“These two spiral galaxies make a photogenic pair, found within the boundaries of the northern constellation Draco. Contrasting in color and orientation, NGC 5965 is nearly edge-on to our line of sight and dominated by yellow hues, while bluish NGC 5963 is closer to face-on. Of course, even in this well-framed cosmic snapshot the scene is invaded by other galaxies, including small elliptical NGC 5969 at the lower left.
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Brighter, spiky stars in our own Milky Way are scattered through the foreground. Though they seem to be close and of similar size, galaxies NGC 5965 and NGC 5963 are far apart and unrelated, by chance appearing close on the sky. NGC 5965 is about 150 million light-years distant and over 200,000 light-years across. Much smaller, NGC 5963 is a mere 40 million light-years away and so is not associated with the edge-on spiral. Difficult to follow, NGC 5963's extraordinarily faint blue spiral arms mark it as a low surface brightness galaxy.”
"Sometimes I grow weary of the days with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old grey mountain, slowly, taking
the rest of my life to do it, resting often, sleeping
under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
that we have smothered for years now, forgiving it all,
and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall."
“We are game-playing, fun-having creatures, we are the otters of the universe. We cannot die, we cannot hurt ourselves any more than illusions on the screen can be hurt. But we can believe we’re hurt, in whatever agonizing detail we want. We can believe we’re victims, killed and killing, shuddered around by good luck and bad luck.” “Many lifetimes?” I asked. “How many movies have you seen?” “Oh.” “Films about living on this planet, about living on other planets; anything that’s got space and time is all movie and all illusion,” he said. “But for a while we can learn a huge amount and have a lot of fun with our illusions, can we not?”
- Richard Bach, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”
"I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill.
The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air.
It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee."
It is reasonable to ask, why, in a cyberspace teeming with millions of blogs, I sit here in a quiet corner of the house or College Commons each morning and compose these few words. I click "Post" and off they go to God knows where. I am grateful that they are read, but it is not to be read that I write. I write because I have reached that age - seventy-seven years - when I look around me and see a slovenly tangle of a life, a serendipitous stumbling from A to B. I know where I am but I haven't a clue how I got here. I stand on such a summit as I have found and see no trace of a path. I remember briars, and mire, and sunny glades, and freshets, and deep pools. I recall meeting strangers. I don't recall map or compass.
Each of these posts is a jar of sorts, placed on a hill amidst the sprawl, in the deeply Catholic sacramental hope that it will assert a dominion, make order out of chaos. I'm looking for that single sentence that will summarize - something as glassy clear and shapely as those wide-mouthed jars that lined the shelves on my grandmother's back porch pantry in Tennessee, and which may have been the inspiration for Stevens' poem.
I go back to my dog-eared and well-thumbed "Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens," especially those poems like "The Idea of Order at Key West," "The Poems of our Climate," and "Add This To Rhetoric" that I discovered as a young man - scraps of paper in a trackless wilderness, covered with words, flawed words, stubborn sounds, but somehow full of promise, evidence that someone had gone that way before and perhaps, just perhaps, reached a place of repose. Here is what I learned from Stevens, the single sentence that will summarize: "There never was a world for her/ Except the one she sang and, singing, made."
"Sometimes a part of us must die before another part can come to life. Sometimes a part of us must die before another part can come to life. Even though this is a natural and necessary part of our growth, it is often painful or, if we don’t realize what’s happening, confusing and disorienting. In fact, confusion and disorientation are often the messengers that tell us a shift is taking place within us. These shifts happen throughout the lives of all humans, as we move from infancy to childhood to adolescence and beyond. With each transition from one phase to another, we find ourselves saying good-bye to an old friend, the identity that we formed in order to move through that particular time.
Sometimes we form these identities in relationships or jobs, and when we shift those areas of our life become unsettled. Usually, if we take the time to look into the changing surface of things, we will find that a shift is taking place within us. For example, we may go through one whole chapter of our lives creating a protective shell around ourselves because we need it in order to heal from some early trauma. One day, though, we may find ourselves feeling confined and restless, wanting to move outside the shelter we needed for so long; the new part of ourselves cannot be born within the confines of the shell our old self needed to survive.
We may feel a strange mixture of exhilaration and sadness as we say good-bye to a part of ourselves that is dying and make way for a whole new identity to emerge in its place. We may find inspiration in working with the image of an animal who molts or sheds in order to make way for new skin, fur, or feathers to emerge. For example, keeping a duck feather, or some other symbol of transformation, can remind us that death and rebirth are simply nature’s way of evolving. We can surrender to this process, letting go of our past self with great love and gratitude, and welcoming the new with an open mind and heart, ready for our next phase of life."
"What You Don't Care About (But Damn Well Should)"
by Karl Denninger
"Damn you're either ignorant or stupid. After reading this article you can no longer claim ignorance, and whether or not Faceburgler still has a customer base remaining after this piece of information goes into that vacuum between your ears that should have a decent amount of density will tell me whether or not you're collectively stupid!
SAN FRANCISCO — "Facebook built itself into the No. 2 digital advertising platform in the world by analyzing the vast amount of data it had on each of its 1.3 billion users to sell individually targeted ads on its social network. Now it is going to take those targeted ads to the rest of the Internet, mounting its most direct challenge yet to Google, the leader in digital advertising with nearly one-third of the global market."
Yes, everyone expects that when you are on Facebook they're looking at what you do- what you "like" or don't, whether you click through various articles and such, and on and on and on.
You're product to Facebook, in short- how else can you wind up with something like that being "free"? Nothing is ever free and that which you're not told the price of is never sold based on it being a good deal- you're not told the price because if you were there's no way you'd allow the transaction to continue. But now, buried in here, well...
"The Facebook login is most useful on mobile devices, where traditional web tracking tools like cookies and pixel tags do not work. If a person is logged into the Facebook app on a smartphone, the company has the ability to see what other apps he or she is using and could show ads within those apps."
Got it yet? No, your "disclosure" is not limited to what you intentionally do on Facebook. See what you "got" when you "agreed" to the permissions that Facebook has on your mobile device as you installed it?
Welcome to Amerika comrade, where the biggest threats to you and your future are not found in the government. They're found in data brokers who have a myriad of information that they acquired through your "voluntary" consent- usually given without a bit of consideration as to exactly what you were consenting to!”
“We have been writing a series titled "Homage to Poverty." Our mission was not to encourage readers to give away their worldly goods and wander the globe, depending on the kindness and alms of strangers. We are just trying to put wealth in perspective. We wanted readers to know what they were getting into.
We've already addressed two of the three most important questions in life: What do you do? And where do you do it? Does having money help you do what you want? Sometimes. Other times, it just gets in the way. Does it help you live where you want? Maybe, but it has a way of luring you to places that you may not want to live at all – such as big, empty, monumental houses in sterile, dead communities where your neighbors – like you – are rarely home. That is the trouble with rich neighborhoods. The people who own the houses are not there. You look out your window at night and you see streets and houses that are empty. You lose the coziness that you really wanted from a real home and a real community; once you have given it up, it's hard to get back.
Before we take up the third question, let us pause a minute and wonder why we thought we wanted wealth in the first place.
"On the Job": In our case, the question never arose. It was as if some programming set us to work at an early age. From then on, we were "on the job." We got to work at 8 a.m. We kept at it until 8 p.m. There was no magic to it. No genius was required. After 30 years of this, things started to fall into place. We never became super wealthy by today's standards. But compared to where we began, we feel plenty rich enough.
We grew up in what would barely qualify as a "shack." So we've always been a little nutty about houses. During our entire career we were either building one... renovating one... or planning another one. Now we have more than enough. Like everything else in life, wealth responds to the law of declining marginal utility. A little is a good thing; a lot is less useful and may even reduce your quality of life. A little house can be charming and delightful; when you have several large houses, on the other hand, you can become tired of painting shutters and fixing toilets.
But why would we be programmed to seek wealth, if it really doesn't do much for us? Ah, dear reader, we're so glad you asked that very good question. Because we have a very good answer... We are programmed by millions of years of natural selection to chase material success. This may be simply because life was such a close run for so many years; we needed to take advantage of every opportunity to increase our wealth (probably in the form of calories) or our entire species might die out.
The Selfish Gene: We also use wealth (and power; the two are closely related) as a way of advertising and proving that we are worthy mates. Men drive big cars... and buy big houses... simply to signal that they are successful. This makes them attractive to women... The woman believes that the man has the kind of genetic material she wants in her children. The man believes he has won an admirer, thanks to his sparkling wit and warm personality, who also will bear him children. The two get together and the world spins around.
It is not that simple. Nothing in human affairs ever is. But as near as we can tell, we humans are programmed by nature to seek wealth, far beyond what we really need to survive. Perhaps it is a survival strategy: By trying to get as much wealth (calories) as possible, we end up with just enough. Perhaps it is a mating strategy: Wealth illustrates suitability. Or perhaps wealth is a way of gaining love and respect. It's as though our achievements, in themselves, make us more worthy.
These considerations are not considerations at all; people are largely unaware of them. Rarely does a person consciously seek riches so his mother will approve of him. Rarely does a man make his investment decisions expressly so that he will be able to dump the "ol' girl" and get a trophy wife. And it is the uncommon woman who finds a senator more attractive than a carpenter simply because she wants children who are more likely to get into Harvard.
But the selfish genes have their own goals in life... and their own strategies. They give meaning to things that mean nothing to us otherwise. Without them, the value of money disappears. Without love, wealth loses its sex appeal. And without sex, all the busing, schlepping, and sweating that we do to get wealth is pointless. The rat race stops... along with the race itself."
“The road to the destination is never straight. To reach out to the winter shelter someone must take a lot of turns, travel along rough roads, suffer losses. You have to make sure that you always take food supplies with you.
Leave the past behind. If a wolf eats your goat, you can't do anything about it. Just make sure that next time you will be more careful.
Don't live just for saving money and don't be stingy. Don't postpone the tasting of joy for future times. Do it now, while you are still young. Make your hard work worth even more.
Struggle, fight. You are the only one in charge of yourself. Don't be truant, don't expect your dogs to do all the work in herding the sheep.
Ask for the respect you deserve, don't let others use you as a doormat. Set limits, put up fences, protect your animals.
Blessed are the ones who make mistakes. Make mistakes. These are life lessons, we call these experience. Don't forget who you were until yesterday. Start today and define with your actions who you are going to be from now on. Learn to forgive, starting with yourself. Don't feel guilty, you have no time for that.
Blessed are those who doubt. Don' t let your life be ruled by dogmas. Remember that if some people hadn' t doubted previous knowledge, mankind would have still lived in caves. Examine the information, be sceptical, think critically, think rationally, revise. You haven't seen any fairies and ghosts in the forest, just wolves.
Be careful. Observe others. Look them in the eyes. Like a Greek saying, "If it is not shown in the goat, it is shown by the horn ."
Life is a journey, not a destination. And it is valuable. The previous word you read already belongs to the past.
Don't advise the young constantly, it's a waste of time. There is no right way to teach them pain or misery, solely experience will do that.
Go travel! Trips are experiences that stay with us forever. Get out, try, taste, savor images greedily. Let your senses free. Expose yourself, let it go, crumble, lose your self-control from time to time. Not just your self-control, but stop controlling others too.
You have been isolated enough in your winter shelter, get out. Go find your friends and companionship.
Do not try to control others. You condemn in anxiety and suffering not only yourself, but also those who you try to control. Let others live, and live for yourself. Leave the other flocks to their shepherds, take care of yours.
Life is not fair. The universe does not owe you any solace, and it is certain that at the end of the road you die. Hurry up.
You can be a winner. Learn from those around you. Become a child with children, play with them, but also go to the cafe and talk to the elderly. You can learn from their accumulated experience.
Do not take everything into account. Do not take everything seriously. You are probably overreacting today. What bothers you or you are afraid of now, most likely tomorrow will seem lukewarm or insipid. Try to see yourself from a distance, take a look at the sight of your flock from the hill.
Have patience. The goats do not give birth every month. But when that happens you need to be there because they need you.
Quarrel with your partner if necessary, it is not terrible, let the feelings be defused. Make decompression in anger. The fire is sometimes beneficial. If an area of kermes oak get burnt, spring will give again vegetation, fine food for goats and their young. Careful though, the words you say you can't take them back. Watch what your goats eat, they don't know how to pick. If they eat the shoots of trees, the forest cannot be created again, the place will be left bare fallow.
Be balanced. Enjoy the food and your drink. Do not forget that the world's poor walk miles for their daily food while the rich walk miles to digest it.
There is no perfect time, the circumstances and conditions will never be ideal. Start from where you are now! Do not postpone.
Be polite. A smiling face reflects similar behavior. Make gifts. Even the gift of a good word is important. Behave well to the elderly, you will soon be like them. Behave well to animals, they are not mean or envious, they have no obsessions or selfishness. They forgive without limit.
If you know how to read, read a lot! Those who read live extra lives. Not only their own but also all of those who you have read about.
Be bold. The fear keeps you tied but it is not real, it just comes from the unknown which is not in your head.
Do not get attached to things. Life is like the path of the pastures and the shepherd's bag. The more you fill it, the harder you will walk. Take only the necessary things with you. The flock keeps walking, it will not wait for you if you can't move because of too many heavy things. Let them go, release them, feel more flexible and free.”
“Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae.
Click image for larger size.
This remarkable wide-field (3 degree) image of the region shows the famous star cluster near the center, while highlighting lesser known dusty reflection nebulas nearby, across an area that would span over 20 light-years. In this case, the sister stars and cosmic dust clouds are not related, they just happen to be passing through the same region of space.”
"In the Beginning" ․ "Sometimes simplicity rises like a blossom of fire from the white silk of your own skin. You were there in the beginning you heard the story, you heard the merciless and tender words telling you where you had to go. Exile is never easy and the journey itself leaves a bitter taste. But then, when you heard that voice, you had to go. You couldn't sit by the fire, you couldn't live so close to the live flame of that compassion you had to go out in the world and make it your own so you could come back with that flame in your voice, saying listen... this warmth, this unbearable light, this fearful love... It is all here, it is all here."
"Place yourself among those who carry on their lives with passion, and true learning will take place, no matter how humble or exalted the setting. But no matter what path you follow, do not be ashamed of your learning. In some corner of your life, you know more about something than anyone else on earth. The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others."
"Broken Light: Work, for the Night is Coming" by Chris Floyd
"Black milk of daybreak, we drink it at evening..." – Paul Celan, "Deathfugue"
"The children were walking to school. The young people were going out to a dance. The children stepped on a booby trap planted by a soldier. The young people were shredded by the nails of a suicide bomb. They were all blown up, destroyed. One moment, the force of life animated their biological matter, their brains seethed with billions of electrical impulses, the matrix of consciousness brought the entire universe into being, within them, within each of them, each solitary vessel of knowing. The next moment, only the matter remained: inert, coagulated, decaying. There was no more knowing, no more being; the universe had come to an end.
"We drink it at midday and morning; we drink it at night..."
They would have us believe it is because Ishmael warred with Jacob. They would have us believe it is because this or that Divine Will requires it. They would have us believe it is because ethnicity or nationality or religion or some other arbitrary accretion of history and happenstance must override both the innumerable commonalities of all human beings and the radical, irreplaceable uniqueness of each individual.
They would have us believe anything other than the truth: that everyone and everything will die; that all nations, ethnicities, religions and structures will fall away into rubble, into nothingness, and be forgotten; that even the planet itself will be reduced to atoms and melt away, like black milk, into the cold deeps of empty space. And in the face of this truth, nothing matters ultimately but each specific, fleeting instance of individual being, the shape we give to each momentary coalescence of atomic particles into a particular human situation.
That's all we have. That's all there is. That's what we kill when we murder someone. That's what we strangle when we keep them down with our boot on their throat. ‧
"We drink and we drink..."
Is it not time to be done with lies at last? Especially the chief lie now running through the world like a plague, putrescent and vile: that we kill each other and hate each other and drive each other into desperation and fear for any other reason but that we are animals, forms of apes, driven by blind impulses to project our dominance, to strut and bellow and hoard the best goods for ourselves. Or else to lash back at the dominant beast in convulsions of humiliated rage. Or else cravenly to serve the dominant ones, to scurry about them like slaves, picking fleas from their fur, in hopes of procuring a few crumbs for ourselves.
That's the world of power – the "real world," as its flea-picking slaves and strutting dominants like to call it. It's the ape-world, driven by hormonal secretions and chemical mechanics, the endless replication of protein reactions, the unsifted agitations of nerve tissue, issuing their ignorant commands. There's no sense or reason or higher order of thought in it – except for that perversion of consciousness called justification, self-righteousness, which gussies up the breast-beating ape with fine words and grand abstractions. And so the fine words and breast-beating goes on and on – prosperity, freedom, holiness, security, justice, glory, our people, our homeland, God's will be done, we will prevail. ‧
"We shovel a grave in the air where you won't lie too cramped..."
Beyond the thunder and spectacle of this ape-roaring world is another state of reality, emerging from the murk of our baser functions. There is power here, too, but not the heavy, blood-sodden bulk of dominance. Instead, it's a power of radiance, of awareness, connection, breaking through in snaps of heightened perception, moments of encounter and illumination that lift us from the slime.
It takes ten million forms, could be in anything – a rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a line from Sappho or John Clare. Any particular, specific combination of ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect, and always momentary. Because that's all there is, that's all we have – the moments. The moments, and their momentary power – a power without the power of resistance, defenseless, provisional, unarmed, imperfect, bold. The ape-world's cycle of war and retribution stands as the image of the world of power; what can serve as the emblem of this other reality? A kiss, perhaps: given to a lover, offered to a friend, bestowed on an enemy – or pressed to the brow of a murdered child.
Both worlds are within us, of course, like two quantum states of reality, awaiting our choice to determine which will be actuated, which will define the very nature of being – individually and in the aggregate, moment by moment. This is our constant task, for as long as the universe exists in the electrics of our brains: to redeem each moment or let it fall. Some moments will be won, many more lost; there is no final victory. There is only the task. ‧
"We drink you at morning and midday; we drink you at night..."
So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.
And what is this "broken light"? Nothing more than a metaphor for the patches of understanding – awareness, attention, knowledge, connection – that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in breakage and mutation, tossed up – very briefly – from the boiling, chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should there be an "answer" in such a reality?
This and this alone is the only "ideology" behind these writings, which try at all times to fight against the compelling but ignorant delusion that any single economic or political or religious system – indeed, any kind of system at all devised by the seething jumble of the human mind – can completely encompass the infinite variegations of existence. What matters is what works – what pulls us from our own darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth remains that "what works" is always and forever only provisional – what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul today might make us sick tomorrow.
Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them, so that we can see each other better, for a moment – until death shutters all seeing forever.”
"The Fleeting Happiness of Life" By Jocelyn Soriano
"The truth is, there is no one place, however we may envy it, which would be indisputably good for us to occupy; much less for us to remain in. The zest of life, like the pleasure which we receive from a work of art, or from nature, comes from undulations –from inequalities; not from any monotony, even though it be the monotony of seeming perfection.
The beauty of the landscape depends upon contrasts, and would be lost in one common surface of splendor. The grandeur of the waves is in the deep hollows, as well as the culminating crests; and the bars of the sunset glow on the background of the twilight. The very condition of a great thing is that it must be comparatively a rare thing.
We speak of summer glories, and yet who would wish it to be always summer? – who does not see how admirably the varied seasons are fitted to our appetite for change? It may seem as if it would be pleasant to have it always sunshine; and yet when fruit and plant are dying from lack of moisture, and the earth sleeps exhausted in the torrid air, who ever saw a summer morning more beautiful than that when the clouds muster their legions to the sound of the thunder, and pour upon us the blessing of the rain?
We repine at toil, and yet how gladly do we turn in from the lapse of recreation to the harness of effort! We sigh for the freedom and glory of the country; but, in due time, just as fresh and beautiful seem to us the brick walls the busy streets where our lot is cast, and our interests run.
There is no condition in life of which we can say exclusively “It is good for us to be here.” Our course is appointed through vicissitude,–our discipline is in alternations; and we can build no abiding tabernacles along the way."
"In my experience most of us take whatever frightens us or makes us uncomfortable and push it out of sight. This puts it into the unconscious. It does not disappear, but just lies in waiting like a faithful hound until let out. Meanwhile the conscious part can go on living as if nothing had happened. But as Carl Jung pointed out so perspicaciously, the hound keeps howling from the depth and thereby influences all that we do. So we can’t go on as before. We may try to carry on as always, but in truth everything we do is influenced by the unseen and suppressed feelings from the hound in the kennel. There being no escape, we act out this unconscious material, but pretend we are still being normal.
It is an essential aspect of growing up that we suppress who we really are in order to be accepted and loved by mum and dad. This means we actually push our real needs away in order to cope with their demands. It is as if we have sacrificed our original selves to get their love, and it leaves a trail of sorrow.
We call it Existential Grief because it’s about our very existence. It is about us being ’socialized’ by the family and school so that we forget who we truly are. This leaves an enormous grief that is too difficult to confront, and we hide it in the kennel of the unconscious, leaving the howls from the kennel to undermine our self-confidence.
In our society we use material goods and social roles to cover up the black hole of grief. By surrounding ourselves with pretty and expensive things we tell everyone else that we are really OK. This is, so I learn from my clients, the major cause of going shopping, going on buying sprees and being consumers. We have come to believe that bright new things will fill the empty spaces inside. This seems to be why we cannot really confront the devil of global warming that is being fed by every dollar we spend. For our own safety as a species we should all be consuming less and sharing more and striving to make life simple, whereas we are literally hell-bent on getting the most while we still can.
The hound sitting in the kennel of our emptiness makes it too hard for us to look at the truth and change our ways. We cannot alter the terminal path we are on, because to do so would expose our deepest fears that underneath all the tinsel and stuff we really are not worth much at all. Not even the protection we should be giving to our beautiful children is enough to move us to confront this terrifying personal fear.
A four-year analysis of the world’s ecosystems sponsored by the Worldwatch Institute found that over-consumption has pushed 15 out of 24 ecosystems essential to human life “beyond their sustainable limits”. Our insatiable desire for more is moving the planet toward a state of collapse that may be “abrupt and potentially irreversible”. Since we all know that, can we not go beyond the fear to follow David Attenborough, who said in an interview, “How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew and did nothing?”
“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the price of great pain… or so says the legend."
"Do You Find it Difficult to Trust Others?" by Jonathan
"Are you naturally trusting, or do you tend to be suspicious of other people’s motives? Have you ever been taken advantage of by someone you trusted? Do you feel that trusting others is naive? Sadly, there is no shortage of people in this world who will try to take advantage of you. How many weird emails do you get telling you that you have won a lottery, or there’s a question about your item on ebay, or that you are the beneficiary of millions of dollars from overseas someplace? What do all these messages have in common? Someone is trying to take advantage of you. Does this mean that it’s unwise to be trusting of others? Well, sometimes it is unwise, but then again, being suspicious of everyone you meet is not a very positive way to live your life. So what’s the answer?
Before we delve into answers, let’s consider how we are affected by our own attitude toward trust. As with everything else, your level of trust, or suspicion, sends a subtle message to those around you. People respond to that message in various ways, and their response will have a direct impact on your quality of life. How do you feel when you meet somebody, and right away you sense that they don’t trust you? Consider three possibilities:
1) Does it make you feel like you have to prove that you are trustworthy? That’s not a very comfortable feeling because it immediately puts you on the defensive.
2) Perhaps it causes you to jump to negative conclusions about that person, thinking, “what is their problem anyway?” In this case, you reacted with suspicion to their lack of trust. Again, not a comfortable feeling.
3) If you are someone who struggles with a lack of self confidence, how do you think it would feel to have someone who doesn’t even know you, be suspicious of you? Needless to say, it is very difficult to build self confidence with that kind of negative emotional feedback.
In all three of these examples, having someone else treat us with a lack of trust had a negative influence on our mental and emotional state. If that is how they made us feel, we need to ask ourselves… Are those the feelings I want to bring out in other people? The truth is, we don’t like it, and neither do they.
Now, let’s look at the flip side. How does it make you feel when you first meet somebody, and you immediately sense that they are trusting toward you? It makes you feel good, right? In fact, you like that person right off, don’t you? If they make you feel good, and you like them, you are much more likely to treat them with respect in return. If you want others to treat you with trust and respect, do the same for them. In most cases, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Trusting others sets up a subconscious desire in them, to live up to your trust. Many times, that is all that is needed to help them rise to the occasion.
Everybody likes approval: Trust is a form of approval, and when someone else feels your approval, they will generally respond in a very positive way. Approval is one of the strongest motivators there is. People seek out approval, and will go to great lengths to gain it. If they view you as a source of approval, they will feel drawn to you without even realizing why. Making people feel good about themselves is a win-win situation.
Successful relationships are built on trust: The more we count someone as trustworthy, the higher they rate on our internal people-meter. Obviously, complete trust is something that must be earned. But, could we begin every relationship by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt?
Who do you like to do business with, and who are your best friends? The answer to both of those questions is directly related to who has earned your trust. When we feel that we have good reasons for trusting a company and their products, we become repeat customers. When we feel that we have legitimate reasons for trusting other people, they become our friends. Now, let me ask you this: who is the most important person in your life? Isn’t it the person that you trust above all others? Trust is a factor in all positive relationships. The greater the level of trustworthiness, the stronger the relationship.
Back to our opening question: In a world where some people are looking to take advantage, is it unwise to trust others? Only if you have some legitimate reason not to trust them. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about trusting somebody you just met with your newborn baby or life savings. All we are talking about here is the attitude you project toward people you meet for the first time. So use common sense and exercise caution when caution is called for. But, don’t let the spammers and scammers of this world mold your opinion of people in general. If you greet most people with trust and give them the benefit of the doubt, you will not be disappointed. Helping others to feel good about themselves will raise the quality of their life, and yours.”
"What's Really Destroying the American Middle Class"
By Robert Reich
"I was in Seattle, Washington, recently, to congratulate union and community organizers who helped Seattle enact the first $15 per hour minimum wage in the country. Other cities and states should follow Seattle’s example. Contrary to the dire predictions of opponents, the hike won’t cost Seattle jobs. In fact, it will put more money into the hands of low-wage workers who are likely to spend almost all of it in the vicinity. That will create jobs.
Conservatives believe the economy functions better if the rich have more money and everyone else has less. But they’re wrong. It’s just the opposite. The real job creators are not CEOs or corporations or wealthy investors. The job creators are members of America’s vast middle class and the poor, whose purchases cause businesses to expand and invest.
America’s wealthy are richer than they’ve ever been. Big corporations are sitting on more cash they know what to do with. Corporate profits are at record levels. CEO pay continues to soar. But the wealthy aren’t investing in new companies. Between 1980 and 2014, the rate of new business formation in the United States dropped by half, according to a Brookings study released in May. Corporations aren’t expanding production or investing in research and development. Instead, they’re using their money to buy back their shares of stock. There’s no reason for them to expand or invest if customers aren’t buying. Consumer spending has grown more slowly in this recovery than in any previous one because consumers don’t have enough money to buy.
All the economic gains have been going to the top. The Commerce Department reported last Friday that the economy grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter of the year. So what? The median household’s income continues to drop. Median household income is now 8 percent below what it was in 2007, adjusted for inflation. It’s 11 percent below its level in 2000.
It used to be that economic expansions improved the incomes of the bottom 90 percent more than the top 10 percent. But starting with the “Reagan” recovery of 1982 to 1990, the benefits of economic growth during expansions have gone mostly to the top 10 percent. Since the current recovery began in 2009, all economic gains have gone to the top 10 percent. The bottom 90 percent has lost ground. We’re in the first economic upturn on record in which 90 percent of Americans have become worse off.
Why did the playing field start to tilt against the middle class in the Reagan recovery, and why has it tilted further ever since? Don’t blame globalization. Other advanced nations facing the same global competition have managed to preserve middle class wages. Germany’s median wage is now higher than America’s. One factor here has been a sharp decline in union membership. In the mid 1970s, 25 percent of the private-sector workforce was unionized. Then came the Reagan revolution. By the end of the 1980s, only 17 percent of the private workforce was unionized. Today, fewer than 7 percent of the nation’s private-sector workers belong to a union. This means most workers no longer have the bargaining power to get a share of the gains from growth.
Another structural change is the drop in the minimum wage. In 1979, it was $9.67 an hour (in 2013 dollars). By 1990, it had declined to $6.84. Today it’s $7.25, well below where it was in 1979. Given that workers are far more productive now – computers have even increased the output of retail and fast food workers — the minimum wage should be even higher.
By setting a floor on wages, a higher minimum helps push up other wages. It undergirds higher median household incomes. The only way to grow the economy in a way that benefits the bottom 90 percent is to change the structure of the economy. At the least, this requires stronger unions and a higher minimum wage. It also requires better schools for the children of the bottom 90 percent, better access to higher education, and a more progressive tax system.
GDP growth is less and less relevant to the wellbeing of most Americans. We should be paying less attention to growth and more to median household income. If the median household’s income is is heading upward, the economy is in good shape. If it’s heading downward, as it’s been for this entire recovery, we’re all in deep trouble.”
“Obama’s September 24 speech at the UN is the most absurd thing I have heard in my entire life. It is absolutely amazing that the president of the United States would stand before the entire world and tell what everyone knows are blatant lies while simultaneously demonstrating Washington’s double standards and belief that Washington alone, because the US is exceptional and indispensable, has the right to violate all law. It is even more amazing that every person present did not get up and walk out of the assembly. The diplomats of the world actually sat there and listened to blatant lies from the world’s worst terrorist. They even clapped their approval.
The rest of the speech was just utter bullshit: “We stand at a crossroads,” “signposts of progress,” “reduced chance of war between major powers,” “hundreds of millions lifted from poverty,” and while ebola ravages Africa “we’ve learned how to cure disease and harness the power of the wind and the sun.” We are now God. “We” is comprised of the “exceptional people”–Americans. No one else counts. “We” are it.
It is impossible to pick the most absurd statement in Obama’s speech or the most outrageous lie. Is it this one? “Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition.”
Or is it this one? “After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled. Against the will of the government in Kiev, Crimea was annexed. Russia poured arms into eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands. When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days. When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists, and moved troops across the border.”
The entire world knows that Washington overthrew the elected Ukrainian government, that Washington refuses to release its satellite photos of the destruction of the Malaysian airliner, that Ukraine refuses to release its air traffic control instructions to the airliner, that Washington has prevented a real investigation of the airliner’s destruction, that European experts on the scene have testified that both sides of the airliner’s cockpit demonstrate machine gun fire, an indication that the airliner was shot down by the Ukrainian jets that were following it. Indeed, there has been no explanation why Ukrainian jets were close on the heels of an airliner directed by Ukrainian air traffic control.
The entire world knows that if Russia had territorial ambitions, when the Russian military defeated the American trained and supplied Georgian army that attacked South Ossetia, Russia would have kept Georgia and reincorporated it within Russia where it resided for centuries.
Notice that it is not aggression when Washington bombs and invades seven countries in 13 years without a declaration of war. Aggression occurs when Russia accepts the petition of Crimeans who voted 97 percent in favor of reuniting with Russia where Crimea resided for centuries before Khrushchev attached it to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine in 1954 when Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country.
And the entire world knows that, as the separatist leader of the Donetsk Republic said, “If Russian military units were fighting with us, the news would not be the fall of Mariupol but the fall of Kiev and Lviv.”
Which is “the cancer of violent extremism”–ISIS which cut off the heads of four journalists, or Washington which has bombed seven countries in the 21st century murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians and displacing millions?
Who is the worst terrorist– ISIS, a group that is redrawing the artificial boundaries created by British and French colonialists, or Washington with its Wolfowitz Doctrine, the basis of US foreign policy, which declares Washington’s dominant objective to be US hegemony over the world?
ISIS is the creation of Washington. ISIS consists of the jihadists Washington used to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya and then sent to Syria to overthrow Assad. If ISIS is a “network of death,” a “brand of evil” with which negotiation is impossible as Obama declares, it is a network of death created by the Obama regime itself. If ISIS poses the threat that Obama claims, how can the regime that created the threat be credible in leading the fight against it?
Obama never mentioned in his speech the central problem that the world faces. That problem is Washington’s inability to accept the existence of strong independent countries such as Russia and China. The neoconservative Wolfowitz Doctrine commits the United States to maintaining its status as the sole Unipower. This task requires Washington “to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” A “hostile power” is any country that has sufficient power or influence to be able to limit Washington’s exercise of power.
The Wolfowitz Doctrine explicitly targets Russia: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.” A “rival” is defined as any country capable of defending its interests or those of allies against Washington’s hegemony.
In his speech, Obama told Russia and China that they can be part of Washington’s world order on the condition that they accept Washington’s hegemony and do not interfere in any way with Washington’s control. When Obama tells Russia that the US will cooperate with Russia “if Russia changes course,” Obama means that Moscow must accept the primacy of Washington’s interest over Russia’s own interest. Clearly, this is an inflexible and unrealistic position. If Washington keeps to it, war with Russia and China will ensue.
Obama told China that Washington intended to continue to be a Pacific power in China’s sphere of influence, “promoting peace, stability, and the free flow of commerce among nations” by building new US air and naval bases from the Philippines to Vietnam so that Washington can control the flow of resources in the South China Sea and cut off China at will.
As far as I can tell, neither the Russian nor Chinese governments understand the seriousness of the threat that Washington represents. Washington’s claim to world hegemony seems too farfetched to Russia and China to be real. But it is very real. By refusing to take the threat seriously, Russia and China have not responded in ways that would bring an end to the threat without the necessity of war.
For example, the Russian government could most likely destroy NATO by responding to sanctions imposed by Washington and the EU by informing European governments that Russia does not sell natural gas to members of NATO. Instead of using this power, Russia has foolishly allowed the EU to accumulate record amounts of stored natural gas to see homes and industry through the coming winter. Has Russia sold out its national interests for money?
Much of Washington’s power and financial hegemony rests on the role of the US dollar as world reserve currency. Russia and China have been slow, even negligent from the standpoint of defending their sovereignty, to take advantage of opportunities to undermine this pillar of Washington’s power. For example, the BRICS’ talk of abandoning the dollar payments system has been more talk than action. Russia doesn’t even require Washington’s European puppet states to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles.
One might think that a country such as Russia experiencing such extreme hostility and demonization from the West would at least use the gas sales to support its own currency instead of Washington’s dollar. If the Russian government is going to continue to support the economies of European countries hostile to Russia and to prevent the European peoples from freezing during the coming winter, shouldn’t Russia in exchange for this extraordinary subsidy to its enemies at least arrange to support its own currency by demanding payment in rubles? Unfortunately for Russia, Russia is infected with Western trained neoliberal economists who represent Western, not Russian, interests.
When the West sees such extraordinary weakness on the part of the Russian government, Obama knows he can go to the UN and tell the most blatant lies about Russia with no cost whatsoever to the US or Europe. Russian inaction subsidizes Russia’s demonization.
China has been no more successful than Russia in using its opportunities to destabilize Washington. For example, it is a known fact, as Dave Kranzler and I have repeatedly demonstrated, that the Federal Reserve uses its bullion bank agents to knock down the gold price in order to protect the dollar’s value from the Federal Reserve’s policies. The method used is for the bullion banks to drive down the gold price with enormous amounts of naked shorts during periods of low or nonexistent volume.
China or Russia or both could take advantage of this tactic by purchasing every naked short sold plus all covered shorts, if any, and demanding delivery instead of settling the contracts in cash. Neither New York Comex nor the London market could make delivery, and the system would implode. The consequence of the failure to deliver possibly could be catastrophic for the Western financial system, but in the least it would demonstrate the corrupt nature of Western financial institutions.
Or China could deal a more lethal blow. Choosing a time of heightened concern or disruptions in US financial markets, China could dump its trillion dollar plus holdings of US treasuries, or indeed all its holdings of US financial instruments, on the market. The Federal Reserve and the US Treasury could try to stabilize the prices of US financial instruments by creating money with which to purchase the bonds and other instruments. This money creation would increase concern about the dollar’s value, and at that point China could dump the trillion dollars plus it receives from its bond sales on the exchange market. The Federal Reserve cannot print foreign currencies with which to buy up the dollars. The dollar’s exchange value would collapse and with it the dollar’s use as world reserve currency. The US would become just another broke country unable to pay for its imports.
Possibly, Washington could get Japan and the European Central Bank to print enough yen and euros to buy up the dumped dollars. However, the likelihood is that this would bring down the yen and euro along with the dollar. Flight would occur into the Chinese and Russian currencies, and financial hegemony would depart the West.
By their restraint, Russia and China enable Washington’s attack upon them. Last week Washington put thousands of its NGO operatives into the Moscow streets protesting “Putin’s war against Ukraine.” Foolishly, Russia has permitted foreign interests to buy up its newspapers, and these interests continually denounce Putin and the Russian government to their Russian readers. Did Russia sell its soul and communication system for dollars? Did a few oligarchs sell out Russia for Swiss and London bank deposits?
Both Russia and China have Muslim populations among whom the CIA operates encouraging disassociation, rebellion, and violence. Washington intends to break up the Russian Federation into smaller, weaker countries that could not stand in the way of Washington’s hegemony. Russian and Chinese fear of discord among their own Muslim populations have caused both governments to make the extremely serious strategic mistake of aligning with Washington against ISIS and with Washington’s policy of protecting Washington’s status quo in the Muslim world.
If Russia and China understood the deadly threat that Washington presents, both governments would operate according to the time honored principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Russia and China would arm ISIS with surface to air missiles to bring down the American planes and with military intelligence in order to achieve an American defeat. With defeat would come the overthrow of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and all of the American puppet rulers in the area. Washington would lose control over oil, and the petro-dollar would be history. It is extraordinary that instead Russia and China are working to protect Washington’s control over the Middle East and the petro-dollar.
China is subject to a variety of attacks. The Rockefeller Foundation creates American agents in Chinese universities, or so I am informed by Chinese academics. American companies that locate in China create Chinese boards on which they place the relatives of local and regional party officials. This shifts loyalty from the central government to the American money. Moreover, China has many economists educated in the US who are imbued with the neoliberal economics that represents Washington’s interests.
Both Russia and China have significant percentages of their populations who wish to be western. The failure of communism in both countries and the success of American cold war propaganda have created loyalties to America in place of their own governments. In Russia they go by the designation “Atlanticist Integrationists.” They are Russians who wish to be integrated into the West. I know less about the Chinese counterpart, but among youth Western materialism and lack of sexual restraint is appealing.
The inability of the Russian and Chinese governments to come to terms with the threat posed to their existence as sovereign countries by the neoconservative insistence on American world hegemony makes nuclear war more likely. If Russia and China catch on too late in the game, their only alternative will be war or submission to Washington’s hegemony. As there is no possibility of the US and NATO invading and occupying Russia and China, the war would be nuclear.
To avoid this war, which, as so many experts have shown, would terminate life on earth, the Russian and Chinese governments must soon become far more realistic in their assessment of the evil that resides in what Washington has turned into the world’s worst terrorist state–the US.
It is possible that Russia, China, and the rest of the world will be saved by American economic collapse. The US economy is a house of cards. Real median family incomes are in long-term decline. Universities produce graduates with degrees and heavy debts but no jobs. The bond market is rigged by the Federal Reserve which necessitates rigging the bullion markets in order to protect the dollar. The stock market is rigged by the outpouring of money from the Federal Reserve, by the Plunge Protection Team, and by corporations repurchasing their own stock. The dollar is supported by tradition, habit, and currency swaps.
The American House of Cards continues to stand only as a result of the tolerance of the world for vast corruption and disinformation and because greed is satisfied by the money made from a rigged system. Russia and/or China could pull down this House of Cards whenever either country or both had leadership capable of it.”