Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Relaxing Musical Interlude: "Gandalf, "Where the River Joins the Ocean"

"Gandalf, "Where the River Joins the Ocean"
Close your eyes, relax, and let the images come as you listen to this.
What do you see? What do you feel?


“Not all those who wander are lost.”
-  J. R. R. Tolkien

"Ancient Rome Reborn Digitally"

"Ancient Rome Reborn Digitally"
by ScienceDaily

"Rome's Mayor Walter Veltroni officiated at the first public viewing of "Rome Reborn," a 10-year project based at the University of Virginia and begun at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to use advanced technology to digitally rebuild ancient Rome. An international team of archaeologists, architects and computer specialists from Italy, the United States, Britain and Germany employed the same high-tech tools used for simulating contemporary cities such as laser scanners and virtual reality to build the biggest, most complete simulation of an historic city ever created. “Rome Reborn" shows almost the entire city within the 13-mile-long Aurelian Walls as it appeared in A.D. 320. At that time Rome was the multicultural capital of the western world and had reached the peak of its development with an estimated population of one million.

"Rome Reborn" is a true 3D model that runs in real time. Users can navigate through the model with complete freedom, moving up, down, left and right at will. They can enter important public buildings such as the Roman Senate House, the Colosseum, or the Temple of Venus and Rome, the ancient city’s largest place of worship. As new discoveries are made, "Rome Reborn" can be easily updated to reflect the latest knowledge about the ancient city. In future releases, the "Rome Reborn" project will include other phases in the evolution of the city from the late Bronze Age in the 10th century B.C. to the Gothic Wars in the 6th century A.D. Video clips and still images of "Rome Reborn" can be viewed at http://www.romereborn.virginia.edu

In recent years scientists, historians and archaeologists around the world have embraced 3D modeling of cultural heritage sites. Information technology has permitted them to recreate buildings and monuments that no longer exist or to restore digitally sites that have been damaged with the passage of time. The results can be used both in research to test new theories and in teaching to take students on virtual tours of the historical sites they are studying. By several orders of magnitude, "Rome Reborn" is the most ambitious such project ever undertaken. Bernard Frischer, director of the "Rome Reborn" project and director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, stated, "'Rome Reborn' is the continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images. Now, through hard work by our interdisciplinary team, we have realized their seemingly impossible dream. This is just the first step in the creation of a virtual time machine, which our children and grandchildren will use to study the history of Rome and many other great cities around the world. We give special thanks to the Comune di Roma and its Museum of Roman Civilization (Rome) for the constant support and encouragement they gave the project from the start."

Diane Favro, co-initiator of "Rome Reborn" and director of the Experiential Technologies Center at UCLA said, "This amazing model allows us to appreciate individual buildings of ancient Rome within a broad urban context, and thus also to understand how the modern city took shape over time. Numerous UCLA students explored advanced technology and global resources to create the Rome Reborn model, an experience that transformed them from students into 21st century scholars."

Gabriele Guidi of INDACO Lab at the Politecnico di Milano said, "This is the first time that engineers have succeeded in creating a hybrid computer model of an entire city based on born-digital and reborn-digital elements. The project was an enormous technical challenge, and now that we have successfully met it, we can easily start building up a library of other city models in museums around the world." The "Rome Reborn" project was begun at UCLA in 1996 by professors Favro and Frischer. They collaborated with UCLA students from classics, architecture and urban design who fashioned the digital models with continuous advice from expert archaeologists. As the project evolved, it became collaborative at an international scale. In 2004, the project moved its administrative home to the University of Virginia, while work in progress continued at UCLA. In the same year, a cooperative research agreement was signed with the Politecnico di Milano."
Ancient Rome on Google Earth

"Having temporarily run out of 21st century worlds to conquer, Google is now travelling back in time. Users of the search giant's Google Earth can now add a new layer that lets them wander a 3D version of ancient Rome. In the Ancient Rome 3D layer, you can:

• Fly into Rome as it looked in 320 A.D.
• Tour the interior of famous buildings.
• Visit the sites in 3D such as the Roman Forum, Colosseum and the Forum of Julius Caesar.
• Learn about how the Romans lived.

The latest addition in Google's product release frenzy graphically recreates Rome as it looked 1688 years ago under Emperor Constantine. Users can take a virtual stroll around 6700 buildings, crafted in 3D in cooperation with the Rome Reborn project - a virtual reality project that saw UCLA, the University of Virginia, the Politecnico di Milano and others create a 3D model of the city in 320AD." More info and a download link are on Google's Ancient Rome 3D site:
Download Google Earth: http://earth.google.com/intl/en/download-earth.html


by Dr. Shad Helmstetter

1 “No one else can ever make your choices for you. Your choices are yours alone. They are as much a part of you as every breath you will take, every moment of your life.”

2 “You may think that in life, a lot of things happen to you along the way. The truth is, in life, you happen to a lot of things along the way.”

3 “Choosing to live your life by your own choice is the greatest freedom you will ever have.”

4 “It is only when you exercise your right to choose that you can also exercise your right to change.”

5 “It is your programming that has created your choices in the past. It is the choices you make today that are creating the programs of your future.”

6 “If you were given only one choice: To choose or not to choose, which would you choose?”

7 “The choices we make by accident are just as important as the choices we make by design.”

8 “Another person’s choice is nothing more than another alternative for you to consider.”

9 “There is no life as complete as the life that is lived by choice.”

10 “There may be a thousand little choices in a day. All of them count.”

11 “Whatever you choose, you might as well enjoy it. It is your choice.”

12 “When you have a problem, make a choice… you’ll feel better.”

13 “If you’d like to know what your choices have been, look at yourself and the life you have lived. What you see is the choices you’ve made.”

14 “Who knows what you could accomplish in life if you made more of the right choices along the way?”

15 “Some people choose to live by complaining. Other people choose to live.”

16 “You cannot manage your life if you do not manage your self. You cannot manage your self if you do not manage your choices. Manage your choices, and you will manage your life.”

17 “Learning what to choose, and how to choose, may be the most important education you will ever receive.”

18 “The choices we make in the heat of emotion would be better if left for some other day.”

19 “Listen to the quietest whispers of your mind. They are telling you the choices that will help you the most.”

20 “Even the best of choices is only as strong as the choices that stand by its side.”

21 “It is the big choices we make that set our direction. It is the smallest choices we make that get us to the destination.”

22 “Each day that passes, your choices will come and go. They are like diamonds in a chest of jewels, each waiting to be discovered.”

23 “Those who choose to succeed always do better than those who never choose at all.”

24 “The highest levels are most certainly filled with those who chose to be there.”

25 “If you have to take time to make a choice, take time. Then make the choice.”

26 “The end result of your life here on earth will always be the sum total of the choices you made while you were here.”

- Dr. Shad Helmstetter, “Choices”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Will our Sun look like this one day? The Helix Nebula is one of brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gasses of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. 
Click image for larger size.
The Helix Nebula, given a technical designation of NGC 7293, lies about 700 light-years away towards the constellation of the Water Bearer (Aquarius) and spans about 2.5 light-years. The above picture was taken three colors on infrared light by the 4.1-meter Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. A close-up of the inner edge of the Helix Nebula shows complex gas knots of unknown origin."

Chet Raymo, "Starlight"

by Chet Raymo

"Poor Calvin is overwhelmed with the vastness of the cosmos and no small dose of existential angst. He is not the first, of course. Most famously the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal wailed his own despair: "I feel engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing and which know nothing of me. I am terrified...The eternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me."

And he didn't know the half of it. Not so long ago we imagined ourselves to be the be-all and end-all of creation, at the center of a cosmos made expressly for us and at the pinnacle of the material Great Chain of Being. Then it turned out that the Earth was not the center of the cosmos. Nor the Sun. Nor the Galaxy. The astronomers Sebastian von Hoerner and Carl Sagan raised this experience to the level of a principle -- the Principle of Mediocrity -- which can be stated something like this: The view from here is about the same as the view from anywhere else. Or to put it another way: Our star, our planet, the life on it, and even our own intelligence, are completely mediocre.

Moon rocks are just like Earth rocks. Photographs of the surface of Mars made by the landers and rovers could as well have been made in Nevada. Meteorites contain some of the same organic compounds that are the basis for terrestrial life. Gas clouds in the space between the stars are composed of precisely the same atoms and molecules that we find in our own backyard. The most distant galaxies betray in their spectra the presence of familiar elements.

And yet, and yet, for all we know, our brains are the most complex things in the universe. Are we then living, breathing refutations of the Principle of Mediocrity. I doubt it. For the time being, Calvin will just have to get used to living in the infinite abyss and eternal silence. He has Hobbes. We have each other. And science. And poetry. And love."

The Daily "Near You?"

Szamotuly, Wielkopolskie, Poland. Thanks for stopping by.

The Universe

"Actually, nobody "needs" to be corrected. They know when they're acting up, or will soon find out. Poor behavior within your proximity, however, is always a tip-off that someone else might correct what they're thinking, saying, and doing. Just as good behavior within your proximity is just one more cause to celebrate your savoir faire."

"Advanced Metaphysics 101,"
    The Universe

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

A Cheerful Musical Interlude: 2002, "Sunny Day"

"Pamela and Randy Copus are the duo known as 2002. Randy Copus plays piano, electric cello, guitar, bass and keyboards. Pamela Copus plays flutes, harp, keyboards and a wind instrument called a WX5. Both musicians also provide all of the vocals on their albums, recording their voices many, many times and layering them to create a "virtual choir" with a celestial, angelic quality.”

"Clinging To The Core When Our World Falls Apart"

"Clinging To The Core When Our World Falls Apart"
by The DailyOm

"When external factors shift we have an opportunity to rediscover our core which is the only truly safe place to call home. There are times when our whole world seems to be falling apart around us, and we are not sure what to hold onto anymore. Sometimes our relationships crumble and sometimes it’s our physical environment. At other times, we can’t put our finger on it, but we feel as if all the walls have fallen down around us and we are standing with nothing to lean on, exposed and vulnerable. These are the times in our lives when we are given an opportunity to see where we have established our sense of identity, safety, and well-being. And while it is perfectly natural and part of our process to locate our sense of self in externals, any time those external factors shift, we have an opportunity to rediscover and move closer to our core, which is the only truly safe place to call home.

The core of our being is not affected by the shifting winds of circumstance or subject to the cycles of change that govern physical reality. It is as steady and consistent as the sun, which is why the great mystics and mystical poets often reference the sun in their odes to the self. Like the sun, there are times when our core seems to be inaccessible to us, but this is just a misperception. We know that when the sun goes behind a cloud or sets for the night, it has not disappeared but is simply temporarily out of sight. In the same way, we can trust that our inner core is always shining brightly, even when we cannot quite see it.

We can cling to this core when things around us are falling apart, knowing that an inexhaustible light shines from within ourselves. Times of external darkness can be a great gift in that they provide an opportunity to remember this inner light that shines regardless of the circumstances of our lives. When our external lives begin to come back together, we are able to lean a bit more lightly on the structures we used to call home, knowing more clearly than ever that our true home is that bright sun shining in our core."

Wendell Berry, "In Time..."

“In time a man disappears
from his lifelong fields, from
the streams he has walked beside,
from the woods where he sat and waited.
Thinking of this, he seems to
miss himself in those places
as if always he has been there.
But first he must disappear,
and this he foresees with hope,
with thanks.  Let others come.”

- Wendell Berry, “Leavings”

"How It Really Is"

The Economy: Karl Denninger, "Consumer Confidence Sucks"

"Consumer Confidence Sucks"
by Karl Denninger

"This was a surprise? Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly dropped in January as gasoline prices picked up and more Americans said jobs were hard to get. The Conference Board’s confidence index fell to 61.1 from a revised 64.8 reading in the prior month, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a rise to 68. The figure was lower than the most pessimistic projection.

Why is this a surprise?  As I noted early in the month the Employment Report, which many said showed "improvement" with a +200k headline number, in fact showed job loss when one looked at the household survey, and it is actual consumers who buy actual things, not government fudge-boxes!

Of course we can't have the truth in the mainstream media off those reports, can we?  Never mind that other data has showed a contracting consumer spending appetite and more desperation as credit is being used once again in a "last gasp" attempt to avoid insolvency. The data is all around you if you care to look - the consumer is collapsing as there has been no recovery of materiality in employment.  Just look at the labor participation rate!

Recovery... where? Wake up America.  The government's policy of ladling out "free cheese" in an attempt to prevent the adjustment of the economy back to what we can actually afford both at a government and personal level is both futile and stupid.  It in fact serves only one purpose - attempting to buy votes.”

The Economy: “US Deficit Tops $1 Trillion 4 Years In A Row”

“US Deficit Tops $1 Trillion 4 Years In A Row”

“A new budget report released Tuesday predicts the U.S. government will run a $1.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends in September, a slight dip from last year but still very high by any measure. A previous estimate was for $973 billion. The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] report also says that annual deficits will remain in the $1 trillion range for the next several years if Bush-era tax cuts slated to expire in December are extended, as commonly assumed. The CBO is a non-partisan budget analyst for Congress. If the CBO estimate for this year's deficit proves accurate, fiscal year 2012 would be the fourth consecutive year of federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion. The shortfall registered $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2011, up from $1.29 trillion in 2010. It reached $1.42 trillion in 2009, the highest ever.

The report is yet another reminder of the perilous fiscal situation the government is in, but it is commonly assumed that little will be accomplished on the deficit issue during an election year. The study also predicts modest economic growth of 2 percent this year and forecasts that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent this year [currently 22.5%, according to ShadowStats- CP]. That is based on an assumption that President Barack Obama will fail to win renewal of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits by the end of next month. The CBO report projects the unemployment rate will gradually decline to around 7 percent by the end of 2015, before dropping to near 5.5 percent by the end of 2017. Inflation and interest rates will remain low during the next few years.

The new figures also show that last summer's budget and debt pact has barely made a dent in the government's fiscal woes. The pact imposed $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, but the latest estimates predict $11 trillion in accumulated deficits over the 2013-2022 time frame if the Bush-era cuts in taxes on income, investments, large estates and on families with children are renewed. Obama has proposed largely extending them, but allowing them to expire for upper-income taxpayers. The deficit would require the government to borrow 30 cents of every dollar it spends. Put another way, the deficit will reach 7 percent of the size of the economy, a slight dip from last year's 8.7 percent of gross domestic product.

The CBO report shows that the deficit dilemma would largely be solved if the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 - and renewed in 2010 through the end of this year - were allowed to lapse. Under that scenario, the deficit would drop to $585 billion in 2013 and to $220 billion in 2017. Congress is expected to extend at least some of those tax cuts by the end of this year.”
- http://www.sott.net/
Real smart...


"Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point. Bigotry, ideologies etc. block the ability to receive; robotic reality-tunnels block the ability to decode or integrate new signals; censorship blocks transmission."
- Robert Anton Wilson

"Is Now The Time To Move Away From Major U.S. Cities?"

"Is Now The Time To Move Away From Major U.S. Cities?"
by Michael Synder

"As the U.S. economy falls apart and as the world becomes increasingly unstable, more Americans than ever are becoming "preppers". It is estimated that there are at least two million preppers in the United States today, but nobody really knows. The truth is that it is hard to take a poll because a lot of preppers simply do not talk about their preparations. Your neighbor could be storing up food in the garage or in an extra bedroom and you might never even know it. An increasing number of Americans are convinced that we are on the verge of some really bad things happening. But will just storing up some extra food and supplies be enough? What is going to happen if we see widespread rioting in major U.S. cities like George Soros is predicting? What is going to happen if the economy totally falls to pieces and our city centers descend into anarchy like we saw in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? In some major U.S. cities such as Detroit, looting is already rampant. There are some sections of Detroit where entire blocks of houses are being slowly dismantled by thieves and stripped of anything valuable. Sadly, the economy is going to get a lot worse than it is at the moment. So is now the time to move away from major U.S. cities? Should preppers be seeking safer locations for themselves and their families? Those are legitimate questions.

According to a recent Gallup poll, satisfaction with the government is now at an all-time low. Americans are rapidly losing faith in virtually every major institution in society. Anger and frustration are rising to very dangerous levels, and we are rapidly approaching a boiling point. When people feel as though they have lost everything, they get desperate. And desperate people do desperate things.

In many communities in the United States today, crime has become so terrifying that people are literally sleeping with their guns. The following is a story from Rancho Cordova, California that one of my readers recently sent me... "When I first moved here, it was not a bad place, it was quiet and clean. However, over the past three years this place has gone to the dumps, there are thugs and unruly people everywhere. I have prevented two car break-ins by scaring these thugs away. While I was home on thanksgiving weekend, someone decided to break into my apartment. They trashed my place, stole all my items, and even took my law enforcement (LE) vehicle to include my equipment. I'm sure they had been watching me for a while because they did not take items that contained my identification. Thank god, I had my weapon with me."

In many areas of the country, law enforcement resources are being dramatically cut back due to budget problems at the same time that crime is rapidly rising. Right now, the city of Detroit is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Officials there recently announced that due to budget constraints, all police stations will be closed to the public for 16 hours a day. From now on, they will only be open to the public from 8 AM to 4 PM. But in Detroit the police are needed now more than ever. 

The following is what one British reporter found during his visit to Detroit... "Much of Detroit is horribly dangerous for its own residents, who in many cases only stay because they have nowhere else to go. Property crime is double the American average, violent crime triple. The isolated, peeling homes, the flooded roads, the clunky, rusted old cars and the neglected front yards amid trees and groin-high grassland make you think you are in rural Alabama, not in one of the greatest industrial cities that ever existed. The population of Detroit is less than half of what it used to be. Over the past few decades people have left in droves, and large sections of the city are in an advanced state of decay. Not too many people want to buy homes in Detroit now. At this point, the median price of a home in Detroit is just $6000." The following video contains some video footage of the "ruins of Detroit" that is hard to believe...

Detroit has become a very scary place. 100 bus drivers in Detroit recently refused to drive their routes out of fear of being attacked on the streets. The head of the bus drivers union, Henry Gaffney, said that the drivers were literally "scared for their lives"... “Our drivers are scared, they’re scared for their lives. This has been an ongoing situation about security. I think yesterday kind of just topped it off, when one of my drivers was beat up by some teenagers down in the middle of Rosa Parks and it took the police almost 30 minutes to get there, in downtown Detroit,” said Gaffney.

But it is not just Detroit that is having these kinds of problems. In Cleveland, over 50 percent of all children are living in poverty and abandoned houses are everywhere. The city has already demolished about 1,000 homes, and there is a plan to demolish 20,000 more homes. The following comes from a recent CBS News report by Scott Pelley... "Perfectly good homes, worth $75, $100 thousand dollars or more a couple of years ago, are being ripped to splinters in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Here, the great recession left one fifth of all houses vacant. The owners walked away because they couldn't or wouldn't keep paying on a mortgage debt that can be twice the value of the home. Cleveland waited four years for home values to recover and now they've decided to face facts and bury the dead."

Down in St. Louis they have a different problem. In some of the worst areas of the city, roving packs of wild dogs are a serious threat to children that are walking to school. A recent report by the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis described the situation this way... "Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. "I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs," he said. Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. "It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs." How would you feel if you had to fend off wild packs of dogs as you walked your child to school?

These kinds of conditions can be found out on the West coast as well. For example, there is an area of San Francisco that is known as "Hunter's Point" that is an absolute nightmare. In Hunter's Point, over half of the population lives in poverty and more than half of all children live in a home where there is no father present. The following is what one reporter discovered on a visit to Hunter's Point... "Abernathy and I cut through the complex, tromping over an expanse of dirt and concrete toward the northeast end of the development, where a row of apartments looked down from a grassy hill. We paused next to a vacant, boarded-over unit to take in the scene: A stream of ****, piss, tampons, and toilet paper spewed from a dark hole in the sidewalk, poured down the hill, and formed a sort of **** lagoon next to the street. Weeds, about six inches tall, were growing in the little lagoon. Raw ****, obviously, is not cool. Beyond the fact that it smells and looks nasty, fecal matter provides a haven for dangerous bacteria, most notably E. coli, a virulent pathogen that can sicken and even kill humans, especially infants." When conditions like this reign, it is a prime breeding ground for crime.

In major U.S. cities all over the United States, drug dealing, gang activity and prostitution are on the rise. The following comes from a recent article in the New York Times... "In November, a terrified 13-year-old girl pounded on an apartment door in Brooklyn. When a surprised woman answered, the girl pleaded for a phone. She called her mother, and then dialed 911. The girl, whom I’ll call Baby Face because of her looks, frantically told police that a violent pimp was selling her for sex. He had taken her to the building and ordered her to go to an apartment where a customer was waiting, she said, and now he was waiting downstairs to make sure she did not escape. She had followed the pimp’s directions and gone upstairs, but then had pounded randomly on this door in hopes of getting help."

In some major U.S. cities, the gangs have virtually taken over. In an article entitled "City of Ruins", Chris Hedges described what life is like today in Camden, New Jersey... "There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city's few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch."

As I wrote about the other day, the FBI says that there are now 1.4 million gang members inside this country. That number has increased by 40 percent since 2009. Organized criminal behavior by groups of young people is on the rise all over the nation. Just check out this video which shows a flash mob robbery happening in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Sadly, this is just the beginning. This country is still enjoying a tremendous amount of prosperity. We still have a very high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world. So how nightmarish are things going to get when the economy gets really bad? The most frightening thing is when these criminals start invading private homes.

The following home invasion story from Sacramento, California was sent to me by one of my readers a while back... "Somebody got into my sister's house last night while she was out. My mom was upstairs, but didn't hear anything. Whoever it was, they ate some chips and sorted through a stack of maternity clothes my sister had ready for selling on ebay. He left a dirty pair of boxer shorts and a bottom dentures on the dining room table. Fortunately, he was gone when she got home. I'm amazed, but the police actually came out and collected fingerprints and his boxers and false teeth. Probably a homeless guy. He may have switched his dirty boxers for a clean pair of maternity jeans, so the police just have to look for a guy wearing women's maternity pants with no lower teeth."

Because of stuff like this, an increasing number of Americans have decided that it is better to be armed. The truth is that you never know when you will get jumped. For example, in Pennsylvania the other day one 65-year-old man was suddenly knocked off his bicycle by three teen thugs. The 65-year-old man responded by pulling out his gun and shooting two of them. One of the teens was killed.

Down along the border with Mexico, many ranchers have discovered that a gun battle could potentially erupt on any night. The federal government has refused to protect the border, and so millions of illegals just keep streaming on in. The following was recently posted on standwitharizona.com... "Barbed wire fencing doesn’t keep illegal aliens off the property anymore. One Starr County, TX rancher doesn’t have time to worry about the illegals these days. He now worries about the smugglers protecting their loads. “I don’t think they would have any conscience of taking someone’s life,” the rancher says. He saw that will to kill firsthand. A smuggler shot at him on his own land. “One round was fired at me, and it missed my head by about two feet,” says the rancher. He says there’s only way to react. “Fire all the rounds you have, reload, and do it again,” says the rancher."

The more stories like this you read, the easier it is to understand why more than 10 million guns were sold in the United States during 2011. The truth is that you never know when you may need to defend yourself.

This past New Year's Eve, a single mother named Sarah McKinley was home alone with her three-month old son when she discovered that two armed men were trying to invade her home. If she had not had a gun, there is no telling what might have happened. The following is from a news story about that incident... "An Oklahoma woman was recently home with her 3 month old son when two men tried to break in. Armed with a shot gun and a pistol she called 9-1-1.

    Operator: "Are your doors locked?"

    Caller: "Yes, I've got two guns in my hand. Is it ok to shoot him if he comes in this door?"

    Operator: "I can't tell you what you can do but you do what you have to do to protect your baby."
The mother did shoot killing one of the intruders. Oklahoma police called the shooting justified. What would you have done in that situation?

America is rapidly changing, and we all need to adapt to the new reality all around us. The truth is that America is not the same place it used to be. In some U.S. cities, authorities are actually dumping dead bodies into mass graves. Just check out what the Daily Mail says has been going on in Chicago... "It's a practice more closely associated with third world countries, but in bleak times in a Chicago-area suburb, 30 people were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday. The pauper's burial section at Homewood Memorial Gardens was established for those who could not afford to pay for a burial plot. And it is a problem that's sweeping America as tough economic times have led to an increase in the number of indigent burials the morgue must perform."

All over the country, major U.S. cities are flat broke and are rapidly decaying. They are filled with impoverished people that are rapidly becoming angrier and more frustrated. There simply are not enough jobs for everyone. Millions of ordinary Americans spend their days agonizing over the fact that they cannot provide even a basic living for themselves and their families. And as the economy gets even worse, the economic despair in this country is going to grow to unprecedented levels.

So is now the time to move away from major U.S. cities? In the end, each of us is going to have to answer that question for ourselves. Jobs are scarce, so if you have a good job right now it may not be wise to give it up. It can be incredibly challenging to move to a new area when you don't have a job. One solution may be to move farther away from your current job so that you are in a more rural setting. But the rising cost of gasoline can make that a very expensive proposition.

Some families are purchasing second homes that they can "bug out" to in the event of a major disaster or emergency. But if your financial resources are limited that may not be an option for you. In the final analysis, you have just got to do the best you can with what you have. But if you are able to move, it is better to do it while times are relatively stable (like now) than when times are very unstable. So what do all of you think? Do you think that now is the time to move away from major U.S. cities?"

Musical Interlude: Ömer Faruk Tekbilek, “Toros”

Ömer Faruk Tekbilek, “Toros”

Jean-Paul Sartre, "Everything..."

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

- Jean-Paul Sartre

Monday, January 30, 2012

Liquid Mind, "Letting Go (Lunar Voyage)”

Liquid Mind, "Letting Go (Lunar Voyage)”
Music by Chuck Wild, background vocals by A. J. Teshin and Seven Whitfield. "Liquid Mind IX Lullaby: Letting Go.” Footage from multiple Apollo lunar missions (1963-1972) courtesy of NASA.

Wendell Berry, "The Country Of Marriage"

"The Country Of Marriage"

"I dream of you walking at night along the streams of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs of birds opening around you as you walk. You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.
This comes after silence. Was it something I said that bound me to you, some mere promise or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death? A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood still and said nothing. And then there rose in me, like the earth’s empowering brew rising in root and branch, the words of a dream of you I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer who feels the solace of his native land under his feet again and moving in his blood. I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss that lay before me, but only the level ground.
Sometimes our life reminds me of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing and in that opening a house, an orchard and garden, comfortable shades, and flowers red and yellow in the sun, a pattern made in the light for the light to return to. The forest is mostly dark, its ways to be made anew day after day, the dark richer than the light and more blessed, provided we stay brave enough to keep on going in.
How many times have I come to you out of my head with joy, if ever a man was, for to approach you I have given up the light and all directions. I come to you lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace in you, when I arrive at last.
Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange of my love and work for yours, so much for so much of an expendable fund. We don’t know what its limits are–that puts us in the dark. We are more together than we know, how else could we keep on discovering we are more together than we thought? You are the known way leading always to the unknown, and you are the known place to which the unknown is always leading me back. More blessed in you than I know, I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing not belittled by my saying that I possess it. Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light enough to live, and then accepts the dark, passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I have fallen tine and again from the great strength of my desire, helpless, into your arms.
What I am learning to give you is my death to set you free of me, and me from myself into the dark and the new light. Like the water of a deep stream, love is always too much. We did not make it. Though we drink till we burst we cannot have it all, or want it all. In its abundance it survives our thirst. In the evening we come down to the shore to drink our fill, and sleep, while it flows through the regions of the dark. It does not hold us, except we keep returning to its rich waters thirsty. We enter, willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.
I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark, containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning. I give you the life I have let live for the love of you: a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road, the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life that we have planted in the ground, as I have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself again and again, and satisfy– and this poem, no more mine than any man’s who has loved a woman."
- Wendell Berry, "The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry"

"A Look From The Heavens"

"Behold one of the more detailed images of the Earth yet created. This Blue Marble Earth montage shown below - created from photographs taken by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the new Suomi NPP satellite - shows many stunning details of our home planet.
Click image for larger size.
The Suomi NPP satellite was launched last October and renamed last week after Verner Suomi, commonly deemed the father of satellite meteorology. The composite was created from the data collected during four orbits of the robotic satellite taken earlier this month and digitally projected onto the globe. Many features of North America and the Western Hemisphere are particularly visible on a high resolution version of the image. Previously, several other Blue Marble Earth images have been created, some at even higher resolution.”

Tecumseh, "Live Your Life..."

"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes
wise ones turn to fools and robs their spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray
for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."

- Tecumseh, Shawnee

The Poet: Wendell Berry, "The Circles Of Our Lives"

"Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon,
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.

Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return,
Within the circles of our lives..."

- Wendell Berry

Chet Raymo, "Dying"

by Chet Raymo

"I'm sure I have written here before about Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny worm - about the size of this letter i (without the dot) - that has become one of the most thoroughly studied animals in biology. Its habits are humble. It is nonpathogenic, noninfectious. It breeds prodigiously. It is transparent. It can be frozen and thawed alive. And heaven knows what else makes it the darling of the wormologists.

More than anything else, it is about a simple an organism as you can find with a nervous system. C. elegans (of the dominant hermaphrodite variety; there are also a few males to enliven the mix) has just 959 cells, which have been individually mapped, exactly the same from worm to worm. Think of that! Less than a thousand cells and it eats, defecates, wiggles from place to place, lays eggs, and otherwise lives a rather full and robust life. Contrast that with the tens of trillions of cells in the human body.

More. C. elegan's genome programs not 959 cells, but 1090. Of these, 131 are slated in advance to die, rather like the cells that die between the webbed digits of a human embryo to give us our useful fingers. Apoptosis, it's called. Programmed cell death. The 2002 Nobel Prize in physiology went to Sydney Brenner, Robert Horvitz and John Sulston for their work on programmed cell death in C. elegans. Tens of billions of cells in our own bodies die each day by apoptosis. We are dying all the time, in bits and pieces. Death is always with us, holding hands with life, hitchhiking in our genome. Whispering in our ear: "I'm here." Nibble, nibble. Waiting, waiting, for the full feast, the final meal.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. Thanks for stopping by.

"Waiting for Someday: Why Not Now?"

"Waiting for Someday: Why Not Now?"
by The DailyOm

"All the joy and passion you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in a future point in time. The time we are blessed with is limited and tends to be used up all too quickly. How we utilize that time is consequently one of the most important decisions we make. Yet it is far too easy to put off until tomorrow what we are dreaming of today. The hectic pace of modern existence affords us an easy out; we shelve our aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals. In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now—because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.

When regarded as a question, "Why not now?" drains us of our power to realize our ambitions. We are so concerned with the notion that we are somehow undeserving of happiness that we cannot see that there is much we can do in the present to begin courting it. Yet when we look decisively at our existence and state, "Why not now, indeed!" we are empowered to begin changing our lives this very moment. We procrastinate for many reasons, from a perceived lack of time to a legitimate lack of self-belief, but the truth of the matter is that there is no time like the present and no time but the present. Whatever we aim to accomplish, we will achieve it more quickly and with a greater degree of efficiency when we seize the day and make the most of the resources we have at our disposal presently.

All the joy, passion, and contentment you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in some far-flung point in time. You need only remind yourself that there is nothing standing between you and fulfillment. If you decide that today is the day you will take your destiny into your hands, you will soon discover that you hold the keys of fate."

"Mmmm Good: Pink Slime and Ammonium Hydroxide"

"Mmmm Good: Pink Slime and Ammonium Hydroxide"
by Abby Zimet

"Okay, for any of you still eating Big Macs despite the aforementioned 7,642 reasons why you shouldn't: Possibly thanks to activist chef Jamie Oliver, McDonalds has announced they will stop adding "pink slime" - the filler of fatty beef trimmings swept off the slaughterhouse floor and then treated with ammonia (think: cleaning your kitchen floor) to kill off bacteria - to their burgers. They follow on the heels of Burger King and Taco Bell. We're still not going there. But still. “Imagine how happy an accountant is - you just turned dog food into what can potentially be your kids’ food.” - Oliver on pink slime."


"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting
otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."

- Theodore Rubin

The Economy: "Trends that Won’t End"

"Trends that Won’t End"
by Addison Wiggin

"U.S. taxpayers have lost $133 billion from TARP — the abominable acronym inflicted on us by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson — a new report out this morning shows. We begin another week pulled in two directions: In one direction lie unresolved failures in policy… and the mayhem it has wrought in the financial system. In the other lie breakthroughs in energy and biotechnology. There’s no real point in wagering on which of these trends will ultimately “win out.” It’s entirely possible the system can fly apart even as scientists and entrepreneurs stick to their knitting and achieve great new things.

The stress we alluded to last week is borne of the fear that the former — i.e., Hellish Financial Crisis Is on Its Way — will prevent the benefits of the latter from ever seeing the light of day. If that happens, well… then… in the immortal words of the Mogambo Guru: “We’re all freakin’ doomed!” Until such an event, however, we’re left to our own devices. We’ll continue to do what we do each day. We’ll follow the breadcrumbs. Let’s get started and see where they lead today…

“TARP is not over,” Christy Romero, acting inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, reminds folks of the program through which she derives her own power, prestige and paycheck (PPP). Congress authorized $700 billion. $413.4 billion was paid out. Only $318 billion’s been paid back, according to a new report from Ms. Romero. So much for the shrill lecture delivered last fall by CNN’s Erin Burnett to an Occupy Wall Street protester: “Taxpayers actually made money on the Wall Street bailout.” But what would you expect from someone engaged to an executive at Citigroup?

Getting the rest back will be no easy task: For starters, General Motors stock would have to more than double from $24.28 to $53.98. Another trend that’s “not over,” we note, is bank shutdowns. The FDIC swooped in and closed four banks Friday night. (Yes, it’s the return of our own watch list for failed banks and the feds’ attempts to save them…) Two of Friday’s victims are in Tennessee, where the last bank failure took place in 2002. The others are in Florida and Minnesota. That makes seven banks for the month of January — an annual pace of 84. Close to last year’s total of 92, but lagging 2010’s peak of 157. (Who knows, maybe things will pick up in the spring!) There is one notable increase: the FDIC’s “loss ratio.” Of the 92 bank failures last year, FDIC losses totaled 20% of the failed banks’ assets. So far this year, it’s 32.9%… nearing TARP territory.

The deleveraging of the U.S. consumer is “not over” either. The monthly “income-and-spend” figures from the Commerce Department reveal consumer spending was ruler-flat between November and December. Consumers, indeed, got their shopping done early. Personal income, on the other hand, grew 0.5%. Gee, what a bunch of tightwads Americans have become. “The capacity for households to carry on to be the engine of growth that they have been in past recoveries is simply not there,” says economist Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute. She points to figures showing that in the third quarter of last year, household debt totaled 86% of GDP. That compares with 47% as Americans climbed out of the “double dip” recessions in the early ’80s.

By the way, that same Commerce Department report features the “core personal consumption expenditures,” the Fed’s favorite measure of inflation. Last week, you may recall, the 2% “inflation target” ceased being an “unspoken agreement” and became “official policy.” According to the numbers, the year-over-year increase in December was 1.8%. So in the estimation of the monetary mandarins, there’s still not enough inflation in the system.”

"How It Really Is?"

"Why Economic Growth Will Continue to Disappoint in 2012"

"Why Economic Growth Will Continue to Disappoint in 2012"
by Bill Bonner

“Tutto va bene…

That was what the crew told passengers on the Costa Concordia just before it sank. And it was what the crew of the USS America — the biggest cruise ship of all — were telling passengers last week.

Tutto va bene.

Trouble was, tutto was not going as bene as they claimed. Instead, the ship is sinking. Stocks sank on Friday. Oil slipped below $100. And the yield on a 10-year T-note dropped to 1.89%. Gold kept going up. None of these are signs that the voyage is going well.

The US economy has come back to output levels of ’07. But this feeble rebound not only holds the title of “weakest post-war recovery ever,” it also shows that something else is going on. Most economists have no idea what. So, they just think this “recovery” is unusually slow. Ben Bernanke, for example, has pledged to hold down interest rates (at negative real levels) for another three years. He also let it be known that he has his finger on the trigger, ready to blast out some more QE at a moment’s notice. Last week produced news that the economy expanded in the previous quarter. It went up at a 1.8% annual rate, far below the 3% consensus estimate of economists. That returned it to ’07 output levels, but at what cost? The feds have added $6 trillion in new debt to regain some $600 billion in annual output. Whoa!

And indications are that growth will be just as disappointing this year as it was last. Bloomberg has the story: "US economic growth may not top 2 percent this year and a third round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve would have little effect, said Martin Feldstein, a professor of economics at Harvard University. “We’re going to have a hard time reaching 2 percent this coming year,” he said… The economy is still in a “danger zone,” Feldstein said, even as the recession risk “is less now than it was.” Feldstein, speaking before the GDP report was released, said last year’s growth in household spending was largely due to consumers drawing down their savings, which he said they won’t be able to maintain this year."

Another Bloomberg report tells that consumer spending is already weakening: "Spending at retailers lost momentum each month in the fourth quarter, slowing from a 0.7 percent gain in October to a 0.1 percent increase last month. Merchants including Macy’s Inc., Gap Inc. and Target Corp. cut prices to attract more business during the holiday shopping season… Government agencies also struggled last quarter as they cut spending at a 4.6 percent annual rate, the fifth straight decline. For all of 2011, government spending dropped 2.1 percent, the biggest decline since 1971."

Our guess is that consumer spending will weaken further as the bear market in housing gets worse. December house sales were the worst in nearly half a century. AP is on the beat: "The Commerce Department said Thursday new-home sales fell 2.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 307,000. The pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold in a healthy economy. About 302,000 new homes were sold last year. That’s less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making last year’s sales the worst on records dating back to 1963. And it coincides with a report last week that said 2011 was the weakest year for single-family home construction on record. The median sales prices for new homes dropped in December to $210,300. Builders continued to [slash prices] to stay competitive in the depressed market."

And guess what? The outlook for housing is still not improving. Business Insider explains why: "Michelle Meyer, the well-known housing analyst for BofA/ML, has some bad news: The housing crisis isn’t over. In fact, in her 2012 outlook piece, she says it’s “far from over” and that prices still have another 7% to decline nationally. The basic problem: There are still tons more foreclosures or “liquidations” yet to come…our securitized products research team estimates another eight million homes will be liquidated over the next four years, which adds to the six million homes that have already been liquidated since 2007. All told, we expect 14 million foreclosures or a quarter of all homeowners with a mortgage."

Ms. Meyer’s estimates seem rather optimistic to us. We’d guess that house prices will go down another 20%. Maybe more. Because, people have less money to spend on housing. Real disposable incomes are lower today than they were a year ago. People who buy houses don’t really worry too much about the price. What concerns them is the monthly payment. They buy as much house as their monthly income will allow. That was the real driver of the housing bubble of ’05-’07. Interest rates had been going down for 30 years, lowering monthly mortgage payments. That made it easier to pay a mortgage. Housing prices were going up steadily, giving the impression that houses were a good investment. And the mortgage industry would lend to anyone, solvent or insolvent, jobless or working, dead or alive. That put a lot of air into the housing market.

Now, interest rates are still going down, as near as we can tell. But with incomes going down and lenders much more cautious, the air has whooshed out of the market. It’s no longer pressure-packed. Now it’s vacuum-sealed. Remember, household debt-to-income was only 70% at the beginning of the ’80s. Now, it’s 120%. In order to get it down, households need to unload debt — especially mortgage debt. That is, they need to save. Savings rates have recently fallen…to 3.5% down from 5.7%. They will probably go back up as the Great Correction continues. Which will mean…housing will fall, maybe by 20% more. Let’s see, housing falling…incomes falling…consumers retrenching…negligible GDP growth…

Tutto va bene!

But back to why the US is going to hell… The country has been at war in two out of three years since 1989. The interesting thing about it is that 1989 marked an historic juncture. It was the year that the US had no more worthy enemies. The Berlin Wall fell that year. The Soviet Union bit the dust. Francis Fukayama said it was maybe the “end of history.” Charles Krauthammer said it was the beginning of a new world, with only one superpower. He called in a “uni-polar world.”

But a country that has been taken over by its military industry cannot permit peace. It must make war — either against its own people or against some other people. Having no suitable enemies, the deficit-fatted pentagon, its rich lobbyists and the nation’s lard-butt patriots had to find some unsuitable ones. One of our new, old-fashioned conservative friends explained what happened next: They turned to the Mideast. Why? As enemies, the Arabs/Muslims have several advantages:

        * There are not many in the continental US; not enough to influence elections or run much of a counter-propaganda campaign

        * There’s oil in the Mideast; the oil companies contribute a lot of money to campaign coffers. And oil really is a strategic commodity

        * Americans don’t understand Arabs or Muslims…yahoo Christians don’t trust them. The Jews hate them.

        *   They can’t really do us much harm. We can fight them forever…at huge expense and never win or lose.

        * It allows us to make common cause with Israel’s right-wingers…and brings in a lot campaign money from Jewish groups. That’s why all the Republican candidates — except Ron Paul — are pro-war."

"Food Crash Coming- Understand That As Fast As You Can"

"Food Crash Coming-
Understand That As Fast As You Can"
By Tom Dennen

“There's a massive change under way, it's happening fast and we have very little control over it short of being prepared. Here's why it's so hard to believe some of us might actually be starving quite soon: The problem with shifting paradigms is the language new thinkers are trying to shift people away from: Those aware of the fact that the earth was round a few hundred years ago had great difficulty describing the ‘round earth’ idea to those who were embedded in 'the earth is flat, that’s the way it is’. “The earth is round” the sailors would say knowing it as a fact before Ancient Greece, but that phrase could not exist except in fantasy for land-dwellers and even then was a stretch because every thought rested on the background ‘knowledge’ that the earth was flat – that’s the way it was - "the people are starving" they say today.

Every edifice thrown up, brick school, paper shack or tree house, every street crossed with a parasol turning in the sun, every kite flown, every poem written was done on an earth that was flat - only sea captains and telescope owners were considering other thoughts. It's said that South African President Paul Kruger came down to Durban in KwaZulu Natal to ask circumnavigator Joshua Slocum what shape the world was in. Slocum (who knew) could only use ‘flat earth’ terms saying something like, “I’ve sailed a course as straight I can right to the edge of the world, again and again and did not fall off; instead returned to where I began.”

Nothing changed fundamentally in the way buildings were built or poems written after the ‘round earth' paradigm made its way into common belief though taller buildings had to be built with Foucault’s Pendulum in mind to allow for the rotation as well as the roundness, and poems flowered with the new wealth of girth.

What’s happening to the global economy today is a huge 'flat earth to round earth' shift in our background thinking that cannot be explained in ‘flat earth’ terms although clues can be found in the kind of thinking that some writers are using to stretch our way into new economic understandings. When the shift has settled into the new ‘way it is’, very few basic economic principles can really change.  In fact, we may return to those early simple models that actually worked again and again and provided general prosperity... (There you are! A ‘flat earth’ phrase that does not exist in today's boom-bust reality).

Rome enjoyed general prosperity. The original American colonies were hugely prosperous - and during the crushing middle and working class poverty of the Industrial Revolution! America prospered during the Civil War, Germany during the Reichmark period. (Because of the many factors involved, little is made of the fact that between 1933 and 1937 Germany went from bankruptcy with millions sleeping in her streets to become perhaps the most powerful economy in Europe and this also during one of the most inhuman ‘functions’ of the old flat-earth boom-bust capitalism, The Great Depression.

What did these economies, from Rome to pre-war Germany have in common? Sovereign money! Asset based, government issued money. Real money. A 'new' concept to us is that money is fundamentally a tool that just helps move goods and services through the economy from manufacturers to consumers and very little more than that! In Iceland and other 'pockets of resistance' there is a return to the use of that understanding; the ‘Ancient Curse of Usury’ is gone, the globally crippling 'cost of interest' has been written off and the repetititive commodity crashes coupled with transfers of middle class wealth to the already rich that a capitalist status quo has overseen for three hundred years will go - none are possible to sustain any more with the knowledge that we now have.

The use of fiat paper money is being rejected simply because it carries interest, is debt instead of asset based and is not porous, double-ply and disposable as that kind of paper should be. So the OWS movement may be able to return fairly soon to the general prosperity of all people again, something more than possible given the huge snd extraordinarily versatile resources becoming available in the new paradigm. One of which is our ingenuity. Which we'll need because it's a massive change, it's happening fast and we have very little control over it short of being prepared.

All indications are that the next shock after this "double-dip recessionary' phase will be a Depression with concomitant food shortages, food maybe even destroyed again like it was in the in the creosote dumps of the 30's "to  keep prices up". It might be wise to start doing something about your own food, like so many people have already done and so many are doing.”

"Why Does The Military Seem To Be Preparing For Urban Warfare In The United States?"

"Why Does The Military Seem To Be Preparing For 
Urban Warfare In The United States?"
by Madison Ruppert
"Recently, I published an article covering the January 22-26 multi-agency exercises being conducted in the Los Angeles area. As I outlined in the article, this is in fact part of a broader trend of joint military-police drills (which often include other agencies, hence the “multi-agency” label) that have been occurring across the United States. It seems hard to ignore the fact that the armed forces of the United States are training for urban warfare, not urban warfare in the Middle East, but instead here in our own nation. This is becoming painfully clear due to the fact that the military trains for what they think they’re going to do. If they are planning to fight in the desert, they would train in the desert and obviously if they are going to be fighting in a metropolitan setting in the United States, they would train in an American city. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we are witnessing: increasing amount of training in urban American environments.

The Los Angeles drill is just a microcosmic example of this, and one of the more disturbing developments is the announcement of a “mock city roughly the size of downtown San Diego” which has been erected recently at the Twentynine Palms military base. This is located northeast of San Diego and cost the taxpayer $170 million with the intention of training American military forces to wage urban warfare. According to the Marine Corps, the facility boasts a staggering 1,560 buildings.

The Corps are quick to highlight that it “will allow troops to practice and refine skills that can be used around the world,” even though it is clearly aimed at preparing troops for warfare in the United States. The reason this is quite obvious is that urban warfare is radically different depending on the country you are in. This is evidenced by similar mock cities being erected to mimic a city in Afghanistan, a training facility which would not help troops prepare for war in a large American city.

In fact, the article on Military.com in which this project is detailed mentions the mock Afghan villages, while failing to point out that this is radically different than the previously erected training sites. This new mock city “is one of the largest and most elaborate” with a whopping seven separate mock city districts spanning a massive 274 acres of desert. There are fake hotels, markets and other businesses which boast actors who create scenarios to challenge the soldiers. These scenarios reportedly range from humanitarian relief to peacekeeping missions to police work and, of course, direct combat missions, according to the Marine Corps.

This new facility will allow over 15,000 Marines and Sailors to simultaneously engage in training missions, which can even include operating in the nearly 1,900 feet of underground tunnels in the complex. The massive mock city also includes a manmade riverbed, dozens of courtyards and compounds which will give trainees practice searching for escape tunnels, hiding spots and weapons caches in an urban environment. The Associated Press claims that this is merely an expansion of the Mojave Viper training program, launched in 2005, which was aimed at preparing troops for deployment in Iraq.

Just a few months ago in November, the Marine Corps showed off their expansion of the mock Afghan village at Camp Pendleton which cost $30 million and almost quadrupled the size of the facility. While connecting this new project with the facility at Camp Pendleton is quite inaccurate in my opinion, they do paint a bit of a different picture of the older facility by writing, “In that facility, Marines scramble through a maze of mud walls leading to mosques, schools and carpet sellers, as Hollywood-style explosions go off.” They mention that “Similar immersion training facilities are slated to open this year at Marine Corps bases in North Carolina, Hawaii and Okinawa,” however they do not make it clear which facility these new ones are similar to.

Are these to be similar to the mock Afghan village with mud walls and mosques? Or will these be similar to the newer facilities which more closely relate to the environment of a large American city? I think it is much more likely that these new facilities will be closer to an urban environment in the United States, rather than the relatively undeveloped Afghan or Iraqi villages.

This contention is also reflected in the more frequent nature of urban military drills as shown by the exercises in Los Angeles (about which some more specific details have emerged), along with others in major urban areas. Some other examples that come to mind are: Vibrant Response 12 conducted in August of last year at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center which involved “7,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and DOD civilians responding to a simulated 10-kiloton nuclear detonation in Cincinnati,” military exercises in and around Boston in July of last year, mock night raids in Virginia on January 17, 2012, and more.

These urban warfare exercises are not restricted to the United States. Indeed, similar exercises have occurred in the United Kingdom this year as well. The problem here is that downtown Los Angeles is nothing like the operational situations in Iraq or Afghanistan, although it would prepare the military for operations to be conducted in Los Angeles itself or any other large American city.

Thanks to a reader, I have also become aware of something called the MUTC. The MUTC, or Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, is located in South Central Indiana’s Jennings County, which is near Butlerville. According to the official website, operated by the National Guard, it “is a secluded, self-contained community, once home to the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center. The 1,000-acre site was turned over to the Indian National Guard in July of 2005, and since has been continually evolving into a full-immersion contemporary urban training environment.”

The MUTC seems very similar to the new facility being erected outside of San Diego, due to the fact that it boasts a 180-acre reservoir along with an urban environment which includes some 68 major buildings including: a school, hospital, dormitories, light industrial structures, single-family dwellings, a dining facility and administrative buildings. In total, there is 850,000 square feet of floor space for the military to train on along with an underground utility tunnel system and more than 9 miles of roads and streets. MUTC does not only involve the military, indeed they say that it is a consortium which includes governmental, public and private entities who work together in order to give the personnel the most realistic training experience available.

Highlighting my grave concerns, which are shared by many of my readers, the MUTC website points out that this facility indeed provides, “Training that can be tailored to replicate both foreign and domestic scenarios and that can be utilized by various civilian and military organizations.” It is likely quite obvious to my readers that this is focusing on domestic scenarios, as all of the recent military drills in actual urban environments have been doing.

A short list of those who use the MUTC includes: Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force and Special Operations Forces, State Emergency Management agencies, Federal Emergency Management Agencies, Federal Bureau of Investigations, State Departments of Health, National Air Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, State Counter-Terrrorism Agencies, Law Enforcement agencies and much more. Apparently pre-existing facilities like the MUTC aren’t enough for the military establishment, leading to new facilities being erected, older facilities being expanded and even more facilities to be unveiled this year.

The burning question this leaves unanswered is: why? Why are they preparing to wage war with American citizens on our own turf? There has been a large push to turn the American people into the enemy and training facilities like this, drills like the one in LA along with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) which opens us up to indefinite military detention on nothing more than suspicion.

I have previously written about the fact that all the pieces are in place which leaves me wondering: when will the hammer drop? The question is left unanswered to this day, and I continue to hope that I am totally off base here and that nothing will ever happen. I hope beyond all hope that all of this preparation, seemingly for warfare in the United States, is in fact totally innocuous and no such scenario will ever present itself. Unfortunately, the military and government have shown that they usually know what they’re doing, even if they pretend they don’t when they’re put under scrutiny. It is quite unlikely that these preparations are totally irrelevant and will not be used in any way.

If you have any information on military maneuvers, exercises and drills, especially occurring in major urban areas or other training centers that replicate a city environment, please e-mail me immediately at: admin@EndtheLie.com so I can craft more complete articles in the near future."
- http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1688/421/NL/
This article first appeared at EndtheLie.com

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rollo May, "Courage"

by Rollo May  
"We are living at a time when one age is dying and the new age is not yet born. We cannot doubt this as we look about us to see the radical changes in sexual mores, in marriage styles, in family structures, in education, in religion, technology, and almost every other aspect of modern life. And behind it all is the threat of the atom bomb, which recedes into the distance but never disappears. To live with sensitivity in this age of limbo indeed requires courage.

A choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic? Frightened by the loss of our familiar mooring places, shall we become paralyzed and cover our inaction with apathy? If we do those things, we will have surrendered our chance to participate in the forming of the future. We will have forfeited the distinctive characteristic of human beings‚ namely, to influence our evolution through our own awareness. We will have capitulated to the blind juggernaut of history and lost the chance to mold the future into a society more equitable and humane. Or shall we seize the courage necessary to preserve our sensitivity, awareness, and responsibility in the face of radical change? Shall we consciously participate, on however small the scale, in the forming of the new society?

I hope our choice will be the latter. We are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man's land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.

This courage will not be the opposite of despair. We shall often be faced with despair, as indeed every sensitive person has been during the last several decades in this country. Hence Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Camus and Sartre have proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair. Nor is the courage required mere stubbornness. But if you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also you will have betrayed our community in failing to make your contribution to the whole.

A chief characteristic of this courage is that it requires a centeredness within our own being, without which we would feel ourselves to be a vacuum. The "emptiness" within corresponds to an apathy without; and apathy adds up, in the long run, to cowardice. That is why we must always base our commitment in the center of our own being, or else no commitment will be ultimately authentic.

Courage, furthermore, is not to be confused with rashness. What masquerades as courage may turn out to be simply a bravado used to compensate for one's unconscious fear and to prove one's machismo, like the "hot" fliers in World War II. The ultimate end of such rashness is getting one's self killed, or at least one's head battered in with a policeman's billy club‚ both of which are scarcely productive ways of exhibiting courage.

Courage is not a virtue or value among other personal values like love or fidelity. It is the foundation that underlies and gives reality to all other virtues and personal values. Without courage our love pales into mere dependency. Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism. The word courage comes from the same stem as the French word coeur, meaning "heart." Thus just as one's heart, by pumping blood to one's arms, legs, and brain enables all the other physical organs to function, so courage makes possible all the psychological virtues. Without courage other values wither away into mere facsimiles of virtue.

In human beings courage is necessary to make being and becoming possible. An assertion of the self, a commitment, is essential if the self is to have any reality. This is the distinction between human beings and the rest of nature. The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage. This is why Paul Tillich speaks of courage as ontological; it is essential to our being.”
- Rollo May, "The Courage To Create"