the mad world we are experiencing. Children are waiting for the day they will feel good - like their birthday - but the day will never come. They grow up and do as they are told - going into massive debt to get a worthless college education - learning how to be offended - graduating as special snowflakes seeking safe spaces. After being protected and propagandized during their entire youth they are entirely unprepared for the real world of low wages, menial labor, and thinking for themselves. Multiple generations have experienced this despicable process, implemented by those in power.

They enter adulthood just as their keepers desire - enslaved in debt, dependent upon the mass media to tell them how to think - and dependent upon the state for their health and welfare. They don’t know how to think critically as their technological toys and endless absorption of trivialities on social media platforms makes them dumber by the minute. 

Frank Zappa understood the danger of mass media 45 years ago with his song “I’m the Slime”. He realized the government and mega-corporations used TV as a tool for their propaganda, molding the minds of our youth, manipulating them into conforming to the ideas, opinions, habits and tastes desired by those pulling the strings of society. Zappa had no idea how much more control the corporate fascists could seize once the internet and social media proliferated around the world. Combining the power of the surveillance state with the devious underhanded methods of Google, Facebook and Twitter has created a social concentration camp with government armed guards and social justice warrior corporations providing the propaganda.

“I’m vile and perverted.

I’m obsessed and deranged.

I’ve existed for years but very little has changed.

I’m the tool of the government and industry too.

For I’m destined to rule and regulate you.

You may think I’m pernicious, but you can’t look away.

I’ll make you think I’m delicious with the stuff that I say.

I’m the best you can get… have you guessed me yet?

I’m the slime oozing out of your TV set…”
 - Frank Zappa

The detrimental impact of social media has been documented in a recent study at an Ivy League university. Those who reduced their usage of social media saw a significant decrease in depression and loneliness. The data proved spending hours per day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media is damaging to the mental health of college students.

Social media is nothing more than virtue signaling and peacocking by people trying to pump up their own egos. The incessant narcissism broadcast by the “beautiful” people results in others comparing their lives to these shallow egocentric elitists. When normal people spend their days comparing their plain lives to the fake awesome lives of strutting egomaniacs, they become depressed and unhappy with their own lives.

Until people put down their gadgets, spend time living in the real world with real people and stop idolizing shallow faux icons, they will become even more mentally unstable. This seems unlikely, as young children are handed tech gadgets while they are still in their designer cribs. The masses will never willingly put down their addictive devices and deal with real issues in a real way.

Until this selfie society undergoes a drastic reversion to reality, likely spurred by a debt implosion and civil or global conflict, people will continue to mindlessly wander the earth staring down at their smart phones, getting dumber by the minute. This madness will stop when daily survival becomes more important than Kanye and Trump’s latest tweet. Until people are more concerned with where they are going to obtain their next meal than the number of likes they are getting from posting a picture of their latest trendy restaurant meal, the madness will continue.

If you think the general public and our youth are acting madly, the supposedly brilliant Ivy League educated financial minds are saying “hold my beer”. The Intellectual Yet Idiot central banker academic puppets of Wall Street have done what they do best – blow bubbles and create madness in the markets. Their debt creation (aka money printing) since the crisis they created in 2008, due to their easy money/no regulation policies, has created the largest debt bubble in world history.

When you create the biggest bubble in history you will ultimately have biggest bust in history. They created the Dot.com bubble and the housing bubble in the space of eight years. They have triple downed and created a stock, bond and real estate (aka Everything Bubble) bubbles. It boggles my mind watching the feckless financial world go mad, believing they’ve made billions based on their investing prowess when it has clearly been handed to them by recklessly incompetent corrupt central bankers and government apparatchiks.
As Charles MacKay found throughout history, men go mad in herds, and will only regain their sanity individually based upon their ability to grasp reality when it clubs them over the head with a baseball bat. The recklessness of the highly educated is built upon a false belief they are smarter than markets and have rigged the system in a way that insures they will never lose.

The arrogance and hubris of these delusional masters of the universe during their mad pursuit of riches always leads to their downfall. These are truly mad times when millions of people can fix their minds on provably ridiculous conspiracy theories of Russians throwing a presidential election to the candidate of their choice. So many people are so easily convinced of the most ridiculous ideas (aka socialism works), that folly has become the national sport. This level of idiocracy will surely end badly for this nation.

“In reading "The History of Nations," we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.” 
- Charles MacKay, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds"

As a born skeptic, I feel uncomfortable living in this land of delusions, illusions and confusions. I don’t fit in. I don’t want to fit in. Does that make me abnormal or normal? I don’t want to be part of any team. I will not blindly cheer for Democrats or Republicans. I intensely dislike the worldviews and ideas of Obama, McCain, Romney, and Clinton. I have found Trump to be endlessly entertaining and agree with his pushback on the press, the GOPe, and left wing open border lunatics. The only politicians I’ve ever had any real respect for were from the Paul family.

I’m all for lower taxes, but Trump’s tax cuts for mega-corporations and the rich did little for the plight of the average American, while allowing corporations to buy back billions of their stock at market highs to keep the market bubble inflating. Cutting taxes while drastically increasing government spending nine years into an economic recovery is pure lunacy. Trump created a one year reprieve on the recession with this debt financed adrenaline injection, making this Potemkin economy appear strong, when in fact it is on the verge of collapse.

Driving deficits past the trillion dollar level at this point in the economic cycle is a recipe for disaster, but talking heads on the TV screen act like it is perfectly normal. Keeping real interest rates below zero nine years into a supposed economic recovery is insane, but the intellectual yet idiot central bankers and their criminal banking cartel owners, who profit from this insidious policy, act as if this is normal. It’s not normal. It’s about as abnormal as you can possibly get.

This madness and abnormality is clear to me. I can’t understand why it isn’t clear to others. Am I mad? Am I the one who is abnormal? How can so many millions of people be oblivious to the facts and reality of our situation? They just seem to sleepwalk through life believing what they are told, thinking the way their keepers want them to think, doing what they are told to do, not questioning authority figures, and fulfilling their infinite appetite for distractions with their technological gadgets. As Huxley predicted in the late 1950s, the fact people have adjusted to this profoundly abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. Being normal today is considered abnormal.

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. “Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” 
- Aldous Huxley, "Brave New World Revisited"

I refuse to accept the ideology perpetuated by the Deep State and their collaborators in the media, financial industry, academia and corporate board rooms. I would rather be estranged from the general population than sacrifice my integrity by adapting my thinking to a pathology of lies, delusions, and denial. I already feel like an outcast among family and friends. Meeting old friends for drinks and seeing how they have been brainwashed by the media and political class is depressing.

Sometimes I’ve doubted my own sanity when watching the stock market soar, year after year, to the most overvalued level in history. Shouldn’t I have gone along with the crowd and ignored facts and reality? Groupthink has enriched millions of lemmings. But, I’m a stubborn bastard and will never go along with the crowd. I believe my facts are right and expect to watch millions of lemmings get slaughtered over the next year or so. It’s already begun, but they are too brainwashed and will be paralyzed as their faux wealth evaporates once again.

“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.” 
- Erich Fromm, "The Sane Society"

I feel I’ve psychologically and emotionally suffered from being a sane man in an insane world. I’ve been alienated and shunned, but I’ve retained my dignity and self-respect. I’ve got my family and preserve my ability to think critically, question everything, and refuse to go along with the crowd. It’s a sometimes lonely position, but I’ve made this decision with my eyes wide open and a willingness to accept the consequences.

I will not adapt myself to a sick society where vices are considered virtues, lies are considered truth, feeling overrides thinking, fiction passes for fact, enemies are created to instill fear, and insanity is considered sane. It’s a mad mad world, but I choose not be overcome by the madness. What is your choice?"
Gary Jules, "Mad World"

"In A Word..."

"In a word, there are many thorns, but the roses are there too."
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky, "1812 Overture"
The story:
"On September 7, 1812, at Borodino, 120 km (75 mi) west of Moscow, Napoleon's forces met those of General Mikhail Kutuzov in a concerted stand made by Russia against the seemingly invincible French Army. The Battle of Borodino saw casualties estimated as high as 100,000 and the French were masters of the field. It was, however, ultimately a pyrrhic victory for the French invasion.

With resources depleted and supply lines overextended, Napoleon's weakened forces moved into Moscow, which they occupied with little resistance. Expecting capitulation from the displaced Tsar Alexander I, the French instead found themselves in a barren and desolate city, parts of which the retreating Russian Army had burned to the ground.

Deprived of winter stores, Napoleon had to retreat. Beginning on October 19 and lasting well into December, the French Army faced several overwhelming obstacles on its long retreat: famine, typhus, frigid temperatures, harassing Cossacks, and Russian forces barring the way out of the country. Abandoned by Napoleon in November, the Grande Armée was reduced to one-tenth of its original size by the time it reached Poland and relative safety."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1812_Overture

"For The First Time, Researchers Say Facebook Can Cause Depression"

"For The First Time, 
Researchers Say Facebook Can Cause Depression"
by Brett Arends

"Spending too much time on “social media” sites like Facebook is making people more than just miserable. It may also be making them depressed. A new study conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania has shown - for the first time - a causal link between time spent on social media and depression and loneliness, the researchers said. It concluded that those who drastically cut back their use of sites like Facebook, Instagram  and Snapchat  often saw a marked improvement in their mood and in how they felt about their lives.

“It was striking,” says Melissa Hunt, psychology professor at University of Pennsylvania, who led the study. “What we found over the course of three weeks was that rates of depression and loneliness went down significantly for people who limited their (social media) use.” Many of those who began the study with moderate clinical depression finished just a few weeks later with very mild symptoms, she says.

The study, “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression,” was conducted by Melissa Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson and Jordyn Young, is being published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

For the study, Hunt and her team studied 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania over a number of weeks. They tested their mood and sense of well-being using seven different established scales. Half of the participants carried on using social media sites as normal. (Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat did not respond to request for comment.) The other half were restricted to ten minutes per day for each of the three sites studied: Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, the most popular sites for the age group. (Use was tracked through regular screen shots from the participants’ phones showing battery data.)

Net result: Those who cut back on social media use saw “clinically significant” falls in depression and in loneliness over the course of the study. Their rates of both measures fell sharply, while those among the so-called “control” group, who did not change their behavior, saw no improvement.

This isn’t the first study to find a link between social media use, on the one hand, and depression and loneliness on the other. But previous studies have mainly just shown there is a correlation, and the researchers allege that this shows a “causal connection.” It’s possible - even likely - that lonely and depressed people use sites like Facebook more because they are seeking social connections, says Hunt. The new study suggests that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat aren’t just popular with the lonely and depressed: They’re also making people more lonely, and more depressed.

Why does social media make so many people feel bad? The study didn’t analyze this, but Hunt offers two explanations. The first is “downward social comparison.” You read your friends’ timelines. They’re deliberately putting on a show to make their lives look wonderful. The result: “You’re more likely to think your life sucks in comparison,” says Hunt. The second reason: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out.

Social media sites have become such an integral part of the modern world that many people simply can’t cut them out altogether, Hunt says. That’s why the study focused just on cutting back. It’s significant that restricting use to ten minutes per site per day helped those with depression so much. You don’t have to give it up altogether to feel better.

The main caveat is that the study was restricted to undergraduates. Whether the same sites affect older groups, who may be less susceptible to social pressure, is another matter for another day. Correlation and causation are two issues that researchers grapple with and typically only make claims for the former. In an increasingly polarized and heated political climate, for example,Twitter may be making older Americans miserable and angry - or angry Americans may use Twitter."

Monday, November 19, 2018

"All Alone..."

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and- in spite of True Romance magazines- we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely- at least, not all the time- but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
- Hunter S. Thompson

"E.B. White’s Beautiful Letter to a Man Who Had Lost Faith in Humanity"

"E.B. White’s Beautiful Letter to a Man Who Had Lost Faith in Humanity"
by Maria Popova

"In 1973, more than two decades after a young woman wrote to Albert Einstein with a similar concern, one man sent a distressed letter to E.B. White (July 11, 1899–October 1, 1985), lamenting that he had lost faith in humanity. The beloved author, who was not only a masterful letter-writer but also a professional celebrator of the human condition and an unflinching proponent of the writer’s duty to uplift people, took it upon himself to boost the man’s sunken heart with a short but infinitely beautiful reply, found in "Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience" (public library) - the wonderful collection based on Shaun Usher’s labor-of-love website, which also gave us young Hunter S. Thompson on how to live a meaningful life.

White’s missive, penned on March 30, 1973, when he was 74, endures as a spectacular celebration of the human spirit:

"Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society - things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

E. B. White"

Every single epistle in "Letters of Note" is soul-stretching beyond measure. Sample the book further with this timeless wisdom on how to find your purpose in life, then explore more of White’s wit and wisdom with his ideas on the writer’s responsibility in society and the future of reading, his timely admonition about sponsored content, and his moving obituary for his dog Daisy."

"Why Does America Have 13 Million Households That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?"

"Why Does America Have 13 Million Households 
That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?"
by Michael Snyder

"Have you ever had a day when your children were crying due to hunger but the cupboards were completely bare and your bank account was empty? If you haven’t, you should consider yourself to be extremely blessed, because this is what real life feels like for millions upon millions of Americans in 2018. As you will see below, a third of all Americans cannot even afford “the basics” each month, and 13 million households are officially considered to be “food insecure”. In other words, they don’t have enough to eat. Many parents out there choose to skip a meal (or two) each day just so that their kids can have full stomachs. But sometimes the money runs out completely, and that is when it gets really tough.

In recent years, the wealthy have been doing quite well, and many of them have very little sympathy for the struggles of the poor. But the cold, hard reality of the matter is that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and approximately one-third of the entire nation cannot even afford the basics each month: "Consider the following statistics.The average American can’t scrape together $500 for an emergency. A third of Americans can’t afford food, shelter, and healthcare. Healthcare for a family now costs $28k- about half of median income, which is $60k."

Those are very sobering numbers, and you won’t often hear them repeated by the mainstream media. For a moment, I would like you to consider three questions:
• Have you ever avoided taking a family member to the hospital because you were afraid of what the bill might look like?
• Have you ever turned off your phone because you were sick and tired of getting calls from bill collectors?
• Have you ever laid awake at night with a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach because you didn’t know how you were going to pay the bills at the end of the month?

If so, you certainly have a lot of company. The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, and those that are “doing well” make up only a very small percentage of the overall population.

Not too long ago, CNN profiled a two-year-old boy named Ryder Pfaffly and the rest of his household. Sadly, they are one of the 13.1 million households in America that do not have enough food to eatRyder’s family represents America’s 13.1 million households with children that often go without food: “food-insecure households.”“Food is a struggle at times,” said Ryder’s mom, Kelly Ann Pfaffly, who also is raising a newborn boy. Pfaffly, 23, and her 24-year-old husband, Justin, have been married five years. They - along with Ryder, his 7-year-old sister and his infant brother - all live in a small room at the hotel. “We’ve been struggling for quite sometime now,” she said. “But we always find a way to make it.”

Of course Ryder and his family are far from alone. At this point, more than half of all U.S. households with children receive assistance from the government each month. The middle class is steadily eroding, and the ranks of the “working poor” have been growing rapidly.

Many of the working poor are single parents, and they often suffer in silence because they don’t want those around them to look down on them. Here is an excerpt from one single mom’s heartbreaking story: "I stared potential landlords down with a seven-year-old standing next to me and a baby on my hip, asking to apply for a tiny studio apartment I could barely afford. I spoke to a dozen secretaries at local churches, asking if they had funds to help me pay for childcare. I went hungry and bounced checks to order pizza for dinner.

Struggling to take care of my daughter on my own, I needed whatever government assistance I qualified for – a few hundred bucks a month in food stamps, free school lunches, childcare vouchers and coupons for milk and cheese – while I simultaneously worked as a maid, juggling 10 clients between going to class to put myself through college. Very few of my friends knew. They didn’t know the work I put into finding these resources – hours on the phone, standing in line, handing over thick packets to prove my need."

It can be absolutely soul crushing to work as hard as you possibly can day after day and it still isn’t enough.

It has been said that money can’t buy happiness, and that is true, but it can certainly make things easier. According to a very startling Gallup survey, those that are living in poverty are about twice as likely to have struggled with depression as those that are not: "Americans in poverty are more likely than those who are not to struggle with a wide array of chronic health problems, and depression disproportionately affects those in poverty the most. About 31% of Americans in poverty say they have at some point been diagnosed with depression compared with 15.8% of those not in poverty. Impoverished Americans are also more likely to report asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks - which are likely related to the higher level of obesity found for this group - 31.8% vs. 26% for adults not in poverty."

After digesting these numbers, some of the things that we have seen happen politically in this country start to make sense. Americans are looking for hope, and so many of them keep going back and forth from one party to the other hoping that someone can come up with some solutions that will start to make their lives better.

Unfortunately, our system has not been fixed, and we live at a time when the economy is beginning to really slow down again. During the last recession, thousands of businesses went under, millions of people lost their jobs and multitudes of Americans could no longer pay their mortgages. The same thing will happen again, and it will be very painful for our society.

One trend that is going to continue to escalate is different generations all living together under one roof. Even though the U.S. economy supposedly “recovered” after the last recession, this is a trend that has been steadily rising: "A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center found 52% of U.S. residents in their 60s -17.4 million people - are financially supporting either a parent or an adult child, up from 45% in 2005. Among them, about 1.2 million support both a parent and a child, more than double the number a decade earlier, according to an analysis of the Pew findings and census data.

The squeeze is coming from both ends. With lifespans growing longer, the number of 60-somethings with living parents has more than doubled since 1998, to about 10 million, according to an Urban Institute analysis of University of Michigan data, and they are increasingly expensive to care for. At the same time, many boomers are helping their children deal with career or health problems, or are sharing the heavy burden of student loans."

In the end, you have got to do what you have got to do in order to survive from month to month. At one time, America’s “endless prosperity” seemed like it would roll on indefinitely, but now we have entered a different era. Things are going to be tough during the days to come, and we are all going to need more flexibility than ever before."
But of course Friday we'll see this absolute disgrace...
This is who and what we are...

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, “Adagio for Sleep”

Liquid Mind, “Adagio for Sleep” 

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100,000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy's dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. 
Click image for larger size.
In fact, on close inspection the nucleus of this classic barred spiral itself shows a remarkable region of spiral structure about 3,000 light-years across. Unlike other spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, NGC 1300 is not presently known to have a massive central black hole.”

"A Bridge to Acceptance: Dealing with Disappointment"

"A Bridge to Acceptance: Dealing with Disappointment"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"The gift of disappointment is to bring us into reality so we don’t get stuck in the realm of how things might have been. Whenever we do something in life with an expectation of how we’d like it to turn out, we risk experiencing disappointment. When things don’t go the way we had envisioned, we may feel a range of emotions from slightly let down to depressed or even angry. We might direct our feelings inward toward ourselves, or outward toward other people or the universe in general. Whether we feel disappointed by ourselves, a friend, or life in general, disappointment is always a tough feeling to experience. Still, it is a natural part of life, and there are many ways of dealing with it when we find ourselves in its presence.

As with any feeling, disappointment has come to us for a reason, and we don’t need to fear acknowledging it or feeling it. The more we are able to accept how we are feeling and process it, the sooner we will move into new emotional territory. As we sit down to allow ourselves to feel our disappointment, we might want to write about the experience of being disappointed—the situation that preceded it, what we were hoping would happen, and what did happen. The gift of disappointment is its ability to bring us into alignment with reality so that we don’t get stuck for too long in the realm of how things might have been.

As we consider other disappointments in our life and how we have moved past them, we may even see that in some cases what happened was actually better in the long run than what we had wanted to happen. Disappointment often leaves us feeling deflated with its message that things don’t always turn out the way we want. The beauty of disappointment, though, is that it provides us a bridge to its other side where the acceptance of reality, wisdom, and the energy to begin again can be found."

"Life..."

"Life is never easy for those who dream."
- Robert James Waller

"Life Happens When You’re Away"

"Life Happens When You’re Away"
by Bill Bonner

"Thy love afar is spite at home."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – "Another week. This one should be slow… with many people off for Thanksgiving. But you never know. The old-timers say the days before a holiday are especially indicative of the market’s mood. Traders don’t like leaving themselves in danger while they’re away from their terminals. That is, if they think there is much chance of a crash, they will sell out in advance so they can enjoy the holiday without fear.

Life Happened: Meanwhile, we are back at home after six months abroad. “What’s new?” we ask. “The charm of ordinary life,” answered a familiar voice. On Saturday, we attended a memorial service for a cousin, Joe, who died two weeks ago. On Sunday came a christening for a grandchild. One gone. One arrived. Score = even.

“People worry about changing Chinese trade policies… or who will win the Ravens game. They spend their time on their iPhones and computers. Real life goes on around them… and they don’t even notice. They may be focused on the wrong things, the wrong places, and the wrong people. A man makes a billion dollars in California. A woman wins an election in Arizona. A transvestite in New York sues a museum over its bathroom policy. And right here at home, their eyes are shut. We never even met your cousin’s wife.”

We had seen little of Joe over the past 50 years. In the early 1960s, we worked together with our cousins in the tobacco fields – dragooned into sweaty service by uncles desperate for cheap labor. But in June 1966, we graduated from high school. By September, we had all dispersed – to join the army… to begin careers and families… to go to college… or simply to disappear. By 1970, at least three of our small circle of friends were already dead. One died of a drug overdose. Another was killed in a barroom brawl. The third died in the war. But most of us just went about trying to meet the challenges of ordinary life – earning a living, getting married, having children, and getting along as best one can. And life happened… a half century of it.

Life in Photos: The reunion on Saturday was the first of what, surely, will be many. Our cousin died in his seventies… of “age-related” disease. That is, he did not die prematurely of a heart attack, in an accident, or by medical fluke. He died as the rest of us will – of something aggravated by something else and set in motion by the wear and tear of time. We are all over 70 now… and all holding a losing hand.

Joe cashed in his chips already. But there, pinned to the bulletin boards, was the life we never saw.
The photos showed Joe dressed in a tuxedo at his wedding… with his brothers, admiring a motorcycle… at the beach with his two daughters… at a daughter’s graduation… driving a tractor… collecting trash and treasures… at home… on vacation …at weddings and on birthdays… A whole life recalled in photos. We were in none of them.

We went off to Europe and South America. Joe stayed home. We studied economics and finance. Joe delivered the mail. “So many people spend so much time worrying about elections and the economy,” continued the familiar voice, looking in our direction. “They miss so much of what is really going on around them in their own families, the things that really matter. We miss a lot… simply because we are not here.”

While We Were Away: The christening of our granddaughter on Sunday drew many of the same relatives as the funeral, but it was a happier occasion… the beginning of a life, not the end. We gathered at the church in the morning, splashed water on her head, and then came back to the house for a reception. There, too, we caught up with people we had scarcely seen at all in three decades.

Many had grown old since we last saw them – gray hair, slightly bent over… talking of hospital visits. Their children had grown up, too. Now, they spoke of a new generation… with unfamiliar names. Life had happened to them, too.

“When did that happen?” we wondered to the familiar voice. “While we were away,” came the answer. “Ordinary life doesn’t stand still just because we are off on a lark somewhere else. It goes on. We know what we gain from our travels, but we don’t know what we lose.”

The Poet: Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Solitude”

“Solitude”

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For this brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded.
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.”

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Daily "Near You?

Munich, Bayern, Germany. Thanks for stopping by!

"Don't Explain..."

"It's Possible The Decline Has Already Begun..."

"It's Possible The Decline Has Already Begun..."
by Simon Black

"October can be an unforgiving month.
 • The terrible stock market crash that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression was in October of 1929.
• The stock market crash known as Black Monday was in October of 1987.
• In 1997, the Asian financial crisis sparked another stock market crash in… you guessed it—October.
• And back in 2007 at the height of the giant bubble that almost brought down the entire financial system, the stock market peaked once again in... October.

It’s not that October is particular cursed. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I do find it strangely ominous that asset prices seemed to have peaked last month (October) and have been in decline ever since. Real estate prices are starting to show signs of strain; more than one-third of homes for sale had a large price cut in October– the most discounting in the past eight years. Corporate and government bonds are falling.

The S&P 500 is down 7%, and the big popular technology stocks that have been fueling the boom in stock prices for the past several years have been violently declining. Facebook is down 36% from its peak. Apple is down 18% (and down more today on news of production cuts for iPhones). Semiconductor giant NVIDIA is down 45%.

Oh, it’s not just in the US either. Deutsche Bank says 89% of all asset classes it tracks are negative this year – the worst year since 1901. This is often how a big downturn begins: gradually, then suddenly. Asset prices stew and fester, slowly grinding downward for months while people maintain hope that prices will recover.

I remember spending time in Florida back in 2007 when property prices had already started declining. All the real estate agents I met kept telling themselves ridiculous affirmations about how the market was going to come roaring back soon, and the good times would return. Less than a year later the worst financial panic since the Great Depression had set in. And it would be years before prices would finally recover.

Remember - asset prices peaked in October 2007. But the giant financial crisis didn’t kick off for nearly a year, in September 2008. We might be in a similar situation today; it’s possible that markets peaked last month. And we’re now in the “stew and fester” phase where prices gradually decline while people keep hope that the boom times are coming just around the corner. And then, within a year or so, something sets off another huge crisis that pops the bubble once and for all… just like the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers did back in 2008.

We won’t know what that event will be until after it happens. But what we do know for sure is that the last financial crisis was caused by too much idiotic debt in the system. Banks were lending money to legions of borrowers who had a history of not paying their debts… and then actually pretended like these toxic loans were great investments.

Today, we’re seeing the same stupid debt work its way into the corporate and government sectors. Instead of giving million-dollar mortgages to unemployed borrowers with a history of default, investors are loaning billions of dollars to money-losing zombie businesses, or to governments that are already in debt up to their eyeballs, all while pretending these are safe, credible investments.

Total global debt back in 2008 was about $173 trillion, worth about 280% of GDP.

Today total global debt is $250 trillion, worth about 320% of GDP. It’s only gotten worse.

This is the sequel of the same movie we saw ten years ago… and it would be pretty foolish to not expect the same ending."

"Economic Market Snapshot 11/19/18"

Gregory Mannarino, "Really? Seriously? 
Mild Economic Recovery Becomes Boom! Now Recession?"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:

"How It Really Is"

"It Must Be Borne In Mind"; "Some Of Us..."

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is a sin.”
- Benjamin E. Mayes
“We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
- Oscar Wilde