Monday, September 28, 2009

Mark Twain, "I'll be back..."

"Don't part with your illusions.
When they are gone, you may still exist,
but you have ceased to live."
- Mark Twain

Back to reality for me, I'll be away until Friday. Meanwhile, there are now 5,471 posts for your viewing, hopefully you'll find something of interest. Have a great week, folks... CoyotePrime

"DNA- Hitler Skull A Womans, Where'd He Go?"

"DNA- Hitler Skull A Womans, Where'd He Go?"

"Adolf Hitler may not have died in a bunker after fresh research suggests the skull thought to be the tyrant's was from a woman. US archaeologist Nick Bellantoni found fragments from the skull believed to be Hitler's were too thin to be from a male, and suspected it was the remains of a much younger woman. "The bone seemed very thin - male bone tends to be more robust. It corresponds to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40," Dr Bellantoni said. DNA tests performed in a US laboratory confirmed the remains could not have belonged to the Nazi leader. The discovery casts doubt on the exact circumstances of Hitler’s death and could force history books to be rewritten.

Original accounts of Hitler’s death said he shot himself in the head in a bunker after taking a cyanide tablet on April 30, 1945 as the Russian army attacked Berlin. His remains, along with those of his wife Eva Braun, were taken from the bunker, doused in petrol and set ablaze. A year later, skull fragments were dug up by Russian forces which seemed to confirm Hitler had shot himself in the bunker. In 1970, the KGB cremated Hitler’s remains except for the skull fragment.

Dr Bellantoni was sceptical about the theory the skull fragments belong to Eva Braun, who was with Hitler in the bunker where he supposedly died. "There is no report of Eva Braun having shot herself or having been shot afterwards. It could be anyone. Many people were killed around the bunker area," he said."

James Lovelock, "Geoengineering- a 'Disaster?'"

"Geoengineering- a 'Disaster?'"
by James Lovelock

"The idea of serious scientists and engineers gathering to discuss schemes for controlling the world's climate would a mere 10 years ago have seemed bizarre, or something from science fiction. But now, well into the 21st century, we are slowly and reluctantly starting to realise that global heating is real. We may have cool, wet summers in the UK, but we are fortunate compared with the Inuit, who see their habitat melting, and Australians and Africans who suffer intensifying heat and drought. We should not be surprised that public policy is edging ever nearer to geoengineering, the therapy our scientists are considering for a fevered planet.

Our senior scientific society, the Royal Society, met at the start of the month to launch the report "Geoengineering the Climate" and to hear from its representative scientists. The meeting was hosted by the president, Lord Rees, and the chairman was Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the study group. The goal, as Prof Shepherd explained in the Guardian in April, was to investigate theories of "intervening directly to engineer the climate system, so as to moderate the rise of temperature" and to "separate the real science from the science fiction".

Geoengineering is about deliberately changing the air, oceans or land surface of the world to offset global heating with the hope of restoring the cooler world we enjoyed in the last century. We are now fairly sure that the Earth has grown hotter by about one degree Celsius as a consequence of our own action in taking away as farmland the forests and other ecosystems that previously acted to keep the Earth cool. We also have increased by 6% the flow of CO2 into the air by burning coal, oil and natural gas. If we started global heating, can we reverse it by engineering?

The first scientist to consider geoengineering seriously was the Russian geophysicist Mikhail Budyko. In the 1970s he proposed that we could offset global heating by spreading in the stratosphere a fine dispersion of particles that reflected sunlight back to space; he based the idea on the observation that volcanic eruptions that did this were followed by global-scale cooling. He suggested that we could mimic the effects of a volcanic eruption by putting an aerosol into the stratosphere. His idea was confirmed by the detailed observations and analysis of the effect of Mount Pinatubo's eruption in 1991. It injected 20m tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere and this soon oxidised to form the white reflecting particles that offset global heating for three years. It is within our capacity to put this much sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere.

There are other ways of reflecting sunlight: large mirrors or diffusers of sunlight put in orbit around the sun. One of the more promising and controllable reflection methods was put forward by John Latham and Stephen Salter, who proposed spraying very fine droplets of sea water from the ocean surface to make the natural surface clouds, called marine stratus, whiter.

As well as cooling by reflecting sunlight away we could cool by removing the carbon dioxide or methane from the air. Klaus Lackner has proposed making artificial trees to do this; others, following the lead of Johannes Lehmann, would sooner see vegetation capture CO2 and then, after harvest, turn the plant waste into charcoal and bury it.

Geoengineering implies that we have an ailing planet that needs a cure. But our ignorance of the Earth system is great; we know little more than an early 19th-century physician knew about the body. Geoengineering is like trying to cure pneumonia by immersing the patient in a bath of icy water; the fever would be cured but not the disease.

Many of us feel a sense of unease about using geoengineering to escape global heating. Most of the planetary therapies have side effects, potentially as severe as the disease itself. We know that the cooling by Pinatubo was accompanied by droughts; cooling alone does nothing to prevent the ocean growing ever more acid as the carbon dioxide dissolves in the water.

Before long, global heating could reach a level that makes geoengineering an enticing option. Indeed, cautiously applied it may help by buying us time either to adapt to climate change or to develop a practical scientific cure. We have, as yet, no comprehensive Earth system science; in such ignorance I cannot help feeling that attempts by us to regulate the Earth's climate and chemistry would condemn humanity to a Kafkaesque fate from which there may be no escape. Better, perhaps, to learn from the wiser physicians of the early 19th century; they knew no cure for common diseases but also knew that by letting nature take its course, the patient often recovered. Perhaps we, too, had better use our energies to adapt and leave recovery to Gaia; after all, she has survived more than three billion years and has kept life going all that time."

James Lovelock is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist and futurist. He proposed the Gaia hypothesis, in which the Earth functions as a superorganism. His most recent book is "The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning."

"The Gaia Hyphothesis is "the theory proposed by James Lovelock that the earth is a self-regulating, self-sustaining system and can be viewed as a single, living organism." Gaia is named after the Greek earth Goddess. In Lovelock's first book, near the end of Chapter 1 he wrote:

"If Gaia exists, the relationship between her and man, a dominant animal species in the complex living system, and the possibly shifting balance of power between them, are questions of obvious importance...The Gaia hypothesis is for those who like to walk or simply stand and stare, to wonder about the Earth and the life it bears, and to speculate about the consequences of our own presence here. It is an alternative to that pessimistic view which sees nature as a primitive force to be subdued and conquered. It is also an alternative to that equally depressing picture of our planet as a demented spaceship, forever traveling, driverless and purposeless, around an inner circle of the sun."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nuggets from the Net: "The Web Gallery of Art"

"The Web Gallery of Art"

"The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Realism periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 22,600 reproductions. It was started in 1996 as a topical site of the Renaissance art, originated in the Italian city-states of the 14th century and spread to other countries in the 15th and 16th centuries. Intending to present Renaissance art as comprehensively as possible, the scope of the collection was later extended to show its Medieval roots as well as its evolution to Baroque and Rococo via Mannerism. More recently the periods of Neoclassicism and Romanticism were also included.

The collection has some of the characteristics of a virtual museum. The experience of the visitors is enhanced by guided tours helping to understand the artistic and historical relationship between different works and artists, by period music of choice in the background and a free postcard service. At the same time the collection serves the visitors' need for a site where various information on art, artists and history can be found together with corresponding pictorial illustrations. Although not a conventional one, the collection is a searchable database supplemented by a glossary containing articles on art terms, relevant historical events, personages, cities, museums and churches.

The Web Gallery of Art is intended to be a free resource of art history primarily for students and teachers. It is a private initiative not related to any museums or art institutions, and not supported financially by any state or corporate sponsors. However, we do our utmost, using authentic literature and advice from professionals, to ensure the quality and authenticity of the content.

We are convinced that such a collection of digital reproductions, containing a balanced mixture of interlinked visual and textual information, can serve multiple purposes. On one hand it can simply be a source of artistic enjoyment; a convenient alternative to visiting a distant museum, or an incentive to do just that. On the other hand, it can serve as a tool for public education both in schools and at home."

For those so inclined, this is a treasure trove of material. Enjoy!

H.L. Mencken

"Alone among the animals, man is dowered with the capacity to invent imaginary worlds, and he is always making himself unhappy by trying to move into them. Thus he underrates the world in which he actually lives, and so misses most of the fun that is in it. That world, I am convinced, could be materially improved, but even as it stands it is good enough to keep any reasonable man entertained for a lifetime. As for me, I roll out of my couch every morning with the most agreeable expectations. In the morning paper there is always massive and exhilarating evidence that the human race, despite its ages-long effort to imitate the seraphim, is still doomed to be irrevocably human, and in my morning mail I always get soothing proof that there are men left who are even worse asses than I am."
- H.L. Mencken, "Living Philosophies"

"Cong. Alan Grayson Laughs in Bernanke's Face"

"During his questioning of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Shalom Bernanke before the House Financial Services Committee, U.S. congressman Alan Grayson (D), representing Florida's 8th congressional district (Orlando, Ocala, Eustis), burst out laughing at Bernanke's hubris.

Grayson's questioning focused on the Fed's handouts to FOREIGN central banks in Europe and other countries. These "Central Bank Liquidity Swaps" rose from a total of $24 billion at the end of 2007, to over $553 billion by the end of 2008.

Grayson: "So who got the money?"
Bernanke: "Financial institutions in Europe and other counries."
Grayson: "Which ones?"
Bernanke: "I don't know."
Gryson: "Half a trillion dollars and you don't know who got the money?"

It gets even better.

3:02 -
Grayson: "Well, look at the next page [in Bernanke's written report], the very next page has the U.S. dollar nominal exchange rate, which shows a 20 percent increase in the U.S. dollar nominal exchange rate at exactly the same time that you were handing out half a trillion dollars. You think that's a coincidence?"
Bernanke: "Yes."
Grayson: "hah-hah-hah-hah!"

And really, can Ben Bernanke possibly be so ignorant of the history of the institution that he heads not to know what year the Federal Reserve Act was passed (under very shady circumstances) by the U.S. congress?

Anyone who is interested in the nefarious origins of the Federal Reserve must read the great book by G. Edward Griffin, "The Creature from Jeckyll Island."

You can watch the entire hearing on the C-SPAN web site:

"A Look to the Heavens"

"At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured below, was floating free in space.
Click image for larger size.

McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an "untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit."

Richard Bach

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood,
but of respect and joy in each other's life.
Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."

"Every person, all the events of your life are there
because you have drawn them there.
What you choose to do with them is up to you."

"Your friends will know you better in the first minute you meet
than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years."

"Can miles truly separate you from friends...
If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?"

Richard Bach

Bob Herbert, "Fed Up With War"

"Fed Up With War"
By Bob Herbert

"Most Americans, looking at a globe, would be hard pressed to find Afghanistan. Americans on the whole know very little about the land or its people — and care even less. They know we’re at war over there, wherever it is, but if you were to ask what a Pashtun is or mention the name Abdullah Abdullah you would most likely get a blank stare. Americans’ minds are on other things, like trying to figure out why, if the Great Recession is over, as Ben Bernanke seems to believe, the employment landscape still looks like a toxic waste dump.

A New York Times/CBS News poll found that eight years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, there is a general feeling of disenchantment with our military involvement there and a desire to bring it to an end. About half of all Americans believe that the war has had no effect on the threat of terrorism, and a majority want the troops out of there in two years.

Americans are tired of the war. Some of the young people currently being outfitted for combat were just 10 or 11 years old when Al Qaeda struck the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. They are heading off to a conflict that most Americans are no longer interested in. The difference between the public’s take on this war and that of the nation’s top civilian and military leadership is both stunning and ominous.

A clash is coming. President Obama may be reconsidering his idea of substantially increasing the number of American troops, but no one at the higher echelons of government is suggesting that anything other than a long, hard, tragic and expensive campaign lies ahead — with no promise of ultimate victory, or even a serious definition of what would constitute victory.

The two broad options being explored and argued about at the White House, the Pentagon and elsewhere are an all-out counterinsurgency strategy, which includes an emphasis on protecting and wooing the Afghan population, and a more narrow focus on counterterrorism. This is a distinction that is not nearly as clear cut as it sounds. President Obama says our goal in Afghanistan is to defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies. That’s counterterrorism, and it’s a goal with which few Americans would argue. But the administration also argues that it is impossible to defeat Al Qaeda and eventually bring American troops home if we don’t fight the Taliban on the ground and simultaneously work to establish an effective government in Afghanistan with an armed force capable of protecting its own population. That’s classic counterinsurgency and nation-building.

The president’s goals, however you characterize the strategies under consideration, may or may not be achievable. But they are definitely not achievable in a short period of time, without the loss of a great deal of lives, and without a tremendous continued expenditure of American dollars.

The public has not been prepared for a renewed big-time, long-haul effort in Afghanistan. And if American casualties increase substantially, support for the war will diminish that much more. There is very little tolerance in the U.S. for the reality of war, which is why the images in the media are so sanitized. The public’s concept of warfare, for the most part, is the product of Hollywood movies about the heroics of the so-called Greatest Generation, and video games.

This disconnect between what the public is expecting, or willing to accept, regarding the war in Afghanistan and what the White House and the Pentagon are in fact planning is vast. Americans want their politicians to concentrate on the economy here at home. After the long, sad experience in Iraq, and the worst economic shock since the Depression, they are not up for extended combat and endless nation-building in Afghanistan.

The armchair generals, in full popcorn mode, are enthusiastically debating the merits of this strategy or that, and speculating on the political implications for President Obama. It’s an exhilarating intellectual exercise. But the American public has other priorities in mind.

What we need to be assessing are the implications of forcing still more conflict on a public that is broke, dispirited and fed up with eight years of continuous warfare that have not yielded a victory parade or a sense that the nation is reasonably secure. If the conflict in Afghanistan is as crucial to American national security as President Obama has said, then he needs to make that case to the public, clearly and compellingly. A presidential call to arms to meet a threat of that magnitude should surely overshadow the national debate on health care. Otherwise, let’s explore creative alternatives to endless warfare and start bringing the weary troops home."

"You've Got to Be Kidding: What's a Coconut Crab?"

"You've Got to Be Kidding: What's a Coconut Crab?"

"The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world and is probably at the limit of how big terrestrial animals with exoskeletons can get under the prevailing conditions. Their body is divided into four regions; the cephalic lobe, forepart, trunk, and opisthosoma. It is a highly apomorphic hermit crab and is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents. It is the only species of the genus Birgus.
"It is also called the robber crab or palm thief, because some coconut crabs are rumored to steal shiny items such as pots and silverware from houses and tents...." The AbsoluteAstronomy article doesn't say how big the coconut crab is - but another source says the body can be 16 inches long. The things climb trees, and those big claws can lift up to 64 pounds. That's one impressive crab."

"Coconut crabs live alone in underground burrows and rock crevices, depending on the local terrain. They dig their own burrows in sand or loose soil. During the day, the animal stays hidden to protect itself from predators and reduce water loss from heat. The crabs' burrows contain very fine yet strong fibers of the coconut husk which the animal uses as bedding. While resting in its burrow, the coconut crab closes the entrances with one of its claws to create the moist microclimate within the burrow necessary for its breathing organs. In areas with a large coconut crab population, some may also come out during the day, perhaps to gain an advantage in the search for food. Coconut crabs will also sometimes come out during the day if it is moist or raining, since these conditions allow them to breathe more easily. They live almost exclusively on land, and some have been found up to 6 km from the ocean."

"Why Do 'Normal' People Talk to Themselves?"

"Why Do 'Normal' People Talk to Themselves?"
By C. Claiborne Ray

Q. Why do “normal” people talk to themselves?

A. The old joke is that it is the only way to be sure of having an intelligent conversation, but it has some real uses. “Young children often conduct a conversation with an imaginary friend, or a real friend who just happens not to be there,” said Randy Engle, a professor of psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. And, he said, it is a normal part of development.

When adults talk to themselves, Professor Engle said, it could reflect a mental disease, but most people do it. While he said he was not aware of extensive investigations of why, he suggested two explanations. “One is that when we are reading something that is quite complex, it helps to verbalize it aloud,” he said, “because hearing it, and hearing the language, gives us another cue for remembering those exact words. Listening to our internal auditory memory has been found to be quite helpful to understand a particularly complex sentence.”

A second reason, he said, involves something called prospective memory. “As we get older, our ability to remember to do things we intend to do gets worse,” he said. Like string around the finger, hearing ourselves talk about these things can help us to remember to do them. It could be something as simple as talking about picking up the laundry, he said, but the trick is best saved for an important plan that involves breaking a normal routine.

“If we did it every time we wanted to remember something all day, it wouldn’t work,” he said. “One thing we know about cognition is that it works best with something different or novel.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Newtownards, Ards, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by.

Greg Anderson

"When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning,
by dreams that need completion,
by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life."
- Greg Anderson

"5 Ways to Beef Up Your Brain"

"5 Ways to Beef Up Your Brain"
By Andrea Thompson

"Weighing in at an average of 2.7 pounds (1,200 grams), the human brain packs a whopping 100 billion neurons. Every minute, about three soda-cans worth of blood flow through the brain.

Forget where you left your keys this morning? Or maybe you left your umbrella in the office before a rainy evening. Don't worry, it's probably not a sign of Alzheimer's — everyone is a little forgetful now and then. But the prevalence of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, which slowly deteriorate the brain's capacity to make new memories, retrieve older ones and perform other mental and physical tasks, is on the rise as the baby boomer generation hits retirement age. A 2007 Alzheimer's Association report estimated that more than 5 million Americans were currently living with the disease and that that total could reach 16 million by 2050.

Scientists are still trying to unravel the many mysteries of the brain — how our brain processes information, how memory works, how the brain ages and how diseases like Alzheimer's develop — so that we better understand our own minds and how to keep them healthy. But while there is still a lot to learn about our noggins, several studies have worked out a few ways to help keep your thinking organ in shape, now and as you age.

1. Eat Your Brain Food: You are what you eat, or at least your brain is. A diet of junk food can junk up your brain, as things like trans fats and saturated fats, common in heavily processed foods, can negatively affect the brain's synapses. Synapses connect the brains neurons and are important to learning and memory. On the other hand, a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids — found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit — can give the synapses a boost and help fight against mental disorders from depression to dementia.

2. Hit the Gym: Giving the rest of your body a workout can also improve your memory, make you think more clearly and decrease the risk of developing cognitive diseases, several studies have suggested. Because exercise is a mild stressor to your body, eating up the precious energy needed by the brain, it triggers the release of chemicals called growth factors that make the brain's neurons stronger and healthier. Half an hour every other day will do it, experts say. And don't forget to stretch: Stretching can help reduce stress, which can impact the memory centers of your brain.

3. Mind Benders: Give your brain a workout, too, with brainteasers, crossword puzzles and memory games (or blogging!) — studies have shown that using these tools to stay mentally active can reduce the risks of developing dementia by building and maintaining a reserve of stimulation in your brain. Even following the current political campaign can provide a boost to the systems that control attention and learning that are hard-wired into the brain.

4. Memory tricks: Keeping information stored in your memory banks and retaining that memory with age may also be a simple matter of mind control. For example, confidence in your cognitive abilities could actually affect how well your memory functions, particularly for the elderly. Because some older adults tend to blame memory lapses on age, regardless of whether or not that is the cause, they can keep themselves from even really trying to remember. Prediction can also enhance memory: If you have a good idea of the information you'll need to recall later, you're more likely to remember it.

5. Give it a Rest: Sleep gives your brain a chance to replay the memories of the day and consolidate them for long-term storage. One study suggested that the brain can do its reviewing much faster when you're asleep than when you're wide awake — so no more all-nighters, students. A 90-minute mid-afternoon nap can even help solidify long-term memories, such as events or skills you are trying to master. Siesta anyone?

Of course, none of these mind-enhancing tips is fool-proof. Some studies have suggested that developing Alzheimer's and other types of dementia is partly a matter of genetics. One such study, presented in July at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, hinted at a connection between mothers who develop Alzheimer's and the chances their children will become afflicted in old age. Another suggests that having a specific pattern of proteins is a risk factor for the debilitating disease. But for now, no one can predict exactly who will or won't develop dementia. While scientists work on better indicators and cures, doing your own part to keep your body and brain healthy is probably the best you can do."

Jim Rohn

"The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants
and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something
could have materialized - never knowing."
- Jim Rohn

Ralph L. Keeney, "Cheat Death"

"Cheat Death"
by Ralph L. Keeney

"Ralph Keeney wants to improve our lives—by making us confront our deaths. In a recent study published in the journal Operations Research, Keeney, a decision analyst at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, crunched data from the Centers for Disease Control to assess how many deaths in the US are due to personal choices—things like smoking, overeating, or unsafe sex. The results: A remarkable 55 percent of deaths for people age 15 to 64 can be attributed to decisions with readily available alternatives. In other words, most people are the agents of their own demise. That's a vast difference from a century ago, when, Keeney estimates, a scant 5 percent of deaths were brought on by personal decisions (infectious diseases account for most of the rest).

So are we facing an epidemic of stupidity? More like an epidemic of ignorance. Our health and well-being are determined by numerous daily cost-benefit calculations. But too many of us get the math wrong. We may know that it's bad to drive without a seat belt. But we don't correctly weigh the cost (the three seconds it takes to buckle up) against the risk (death).

Keeney notes that society already holds people accountable for some actions: Some workplaces disqualify smokers as job candidates; alcoholics are often denied liver transplants. We could deploy more of these penalties: costlier health insurance for the obese, or criminalizing texting while driving the way we do drunk driving. But in the end, punishment is inevitable anyway. "The ultimate penalty is death," Keeney says. "I don't want to totally thwart survival of the fittest."

Contact Information: Professor Ralph Keeney, Duke University: The Fuqua School of Business,

Karl Denninger, "The FED's Horrible Conundrum"

"The FED's Horrible Conundrum"
by Karl Denninger

"The Fed's continued policy pronouncements that: 'The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period,' has set up a completely-untenable position for The Fed and the greater economy.

The problem The Fed and America faces is that this latest "blast of the liquidity firehose" is not limited to The United States in its impact. Indeed, the problems that this sort of "monetary policy" generates have almost nothing to do with the US Economic picture - rather, they have everything to do with the international nature of markets and monetary flows and the impact that such a policy pronouncement has on them. Specifically, The United States Dollar has become the primary funding currency for carry trades: “The dollar is the big funding currency,” said Jonathan Clark, vice chairman of New York-based FX Concepts Inc., the world’s largest currency hedge fund, with $9 billion in assets under management. “The reason why people are borrowing the U.S. dollar for carry trade is A: It’s very cheap to fund, and B: The expectation is it’s going to go down.”

This is a tremendously destructive force for an economy, and is largely-responsible for Japan's inability to return to economic prosperity and growth over the last 20 years - the Yen became a funding currency of choice. But Japan had an advantage we do not - a weak currency benefited to a tremendous degree their exporters, and they are an export-based economy. As a consequence the damage done internally to import prices by the continued downward pressure on their currency was counterbalanced by an improving balance-of-payments picture.

America, on the other hand, has a huge trade deficit. Attempting to reverse this is essentially impossible as we have offshored production to low-labor-cost locales such as Vietnam and China. We are also absolutely dependent on foreign energy sources and despite 30 years of political promises to resolve that problem we have refused to take the steps necessary to do so, including funding massive nuclear energy development and drilling for all of our currently-known resources as a bridge while those nuclear plants are brought online. There is and has been zero political or public will behind accepting that resolving these problems does not lie in "pie in the sky" battery, solar and wind technologies, but rather through aquaculture-produced bioldiesel, massive nuclear power development and full exploitation of our existing fossil-fuel stores, all of which will cause energy costs to rise and exact what amounts to a tax on the American people. In short we demand not only cheap TVs from China and cheap blue jeans from Vietnam but cheap gasoline from Saudi Arabia, and combined this makes addressing trade imbalance politically impossible. Depreciating our currency makes internationally-represented firms such as Caterpillar happy, but this is a short-term phenomena, as competing producers in China can (and will!) over time cannibalize their sales into that market since their labor costs are so low.

We simply cannot afford to allow a self-reinforcing cycle to become established with dollar-funded carry trades. There is a line beyond which the depreciation in the dollar causes such a trade to become self-reinforcing and extraordinarily destructive. Exactly where that line happens to be is difficult to determine but that a profit/reinvestment cycle "kneepoint" exists is axiomatic.

Should we reach that point the dollar will come under attack in the FX markets to a degree that is literally impossible to stem. FX markets move a couple of trillion dollars a day - intervention in those markets is both insanely expensive and futile over any material amount of time. This is what those who are sounding the alarm over a potential currency collapse see in the future - and the risk they are speak of is in fact very real. The only real means of defense against such a self-reinforcing cycle is to limit the number of dollars in circulation. This means raising interest rates - either formally or effectively - through withdrawal of liquidity - forcing an unwind of these trades and raising the uncertainty level high enough that traders will not risk ruin - in other words, we must transform a near-sure-thing to a likely-bad outcome.

This is the flaw in Benranke's central thesis - that The Fed can continually respond to challenges in the economy by making money "cheaper" with each iteration. History shows that indeed this is exactly what Bernanke and his predecessors have done, both formally in The Fed Funds rate and informally through intentional and willful loosening of the constraints on leverage and lending. Yet this is a road that leads, ultimately, directly to Hell's Gate and somewhere along the line is a one-way trap door.

There is a limit in the economy on debt service at a given level of GDP. The available "slack" between the current interest rates being charged and the maximum sustainable interest rate before default becomes inevitable is the "safety margin" that allows monetary policy to work. By intentionally eroding that margin over time The Fed has now backed itself into a corner; it reached the "zero rate" boundary and yet wanted even more easing, so it began monetizing debt. This is as clear of a declaration you will ever see that the economy will not support higher interest cost even with the formal Fed Funds rate at zero.

In aviation circles there is a concept called "the coffin corner" where one approaches the speed of sound in an airframe that is not rated for transonic operation. Briefly as altitude increases the speed at which the plane must travel to produce sufficient lift to keep the plane in level flight goes up. Yet lurking up there is the critical mach number - the point where airflow over the wing approaches Mach 1 (a wing produces lift because the air going over the top surface must travel a greater distance, and therefore there are fewer molecules of air present in a given area over the wing than below - thus, lift) and produces a dramatic increase in drag and/or change in the pressure gradient. If the pilot increases speed to compensate for the loss of lift at higher altitudes he gets closer to the point where loss of control happens due to the latter phenomena. When that margin gets too small something as simple as an ordinary turn (which causes a change in the apparent angle of attack between the inside and outside wings) or turbulence can cause the plane to either exceed its critical Mach number or experience a stall, leading to loss of control.

This is the sort of "needle-threading" exercise that Bernanke is now engaged in, yet he continues to press the envelope further and further, intentionally ignoring the hard numerical facts that continue to mount - we have exceed the maximum debt-carrying capacity in the system and are now turning to outright fraud to hide defaults and insolvencies that have already occurred! This is an unstable circumstance that must not be allowed to continue. Rather, the authorities must insist on the immediate reduction in systemic leverage and the recognition of hidden defaults, even if this forces major financial institutions out of business, accepting the damage that will accrue to the economy.

The reason for this need is clear: The damage we have accumulated over the last 30 years remains smaller than the damage we will take going forward if we do not quit screwing around. That is the current loss is the best and in fact smallest loss. This was true in 1987, it was true in the 1990s, it was true in 2001 and was true in 2007.

We have a 30 year unbroken time line of proof that attempting to hide systemic damage and bad debt does not make it go away - it simply hides it in the corner and then piles more bad debt on top of it. Those who have claimed that we "must not" disrupt these large institutions and that such would cause "unthinkable" economic damage have been repeatedly caught telling only half the truth. Yes, the damage will be severe, but that is in fact precisely why we must accept it now: it has only gotten continually worse since the 1980s as we have continued to hide rather than accept this damage, and those who have claimed to be able to prevent and reverse the damage have repeatedly, over a 30 year time span, been proved wrong."

"How It Really Is"

"How to Sniff Out A Liar"

"How to Sniff Out A Liar"
by Melanie Lindner

"There are plenty of dangerously skilled liars- and not just the Bernie Madoffs and Jeffrey Skillings of the world. Indeed, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, we're all guilty fibbers. According to an oft-cited 1996 University of Virginia study led by psychologist Bella DePaulo, lying is part of the human condition. Over the course of one week, DePaulo and her colleagues asked 147 participants, aged 18 to 71, to record in a diary all of their social interactions and all of the lies they told during them. On average, each person lied just over 10 times, and only seven participants claimed to have been completely honest.

To be fair, most of the time we're just trying to be nice. (When your wife asks if you enjoyed the dinner she cooked, most husbands who know what's good for them say, "It was delicious.") Such "false positive" lies are delivered 10 to 20 times more often than spurious denials of culpability, according to DePaulo's research. Other studies show that men and women lie with equal frequency, though women are more likely to lie to make other people feel good, while men tend to lie to make themselves look better. As for who we hoodwink, "we lie less frequently to our significant others because we're more invested in those relationships," says Jeffrey Hancock, associate professor of communication at Cornell University. The question is: How to know when someone's selling you swampland in Florida?

Traditional polygraph tests, around in some form or fashion since the early 1900s, use sensors to detect fluctuations in blood pressure, pulse, respiration and sweat in response to probing questions. Two problems with polygraphs: First, they only work about 80% of the time, according to the American Polygraph Association. Second, it's not like we are going to carry all that hardware to a business meeting or a bar. And that means relying on our own very limited vigilance. "Although there are some ways in which liars behave differently from truth-tellers, there are no perfectly reliable cues to deception," admits DePaulo, author of more than a dozen deception studies. "Cues to deception differ according to factors such as the type of lie and the motivation for getting away with it." While there is no surefire on-the-spot way to sniff out dissemblers, there are some helpful tactics for uncovering untruths.

Liars often give short or one-word responses to questions, while truth tellers are more likely to flesh out their answers. According to a 2003 study by DePaulo, a liar provides fewer details and uses fewer words than an honest person, and talks for a smaller percentage of the conversation. Skilled liars don't break a sweat, but the rest of us get a little fidgety. Four possible giveaways: shifty eyes, higher vocal pitch, perspiration and heavier breathing. Of course, not everyone who doesn't meet your gaze is a liar.

"Certain behavioral traits, like averting eye contact, could be cultural and not indicative of a liar," says Joseph Buckley, president of John E. Reid & Associates, which has provided interview and interrogation training to more than 500,000 law enforcement agents to date. The company is also the creator of the Reid Technique, a nine-step interrogation process employed by many U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Liars are often reluctant to admit ordinary storytelling mistakes. When honest people tell stories, they may realize partway through that they left out some details and would unselfconsciously backtrack to fill in holes. They also may realize a previous statement wasn't quite right, and go back and explain further. Liars, on the other hand, "are worried that someone might catch them in a lie and are reluctant to admit to such ordinary imperfections," says DePaulo. Yet another clue: imprecise pronouns. To psychologically distance themselves from a lie, people often pepper their tales with second- and third-person pronouns like "you," "we" and "they," says Hancock. Liars are also more likely to ask that questions be repeated and begin responses with phrases like, "to tell you the truth," and "to be perfectly honest," says Reid.

When telling the truth, people often make hand gestures to the rhythm of their speech. Hands emphasize points or phrases- a natural and compelling technique when they actually believe the points they're making. The less certain will keep gesticulations in check, says Hancock.

The mode of communication matters too. Studies show that we are less likely to lie face-to-face than over the phone or the Web. In one week-long study of 30 college students, Hancock observed that the phone was the weapon of choice, enabling 37% of all the lies, versus 27% during face-to-face exchanges, 21% using Instant Messaging and just 14% via e-mail.

Will we ever come clean? Not likely. Guilty stomach knots aside, the subjects in DePaulo's study confessed that they would tell 75% of the lies again if given the opportunity. Chances are, they'd get away with it."

"Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own lying eyes?" - Groucho Marx

Computer Technology: "What Is 'Light Peak'?"

"What Is 'Light Peak'?"
by Joshua Topolsky

"Remember how Intel showed off its new, advanced optical standard - 'Light Peak' - this past week on a Hackintosh? Well it turns out there's more to that story than you probably know, and it all leads back to some revealing facts about the connection... literally and figuratively. Engadget has learned - thanks to an extremely reliable source - that not only is Apple complicit in the development of Light Peak, but the company actually brought the concept to Intel and asked them to create it. More to the point, the new standard will play a hugely important role in upcoming products from Cupertino.

According to documents we've seen and conversations we've had, Apple had reached out to Intel as early as 2007 with plans for an interoperable standard which could handle massive amounts of data and "replace the multitudinous connector types with a single connector (FireWire, USB, Display interface)." From what we've learned, the initial conversations (and apparent disagreements) were had directly between Steve Jobs and Paul Otellini. If you were wondering about that Apple-blue motherboard we saw at IDF or the aforementioned Hackintosh demo, this should explain everything. Cupertino apparently had specific demands for the standard, including the desire for a single port solution, and an insistence that optical was the only logical choice for such a connector type. Based on the documents we had a look at, the short-term plans seem to involve a one-size-fits-all solution (somehow allowing for multiple connections but avoiding "double dongles") which would enable users to connect a variety of devices into a single Light Peak port, while slightly longer-term plans will mean Light Peak obviates the need for almost every type of connector you use today. Translation: Apple products in the near future could come equipped with only a Light Peak port (or ports) to handle your networking, display driving, and general connectivity.

What happens next, however, is where the story really gets interesting. Based on what we've learned, Apple will introduce the new standard for its systems around Fall 2010 in a line of Macs destined for back-to-school shoppers -- a follow-up to the "Spotlight turns to notebooks" event, perhaps. Following the initial launch, there are plans to roll out a low-power variation in 2011, which could lead to more widespread adoption in handhelds and cellphones. The plans from October 2007 show a roadmap that includes Light Peak being introduced to the iPhone / iPod platform to serve as a gateway for multimedia and networking outputs. While the timing doesn't line up, a low-powered Light Peak sounds like the kind of technology that would be perfect for a device with a need for broad connectivity but limited real estate for ports... like a tablet.

Apparently, there are also plans for a new, low-power Atom chip due next year meant to compete with current CPUs driving mobile devices like the iPhone, netbooks, and set-top boxes. The indication we've been given is that that product (coupled with the Light Peak standard) could provide the basis for some "big" MID news in 2010... but not from Apple. As we saw at the announcement, Sony is also a first-tier partner (though not nearly in the connected way Apple is), and it looks likely the company could find use for that pairing (especially with its entry into the netbook market this year). We can't see Apple utilizing an Atom chip in anything, especially when it's busy cranking away with P.A. Semiconductor and its rumored projects.

In the end, we can't say we know or understand Apple's complete plans for the standard, but what is notable is that the company is pushing for an all-on-one connectivity solution, and pushing hard. That means Cupertino is at least prepared to abandon the standards we now know for a singular solution, and potentially just skip over forthcoming offerings like USB 3.0 (or at least downplay their use). It's not an uncommon move for Apple, but in the past those choices have had major repercussions -- and this pairing is extremely reminiscent of the USB / iMac story (Intel also created that standard, which Apple then popularized). We're going to keep our ears to the ground on this news, but for now, it's an interesting peek behind the curtain, and a possible glimpse into the future of connectivity."

Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that
you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."

- Mark Twain

"US Job Seekers Exceed Openings By Record Ratio"

"US Job Seekers Exceed Openings By Record Ratio"
by Peter S. Goodman

"Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse. Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department’s latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed. And even though the pace of layoffs is slowing, many companies remain anxious about growth prospects in the months ahead, making them reluctant to add to their payrolls. “There’s too much uncertainty out there,” said Thomas A. Kochan, a labor economist at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management. “There’s not going to be an upsurge in job openings for quite a while, not until employers feel confident the economy is really growing.”

The dearth of jobs reflects the caution of many American businesses when no one knows what will emerge to propel the economy. With unemployment at 9.7* percent nationwide, the shortage of paychecks is both a cause and an effect of weak hiring.

In Milwaukee, Debbie Kransky has been without work since February, when she was laid off from a medical billing position — her second job loss in two years. She has exhausted her unemployment benefits, because her last job lasted for only a month. Indeed, in a perverse quirk of the unemployment system, she would have qualified for continued benefits had she stayed jobless the whole two years, rather than taking a new position this year. But since her latest unemployment claim stemmed from a job that lasted mere weeks, she recently drew her final check of $340. Ms. Kransky, 51, has run through her life savings of roughly $10,000. Her job search has garnered little besides anxiety.

“I’ve worked my entire life,” said Ms. Kransky, who lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. “I’ve got October rent. After that, I don’t know. I’ve never lived month to month my entire life. I’m just so scared, I can’t even put it into words.” Last week, Ms. Kransky was invited to an interview for a clerical job with a health insurance company. She drove her Jeep truck downtown and waited in the lobby of an office building for nearly an hour, but no one showed. Despondent, she drove home, down $10 in gasoline.

For years, the economy has been powered by consumers, who borrowed exuberantly against real estate and tapped burgeoning stock portfolios to spend in excess of their incomes. Those sources of easy money have mostly dried up. Consumption is now tempered by saving; optimism has been eclipsed by worry. Meanwhile, some businesses are in a holding pattern as they await the financial consequences of the health care reforms being debated in Washington.

Even after companies regain an inclination to expand, they will probably not hire aggressively anytime soon. Experts say that so many businesses have pared back working hours for people on their payrolls, while eliminating temporary workers, that many can increase output simply by increasing the workload on existing employees. “They have tons of room to increase work without hiring a single person,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute Economist. “For people who are out of work, we do not see signs of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Even typically hard-charging companies are showing caution. During the technology bubble of the late 1990s and again this decade, Cisco Systems — which makes Internet equipment — expanded rapidly. As the sense takes hold that the recession has passed, Cisco is again envisioning double-digit rates of sales growth, with plans to move aggressively into new markets, like the business of operating large scale computer data servers. Yet even as Cisco pursues such designs, the company’s chief executive, John T. Chambers, said in an interview Friday that he anticipated “slow hiring,” given concerns about the vigor of growth ahead. “We’ll be doing it selectively,” he said.

Two recent surveys of newspaper help-wanted advertisements and of employers’ inclinations to add workers were at their lowest levels on record, noted Andrew Tilton, a Goldman Sachs economist. Job placement companies say their customers are not yet wiling to hire large numbers of temporary workers, usually a precursor to hiring full-timers. “It’s going to take quite some time before we see robust job growth,” said Tig Gilliam, chief executive of Adecco North America, a major job placement and staffing company.

During the last recession, in 2001, the number of jobless people reached little more than double the number of full-time job openings, according to the Labor Department data. By the beginning of this year, job seekers outnumbered jobs four-to-one, with the ratio growing ever more lopsided in recent months. Though layoffs have been both severe and prominent, the greatest source of distress is a predilection against hiring by many American businesses. From the beginning of the recession in December 2007 through July of this year, job openings declined 45 percent in the West and the South, 36 percent in the Midwest and 23 percent in the Northeast.

Shrinking job opportunities have assailed virtually every industry this year. Since the end of 2008, job openings have diminished 47 percent in manufacturing, 37 percent in construction and 22 percent in retail. Even in education and health services — faster-growing areas in which many unemployed people have trained for new careers — job openings have dropped 21 percent this year. Despite the passage of a stimulus spending package aimed at shoring up state and local coffers, government job openings have diminished 17 percent this year.

In the suburbs of Chicago, Vicki Redican, 52, has been unemployed for almost two years, since she lost her $75,000-a-year job as a sales and marketing manager at a plastics company. College-educated, Ms. Redican first sought another management job. More recently, she has tried and failed to land a cashier’s position at a local grocery store, and a barista slot at a Starbucks coffee shop. Substitute teaching assignments once helped her pay the bills. “Now, there are so many people substitute teaching that I can no longer get assignments,” she said. “I’ve learned that I can’t look to tomorrow,” she said. “Every day, I try to do the best I can. I say to myself, ‘I don’t control this process.’ That’s the only way you can look at it. Otherwise, you’d have to go up on the roof and crack your head open.”

*John Williams at claims the true unemployment rate to be 20.6%.

"The Dollar Is Dead, Long Live the Renminbi"

"The Dollar Is Dead, Long Live the Renminbi"
by Jeremy Warner

"Sometimes it takes a crisis to restore reason and equilibrium to the world, and so it is with the trade and capital imbalances that were arguably the root cause of the financial collapse of the past two years. To economic purists, the changes now under way in demand and trade are inevitable, necessary and even desirable. Even so, dollar supremacy and the geo-political dominance of the West are both likely long-term casualties. One, almost unnoticed, effect of the downturn is that past imbalances in trade and capital flows are correcting themselves of their own volition, the simple consequence of lower demand in once profligate consumer nations. Current-account surpluses in China, Germany and Japan are narrowing, as are the deficits of the major consumer nations – primarily America, but also smaller profligates such as Britain and Spain.

The key question for G20 leaders as they met in Pittsburgh was not bankers' bonuses, financial regulation and other issues of peripheral importance, but whether this correction in trade might be used as the basis for a permanently more balanced world economy. In direct contradiction of US objectives, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, accuses Britain and America of using the issue of trade imbalances to backtrack on financial reform and bankers' bonuses. "We should not start looking for ersatz [substitute] issues and forget the topic of financial market regulation," she said before boarding the plane to Pittsburgh.

To the big export nations, the primary cause of the crisis was Anglo Saxon financiers, whose wicked and avaricious ways created a catastrophe in the financial system, which led to a collapse in world trade. Once bankers are tamed, this one-off shock can be put behind us and the world will return to business as usual. Blaming bankers is politically popular – Ms Merkel has an election to fight on Sunday – but the idea that the world economy will return to the way it was once this supposed cancer is removed is fanciful.

A seminal shift in behaviour is being forced on the deficit nations where, despite massive fiscal, monetary and financial system support, there is a continuing scarcity of credit and a growing propensity to save. Neither of these two constraints on demand will reverse any time soon. This, in turn, is forcing change on surplus countries, whether they like it or not. Export-orientated nations can no longer rely on once profligate neighbours to buy their goods. Against all instinct, they are having to stimulate their own domestic demand.

The most startling results are evident in China, where retail sales grew an astonishing 15.4 per cent in August. Fiscal action has succeeded in boosting consumption in Germany, too, despite mistrust of what one German politician has dubbed "crass Keynesianism". Unfortunately for him, Germany will have to persist with its Keynesian medicine for some time yet if it is to avoid a collapse back into recession. Tax cuts and perhaps the removal of fiscal incentives to save are essential to the process of supporting domestic demand.

The challenge for a developing nation such as China is a rather different one. In China, the propensity to export and save is driven by an absence of any meaningful social security net, in combination with the legacy of its oppressive one child policy, which has deprived great swathes of the population of children to fall back on for support in old age.
What's more, most Chinese don't earn enough to buy the products they are producing, so in what has become the customary path for developing nations, they export the surplus and save the proceeds.

Yet even in China the establishment of a newly affluent, free-spending middle class may now have gained an unstoppable momentum. In any case, the country can no longer rely on American consumers to provide jobs and growth. It needs a new growth model, which means ultimately adopting the Henry Ford principle that if you want a sustainable market for your products, you have to pay your workers enough to buy them.

These trends – all of which pre-date the crisis but which, out of necessity, are being greatly accelerated by it – will eventually drive a move away from the dollar as the world's reserve currency of choice. As China takes control of its economic destiny, spends more and saves less, there will be less willingness both to hold dollar assets and to submit to the domestic priorities of US monetary policy.

None of this will happen overnight. Depressed it might be, but US consumption is still substantially bigger than that of all the surplus nations put together. All the same, that the dollar's reign as the world's dominant currency is drawing to a close is no longer in doubt."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

W. H. Auden

"We are here on Earth to do good to others.
What the others are here for, I don't know."
- W. H. Auden

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Our magnificent Milky Way Galaxy sprawls across this ambitious all-sky panorama. In fact, at 800 million pixels the full resolution mosaic strives to show all the stars the eye can see in planet Earth's night sky. Part of ESO's Gigagalaxy Zoom Project, the mosaicked images were recorded over several months of 2008 and 2009 at exceptional astronomical sites; the Atacama Desert in the southern hemisphere and the Canary Islands in the northern hemisphere.
Click image for larger size.

Also capturing bright planets and even a comet, the individual frames were stitched together and mapped into a single, flat, apparently seamless 360 by 180 degree view. The final result is oriented so the plane of our galaxy runs horizontally through the middle with the bulging Galactic Center at image center. Below and left of center are the Milky Way's satellite galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds."

"Abiotic Oil: Is There a Living Ecosystem Deep Underground?"

"Abiotic Oil:
Is There a Living Ecosystem Deep Underground?"
by Casey Kazan

"No scientific subject holds more surprises for us than biology."
Freeman Dyson -Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton

"Cornell University Professor Emeritus Thomas Gold, who for 20 years directed the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, proposes the striking and controversial theory that "a full functioning ecosystem feeding on hydrocarbons, exists deep within the earth, and that a primordial source of hydrocarbons lies even deeper." Gold believes that the microbes predate all of the planet's other life forms, existing even before photosynthesis became the preferred life-giving form.

Gold, a world-renowned physicist and author of "The Deep Hot : The Myth of Fossil Fuels," believes that oil and natural gas hydrocarbons are not biological in origin and are found not only in the shallow crust of the earth but also at greater depths. He maintains that hydrocarbons, especially methane, were an important constituent of the earth when it was formed and are widely distributed in depth. These deep hydrocarbon deposits continuously replenish the shallower deposits.

If Gold's controversial theory is true, then even the term "fossil fuels" would have to be dropped. Gold contends that petroleum is primordial and currently supports biological activity in the Earth and is not the converted remains of ancient life after a few million years of decomposition. In addition, these theories explain the presence of composition of mineral enriched earth and a few other mysteries such as the presence of helium which has been so far unexplained by conventional ideas.

As Gold points out, so far no one has ever been able to come up with the chemical reactions needed to form petroleum from decaying organic matter.

Analysis of thermal vents in the deep ocean and cold petroleum seepages on the shallower ocean floor has revealed forms of bacteria that rely on hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane, for food. These bacteria, of the Archaea domain, thrive at temperatures as high as 100-150 degrees C and do not depend on photosynthesis. The genomes of Archaea suggest they developed very early in the evolution of life. Gold concluded that Archaea probably developed deep underground, rather than on or near the surface, reflecting his choice of the book's title. In consuming methane, the Archaea produced carbon dioxide and water which also migrated to the surface and were added to the atmosphere. Water in the liquid state became more plentiful. Most scientists think the oil we drill for comes from decomposed prehistoric plants. Gold believes it has been there since the earth's formation, that it supports its own ecosystem far underground and that life there preceded life on the earth's surface.

The "deep hot " hypothesis would explain the thermophiles, the minerals and the oil Swedish drillers found in 1990 under rock where no one expected them. The hot goo and massed gas far under our feet would also explain some mysterious historical earthquakes (notably the New Madrid, Mo., shocker of 1811), and it would tell puzzled geologists why so many oil reserves just happen to sit underneath coal fields.

If Gold is correct, the planet's oil reserves are far larger than status quo policy makers expect, and earthquake-prediction procedures require a shakeup; moreover, astronomers searching for extraterrestrial contacts might want to shift from seeking life on other planets and inquire about life deep inside them."

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls."
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Ralph Marston, "Happiness"

"You can't eat happiness
You can't buy it. You can't wear it.
You can't drive it, or drink it, or sell it, or steal it.
You can't lock it away. You can't negotiate for it.
You can't win it, you can't marry it, you can't inherit it,
you can't cheat it. You can't smoke it, or inject it,
or rent it or borrow it. You can't campaign for it
or beg for it, or talk other people into giving you theirs.

You can live happiness. You can create it. You can be it.
You can give it to others. You can enjoy it. You can share it.
You can claim it. You can have as much as you wish.
You can enjoy it as much as you want, at any time,
under any circumstance. You can work with it,
play with it, worship, travel, eat, and sleep with it.
Happiness is yours to live and yours to give, if only you will.
It comes from the inside, and the best way to experience
it is to get it flowing out.

Forget about trying and striving to get happy.
Just decide to be happy, and happiness is yours."

- Ralph Marston

US Senator Bernie Sanders, "Who Owns Congress?"

"Who Owns Congress?"
by Bernie Sanders, US Senator

"Over a year ago, we suffered the most significant financial collapse since the Great Depression, and the result of that is massive unemployment and underemployment. People lost their savings. People lost their homes. Now, despite the greed and illegal behavior of Wall Street, there is a massive effort to make sure that Congress does nothing about it. You know what? That might end up being the result.

How does it happen that Wall Street was able to convince Congress to deregulate their industry, to be in a position to bring the economy down? How does it happen that they are able to fend off serious efforts in Congress to try to re-regulate the financial institutions to protect the American people? Here's the answer: In the last 10 years, Wall Street and big financial institutions have spent over $5 billion in campaign contributions and in lobbying activities. It doesn't matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican; if you have any influence they are going to go after you.

How is it that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? How does that happen that we are the only country on earth that doesn't in one way or another regulate the cost of drugs to prevent the reality that when you walk into the drug store tomorrow the price you are paying may in fact be doubled. It may have something to do with the fact that since 1998 the pharmaceutical industry has spent over $1.6 billion on lobbying and they employ over 1,100 lobbyists -- more than two lobbyists for every member of Congress.

What about health care? How is it that we are the only country in the industrialized world that does not have a national health care plan guaranteeing health care to all people? How is it that in the health care bill that's now being debated in the Finance Committee the private insurance companies and the drug companies are doing pretty well? Might it have something to do with the fact that since 1990, the health care industry has spent over $850 million dollars in campaign contributions?
Why is it that we have record breaking defense budgets despite the end of the Cold War? Well, over the last decade the defense industry has spent more than $447 million on lobbying and made $144 million in campaign contributions.
Big Oil is the same story. Exxon-Mobil makes record-breaking profits. Working people pay very high prices at the gas pump. Do you think that has something to do that the oil and gas industry has spent more than $830 million dollars on lobbying and $240 million in campaign contributions over the past two decades?

On and on it goes. The reality of Washington, to a very significant degree, is that those people who have the money are able to influence public policy. Big money controls the agenda. If you don't have the money, you get to the end of the line.

That's the reality today. It could get worse. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a case that could be used to open the coffers of all the big corporations to directly fund campaign ads in this country. So you would not just be dealing with political action committees and lobbyists, you would have to deal with the treasuries of large corporations. This is a huge issue. The antidote, in my view, is public funding of elections so that everybody has the opportunity to run for office without having to be beholden to powerful special interests. We have begun to see progress at the statewide level. But if you are concerned about public policy in general in this country, health care, the environment, whatever it may be, we have got to pay attention to the power of big money."

The Daily "Near You?"

Antigo, Wisconsin, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"The Truth Virus"

"The Truth Virus:
The Most Dangerous Virus in the World"
by Dog Poet

"I’ve got a virus. It doesn’t have a common name because it isn’t a common virus. It’s difficult to catch this virus because there are only so many ways for it to enter your system. You can catch it as a result of extreme trauma which results in all of your defenses being shut down. This includes all subconscious resistance and all systemic defenses. You can catch it as a result of long term abuse. This includes abuse visited upon you or abuse you visit on yourself. Often this abuse comes about because the virus is already looking for a foothold and it will attract one of these two kinds of abuse. You can catch it through diligent and repeated efforts to catch it, in an environment of quietude, created by a relentless persistence of the mind to cease from the production of thought. There are a few other ways.
Once you’ve got this virus there’s no cure for it. Every cell in your body is going to be replaced and the world will gradually- and sometimes not so gradually- take on the appearance of an insane asylum, while also becoming remarkably predictable. People think insanity is unpredictable but that’s just one of the illusions that are part of the ordinary mindset of the collectively insane.

People who have this virus can understand one another without having to say anything at all and if they should speak they are also understood by people who are vulnerable to this virus. This is one of the ways that the virus spreads. The impact of the virus speaking induces trauma that naturally moves toward the extreme. People who do not have the virus- and who are not susceptible to catching it- will not understand a single word being said. It will make them uncomfortable and sometimes it will make them angry but at no time will it be understood.

There’s a lot of news, noise and argument about Howdy Doody’s comprehensive health plan for the Teletubbies. Most people think that some permutation of universal health care is going to be a major step up for American society. They seem to think that having it is somehow going to lead to a more general state of well being among the population. There are several reasons why this isn’t going to make the slightest difference no matter what kind of a program finally gets decided on.

It doesn’t really matter whether you can see a doctor of your choice or not and have some amount of it paid for. It isn’t going to have any positive effect on your health. Health is the result of a few basic things and one of them is youth. The other things are diet and ones mental and emotional state. An awareness of ones relationship to all of these leads to making the right decisions about how one lives their life. A conscious awareness of diet has a profound effect on one’s well being. One’s mental and emotional states also play significant roles. One needs only to study how many stress-related diseases there are to understand this. If you factor bad diet into unbalanced mental and emotional states you’ve got a problem no doctor can deal with, especially if your medical system is of the allopathic variety.

The people who decide what doctors can and cannot do and what doctors can and cannot tell you are permanent bed-partners with various corporations for whom good health is a bad thing. These are the pharmaceutical concerns; the AMA, the hospital equipment industry and related suppliers of related products. These corporations have another relationship with the various food industries in the sense that they will not write or permit policy that impinges on major enterprises that bring you processed foods, fast foods, mystery meats, candy and soft drinks and whatever else hides under that umbrella. What this means is that, according to the capitalist mentality that rules this society, it is possible; it has to be possible and it damn well will be possible to eat anything you want, avoid exercise and generally break any and every rule of intelligent behavior and if there’s a problem they will either cut it out of you or suppress the symptoms until they have to cut it out of you.

Because the will of corporations is the rule of the land, there will be no change in the profit line for participating corporations. What will change will be the language that the non-change is presented in. To see into the black heart of the system in charge of American life you have only to look into the prison industry where 5% of the American public and 25% of the world’s prison population are incarcerated in American prisons. Why is this? It’s a business. Is it coincidence that America uses 60% of the world’s resources as well?

The unstated objective of American society is that a small percentage of its members shall possess the greatest amount of wealth at the expense of everyone else and will then be lauded for their efforts to assist the less fortunate where no such efforts exist. Such a system cannot survive and will not survive and is presently at the state where a number of shell games are being used to give the impression that the system is doing fine (nicely recovering from a bad scare) and going to get better as it approaches the lip of a high cliff. As things begin to fall from the cliff, you will see charts and graphs appear that indicate the true state and direction of the culture and economy but they will probably be holding these charts and graphs upside down.

I see these things and many other things because I have this virus. Others have this virus too and many more are on the verge of infection. The biggest concern of the TPTB is the proliferation of this virus. Their concern about all other viruses, which they manufactured to begin with, is just Slim Shady dining at the Red Herring Restaurant.

With this virus I can see that the appetites and desires being milked by corporations in order to promote and sell their products leads directly to aberrant behavior which leads to the prison industry for those who are not making the laws that route the unfortunate toward the prison or the grave with that long interlude of enslavement at the looping track of life where they chase the uncatchable dream rabbit that is already steaming in the pot of their betters.

With this virus I can look directly at the lies of politicians and religious leaders and hear the truth that spotlights the pies around the corner and their relationship to the pies in the sky which are moving on conveyor belts behind unbreakable Plexiglas. I can see that there are no pies because the pies are only video projections of pies bounced off of a series of mirrors. I can see the people who do no have the virus and I can see the world they are looking at and it turns out that this world is also just a projection bouncing off of mirrors and one of those mirrors is their minds. These projections then activate the furnace in the visceral brain which causes those without the virus to dance like millions of chickens on a hot griddle that somehow got the impression that they are auditioning for American Idol.

It is not possible to create a society, based on the principles that some of us have read and most of us have heard about, when corporations are the ruling authority of the land, because the intent of a corporation is diametrically opposed to the principles that some of us have read and most of us have heard about. You can’t make Beef Stroganoff out of pork rinds and Velveeta but you can convince people that that is what they are eating and that is the point.

There’s a debate that has been going around since Cain brained Abel and that debate centers on whether it is better to have this virus or some form of all the other viruses. The awareness that comes with having this virus can lead to the rack, the auto da fe and other less pleasant locations. Having the other viruses can lead to being a hamster or some part of a compost pile and a fire burns there as well. They can lead to being cannon fodder and the merciless hands of those who practice a form of medicine that has little to do with the stated intentions of the art. The hands of these practitioners are often more dangerous than the problem that brought you there.

Most people spend more than ninety percent of everything they have saved in their lives in the last year of their life on an industry whose purpose is exactly for that reason.

This virus of mine- and perhaps you have it to0- is not an easy burden to bear. You can never pull the covers over your head again. You know there’s no monster in the closet but you also know where the real monsters dwell. You are doomed to an unending quarantine even as you move among your fellows. One thing you do acquire as a result of this virus is compassion and, as Lao Tzu said long ago, “Compassion is a weapon from the sky against being dead.” Realization may not be all the things we imagine it to be, but it is preferable to the restless sleep of nightmares wielded by the whip hand of psychopaths."