Monday, August 31, 2015

“Stock Market Collapse- Take The Opportunity To Bail Before It’s Too Late!”

“Stock Market Collapse- 
Take The Opportunity To Bail Before It’s Too Late!”
by James Quinn

“Last week ended with the cackling hens on CNBC and the spokesmodels on Bloomberg bloviating about the temporary pothole on the road to riches. They assured their few thousand remaining viewers the 11% plunge in the stock market was caused by China and the communist government’s direct intervention in their stock market, arrest of a brokerage CEO, and threat to prosecute sellers surely cured what ails their market. The Fed and their Plunge Protection Team co-conspirators reversed the free fall, manipulating derivatives and creating a short seller covering rally back to previous week levels. The moneyed interests are desperate to retain the appearance of normality and stability, as their debt saturated system teeters on the verge of collapse.

With corporate profits falling, margin debt at all-time highs, the Fed preparing to raise rates, China’s fake economic system imploding, currency wars breaking out across the globe, emerging markets in turmoil, oil dependent countries in the Middle East seeing budgets go deeply in the red, Greece and the other insolvent southern European countries nearing collapse and tensions rising between Russia, Europe and the U.S., there is plenty to fear in this central banker created debt bubble world. History teaches us this isn’t over. It’s only just begun. The bubblevision assertions that the worst is behind us is false. They will insist all is well until you’ve lost half your net worth. When fear overtakes greed, neither monetary easing, propaganda, nor acts of desperation by politicians, government bureaucrats, or central bankers will turn the tide.

If the powers that be are this panicked with the market only off 6% from its all-time high, imagine how they’ll react when this turns into a route on par with the plunge in the Chinese markets. The average person on the street was worried early last week, but they mindlessly just regurgitated the mantra preached to them by MSM talking heads and Wall Street investment shills about long-term, blah, blah, blah. They acted the same way in 2007 through 2009, as their retirement funds were obliterated. The fact is that stocks are extremely overvalued and are going to fall, whether the moneyed interests like it or not.

How many Boomers or Gen Xers are prepared for 0% returns on their 401ks over the next ten years, with a 50% plunge thrown in for good measure? This market pullback is a drop in the proverbial bucket. Everyone should be using this dead cat bounce as an opportunity to get out of the market. But most will not heed that advice. Their cognitive dissonance is too overwhelming.

The Fed is now nothing more than a helpless bunch of academic theorist bystanders as they already have interest rates at zero and have poured $3 trillion down the drain in their fruitless Keynesian effort to revive this zombie economy. Low interest rates didn’t work and they will not avert the coming stock market collapse.

Now for the money quote. Market crashes happen in stages. After an initial plunge, a recovery bounce occurs but fails to reach the pre-plunge levels. And then the bottom falls out. Despite the brave talk from the buy and hold crowd, no one is prepared for a 50% loss over an 18 month horizon. These are the people who will hold until the market has already fallen by 30% and then panic. It has paid to be reckless and foolish over the last three years. It’s this same reckless attitude that brought down the day traders in 2001, house flippers in 2006, and subprime derivative gurus in 2008. Rational, risk averse, clear minded people need to bail out of the stock market now. It may be your last chance.”

"Russian Military Forces Arrive In Syria, Set Forward Operating Base Near Damascus"

"Russian Military Forces Arrive In Syria, 
Set Forward Operating Base Near Damascus"
 by Tyler Durden

"While military direct intervention by US, Turkish, and Gulf forces over Syrian soil escalates with every passing day, even as Islamic State forces capture increasingly more sovereign territory, in the central part of the country, the Nusra Front dominant in the northwestern region province of Idlib and the official "rebel" forces in close proximity to Damascus, the biggest question on everyone's lips has been one: would Putin abandon his protege, Syria's president Assad, to western "liberators" in the process ceding control over Syrian territory which for years had been a Russian national interest as it prevented the passage of regional pipelines from Qatar and Saudi Arabia into Europe, in the process eliminating Gazprom's - and Russia's - influence over the continent.

As recently as a month ago, the surprising answer appeared to be an unexpected "yes", as we described in detail in "The End Draws Near For Syria's Assad As Putin's Patience "Wears Thin." Which would make no sense: why would Putin abdicate a carefully cultivated relationship, one which served both sides (Russia exported weapons, provides military support, and in exchange got a right of first and only refusal on any traversing pipelines through Syria) for years, just to take a gamble on an unknown future when the only aggressor was a jihadist spinoff which had been created as byproduct of US intervention in the region with the specific intention of achieving precisely this outcome: overthrowing Assad (see "Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad").

As it turns out, it may all have been just a ruse. Because as Ynet reports, not only has Putin not turned his back on Assad, or Syria, but the Russian reinforcements are well on their way. Reinforcements for what? Why to fight the evil Islamic jihadists from ISIS of course, the same artificially created group of bogeyman that the US, Turkey, and Saudis are all all fighting. In fact, this may be the first world war in which everyone is "fighting" an opponent that everyone knows is a proxy for something else.

According to Ynet, Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.

And just like the US and Turkish air forces are supposedly in the region to "eradicate the ISIS threat", there can't be any possible complaints that Russia has also decided to take its fight to the jihadists - even if it is doing so from the territory of what the real goal of US and Turkish intervention is - Syria. After all, it is a free for all against ISIS, right?

From Ynet: "According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base. In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft."

The Israeli outlet needlessly adds that while the current makeup of the Russian expeditionary force is still unknown, "there is no doubt that Russian pilots flying combat missions in Syrian skies will definitely change the existing dynamics in the Middle East." Why certainly: because in one move Putin, who until this moment had been curiously non-commital over Syria's various internal and exteranl wars, just made the one move the puts everyone else in check: with Russian forces in Damascus implicitly supporting and guarding Assad, the western plan instantly falls apart.

It gets better: if what Ynet reports is accurate, Iran's brief tenure as Obama's BFF in the middle east is about to expire: "Western diplomatic sources recently reported that a series of negotiations had been held between the Russians and the Iranians, mainly focusing on ISIS and the threat it poses to the Assad regime. The infamous Iranian Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani recently visited Moscow in the framework of these talks. As a result the Russians and the Iranians reached a strategic decision: Make any effort necessary to preserve Assad's seat of power, so that Syria may act as a barrier, and prevent the spread of ISIS and Islamist backed militias into the former Soviet Islamic republics."

See: the red herring that is ISIS can be used just as effectively for defensive purposes as for offensive ones. And since the US can't possibly admit the whole situation is one made up farce, it is quite possible that the world will witness its first regional war when everyone is fighting a dummy, proxy enemy which doesn't really exist, when in reality everyone is fighting everyone else! That said, we look forward to Obama explaining the American people how the US is collaborating with the one mid-east entity that is supporting not only Syria, but now is explicitly backing Putin as well.

It gets better: Ynet adds that "Western diplomatic sources have emphasized that the Obama administration is fully aware of the Russian intent to intervene directly in Syria, but has yet to issue any reaction... The Iranians and the Russians- with the US well aware- have begun the struggle to reequip the Syrian army, which has been left in tatters by the civil war. They intend not only to train Assad's army, but to also equip it. During the entire duration of the civil war, the Russians have consistently sent a weapons supply ship to the Russian held port of Tartus in Syria on a weekly basis. The ships would bring missiles, replacement parts, and different types of ammunition for the Syrian army."

Finally, it appears not only the US military-industrial complex is set to profit from the upcoming war: Russian dockbuilders will also be rewarded: "Arab media outlets have recently published reports that Syria and Russia were looking for an additional port on the Syrian coast, which will serve the Russians in their mission to hasten the pace of the Syrian rearmament."

If all of the above is correct, the situation in the middle-east is set to escalate very rapidly over the next few months, and is likely set to return to the face-off last seen in the summer of 2013 when the US and Russian navies were within earshot of each other, just off the coast of Syria, and only a last minute bungled intervention by Kerry avoided the escalation into all out war. Let's hope Kerry has it in him to make the same mistake twice.”
And now it really gets interesting...

Musical Interlude: Runrig, “Running to the Light”

Runrig, “Running to the Light”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list. In fact, 21st century astronomers would identify it as a planetary nebula, but it's not a planet either, even though it may appear round and planet-like in a small telescope. Messier 27 (M27) is an excellent example of a gaseous emission nebula created as a sun-like star runs out of nuclear fuel in its core. The nebula forms as the star's outer layers are expelled into space, with a visible glow generated by atoms excited by the dying star's intense but invisible ultraviolet light. 
Click image for larger size.
Known by the popular name of the Dumbbell Nebula, the beautifully symmetric interstellar gas cloud is over 2.5 light-years across and about 1,200 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula. This impressive color composite highlights details within the well-studied central region and fainter, seldom imaged features in the nebula's outer halo. It incorporates broad and narrowband images recorded using filters sensitive to emission from sulfur, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.”



"I am what I am because of who we all are."
- A definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.

"Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in a 1999 book: “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008: “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

“'A person is a person through other people' strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance.”
- Michael Onyebuchi Eze

"7 Ways to Support Others During Tough Times"

"7 Ways to Support Others During Tough Times"
by Lexi Behrndt 

"Life is fragile. Hard times are inevitable. At one time or another, we will all go through a difficult time, whether we deal with sickness, catastrophe, crisis, or relational breakdown. In those times, we need each other more than ever, but it's not just enough to be surrounded by people. We, as supporters, need to be educated in the best way to love our friends and family through tough times.

1. Silence speaks louder than words misspoken. Don't ignore them. Plain and simple. If you don't know what to say, don't avoid them. Say something. Ninety nine percent of what you could say is better than saying nothing at all. Instead, if you had a relationship with them, even if it was 10 years ago, a simple, "I'm so sorry," or "I'm thinking of you," or "I'm praying for you."

2. Don't make them ask you for help. Do they need help? Absolutely. Do they want to ask? Absolutely not. There is nothing more humbling than having to admit that you don't have your life under control, and for all the people pleasers out there, asking people for something as simple as meals or free babysitting is something we'd rather avoid. We'd rather tough it out than beg. Instead, offer your help, and offer specific ways that you would like to help.

3. Don't rush them through their pain. Saying things like "I know exactly how you feel" or telling me a story of your cousin's boyfriend's aunt's struggle and how she made it through. While we may say things with good intentions, it can also serve to minimize their issues and urge them to stifle their pain. Yes, what they are going through has probably been faced before. Yes, people do survive. Yes, things might get better. Yes, to all the things.

People need to know that the pain they feel is real and they need to move through it. They need to get a little messy and be a little more honest and feel a little more, because if they move through it too quickly or try to avoid their feelings, they might not heal just the right way. A doctor doesn't just give a sling with no cast to someone who has severely broken their arm. The doctor gives a cast. The doctor prescribes time for healing, because they know that if the healing is rushed, the bone may also not heal properly. In the same way, we need to give time for others to move through their pain rather than rush them. Instead, sit with them. Listen. Let them be honest when life is hard. Let them be angry. Let them be whatever they need to be, and resist the urge to fix them, heal them, or placate them. Just be with them.

4. Don't give unsolicited advice. Even if you have been in the situation before, support, but don't preach. This includes all cliche and trite phrases and platitudes. You may have heard them said before, but that doesn't mean they are helpful. Instead, listen, love, give. Give time, energy, resources... give yourself. Just don't give advice when they haven't asked.

5. Don't give them magic formulas. If they stand on their head, count to 30, twice and backwards, confess everything they have ever done, change their past mistakes, then this tough situation would no longer be happening to them. There is no magic formula. Life is hard and messy and it doesn't negate the goodness in this world, but it does assign blame and guilt to the situation, one of the last things that someone who is suffering needs is to be shamed. Instead, let them know you are thinking of them, praying for them, loving them, and cheering them on.

6. Don't make it about yourself. Essentially, don't complain about how your friend's tough time makes you feel. If you are close, you will be affected, but if they are closer to the problem than you, then they are not the person to whom you should vent. Instead, you should offer them support. Check on them. Love them. Let someone else support you. Instead, focus on supporting them. For more on this, do yourself a favor and read this article by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman for the LA Times.

7. Don't forget the person. With all of the above tips, don't just follow them like a black-and-white guide. The beauty in each of us is that we are unique individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, and circumstances. Instead, consider the recipient. Some people want hugs. Some people aren't touchy-feely. Some people want company. Some people prefer to sit alone. Some people want you to do things without asking, some people want you to run it past them first. Some people want someone to cry with and talk to, some people reserve that trust for a select few. Consider who they are before you act, and support them accordingly.

The bottom line? Love them selflessly and support them unconditionally, or as I remind myself... Say a little less. Love a little more. Life can be messy, but with love, we can help each other survive even the toughest times.”

Satire: "Nation with Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall"

"Nation with Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall"
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— "As the United States’ bridges, roads, and other infrastructure dangerously deteriorate from decades of neglect, there is a mounting sense of urgency that it is time to build a giant wall. Across the U.S., whose rail system is a rickety antique plagued by deadly accidents, Americans are increasingly recognizing that building a wall with Mexico, and possibly another one with Canada, should be the country’s top priority.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of a Washington-based think tank called the Center for Responsible Immigration, believes that most Americans favor the building of border walls over extravagant pet projects like structurally sound freeway overpasses. “The estimated cost of a border wall with Mexico is five billion dollars,” he said. “We could easily blow the same amount of money on infrastructure repairs and have nothing to show for it but functioning highways.”

Congress has dragged its feet on infrastructure spending in recent years, but Dorrinson senses growing support in Washington for building a giant border wall. “Even if for some reason we don’t get the Mexicans to pay for it, five billion is a steal,” he said. While some think that America’s declining infrastructure is a national-security threat, Dorrinson strongly disagrees. “If immigrants somehow get over the wall, the condition of our bridges and roads will keep them from getting very far,” he said.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Chet Raymo, "ICBW IDTS"

by Chet Raymo

"Which means, according to text messagers, "It could be worse (but) I don't think so." It seems a Finn has published a 332-page novel written entirely in text messaging abbreviations. Leave it to the Finns, who essentially invented mobile phone culture. Well, that's one novel I will never read. At my age, I might as well try to learn Finnish as the language of TXT MSG. I've had a mobile (as they call them in Europe) for three years now, and I've yet to have an incoming call. Not surprising, since no one has my number, and even if they did the phone is never on. I had an instant message once, but it was in English, from another IM illiterate. The mobile is a handy thing, which I take with me when I travel. I have a cheapo calling plan that gives me 100 minutes for 90 days. I've never used more than 10.

I know a cultural revolution is passing me by, and IMHO a rather significant one. It's like we are all being raptured out of our bodies into the ether. In the new dispensation, protoplasm is less important than pixels. Me, I'll stay in the world where we still go eye-to-eye, hold hands, mush lips, and make babies in double beds.

A hundred years ago, it was the telephone, which "Scientific American" magazine then saw as "nothing less than a new organization of society- a state of things in which every individual, however secluded, will have at call every other individual in the community, to the saving of no end of social and business complications, of needless goings to and fro." Another pundit of that time proclaimed an "epoch of neighborship without propinquity." Or, as I suppose we'd say now, ILY W/O F2F. Propinquity survived the telephone. Propinquity will doubtless survive TXT MSG. There are some things we can't get via that tiny scrolling screen. A decent haircut? A dozen red roses? A coronary bypass? BCNU...”

"Study: Some Types Of Multitasking Are More Dangerous Than Others"

"Study: Some Types Of Multitasking Are More Dangerous Than Others"
by The Ohio State University

"In a study that has implications for distracted drivers, researchers found that people are better at juggling some types of multitasking than they are at others. Trying to do two visual tasks at once hurt performance in both tasks significantly more than combining a visual and an audio task, the research found. Alarmingly, though, people who tried to do two visual tasks at the same time rated their performance as better than did those who combined a visual and an audio task - even though their actual performance was worse. "Many people have this overconfidence in how well they can multitask, and our study shows that this particularly is the case when they combine two visual tasks," said Zheng Wang, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University. "People's perception about how well they're doing doesn't match up with how they actually perform."

Eye-tracking technology used in the study showed that people's gaze moved around much more when they had two visual tasks compared to a visual and an audio task, and they spent much less time fixated on any one task. That suggests distracted visual attention, Wang said. People in the study who had two visual tasks had to complete a pattern-matching puzzle on a computer screen while giving walking directions to another person using instant messaging (IM) software. Those who combined a visual and an audio task tried to complete the same pattern-matching task on the screen while giving voice directions using audio chat. The two multitasking scenarios used in this study can be compared to those drivers may face, Wang said.

People who try to text while they are driving are combining two mostly visual tasks, she said. People who talk on a phone while driving are combining a visual and an audio task. "They're both dangerous, but as both our behavioral performance data and eyetracking data suggest, texting is more dangerous to do while driving than talking on a phone, which is not a surprise," Wang said. "But what is surprising is that our results also suggest that people may perceive that texting is not more dangerous - they may think they can do a good job at two visual tasks at one time."

The study appears in a recent issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The study involved 32 college students who sat at computer screens. All of the students completed a matching task in which they saw two grids on the screen, each with nine cells containing random letters or numbers. They had to determine, as quickly as possible, whether the two grids were a "match" or "mismatch" by clicking a button on the screen. They were told to complete as many trials as possible within two minutes. After testing the participants on the matching task with no distractions, the researchers had the students repeat the matching task while giving walking directions to a fellow college student, "Jennifer," who they were told needed to get to an important job interview. Participants had to help "Jennifer" get to her interview within six minutes. In fact, "Jennifer" was a trained confederate experimenter. She has been trained to interact with participants in a realistic but scripted way to ensure the direction task was kept as similar as possible across all participants.

Half of the participants used instant messaging software (Google Chat) to type directions while the other half used voice chat (Google Talk with headphones and an attached microphone) to help "Jennifer" reach her destination. Results showed that multitasking, of any kind, seriously hurt performance. Participants who gave audio directions showed a 30 percent drop in visual pattern-matching performance. But those who used instant messaging did even worse - they had a 50 percent drop in pattern-matching performance. In addition, those who gave audio directions completed more steps in the directions task than did those who used IM. But when participants were asked to rate how well they did on their tasks, those who used IM gave themselves higher ratings than did those who used audio chat.

"It may be that those using IM felt more in control because they could respond when they wanted without being hurried by a voice in their ears," Wang said. "Also, processing several streams of information in the visual channel may give people the illusion of efficiency. They may perceive visual tasks as relatively effortless, which may explain the tendency to combine tasks like driving and texting." 

Eye-tracking results from the study showed that people paid much less attention to the matching task when they were multitasking, Wang said. As expected, the results were worse for those who used IM than for those who used voice chat. Overall, the percentage of eye fixations on the matching-task grids declined from 76 percent when that was the participants' only task to 33 percent during multitasking. Fixations on the grid task decreased by 53 percent for those using IM and a comparatively better 35 percent for those who used voice chat. "When people are using IM, their visual attention is split much more than when they use voice chat," she said.

These results suggest we need to teach media and multitasking literacy to young people before they start driving, Wang said. "Our results suggest many people may believe they can effectively text and drive at the same time, and we need to make sure young people know that is not true." In addition, the findings show that technology companies need to be aware of how people respond to multitasking when they are designing products.

For example, these results suggest GPS voice guidance should be preferred over image guidance because people are more effective when they combine visual with aural tasks compared to two visual tasks. "We need to design media environments that emphasize processing efficiency and activity safety. We can take advantage of the fact that we do better when we can use visual and audio components rather than two visual components," Wang said."

"Are We Addicted To Technology?"

"Are We Addicted To Technology?"
By Zoe Kleinman

"Just five minutes after meeting sleep and energy expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan in her central London clinic, she delivers some bad news. "You've got the classic pattern of someone who's in a fatigue cycle," she says. "You're running on survival energy. Your sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive. I would guess you feel pretty shattered mid-afternoon which would mean you are running on adrenalin, noradrenalin, cortisol." I'm turning into a dopamine junkie - the brain chemical associated with pleasure that is released when we are stimulated, whether that is by food, sex, excitement... or screen time. It sounds convincing. Or am I being blinded by pseudo-science?

Dr Ramlakhan works at the privately run Nightingale Hospital, and is a member of its technology addiction treatment team. Surely tiredness is a by-product of a busy modern life - children, work, hobbies etc - rather than that relaxing time spent watching Netflix in bed? "The thing many of my patients have in common is the fact that they are in front of screens all the time. Even when they try to sleep at night. It has become so pervasive," she says. "They go to bed but can't sleep, or fall asleep exhausted and wake up tired. People started telling me they couldn't switch their brains off."

One patient was suspended from work after sending an inappropriate email to a client in the early hours of the morning, she adds. "When we unpicked the story we realised he was spending more time at work and finding it more difficult to switch off." He is now on the road to recovery - and hopes to return to his job. Another recent patient was a 17-year-old who had suffered a seizure. It turned out he was up all night playing computer games.

Multi-tasking madness: Tech-related burnout is also common in people with certain personality traits, Dr Ramlakhan continues. "Are you a perfectionist? Are you a control freak? Do you grind your teeth at night? That's an A-type personality - they are driven, competitive, aggressive, run on imperatives - have to, must do, should do," she says. "They are likely to find themselves unable to switch off, they can't relax, if they do they crash into exhaustion. Even if they are watching TV they have multi screens. It's a level of hyperactivity driven by a fear of not being in control."

I suggest that perhaps they just want to multi-task. "It's the accessibility, the sensory experience of swiping that screen, the instant gratification… there is something quite pleasurable about that," she counters. "Our generation hasn't got the hang of how to respond to it so we respond very reactively. For a lot of people it's the lack of offline time which causes hyper-arousal of the brain. People walk about in a state of distractibility."

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan's prescription:

• Have "electronic sundowns" - pull back from technology in the hour before you go to bed. Read books but not e-books.
• Keep your clock turned away from you at night and don't use your phone as an alarm clock.
• Re energise: eat breakfast - or at least something small - within 30 minutes of getting up and before drinking any caffeine.
• Start hydrating. Drink two litres of water a day at least.

Author and psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair also thinks multi-tasking - or multi-screening - is a dangerous game, especially for children. "We see a decrease in memory, a decline in grades, they're not developing the part of their brain that's a muscle that needs to be developed for singular focus," she told the BBC. "It seems to decline the more people do split screening."

Old school: The Steiner-Waldorf School philosophy actively discourages any screen time at all for under-12s, and British health watchdog NICE guidelines suggest a limit of two hours of screen time a day for adults and children, although this is more in order to increase physical activity. "It takes us decades to adjust to new technology," says Dave Coplin, Microsoft's curiously titled chief envisioner. "Technology is a wonderful thing if we use it properly - and we need to use it properly."

It is the current generation, those of us who remember life before the internet, for whom the draw to technology is irresistible, agrees Dr Ramlakhan. She says her 11-year-old daughter is already "bored" by Facebook and suggests I ask my four-year-old son to collect up the family gadgets as he will find it far easier than me to initiate switch-off. "Up-and-coming digital natives will be more discerning than us," she explains. "We're still in the 'Ooh, isn't it wonderful?' phase of technology, we are still excited by it. Our generation hasn't got the hang of how to respond to it so we respond very reactively."

After a few days of following Dr Ramlakhan's advice I have to admit that I do feel better. I am definitely sleeping more and despite medics disagreeing over whether drinking extra water is actually beneficial, it does seem to make me feel more alert. Of course, it could well be a placebo effect - I know what I'm doing is supposed to be improving my wellbeing.

At the Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire, where the phone reception is terrible but it still costs £5 to charge your mobile, I meet Dr David Cox, a former Accident and Emergency doctor who is now chief medical officer at subscription-based meditation app Mindfulness. He echoes Dr Ramlakhan's words. "I don't believe we can be engaging with something to this extent and for it not to be having an effect on our brains," he says. "The reason we are feeling stressed about all this stuff is that our brains aren't used to doing what we are asking them to do. Our brains are very good at adapting and they will continue to do that."

Child's play: Is the physiology sound? So how is the next generation shaping up? A recent study by the London School of Economics suggested that in schools which banned mobile phones, children's test scores increased by more than 6%. I pay a visit to my son's former pre-school, Wildflowers, in Hampshire - a forest school where there are no screens and outdoor play is non-negotiable, rain or shine. Head teacher Helena Nilsson says children are like "bees to a honeypot" if she gets out her laptop but without the distraction they engage in much more creative play. The little ones, however, seem less convinced about the benefits of their enforced digital detox. "Do you think we should have a computer, tablet or TV at Wildflowers?" she asks. "YES!" chorus the enthusiastic under-fives unanimously.”

Graphics from the 3-D virtual world of Second Life.

"How It Really Is"

Oh no we haven't, but we will, and sooner than later, too...
Like that old rock song sang, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet!"

The Economy: "More Bone-Smoking Garbage"

"More Bone-Smoking Garbage"
 by Karl Denninger

"I read this twice before realizing the last name of the author perfectly fit the so-called "fix" for 2008- and the premise that "they could do that again." By the end of the week, stocks, currencies and commodity prices weren't crashing any longer but financial markets were far from settled. Over the past 10 days, markets have plummeted, paused, recovered and fallen again. There's little sign the anxiety is lifting.

Until recently investors had been preoccupied with the weakness of the post-2008 recovery. Now some are asking whether 2008 might come round again. It's an especially disturbing possibility because, on the face of it, the policy options for responding to another slump are fewer than last time. Governments have run big budget deficits to support demand, so there's less so-called fiscal space for a new round of stimulus, or so the thinking goes. Interest rates are still at zero, and even the advocates of quantitative easing recognize that it ran into diminishing returns. What's left?

Clive goes on to raise the old flag once again; that the "effective remedies" could once again be trotted out. There's a problem with this premise: They didn't work the last time. My evidence? All of those measures are still in place! If they were effective then they could have been withdrawn. They were not, any more than opiates are effective at resolving the source of pain. Oh sure, opiates mask pain (at the cost of making you stoned out of your mind!) but they don't fix whatever is causing the pain itself.

What's worse, of course is that in order to maintain their effectiveness you must continually increase the dose of these monetary instruments exactly as tolerance does the same thing with opiates. In the case of opiates you eventually reach a "coffin corner" as there is a depressant effect on the body that has a hard upper limit; when you reach it the user's respiration and heart stop, and that's the end of the show. As the effective dose ratchets upward you eventually reach the point where either the user accidentally takes too much and dies, or worse reaches the point that the effective and lethal doses cross and he dies that way.

In the case of so-called "monetary stimulus" the facts are in at this point- the 2008 nostrums did not work. Yes, the stock market went back up.  But here's the rub- they "worked" by increasing the debt in the system, and since GDP is computed in units of currency you must back out of the GDP equation the additional units that were added.

If you do this you'll find that from the time of the crisis to today GDP has in fact expanded by less than 1% a year. Since the population expands by about 1% a year in the United States (and has been for the last 50 years or so) this means that on a per-capita basis GDP has actually been negative the entire time.

Read that last paragraph however many times you need to until it sinks in: There has been no economic growth in real terms on a per-person basis since the economic crisis. Zip. Zero. Nada. The so-called "prescriptions" or "remedies" did not work to restore economic expansion.

The idea goes back to Milton Friedman, if not before. The central bank can always- repeat, always- add to demand in the economy by directly creating purchasing power. Nope. The central bank cannot create purchasing power. This is a lie and it is trivially proved.

Let us assume there is $1,000 in existence in the entire economy. Let us further assume that something horrifying happens to said economy and the central bank decides to double the amount of money by playing "helicopter." Does this increase demand or increase purchasing power? No, it does not and cannot; since GDP is denominated in currency units all that has happened is that the same value is added to both sides of the equation; the net change is zero! This is literally first-year algebra; start with the following:

GDP * $ = (C * $) + (G * $) + (I * $) + ((x - i) * $)

That's the equation for GDP. Note that every term is stated in terms of dollars (in the United States.) So let's assume the central bank "prints money." The term "$" increases by some amount; on the left side that entire amount appears and on the right side the exact same amount appears. Plug whatever values you wish into the terms and the equality does not change with or without the so-called "money printing"; demand, as defined by GDP in invariant units, has not moved a millimeter.

The scam that is run by the money printers and the columnists like Crook (along with the government statistics offices) is that they never state GDP in an invariant unit. Instead they state it in units of currency, but first year algebra tells us what we have to do in order to solve the equation. There's no question that helicopter money would stimulate demand. Oh really? The truth is that algebra- basic algebra that cannot be denied- says that helicopter money cannot stimulate demand. At best it can (and does) blow asset bubbles!

In other words while it doesn't change total demand in the economy (as evidenced by the fact that it didn't over the last eight years on a per-capita basis) what it can and often does do is distort the economy by enticing people to do uneconomic things. Specifically, it makes borrowing to goose stock prices (e.g. buy back stock and pay dividends) look attractive in comparison to borrowing only to build new facilities that produce more output than they cost in both principal and interest and thus that tends to happen. This in turn makes for companies with P/Es of 1,000 (Amazon) and others with both huge P/Es and monstrous off-balance sheet obligations (e.g. Netflix), all of which sell at astronomical valuations that have utterly no rational basis.  In other words the stock market roars but it is doing so as a result of hydrogen-filled balloons, all of which require just one spark to go up in smoke. This sort of crap ripples through everything that can be financed on credit- college, cars, houses.... and stocks.

What did we really do in 2008 and 2009?  We made fraud legal. Remember that? Oh, you don't? Well you should- the market bottomed on the very day that intentionally lying about bank asset values was literally shoved down the financial standards board (FASB) by the US Congress. I reported on it at the time. I didn't believe anyone would be so stupid as to actually buy into that crap, but you and millions of others did.

So be it- but no amount of arm-waving can change arithmetic, nor do lies change outcomes. They can delay, they can obfuscate, they can paper over for a while but dead fish continues to rot and eventually the maggots make their appearance.

Mr. Crook appears to believe that somehow these tools "remain available for use again", as if they were put away. The raw truth is that zero of these policy accommodations have been withdrawn in the ensuing seven years after 2008; they all remain firmly in place. Not one dollar has been taken off the Fed balance sheet nor have interest rates been raised on the short end. The market had a crapfest over the prospect of a mere quarter-point increase in the short-term rate while more than $4 trillion dollars, or roughly a quarter of all economic output in the US for a year, remains out there. Further, there are at least twelve and probably closer to sixteen quarter-point increases to come before rates "normalize" and that entire $4 trillion has to come off. If the prospect of just one quarter-point increase was good for a 10% sell-off would you mind explaining to me how much of the current DOW level will be left when it has all been reversed?

I'll see you at the figures on the top of The Market Ticker- which are in fact optimistic if last week is any indication.”

Bill Bonner, “An Update from Our Ranch in Argentina”

“An Update from Our Ranch in Argentina”
by Bill Bonner

GUALFIN, Argentina – “Oh… Señor Bonner. Where is la señora?” This was the greeting we got on Saturday when we arrived at the school. Five little girls came running up. They were genuinely happy to see us. But only because it meant that Elizabeth was there, too. Elizabeth came over a little later, walking over the dusty path from the house to the school. The girls ran to greet her and gathered round, eager to talk to her… to touch her… to kiss her cheek. It was the Fiesta de San Ramon, patron saint of Gualfin. There were already about 100 people gathered at the school. More were arriving in their pickup trucks every minute. 

The Story of San Ramon: “San Ramon is known as San Ramon Nonnatus,” the priest explained later. “He is the patron saint of Gualfin, but also of pregnant women, midwives, and slaves. He is called ‘Nonnatus’ because he wasn’t born. At least not in the normal way... His mother died in childbirth. His father delivered him by performing a Caesarean section on his dead wife. That’s why he is patron saint to midwives and pregnant women. He is patron saint to slaves because he was one himself. He went to North Africa and bought slaves out of their servitude. This was back in the 13th century. 

And when he ran out of money, he traded his own freedom for the freedom of the slaves. In captivity, he preached Christianity to his fellow slaves. This got him into trouble with his captors, who tortured him. He even converted a couple of his torturers. Then they bored holes in his lips with a hot iron and padlocked his mouth so he could no longer talk.” 

It was 10:30 a.m. The sun was already hot… even though it is still winter in Argentina. The grapevines will be pruned next week. The trees in the orchard will be pruned the following week. But the peach trees are already in flower and the hum of bees is so loud that we first mistook it for an electric motor.

A Very Special Place: “This is a very special place you have here,” said one of our guests. “You probably think you are in Argentina. But this is another world.” He said this after Nicanora, the sister of our cook, Martha, had taken her leave. She had kissed us all – including our guests – on both cheeks and announced that she was going back up to her house, six hours away on foot. 

“It’s not like this in the rest of the country. Everywhere else we are fighting with one another. Nobody wants to work. And we are all suffering from the damage done by President Kirchner and her husband [former president Nestor Kirchner]. I mean it is almost unbelievable what they’ve done. They’re thoroughly corrupt. And they’ve corrupted the whole country. But you seem to have been spared… at least, so far…” 

In the schoolyard, groups were beginning to form. One was made up of the students of the school. They were dressed in white smocks, which the property owners had bought for them. A policeman led another group – about 10 boys all under the age of 12 and all in uniform. These were the “police cadets.” There were a few drummers, too. The two schoolmistresses were there, too. With them was a well-dressed, but overweight, woman. She had just arrived… ready to take over from the headmistress, who had just retired. But the headmistress’ second in command – a thin, chain-smoker with a worried look – will be taking over the top job. 

The two women lived in the school together for more than 20 years. They were on speaking terms for only about half the time. The rest of the years went by in silence. But now that the headmistress is retiring, the two seemed to have reconciled their differences. Now, the thin woman will run the school. Already, the local people refer to them as “the fat one” and “the thin one.” Being fat is no shame in this part of the world. Instead, it seems to be, if not a badge of honor, at least a morally neutral condition.

Raising the Flag: The purpose of the schoolyard assembly was a mystery to us, until we were summoned to the flagpole. A loudspeaker explained it to us: “The flag will now be raised by the headmistress, the local county executive, and the ranch owner,” it announced. But Walter, the county executive, was missing. So word went out to find him. Once discovered, in a crowd of voters, he wasted no time making his way to the flagpole, running up the hill. “Come on, fatso,” yelled the organizer with the microphone. 

Once we were all in place, we clipped the flags of Argentina and Salta Province onto the pole and waited for the music. But nothing electric works as expected, there being no reliable power in this part of the country. So, it took a few minutes to get the volume on the CD player and amplifiers adjusted. By then, the national anthem was about half over. People began moving their mouths; it was not clear if any of them, apart from the politician, knew the words. But they seemed to understand the gist of it. 

Along with the headmistress, we had the job of pulling on the chords to get the flags up. When we had raised them to about half-mast, we realized that the national flag had not been unfurled properly. Instead, it was wrapped around the lines. Still, it seemed unwise to lower it and pull it out, as the national anthem was reaching its finale. So we simply hoisted it to the top of the pole.

Your editor wore a wide-brimmed hat to keep the hot sun off of his head. He should have removed the hat for the national anthem, but it was not his country and it was his head. So, he waited until the final oomph of the anthem, took off his hat in a theatrical gesture of respect, and promptly put it back on again.

An Offering of Prayers: After this salute to the temporal authorities, the crowd made its way in procession to pay homage to the religious ones. Down the hill we walked and then up the other side to the chapel –led by the policeman and his young enforcers, followed close behind by the school children, the teachers, the county executive and his entourage and, finally, the rest of the people. It was so dry that the tramping of a couple hundred feet raised clouds of dust, which a light wind carried off to the west. 

The church was already nearly full by the time your editor arrived. He and his wife crowded onto a hard bench for the Mass. Prayers were offered for what seemed like hundreds of people, saints and sinners – some long dead, and some still ailing. There are only about 10 families in the valley; the same family names keep recurring preceded by Christian names of great variety. Then the Great Eucharist began, following the familiar pattern. The only unusual element was the sermon, which, as mentioned, focused on the life of San Ramon, who watches over the farm with more or less attentiveness. 

One other element deserves a note: Special blessings were asked for the farm and its principal features. The priest called out a prayer for the “tools we use on the farm.” And a boy came down the aisle with a hoe and a rake in his hands. Then came a girl with a basket of fruit – apples, pears, grapes – and a piece of beef. (It is not the season. So the fruit had to be bought in town.) Another child came with a Bible in hand. And another with a schoolbook. 

All were blessed. When the Mass was over, four bearers picked up the statue of San Ramon and carried it outside. Following it were the same groups in the same order – except this time the padre and the altar girls followed immediately behind San Ramon; the rest of the procession fell in line behind them. We reversed our steps. This time, we proceeded to the schoolyard… did a circle around the generator in the middle of the yard… and went back to the chapel. Once there, the priest took the microphone to offer a final blessing upon the ranch and all its people.

A Few Words: The padre is a slight man with a warm smile. He is from Spain but has spent most of his career in northwest Argentina among the poor indigenous peoples. It is easier to understand him when he talks than it is to understand the local people. Dressed in white, he thanked all the people who had prepared the fiesta and wished good things for them all and the ranch over the 12 months until the next fiesta. “I also want to thank the ranch owner, Señor Bonner, for contributing so much to the ranch and supporting it through these trying times,” he said. 

Jorge, the ranch foreman and our guide to everything that happens on the ranch, sidled over: “You should say a few words.” “Me?” “Yes… You’re the owner. They expect it.” At first, we were frozen in place, panicked at the idea of having to speak in public, in Spanish. But there was no way out. Our single most important goal as owner of the ranch is to win Jorge’s respect. We knew we would lose it forever if we failed now. 

We took the microphone and did our best… We thanked all those who had prepared the fiesta and all those who lived on or worked on the ranch for making it such a nice place. We vowed to come to the next fiesta. And we invited all present to join in the communal feast that Jorge and his team had prepared. At least, we think that is what we said. Sometimes our grip on the local idiom is shaky. Often, we think we have commented on the government’s macroeconomic policies, but instead we have asked for a turnip. And often, our accent is so thick… or so unaccustomed are the local people to it… that they have no idea what we said anyway. Still, we understand Jorge, and he understands us. After our brief remarks, he gave a nod of approval. That is all that matters.

An Impromptu Song: Maria, Jorge’s wife, then took the microphone… She called forth first the police squad, which did a goose-step march to the applause of the crowd… then a team of children dressed in folkloric costumes performed a Salteña dance routine. It bore some resemblance to flamenco… with flowing dresses swirling around, while the boys kicked their heels and raised their arms above their heads to the music of local guitars and singers. 

The dancers were followed by two women who performed a copla – a long wail interrupted by lines of sung poetry. It is a musical form to which we had never been properly introduced. But it was appealing in a melancholy way – a bit like keening at a gravesite. “The copla is supposed to be impromptu. It’s ad lib,” explained an Argentine friend from Buenos Aires. “It is almost always about love – lost love, of course. But this one was about the love of the place… of Gualfin. At least I think it was. I couldn’t quite understand.” 

By this time, the sun was high… and very hot. People were standing around in a circle in front of the church, admiring the dancing, marching and singing, but also getting hungry. Finally, Maria announced that it was time to eat. Then the crowd turned and followed the trail that led from the chapel to the main house.

Lunch Is Served: In front of Jorge’s house, and adjacent to the main house, rows of tables had been arranged, with benches and stools to sit on. Some stretched across the front of Jorge’s house, under the mud-covered porch. Others filled the two garages nearby. And still another line of tables was placed under a shade canopy drawn taught between poles. 

But all of these places proved insufficient for the crowd. There were about 300 to 400 people. The overflow happily sat down under the willow trees or in the small pasture in front of the house. We worried that there would not be enough food to feed such a multitude. But, of course, Jorge had the whole thing under control.

Twenty or so volunteers – almost all members of Jorge’s family or ranch staff – served lunch. They brought platters of salad – cut-up pieces of potatoes and carrots with a mayonnaise sauce – followed by soup and beef. A large fire had been prepared much earlier out in the pasture. The cattle had been butchered in advance, too. The meat was hanging on a long wire between the trees when we arrived the day before. A team of men – Jose, Javier, Natalio, and Carlos, our ranch hands – slaughtered and roasted the beef. Nolberto, ready for retirement, was put to work stirring the huge caldrons of soup. 

There were two kinds of soup. One was a thick corn soup called locro. The other was described as “el picante.” We took that to mean spicy. But it didn’t seem especially spicy. It was less thick and included the intestinal parts of the cows. Both were delicious. Wine, water, Coca-Cola, and some kind of orange-flavored drink provided the liquid refreshment. “Don’t bring out too much wine,” Jorge had cautioned. “People drink too much. The next thing you know, they are getting out their knives and fighting over a girl… or a cow.”

No Blood Spilled: The only heavy drinking we saw was at the head table – our own. But no knives were drawn and no blood was spilled. The end of the repast was marked by the arrival of an enormous cake, carried by three men and our cook, Martha. The latter had made it, with help from her sister Nicanora. On the top was written “10 Años.” It was commemorating the 10th anniversary of the building of the chapel. 

Elizabeth was called front and center to cut the cake, along with Maria. This they continued to do for at least half an hour, until all were served. Then the crowd began to break up. Three people went this way… two went that way. Many came up to us and thanked us for the fiesta. Often, we missed the detail of what they were saying. But we smiled broadly and sincerely, which seemed to be enough. “This is another world,” repeated our friend from the big city.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Musical Interlude: Chuck Wild, Liquid Mind, “My Silent Knowing”

Chuck Wild, Liquid Mind,  “My Silent Knowing”

"You Have A Right To Be Here..."

"You are a child of the Universe, 
no less than the moon and the stars. 
You have a right to be here. 
And whether or not it is clear to you, 
no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should."
- Max Ehrmann

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Barred spiral galaxy NGC 2903 is only some 20 million light-years distant. Popular among amateur astronomers, it shines in the northern spring constellation Leo, near the top of the lion's head. That part of the constellation is sometimes seen as a reversed question mark or sickle. One of the brighter galaxies visible from the northern hemisphere, NGC 2903 is surprisingly missing from Charles Messier's catalog of lustrous celestial sights.
Click image for larger size.
This colorful image from a small ground-based telescope shows off the galaxy's gorgeous spiral arms traced by young, blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions. Included are intriguing details of NGC 2903's bright core, a remarkable mix of old and young clusters with immense dust and gas clouds. In fact, NGC 2903 exhibits an exceptional rate of star formation activity near its center, also bright in radio, infrared, ultraviolet, and x-ray bands. Just a little smaller than our own Milky Way, NGC 2903 is about 80,000 light-years across.”

Chet Raymo, "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"

"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"
by Chet Raymo

“On a Sunday afternoon years ago we tripped over the hill to the annual races on Beal Ban Strand, an afternoon of thundering excitement up and down the tide-washed sand, sleek and powerful horses ridden by young jockeys in gaily-colored silks. A good time was had by all, but I couldn't help but think of the events that occurred on those cliffs you see in the background of the photograph, just above the head of the jockey in white.

In the year 1580, six-hundred Catholics- Spaniards, Italians and Irish, including women and children- were besieged on a fortified promontory called Dun an Oir, the Fort of Gold, by Protestant troops of Queen Elizabeth I, under the command of Lord Grey of Wilton, assisted by Walter Raleigh. Recognizing that they had no chance of escape or relief, the Catholic forces agreed to surrender their arms, with a promise of mercy. They placed their weapons beyond the outer breastworks. Raleigh called the Irish out, and marched them away to where gallows had been erected to hang the lot. Then, he sent his swordsmen onto the crowded promontory. Blades flashed among the defenseless Spaniards and Italians. When it was over, five hundred severed heads were piled high in a field outside the fort, and in the English camp a hundred Irish men and women hung from beams in a long terrible row. These grisly spectacles would be left to rot when Grey and Raleigh departed, as a salutary lesson to the Papist rebels who would challenge the authority of the English Queen.

When word of the massacre at Dun an Oir reached London, Elizabeth wrote to Lord Grey, "I joy that you have been chosen the instrument of His glory."

There was, of course, more going on at Dun an Oir than religious antagonism, but religion was the armature on which hung the various political rivalries and alliances of late-16th-century Europe. Ireland has had a long and bloody history of religious strife. Only now, as an increasingly secular populace realizes that they have more in common to unite them than to divide them, do they turn their competitive instincts to such entertaining amusements as the headlong horse races on Beal Ban Strand.”

"How We Go THrough Life..."

"It's extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with
dormant thoughts. Perhaps it's just as well; and it may be that it is this very 
dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome."
   - Joseph Conrad, "Lord Jim"

The Daily "Near You?"

Wakefield, Kansas, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"The Time Will Pass Anyway..."

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something
stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; 
we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
- Earl Nightingale

"Stop Waiting for Permission: Do What You've Been Resisting"

 "Stop Waiting for Permission: Do What You've Been Resisting" 
by Robert Pagliarini

“Whose permission do you need? Really, it's not a trick question. Who needs to give you the nod of approval before you can start a business, start dating after a bitter divorce, or write the book you've been talking about for the past nine years? Whose approval are you desperately seeking? Your spouse, a boss, friend, or expert in your field? Unless you're six years old, you don't need anyone's permission to create a better, fuller, richer life for yourself. Of course, it doesn't always feel that way. Someone has to tell you you're good enough and smart enough, right?

Well, no actually. We cling to the (irrational) belief that we require approval before we can achieve because it's safe. It gives you a fabulous excuse. You can tell others, and more importantly, yourself, that it's out of your hands. It can help you sleep because it gives you the illusion that you're not in control. And if you're not in control, it's not your fault. But if you want to do more than sleep well and want to start living well, you need to make a decision. Are you going to put your success and happiness in your hands or someone else's?

This message hit home for me last week. I presented to a roomful of actors and artists at a Screen Actors Guild event. Talk about an industry built on the need for approval. If you're an actor, you need a casting director to tell you you're good enough. If you're a musician, you need a record label to give you their seal of approval. And if you're a writer, you need an agent or publisher to recognize your genius. This is true for all actors, musicians, and writers . . . except those that have decided they don't need to wait for anyone to tell them their art is worthy. These are the artists that don't wait, they create. The ones such as Zak Ambrose, Craig Benzine, Christina Perri, Oren Peli, or "Born this Way" Maria.

Not an artist? Not a problem. It doesn't matter what you do for a living. The freedom that comes from discovering you don't need anyone's permission is yours for the taking. But how can you break free from this destructive and limiting belief? Get conscious. It's time to name names. List a goal or aspiration and write down next to it all of the people for whom you are secretly waiting approval. If you're having trouble, ask yourself this: who needs to tell me that I am old enough, young enough, experienced enough, smart enough, attractive enough, thin enough, funny enough, or creative enough? Maybe you've been waiting to get a boyfriend before you travel across Europe. Why can't you go alone? Whose permission are you seeking? What about dropping your current job and switching to a career that inspires you?

There are two truths. The first is that nobody will ever give you permission. The second is that you don't need anyone's permission. Success doesn't come to those who wait for it. Success doesn't even come to those who ask for it. Success comes to those who fight off the naysayers and push forward without a permission slip.

It can be incredibly scary (and life changing) once you realize it's up to you. Regardless of the story you sell yourself, it always has been up to you, and it always will be. What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and decided you didn't need anyone to give you permission? What's the first thing you would start? Really, it's not a trick question."

"Just Once..."

"But because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing."
- Rainer Maria Rilke