Friday, October 31, 2014

Musical Interlude: Gov't Mule, "Soulshine"

Gov't Mule, "Soulshine"

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, “Night Light”

Liquid Mind, “Night Light” 

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 is truly a majestic island universe some 200,000 light-years across. Located a mere 60 million light-years away toward the chemical constellation Fornax, NGC 1365 is a dominant member of the well-studied Fornax galaxy cluster. 
 Click image for larger size.
This impressively sharp color image shows intense star forming regions at the ends of the bar and along the spiral arms, and details of dust lanes cutting across the galaxy's bright core. At the core lies a supermassive black hole. Astronomers think NGC 1365's prominent bar plays a crucial role in the galaxy's evolution, drawing gas and dust into a star-forming maelstrom and ultimately feeding material into the central black hole.”

Chet Raymo, “Retreat From Reason”

 “Retreat From Reason” 
by Chet Raymo

“Is there a flight from reason in the United States? Everywhere we look, science is under attack. In government. In the schools. In the churches. We are offered faith-based substitutes. The “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic novels outsells everything else on the shelves. People are more interested in astrology than astronomy. Intelligent design is championed at the highest levels of government. Alternative medicine - faith healing, homeopathy, energy therapies, New Age healing, and the like - is more popular than ever. Scripture and revelation are embraced as more reliable sources of knowledge than anything we might learn empirically.

We are entering, it seems, a new Dark Age. For a substantial number of our fellow citizens, it's as if the Enlightenment never happened.

Let me take you back to the Hellenistic city of Alexandria, at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt, in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Alexandria was then the seat of a magnificent flowering of mathematical and scientific thought. The city welcomed all comers - Eratosthenes from Cyrene, Aristarchus from Samos, Archimedes from Sicily, Apollonius from Rhodes, Hipparchus from Nicaea, Galen from Pergamon, and so on - the only requirement being an inquisitive mind and a bent for explaining the world in terms that made no reference to the gods. Geography and astronomy became mathematical sciences. Eratosthenes measured the size of the Earth. Aristarchus deduced the sizes and distances of the Sun and Moon.

These spectacular achievements get no more than passing mention in textbooks of Western Civilization. We learn in school about the Golden Age of Greece and the glory that was Rome, Sophocles and Ovid, the Parthenon and the Pantheon, triremes and aqueducts, but very little of the invention of scientific thinking in the white city at the mouth of the Nile.

Alexandria was built on a ribbon of land between Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean Sea. It was graced with forums, temples, marketplaces, palaces, a double harbor with a famous lighthouse, quays, warehouses, and, prominently, a museum ("place of the muses"), and the famous library over which Eratosthenes presided. The museum and library were together the equivalent of a great modern university. It was the dream of the first rulers of Alexandria - the Ptolemys - that the library would possess a copy of every book in the known world, and within a century hundreds of thousands of scrolls were collected within its walls. By the middle of the first century B.C. Diodorus of Sicily could say that Alexandria was "the first city of the civilized world, certainly far ahead of all the rest in elegance and extent and riches and luxury."

In his book "The Greeks and the Irrational", the scholar E. R. Dodds was thinking of the Greek culture of Alexandria when he wrote: "Despite its lack of political freedom, the society of the third century B.C. was in many ways the nearest approach to an 'open' society that the world had yet seen, and nearer than any that would be seen again until modern times." It was a society confident of its powers. Aristotle had asked his fellow citizens to recognize a divine spark within themselves: the intellect. Men and women who exercise reason can live like gods, he said. For Zeno, the human intellect was not merely akin to God, it is God, a portion of the divine substance. Temples are superfluous, he said; God's true temple is the human intellect.

Of this supreme confidence in rational thought, the Alexandrians created a new empirical, mathematical way of knowing. But the seeds of irrationality were also there, embedded in popular culture, or perhaps embedded in the human soul. Soon enough, supernaturalism returned. Astrology and magical healing replaced astronomy and medicine. Cults flourished, rationalists were scapegoated, and scientific culture began to decline.

The old dualisms - mind and matter, God and nature, soul and body - which the rationalists had striven to overcome, reasserted themselves with fresh vigor. Dodds calls it "the return of the irrational." He writes: "As the intellectuals withdrew further into a world of their own, the popular mind was left increasingly defenseless. . .and left without guidance, a growing number relapsed with a sigh of relief into the pleasures and comforts of the primitive. . . better the rigid determinism of the astrological Fate than the terrifying burden of daily responsibility."

Harvard historian of science Gerald Holton sees a similarity between Dodds' description of the decline of Greek culture and the resurgence of anti-science in our own time. Once again, astrology, magical healing, and other kinds of superstitious thinking are in ascendancy. Once again, cults flourish and rationalists are scapegoated.

The Greek experience shows that movements to delegitimize science are always present, says Holton, ready to bend civilization their way by the glorification of folk belief, violence, mystification, and the rabid ideologies of ethnic and nationalistic passions. Dodds calls it "the fear of freedom - the unconscious flight from the heavy burden of individual choice which an open society lays upon its members."

Science can only prosper in a free and open society, in an atmosphere of rational skepticism where traditional patterns of thought are challenged and subjected to critical scrutiny. Science will only flourish when a people have confidence in the power of the human intellect to make sense of the world."

"Consider The Following"

"Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

Nor is it so remarkable that our greatest joy should come when we are motivated by concern for others. But that is not all. We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others' happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace- anxiety, doubt, disappointment- these things are definitely less. In our concern for others, we worry less about ourselves. When we worry less about ourselves an experience of our own suffering is less intense.

What does this tell us? Firstly, because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others' happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others' happiness. A good motivation is what is needed: compassion without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their human rights and dignities. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities"
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

"Live A Good Life..."

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid."
 - Marcus Aurelius

“The Prisoner: ‘I am not a number. I am a free man!’”

 “The Prisoner: 
‘I am not a number. I am a free man!’”
By John W. Whitehead

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in "Brave New World Revisited," the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In "Brave New World," they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” - Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (1985)

Thus goes the strain of thought in two of the great prophetic minds of literature, not so much opposed in their rationale as intertwined like the serpentine strands of DNA. The relevance of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell lies in their fears, which in recent years are being actualized at an accelerated pace.

Like the automatons of Orwell’s "1984," our glazed eyes have melted into the television screen. Recent statistics, for example, indicate that approximately 1 in 7 or 42 million Americans cannot read a newspaper or even the instructions on a pill bottle. If people cannot read, or if they simply will not, the safeguard of a democracy—an educated and informed citizenry—is in peril. The importance of an educated citizenry, as envisioned by the architects of the American scheme of government, is that they have the analytical and intellectual wherewithal to recognize and challenge the inevitable corruption of government. Without such an education, inevitably, the people become pawns in the hands of unscrupulous government bureaucrats.

Have we become pawns manipulated by a government-entertainment complex? This was the question debated in seventeen episodes of "The Prisoner," the British television series that baffled and confused a generation and still intrigues viewers today. Regarded by many as the finest dramatic television series ever broadcast, "The Prisoner" first aired in Great Britain 45 years ago. The subsequent summer of 1968, a summer of dissidence and unrest, sixteen of the seventeen episodes were broadcast in the United States (and reprised in the summer of 1969). The strength of this enigmatic series rode on the heels of Patrick McGoohan, who had built a reputation as the spy John Drake in the Secret Agent television series. After tiring of the Drake role, McGoohan immediately fell headlong into "The Prisoner" as he wrote, directed and otherwise hovered over the series.

The themes of "The Prisoner" are still relevant today—the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, the perversion of science and the nature of man—and they in part account for the series’ cult following.  “I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of "The Prisoner". Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, the story centers around McGoohan, a man who finds himself living in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan community known as The Village. The Village’s inhabitants are known merely by numbers, and McGoohan is Number 6.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number 6 meets Number 2, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable “outside.” Number 6 chooses not to give in to Village authorities but struggles to maintain his own identity. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number 2. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” Thus, Number 6 remains a prisoner, although his captivity is spent in an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

Number 6 seeks to preserve his individuality as a “free man” as he tries to escape from The Village or learn the identity of Number 1, the person presumed to run The Village. But Number 6 is watched continually by surveillance cameras and other devices, and his escapes are thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” In the final episode (“Fall Out”), Number 6 overcomes his overseers and discovers that he was Number 1 all along.

Although esoteric, "The Prisoner" was McGoohan’s vehicle for translating some very definite viewpoints to the screen. As he stated in a 1982 interview: "It was about the most evil human being, human essence, and that is ourselves. It is within each of us. That is the most dangerous thing on the Earth, what is within us. So, therefore, that is what I made Number 1—oneself—an image of oneself which he was trying to beat. The most pernicious element of this evil essence is the domination and annihilation of individuality and freedom, which are essential to human nature. Thus, initially the struggle for freedom is against oneself."

Fundamentally, however, "The Prisoner" is an epistemological exercise that focuses on the concept of reality, both in the subjective and objective sense—that is, can we really know anything about anything? Is reality a mere social construct? Since society creates any knowledge that people may possess, does this mean that human beings are simply products of the given social setting from which they are manufactured? As Steven Paul Davies notes in "The Prisoner Handbook" (2002): “Thinking for yourself is not necessarily thinking by yourself.” And as Number 2 warns Number 6 in the episode entitled “Once upon a Time”: "Society is the place where people exist together. That is civilization. The lone wolf belongs to the wilderness. You must not grow up to be a lone wolf."

Therefore, the ultimate goal of those in power is conformity to the constructs of society. This means both figuratively and literally eliminating the lone wolf, the individual. Modern psychiatry defines “normality” as conformity. This “measuring of the human psyche by psychologists,” as Davies puts it, has seriously affected how we live our lives and how we view nonconformists. Media representations of “normality” have become the criteria that society uses to evaluate its members. The concept of normality has become subjective as our views have changed to meet societal demands. The individual, as the term was once defined, is becoming passé. As McGoohan commented in 1968: "At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves. The inquisition of the mind by psychiatrists is far worse than the assault on the body of torturers."

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Moreover, the struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual. The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think.

Huxley clearly saw that people would come to love entertainment and trivia, and that those would destroy their capacity to think and eventually annihilate any freedom we may possess. Humanity’s bent toward distractions—that is, the bread and circuses of entertainment—leads them to sell their collective souls for one more voyeuristic peek into a celebrity’s life. Indeed, our society is one in which people’s love of entertainment and trivia, according to Davies, has “destroyed their capacity to think and takes away their freedom.”

McGoohan was quoted as saying that “freedom is a myth.” When we think of freedom, what exactly are we talking about? After all, none of us is free to choose when and where we are born, what sex we are, who our parents are and so on. As we reflect on the question of freedom, we see that there is very little freedom at all. We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom. “We’re all pawns,” notes a character in Episode One, in a game that cruelly plays itself out for most of us. In essence, this means that the only hope for true freedom is to break the chains of destiny in an attempt at some momentary individualistic moment, something few ever experience.

In the end, we are all prisoners of our own mind. In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us. And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized. Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a place without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and the Internet. That’s why "The Prisoner’s" existential experience of continually questioning everything, including ourselves, is so vital to any concept of individuality. It is only within this existential questioning that there is hope for what we may call freedom. The fact that "The Prisoner" even attempts to raise such questions is astounding. It is against the meltdown of the modern mind that "The Prisoner" stands, and it is this background that gives it increasing relevance.

McGoohan’s ambivalence about the concept of freedom is reflected in the surrealism of the final episode. Number 6 emerges from The Village into the center of London. The Village, then, is the present reality. In an earlier episode (“The Chimes of Big Ben”), when Number 6 believes he has escaped to a Secret Service office in London, he asks his superior: “I risked my life … to come back here, home, because I thought it was different … it is, isn’t it? Isn’t it different?”

The Daily "Near You?"

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Apathy, And Evil..."

"Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really... Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn't care as long as it's not personally inconvenienced."
- Jake Thoene, "Shaiton's Fire"

"Eight Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation"

  "Eight Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulation"
by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

"1. There is no use in trying to be honest with an emotional manipulator. You make a statement and it will be turned around. Example: I am really angry that you forgot my birthday. Response – “It makes me feel sad that you would think I would forget your birthday, I should have told you of the great personal stress I am facing at the moment – but you see I didn’t want to trouble you. You are right I should have put all this pain (don’t be surprised to see real tears at this point) aside and focused on your birthday. Sorry.” Even as you are hearing the words you get the creeped out sensation that they really do NOT mean they are sorry at all – but since they’ve said the words you’re pretty much left with nothing more to say. Either that or you suddenly find yourself babysitting their angst!! Under all circumstances if you feel this angle is being played – don’t capitulate! Do not care take – do not accept an apology that feels like bullshit. If it feels like bullshit – it probably is. Rule number one – if dealing with an emotional blackmailer TRUST your gut. TRUST your senses. Once an emotional manipulator finds a successful maneuver – it’s added to their hit list and you’ll be fed a steady diet of this shit.

2. An emotional manipulator is the picture of a willing helper. If you ask them to do something they will almost always agree – that is IF they didn’t volunteer to do it first. Then when you say, “ok thanks” – they make a bunch of heavy sighs, or other non verbal signs that let you know they don’t really want to do whatever said thing happens to be. When you tell them it doesn’t seem like they want to do whatever – they will turn it around and try to make it seem like OF COURSE they wanted to and how unreasonable you are. This is a form of crazy making – which is something emotional manipulators are very good at. Rule number two – If an emotional manipulator said YES – make them accountable for it. Do NOT buy into the sighs and subtleties – if they don’t want to do it – make them tell you it up front – or just put on the walk-man headphones and run a bath and leave them to their theater.

3. Crazy making – saying one thing and later assuring you they did not say it. If you find yourself in a relationship where you figure you should start keeping a log of what’s been said because you are beginning to question your own sanity –You are experiencing emotional manipulation. An emotional manipulator is an expert in turning things around, rationalizing, justifying and explaining things away. They can lie so smoothly that you can sit looking at black and they’ll call it white – and argue so persuasively that you begin to doubt your very senses. Over a period of time this is so insidious and eroding it can literally alter your sense of reality. WARNING: emotional manipulation is VERY dangerous! It is very disconcerting for an emotional manipulator if you begin carrying a pad of paper and a pen and making notations during conversations. Feel free to let them know you just are feeling so “forgetful” these days that you want to record their words for posterity’s sake. The damndest thing about this is that having to do such a thing is a clear example for why you should be seriously thinking about removing yourself from range in the first place. If you’re toting a notebook to safeguard yourself – that ol’ bullshit meter should be flashing steady by now!

4. Guilt. Emotional manipulators are excellent guilt mongers. They can make you feel guilty for speaking up or not speaking up, for being emotional or not being emotional enough, for giving and caring, or for not giving and caring enough. Any thing is fair game and open to guilt with an emotional manipulator. Emotional manipulators seldom express their needs or desires openly – they get what they want through emotional manipulation. Guilt is not the only form of this but it is a potent one. Most of us are pretty conditioned to do whatever is necessary to reduce our feelings of guilt. Another powerful emotion that is used is sympathy. An emotional manipulator is a great victim. They inspire a profound sense of needing to support, care for and nurture. Emotional Manipulators seldom fight their own fights or do their own dirty work. The crazy thing is that when you do it for them (which they will never ask directly for), they may just turn around and say they certainly didn’t want or expect you to do anything! Try to make a point of not fighting other people’s battles, or doing their dirty work for them. A great line is “I have every confidence in your ability to work this out on your own” – check out the response and note the bullshit meter once again.

5. Emotional manipulators fight dirty. They don’t deal with things directly. They will talk around behind your back and eventually put others in the position of telling you what they would not say themselves. They are passive aggressive, meaning they find subtle ways of letting you know they are not happy little campers. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear and then do a bunch of jerk off shit to undermine it. Example: “Of course I want you to go back to school honey and you know I’ll support you.” Then exam night you are sitting at the table and poker buddies show up, the kids are crying the t.v. blasting and the dog needs walking – all the while “Sweetie” is sitting on their ass looking at you blankly. Dare you call them on such behavior you are likely to hear, “well you can’t expect life to just stop because you have an exam can you honey?” Cry, scream or choke ‘em – only the last will have any long-term benefits and it’ll probably wind your butt in jail.

6. If you have a headache an emotional manipulator will have a brain tumor! No matter what your situation is the emotional manipulator has probably been there or is there now – but only ten times worse. It’s hard after a period of time to feel emotionally connected to an emotional manipulator because they have a way of de-railing conversations and putting the spotlight back on themselves. If you call them on this behavior they will likely become deeply wounded or very petulant and call you selfish – or claim that it is you who are always in the spotlight. The thing is that even tho you know this is not the case you are left with the impossible task of proving it. Don’t bother – TRUST your gut and walk away!

7. Emotional manipulators somehow have the ability to impact the emotional climate of those around them. When an emotional manipulator is sad or angry the very room thrums with it – it brings a deep instinctual response to find someway to equalize the emotional climate and the quickest route is by making the emotional manipulator feel better – fixing whatever is broken for them. Stick with this type of loser for too long and you will be so enmeshed and co-dependent you will forget you even have needs – let alone that you have just as much right to have your needs met.

8. Emotional manipulators have no sense of accountability. They take no responsibility for themselves or their behavior – it is always about what everyone else has “done to them”. One of the easiest ways to spot an emotional manipulator is that they often attempt to establish intimacy through the early sharing of deeply personal information that is generally of the “hook-you-in-and-make-you-sorry-for-me” variety. Initially you may perceive this type of person as very sensitive, emotionally open and maybe a little vulnerable. Believe me when I say that an emotional manipulator is about as vulnerable as a rabid pit bull, and there will always be a problem or a crisis to overcome.”

The Poet: Joy Harjo, "Eagle Poem"

"Eagle Poem"

"To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River.  Circles in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty."

~ Joy Harjo 

Paulo Coelho, “Change and Renewal”

“Change and Renewal”
by Paulo Coelho

“When winter arrives, the trees must sigh in sadness as they see their leaves falling. They say: ‘We will never be like we were before.’ Of course. Or still, what is the meaning of renewing oneself? The next leaves will have their own nature, they pertain to a new summer that approaches and which will never be like the one that passed.

Living means changing– and the seasons repeat these lessons to us every year. Changing means going through a period of depression: we still don’t know the new and we have to forget everything we used to know. But if we are a little patient, spring ends up arriving and we forget the winter of our hopelessness. Change and renewal are the laws of life. It is best to get used to them and not suffer about things that only exist to bring us joy.”

"How It Really Is"

The Economy: "The Biggest Financial Heist in History"

"The Biggest Financial Heist in History"
by Bill Bonner

"If Mr. Market is afraid, he is putting on a brave face. The Fed's QE ended on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Dow rose 221 points.  This is good news for Janet Yellen. She must think she has made a clean getaway. She has fled the scene of the biggest financial heist in history with no cops in sight. They're not even aware a crime has been committed! This grand larceny involved $3.6 trillion. Counterfeit – every dollar of it. Not a penny of it was ever honestly earned or earnestly saved... or dug out of the dirt and turned into coins. 

No... We're talking about the crime of the century... committed in broad daylight... with millions of witnesses. But hardly a single soul understood what was going on. 

We begin by asking: How many TVs, luxury apartments, spaghetti dinners and parking places are there? 

Answer: We have no idea. But it's not an infinite number. And every one of them has a price. Who gets them? The people with the money. 

Next question: Who has the money? We don't know that either. But the Fed fabricated $3.6 trillion over the last five years... and every penny ended up in someone's hands. Follow the money. You will find out what happened.

The Great Deformation: On our desk are two great books. One is David Stockman's "The Great Deformation." The other is Vivek Kaul's "Easy Money." Both describe the same phenomenon but from different points of view. 

Stockman was present at the creation, so to speak. He was President Reagan's budget director when the Republican Party ran off the rails and veered sharply toward deficits and activism.  Stockman fought hard to stop it, battling Dick Cheney and the neocons, and he lost. He wrote a book about the wreck, "The Triumph of Politics." 

The title tells the tale. Politics won out over sound fiscal principles. "Deficits don't matter," said Cheney. Which means debt doesn't matter. And if debt doesn't matter, what kind of world do we live in? But thenceforth, neither Republican nor Democratic administrations stood in the way of the great credit bubble. 

Stockman was soon out of a job on Capitol Hill. He went to Wall Street, where he witnessed, firsthand, the other side of the Great Deformation.  With an almost infinite amount of credit to work with, Wall Street quickly rose to the challenge. It peddled debt to everyone – governments, corporations and households. 

Americans took the bait. From President Reagan's first inauguration until 2014, they spent, on average, about $1 trillion more a year than they earned. Their lifestyles – and Wall Street's earnings – came to depend on it. From about 10% of total corporate earnings in the 1960s and 1970s, Wall Street's share rose to 40% by 2007. And bonuses rose into the millions... as hedge fund managers and bankers pushed the old industrial tycoons out of their stately Greenwich, Connecticut, homes. 

Stockman knows the story intimately. He lived it. He tells it in detail in his book. About which more anon...

Numskulls and Knaves: Let's turn to Kaul... We met him in India. He is a writer with a deep knowledge of and keen interest in political economy. In his book, he generously credits our visit with having "opened up a whole new world" to him. This is a reflection more on the world he lived in than on our ability to open it up. Kaul – a literate, intelligent commentator for India's largest economic journals – was unaware that there was another way to understand what was going on. 

We take it for granted that the financial authorities – in practically every major economy save Deutschland – are either numskulls or knaves... and probably both.  We have been observing their handiwork... poking at it... turning it over with a stick... and beating on it for 15 years. We forget that most people really have no idea how it works. And why should they? Central bank monetary policy is as mysterious as the virgin birth or the exact chemical formula for Spam, as far as they are concerned. 

Kaul takes a longer and broader view of how it all came about. The feds – led by those in the US – have created an immense bubble, with total worldwide debt now over $100 trillion. 

This was not done overnight. It was more than 30 years ago when the US federal government began running deficits year after year. It was almost 50 years ago that the dollar's golden anchor was given the heave-ho, leaving the world to float on a sea of paper money. And it was 65 years since the top of the last bond bull market. These trends – so long, so deep and so pervasive – have convinced most people that our financial world is "normal." Won't they be surprised when they find out how strange and transitory it really is! 

"Various experts have come up with various reasons behind the financial crisis," writes Kaul. "Some feel the crisis was because Wall Street was greedy. But then the question to ask is: When was Wall Street not greedy? And given this, why didn't financial crises happen all the time?" They didn't happen all the time because never before in the history of man have the entire world's finances been so distorted by debt. 

Debt is what Wall Street sold. Debt is what Washington wanted. And debt is how the elite transferred wealth from the public to themselves. Janet Yellen et al transferred $3.6 trillion from the public (where else could it come from?) to a very special elite: holders of financial assets. They are richer. The public is poorer. And it looks as though she has gotten away with it. But the crisis of 2008-09 was not the end of the debt bubble story. It was the beginning." 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-up, 10/31/2014”

“Weekly News Wrap-up, 10/31/2014”
By Greg Hunter’s 

"The Ebola circus continues, and the Obama Administration officials look like clowns. Let’s just take a look at a few of the headlines. “Health System Not Prepared for Ebola” is a headline from the AP, and that is in stark contrast to what we have been told. “Small clusters could overwhelm the system” is what the article says. So, this begs the question of why no quarantine? Some governors in places like New Jersey, New York and Illinois think quarantine is the way to go.  It is scientific technique on how to contain infectious disease, but that is not what the Obama Administration thinks. Some in the MSM think the same thing.  This opinion piece says the decision by these governors is “hasty” and “adds to the Ebola problem.” Really? Well, that is not what the Pentagon thinks because it is “isolating troops back from Africa for 21 days.” Some of the talking points are downright bogus. They say things like we should treat these returning health care workers like “conquering heroes.” Who is going to think these folks are “heroes” if they come back and infect people? Africa’s best chance of beating this is if America stays strong and uninfected. If America is consumed by Ebola, or even the fear of Ebola, West Africa hasn’t got a chance.

The Federal Reserve supposedly ended its QE program this week. That is where they printed money to buy bonds to hold interest rates down. So, what’s going to hold interest rates down now? Are they just going to put all this Federal debt out for bids and let the market set the interest rates? Can the Federal government, home buyers, car buyers, credit card holders and the overall economy afford higher rates? You’ve got to be kidding. Gregory Mannarino of says the Fed can’t just say it wants low interest rates. It has to do something to keep them low. Mannarino thinks the Fed is now going to force the big banks that got all this QE to buy Treasury and other government debt.  Mannarino told me that he thinks the Fed is going to continue to print money to finance another form of QE. He says the money printing has not ended and will never end. The Fed is just going to call it something else. The Fed also says the economy and employment have improved, and the third quarter had a 3.5% growth rate. John Williams of says the 3.5% growth rate is “Happy election eve numbers” and says it was boosted by “guessed at trade numbers and defense spending.” Williams says look for a downside revision. If the economy was really that good, would we have nearly 93 million people not in the workforce? There are 46 million people on food stamps, and half of Americans make less than $28,000 a year. Would mortgage applications be hitting 19 year lows? Would former Fed Head Alan Greenspan be warning about “turmoil” in the economy because of ending QE? Oh, and “Maestro” Greenspan is also telling people to buy gold? Let that sink in, Greenspan is telling people to buy gold!!

Violence appears to be flaring up in Israel again. An Israeli was shot at the famous Temple Mount religious site, also known as the al-Aqsa Mosque. The site was closed down after the shooting of an Israeli right-wing activist.  Now, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is calling for a “day of rage.” Violence is expected.

Finally, I just received notification that my health care provider is going to raise my premium again for next year by about a $100 bucks a month. My health care has gone up by about 60% since Obama Care was signed into law. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says that it’s going up because not enough young people have signed up. I have no problem with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  Health care costs money, especially with a bad law. Health care was supposed to be cheaper because of Obama Care, but for most people—it’s not. Multiply those increases by millions of policyholders and you can imagine what is going to happen to the economy. What really gripes me is the Democrats lied as a party to get this economy killing plan passed."

Join Greg Hunter as he analyzes these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

“I Pledge Allegiance...”

“I Pledge Allegiance...”
by The Dissident Dad 

“Remember those weird kids who didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance in school? They either sat down or just stood up silently. I sure do. Most likely for religious reasons, but I remember thinking to myself as a kid that it was wrong not to say the pledge aloud with the rest of us. As I got older in my teenage years, I even felt that those kids were not being respectful.

Some adults may even give them the old, “well, if you don’t like it then you can leave” routine that is mentioned every time a minority opts out of the majority’s way of doing things.

Homeschooling my children will really make this a non-issue; however, my nieces were reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance the other day while playing with my children. In fact, here in Texas the kids recite both the American and Texas Pledge of Allegiance before class. After hearing them recite it, and of course remembering the 2,500 or so times I said it in my lifetime, I started to think about the purpose and real meaning of this pledge that millions of school-aged children recite every morning Monday through Friday.

A pledge, of course, is a vow, an oath, or a commitment. Allegiance is defined as loyalty, devotion, and obedience. In fact, the antonyms for allegiance are treachery and disloyalty.

Crazy when you think about it, right? Do we really want our kids pledging obedience and loyalty to the U.S. federal government? Especially when the pledge itself is masked with a lie. I mean, it ends with, “with liberty and justice for all.” Now that’s a crock of s**t right there. Not one arrest in the financial sector for the 2008 crisis, not one investigation into the 2003 Iraq invasion where no WMDs were found, and a complete cover-up of the events on 9/11, i.e., Building 7. Liberty and justice for all… how about we ask Edward Snowden about that? His patriotic actions were described as treachery and disloyalty.

Nationalism and blind patriotism is crucial in keeping a population dumbed-down and ignorant, which is why if you think about it, pledging allegiance to the government we have today is truly a backwards thing to do. Teaching it to a small child is particularly degrading.

As a dad who is proud of my own liberty, this makes life tough sometimes. Do I teach my kids the truth or go with the flow? On the surface it seems black and white, but it’s not. Teaching your children about certain truths that make them the odd kid out is not exactly what a parent wants for their child. My wife and I are constantly turning to each other and asking ourselves, should we make a stand on this? Because if we do, it might make it hard for the kids.

A great example comes from a friend of mine with an 11-year-old son who stood up on 9/11 at school and countered the teacher’s lesson for the anniversary and told her about the Loose Change version. It was awkward to say the least. To simply question the events of 9/11 go against the state’s religion of nationalism, so for an 11-year-old boy to bring it up in a classroom…you can imagine the trouble it caused.

Teaching my children about the oligarchs and the current state of our leaders in government is not something that I take lightly. I realize that some of our core values, like the belief in liberty, respect for all life, and individual sovereignty will make them the odd kid out sometimes.

Being surrounded by people who have been taught, just as I was, to pledge allegiance to the state, is the unfortunate reality we are all confronted with. something that is so deeply engrained that the best I can do is teach my children to think for themselves and decide on their own. Figuring out how to best teach my children the danger of such blind allegiance is without a doubt the most difficult task I face as a father.”

Satire: “Obama Urged to Apologize for Anti-Fear Remark”

“Obama Urged to Apologize for Anti-Fear Remark”
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— “President Obama is coming under increasing pressure to apologize for a controversial remark that he made on Tuesday, in which he said that the nation’s Ebola policy should be based on facts rather than fear. While the anti-fear tenor of Mr. Obama’s comment was offensive enough to some, the President made matters worse by suggesting that science would play the leading role in guiding the nation’s Ebola protocols—a role that many Americans believe should be played by fear.

Across the country, Democratic candidates have sought to distance themselves from the President’s incendiary statement, especially in states like North Carolina, where science and facts have record-low approval ratings. Carol Foyler, a Democratic consultant in Colorado, said that she was “smacking my head” at the President’s divisive comment. “He’s unpopular enough as it is,” she said. “Aligning yourself with science and facts is a surefire way to alienate millions of Americans.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Musical Interlude: Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

Afshin, “Prayer of Change”

"A Look to the Heavens"; "Why Do We Look to the Stars?"

"Distorted galaxy NGC 2442 can be found in the southern constellation of the flying fish, (Piscis) Volans. Located about 50 million light-years away, the galaxy's two spiral arms extending from a pronounced central bar give it a hook-shaped appearance. This deep color image also shows the arms' obscuring dust lanes, young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions surrounding a core of yellowish light from an older population of stars.

But the star forming regions seem more concentrated along the drawn-out (right side) spiral arm. The distorted structure is likely the result of an ancient close encounter with the smaller galaxy seen near the top left of this field of view. The two interacting galaxies are separated by about 150,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 2442."

"Why Do We Look to the Stars?"

"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

For as long as there has been humans we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. This perspective is a courageous continuation of our penchant for constructing and testing mental models of the skies; the Sun as a red-hot stone, the stars as a celestial flame, the Galaxy as the backbone of night.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky. Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."
- Carl Sagan

History: “The Charge of the Light Brigade"

“The Charge of the Light Brigade"
 Compiled By CP
“All the talk of history is of nothing almost but fighting and killing, and the honor and renown which are bestowed on conquerors, who, for the most part, are mere butchers of mankind, mislead growing youth, who, by these means, come to think slaughter the most laudable business of mankind, and the most heroic of virtue.” - John Locke

“The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. The charge was the result of a miscommunication in such a way that the brigade attempted a much more difficult objective than intended by the overall commander Lord Raglan. Blame for the miscommunication has remained controversial, as the original order itself was vague. The charge produced no decisive gains and resulted in very high casualties, and is best remembered as the subject of the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose lines emphasize the valor of the cavalry in carrying out their orders, even "tho' the soldier knew/Some one had blunder'd".

The charge was made by the Light Brigade of the British cavalry, consisting of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan. Together with the Heavy Brigade comprising the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and the Scots Greys, commanded by Major General James Yorke Scarlett, himself a past Commanding Officer of the 5th Dragoon Guards, the two units were the main British cavalry force at the battle. Overall command of the cavalry resided with Lieutenant General the Earl of Lucan. Cardigan and Lucan were brothers-in-law who disliked each other intensely.

Lucan received an order from the army commander Lord Raglan stating that "Lord Raglan wishes the Cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French Cavalry is on your left. Immediate." Raglan in fact wished the cavalry to prevent the Russians taking away the naval guns from the redoubts that they had captured on the reverse side of the Causeway Heights, the hill forming the south side of the valley. Raglan could see what was happening from his high vantage-point on the west of the valley, but Lucan and the cavalry were unaware of what was going on owing to the lie of the land where they were drawn up. The order was drafted by Brigadier Richard Airey and was carried by Captain Louis Edward Nolan, who carried the further oral instruction that the cavalry was to attack immediately. When Lucan asked what guns were referred to, Nolan is said to have indicated, by a wide sweep of his arm, not the Causeway redoubts but the mass of Russian guns in a redoubt at the end of the valley, around a mile away. His reasons for the misdirection are unclear, as he was killed in the ensuing battle.

In response to the order, Lucan instructed Cardigan to lead 673 (some sources state 661; another 607 cavalrymen straight into the valley between the Fedyukhin Heights and the Causeway Heights, famously dubbed the "Valley of Death" by the poet Tennyson. The opposing Russian forces were commanded by Pavel Liprandi and included approximately 20 battalions of infantry supported by over fifty artillery pieces. These forces were deployed on both sides and at the opposite end of the valley. Lucan himself was to follow with the Heavy Brigade.

The Light Brigade set off down the valley with Cardigan out in front leading the charge. Almost at once Nolan was seen to rush across the front, passing in front of Cardigan. It may be that he then realized the charge was aimed at the wrong target and was attempting to stop or turn the brigade, but he was killed by an artillery shell and the cavalry continued on its course. Despite withering fire from three sides that devastated their force on the ride, the Light Brigade was able to engage the Russian forces at the end of the valley and force them back from the redoubt, but it suffered heavy casualties and was soon forced to retire. The surviving Russian artillerymen returned to their guns and opened fire once again, with grape and canister, indiscriminately at the mêlée of friend and foe before them. Lucan failed to provide any support for Cardigan, and it was speculated that he was motivated by an enmity for his brother-in-law that had lasted some 30 years and had been intensified during the campaign up to that point. The troops of the Heavy Brigade entered the mouth of the valley but did not advance further. Lucan's subsequent explanation was that he saw no point in having a second brigade mown down and that he was best positioned where he was to render assistance to Light Brigade survivors returning from the charge. The French light cavalry, the Chasseurs d'Afrique, was more effective in that it cleared the Fedyukhin Heights of the two half batteries of guns, two infantry battalions and Cossacks to ensure the Light Brigade would not be hit by fire from that flank and later provided cover for the remaining elements of the Light Brigade as they withdrew. War correspondent William Russell, who witnessed the battle, declared "our Light Brigade was annihilated by their own rashness, and by the brutality of a ferocious enemy.”
As popularized by Hollywood...
"The Charge of The Light Brigade" (1936), starring Errol Flynn.
Balaclava, Crimean War period 1853-1856.
Apologies for poor quality.
"The Charge of the Light Brigade"
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.”

"The Land Of Dreams..."

“Father, O father! what do we here
In this land of unbelief and fear?
The Land of Dreams is better far,
Above the light of the morning star.”

- William Blake, “The Land of Dreams”

"Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda..."

 "It is what it is, and it was what it was. 
Don’t fret the could-haves because if it should-have, it would-have."
- Unknown

Chet Raymo, "Know Thyself"

"Know Thyself"
by Chet Raymo

"The ancient Greek aphorism, attributed to Socrates and others. Good advice, I'm sure. If only we knew what it means. Is it the same as the "examination of conscience" we were asked to perform as young Catholics? "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." Well, yes, it is good to ask ourselves if we have lived up to our highest moral aspirations. But surely "Know thyself" means more than that.

Does it mean to be aware of our self-awareness? That is to say, not to act impulsively, but reflectively. Thoreau's "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Or perhaps it means to apply the method of scientia to the problem of consciousness, treat the mind like a fish that can be dissected at the lab bench, watch the brain flickering on the display of a scanning machine as the subject is stimulated with love, sex, fear, music, pain. Neuroscience. Daniel Dennet's book audaciously titled "Consciousness Explained."

There is a line from a poem by Jane Hirshfield, in which she questions herself: "A knife cannot cut itself open, yet you ask me both to be you and to know you."

Is it hopeless then? Is there an essential absurdity in a thing knowing itself? Does knowing necessarily imply a knower more complex than the thing known? Is it possible that we might fully understand, say, the neurology of the sea slug Aplysia, that favorite subject of experimental neurobiologists with only 20,000 central nerve cells, big nerve cells, ten times bigger than human neurons, but not the workings of the human brain, with its 100 billion nerve cells, each one connected to thousands of others?

Hirshfield's poem is titled "Instant Glimpsable Only For An Instant." Perhaps that is the best we can do. To know ourselves in those fleeting moments of recognition than come now and then, often unbidden, sometimes as the result of a chance encounter with beauty or with ugliness, sometimes bidden out of the silence and solitude of meditation - a flash upon on one's inward eye that is, perhaps, all the ancients were asking for when they asked us to "know ourselves."

The Poet: T.S. Eliot, "The Four Quartets"

"The Four Quartets"
by T.S. Eliot 

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

The Daily "Near You?"

Barkerville, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for stopping by.

“Guess How Much America's War Against Isis Costs Every Single Day?”

“Guess How Much America's War Against Isis Costs Every Single Day?”
by AFP

“The Pentagon has revised its estimate of the cost of the US air war in Iraq and Syria, saying the price tag for the campaign against the Islamic State group comes to about $8.3 million a day. Since air strikes began on August 8, the campaign — which has involved about 6,600 sorties by US and allied aircraft — has cost $580 million, said Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban.

The Defense Department had previously put the average daily cost of the military operation at more than $7 million a day. The higher figure reflected the increased pace of air strikes and related flights, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. But independent analysts say the Defense Department is underestimating the genuine cost of the war effort, which began in mid-June with the deployment of hundreds of US troops to secure the American embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi army.

Some former budget officials and outside experts estimate the cost of the war has already exceeded a billion dollars, and that it could rise to several billion dollars in a year’s time. Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments projected the war could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion a year, in an analysis issued on September 29. If the intensity of the bombing raids is expanded, the air war could cost as much as $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, according to Harrison’s report.

One of the biggest drains on the budget for the air war are the large number of surveillance and reconnaissance flights that bombing raids require, analysts say. The campaign, dubbed “Operation Inherent Resolve,” has seen thousands of spy flights and aerial refueling runs. The cost of flying the spy planes range from about $1,000 an hour for Predator and Reaper drones to $7,000 an hour for high-altitude Global Hawk drones, or as much as $22,000 per hour for E-8 J-STAR (Joint Surveillance Target Radar Attack System) aircraft.

Funds for the air war are coming out of the Pentagon’s de facto war budget, the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Separate from the regular defense “base” budget, the OCO fund is often portrayed as a “credit card” to cover the costs of wars. Congress increased the OCO budget to about $85 billion for last fiscal year, ending September 30. The proposed fund for the new fiscal year 2015 is due to drop to $54 billion.”
"There Are 80,000 Homeless Kids in New York City"

Defend this, I dare you...
- CP

"How It Really Is"

"The Trouble Is..."

"The trouble is that the stupid people- who constitute the grand overwhelming majority of this and all other nations- do believe and are moulded and convinced by what they get out of a newspaper." 
- Mark Twain, 1873