Monday, September 24, 2018

"Life's Tragedy..."

Musical Interlude: The Moody Blues, "The Story in Your Eyes"; "Question"

The Moody Blues, "The Story in Your Eyes"

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Firebird”

2002, “Firebird”

Musical Interlude: Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai, “If Men Were At Peace”

Peter Kater & R. Carlos Nakai, “If Men Were At Peace”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it one of the most massive stars known. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the featured image. 
Click image for larger size.
Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357. Appearing perhaps like a Gothic cathedral, energetic stars near the center appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon.”

"Looking At The Stars..."

“We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
- Oscar Wilde

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is a sin.”
 - Benjamin E. Mayes

The Poet: William Stafford, "Today"


"The ordinary miracles begin. Somewhere
a signal arrives: “Now,” and the rays
come down. A tomorrow has come. Open
your hands, lift them: morning rings
all the doorbells; porches are cells for prayer.
Religion has touched your throat. Not the same now,
you could close your eyes and go on full of light.
And it is already begun, the chord
that will shiver glass, the song full of time
bending above us. Outside, a sign:
a bird intervenes; the wings tell the air,
“Be warm.” No one is out there, but a giant
has passed through town, widening streets, touching
the ground, shouldering away the stars."

- William Stafford

"No Rainbow..."

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears."
John Vance Cheney

"All The Available Data..."

“All of the available data show that the typical American citizen has about 
as much interest in the life of the mind as does your average armadillo.”
- Morris Berman

Apologies to armadillos for the comparison, but if it's true... and it is.

Chet Raymo, “Knowledge and Power”

“Knowledge and Power”
by Chet Raymo

“Two paintings by the French neo-classicist Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825). The first is of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, the chemist, sometimes called "the Father of Modern Chemistry", and his wife Marie-Anne. It was painted in 1788, on the eve of the French Revolution. The second, of course, is Napoleon, pictured crossing the Alps with his army, painted in 1800, not long after Napoleon took power in France. The paintings bracket a dozen of the most tumultuous years in French history. Click to enlarge.

They also represent two great human appetites- for knowledge and for power. Each of us stakes a claim somewhere along the spectrum between the two images. The truly talented- a Lavoisier or a Napoleon- win fame and/or glory at one end or the other.

Lavoisier is shown with his laboratory equipment, much of which he designed himself for specific experiments. He holds a pen. Perhaps he is writing "Elements of Chemistry," the hugely influential text that would be published the following year, establishing modern conventions of chemical nomenclature.

The painting is dominated by Lavoisier's wife, who became his amanuensis, translating texts, preparing drawings of physio-chemical apparatus (that is presumably a portfolio of her drawings at the left), and generally making herself useful. She looms over her husband, engaging the painter with her gaze, while Lavoisier seemingly shrinks under her luminous presence at the top of the compositional pyramid. The chemist was no shrinking violet; Madame Lavoisier's prominence in the portrait surely suggests her attractiveness to the portraitist. Together, Lavoisier and his wife are portrayed as exemplars of the fussily fastidious ancien regime.

Napoleon, who apparently crossed the Alps in 1800 on a led mule, is here rendered at Napoleon's request in manly glory on a fiery steed. His eyes, like Marie-Anne's, affix the painter. His emblem is not the pen, but the sword, the haft of which is the central pivot of the composition. The words on the foreground rocks associate Bonaparte's crossing of the Alps with Hannibal and Charlemagne. The painting is pure political idolatry.

Knowing and doing. Creating knowledge and creating empires. Service to empirical truth and the marshalling of "lesser lives" for personal glory.

Lavoisier was guillotined and tossed into a common grave. Napoleon reposes today within the most pretentious tomb I have ever seen. And David? He was agile enough to survive the compounding upheavals of the Revolution. A friend and ally of Robespierre and Marat, he did nothing to obstruct the execution of Lavoisier.”

"What They Long For..."

“Caged birds accept each other but flight is what they long for.”
Tennessee Williams, “Camino Real”

X22 Report: "Central Banks Continue To Shift The Narrative Off Of Them"

X22 Report: "Central Banks Continue To Shift The Narrative Off Of Them"

Gregory Mannarino, "Post Market Wrap Up 9/24/18: Understanding The Market Dynamics In Play"

Gregory Mannarino, 
"Post Market Wrap Up 9/24/18: Understanding The Market Dynamics In Play"

On a personal note, no doubt you've noticed the shift in emphasis here to economics, the stock market, etc. I personally don't have an extra dime, let alone money to invest in anything, so it really doesn't matter to me what happens. What does matter is the very real and unavoidable consequences of this game they're playing to our own personal life circumstances, which can and will affect us all. Make no mistake, store closings, lost jobs, increasingly higher prices for everything, etc. ad nauseum, are all consequences of what these "people" are doing, some massive changes are coming, soon, and we need to be as informed as possible to try to protect ourselves as best we can. These posts are here to share my own effort to understand it... I hope they're of some benefit to you as well.
- CP

The Daily "Near You?"

San Luis Obispo, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"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"

As expected...

"The Tripwire on the Next 'Black Monday'”

Click image for larger size.
"The Tripwire on the Next 'Black Monday'”
by Brian Maher

"'Black Monday' - "Oct. 19, 1987- remains the bloodiest one-day carnage in market history. 508 points the Dow Jones plunged that hell-sent day - an impossible 22%. A similar stock market event today would translate to a 5,843-point cataclysm.

We compare that October day to the ancient Battle of Cannae, when invincible Rome lost as many as 70,000 legionnaires to Hannibal’s armies, in a single day. Or to the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, when nearly 20,000 British soldiers fell flat under the German guns and never got up. What could lead today’s market to its own Cannae, its own Somme - its own Black Monday?

Today we consider one harrowing possibility. Harley Bassman is a world-class expert in derivatives - what Warren Buffett has termed “weapons of mass destruction.” ($2.2 quadrillion - CPNot long ago Bassman set out with one question in mind: The only question one cares about, identifying the tripwire that would tip our system into disequilibrium. That is, what could turn a bad day on Wall Street into another Black Monday? And is there a specific percentage decline that could start the dominoes going over? Bassman’s researches indicate there is.

But what? Before revealing that (black) magic number, let us identify the villain of this tale, a possible trigger for the next horror picture: Passive investing. After the 2008 near-collapse, the emergency responders at the Federal Reserve inundated markets with oceans of liquidity. The biblical-level flooding knocked down existing financial signposts, and “fundamentals” no longer seemed to matter. The tide was rising, and all boats with it.

“Active” asset managers on the hunt for market inefficiencies could no longer separate winner from loser. Some 86% of all actively managed stock funds have underperformed their index during the last 10 years. Explains Larry Swedroe, director of research at Buckingham Strategic Wealth: “While it is possible to win that game, the odds of doing so are so poor that it’s simply not a prudent choice to play.” 

“Passively” managed funds - on the other hand - make no effort to pinpoint winners. “Passive” because they sit back on their oars, and let the flowing tide lift their boat. They track an overall index or asset category - not the individual components.

It is a strategy that has yielded handsome dividends this past decade of rising waters, as Tim Decker, president and CEO of ISI Financial Group, explains: "Passive management came into its own during the long bull market that started in late 2009, after the market had collapsed amid the financial crisis in 2007–2008. Money had been flowing from active to passive vehicles in the preceding years, and investors -disillusioned by their losses in the crisis and the high fees they had paid - started turning to passive vehicles even more. That trend has continued to this day."

Passive investing has increased from 15% in 2007 to perhaps 35% by the end of 2017. It is a percentage that is only rising. All is swell as long as rainbows appear in the skies over Wall Street and the tide continues to rise. But the risk is this: When the tide recedes… it recedes. As Jim Rickards explains: "In a bull market, the effect is to amplify the upside as indexers pile into hot stocks like Google and Apple. But a small sell-off can turn into a stampede as passive investors head for the exits all at once without regard to the fundamentals of a particular stock."

But comes the central question: How far might stocks have to sink before unleashing the hounds — and another Black Monday? The aforesaid Bassman’s investigations have yielded an answer: A 4% single-day drop could prove sufficient: It seems possible that as little as a 4% decline in a single day could be enough to create critical mass. From today’s stratospheric Dow reading of 26,555, a 4% single-day swoon translates to an 1,062-point loss. A thumping drop, yes - but not beyond imagining.

The Dow Jones plunged nearly 3% just this March after the Trump administration announced tariffs on China. Must we stretch our minds far to conceive a 4% loss? Not much, we dare say. And then what happens, Jim Rickards? Passive investors will be looking for active investors to “step up” and buy. The problem is there won’t be any active investors left or at least not enough to make a difference. The market crash will be like a runaway train with no brakes. 

Consequently: “This is one more reason why the next stock market crash will be the greatest in history.” Let the record reflect… that history includes 1929, 1987, 2000 and 2008. Perhaps passive investing will write the next harrowing chapter… Below, Jim Rickards shows you why passive investing is setting up markets for a “major collapse.” How is passive investing like a parasite draining life from the market? Read on."
"Free-Riding Investors Set up Markets for a Major Collapse"
By Jim Rickards

"Free riding is one of the oldest problems in economics and in society in general. Simply put, free riding describes a situation where one party takes the benefits of an economic condition without contributing anything to sustain that condition.  The best example is a parasite on an elephant. The parasite sucks the elephant’s blood to survive but contributes nothing to the elephant’s well-being.

A few parasites on an elephant are a harmless annoyance. But sooner or later the word spreads and more parasites arrive. After a while, the parasites begin to weaken the host elephant’s stamina, but the elephant carries on.  Eventually a tipping point arrives when there are so many parasites that the elephant dies. At that point, the parasites die too. It’s a question of short-run benefit versus long-run sustainability. Parasites only think about the short run.

A driver who uses a highway without paying tolls or taxes is a free rider. An investor who snaps up brokerage research without opening an account or paying advisory fees is another example. Actually, free-riding problems appear in almost every form of human endeavor. The trick is to keep the free riders to a minimum so they do not overwhelm the service being provided and ruin that service for those paying their fair share.

The biggest free riders in the financial system are bank executives such as Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan. Bank liabilities are guaranteed by the FDIC up to $250,000 per account.  Liabilities in excess of that are implicitly guaranteed by the “too big to fail” policy of the Federal Reserve. The big banks can engage in swap and other derivative contracts “off the books” without providing adequate capital for the market risk involved. Interest rates were held near zero for years by the Fed to help the banks earn profits by not passing the benefits of low rates along to their borrowers.

Put all of this (and more) together and it’s a recipe for billions of dollars in bank profits and huge paychecks and bonuses for the top executives like Dimon. What is the executives’ contribution to the system? Nothing. They just sit there like parasites and collect the benefits while offering nothing in return.  Given all of these federal subsidies to the banks, a trained pet could be CEO of J.P. Morgan and the profits would be the same. This is the essence of parasitic behavior.

Yet there’s another parasite problem affecting markets that is harder to see and may be even more dangerous that the bank CEO free riders. This is the problem of “active” versus “passive” investors. An active investor is one who does original research and due diligence on her investments or who relies on an investment adviser or mutual fund that does its own research. The active investor makes bets, takes risks and is the lifeblood of price discovery in securities markets.  The active investor may make money or lose money (usually it’s a bit of both) but in all cases earns her money by thoughtful investment. The active investor contributes to markets while trying to make money in them.

A passive investor is a parasite. The passive investor simply buys an index fund, sits back and enjoys the show. Since markets mostly go up, the passive investor mostly makes money but contributes nothing to price discovery. The benefits of passive investing have been trumpeted by Jack Bogle of the Vanguard Group. Bogle insists that passive investing is superior to active investing because of lower fees and because active managers can’t “beat the market.” Bogle urges investors to buy and hold passive funds and ignore market ups and downs. The problem with Bogle’s advice is that it’s a parasitic strategy. It works until it doesn’t. 

In a world in which most mutual funds and wealth managers are active investors, the passive investor can do just fine. Passive investors pay lower fees while they get to enjoy the price discovery, liquidity and directional impetus provided by the active investors. Passive investors are free riding on the hard work of active investors the same way a parasite lives off the strength of the elephant.

What happens when the passive investors outnumber the active investors? The elephant starts to die. The following chart shows that this is exactly what is happening. Since 2009, over $2.5 trillion of equity investment has been added to passive-strategy funds, while $2.0 trillion has been withdrawn from active-strategy funds. 
The active investors who do their homework and add to market liquidity and price discovery are shrinking in number. The passive investors who free ride on the system and add nothing to price discovery are expanding rapidly. The parasites are starting to overwhelm the elephant.

This chart reveals the most dangerous trend in investing today. Since the last financial crisis, $2.5 trillion has been added to “passive” equity strategies and $2.0 trillion has been withdrawn from “active” investment strategies. This means more investors are free riding on the research of fewer investors. When sentiment turns, the passive crowd will find there are few buyers left in the market.

There’s much more to this analysis than mere opinion or observation. The danger of this situation lies in the fact that active investors are the ones who prop up the market when it’s under stress. If markets are declining rapidly, the active investors see value and may step up to buy. 

If markets are soaring in a bubble fashion, active investors may take profits and step to the sidelines. Either way, it’s the active investors who act as a brake on runaway behavior to the upside or downside.
Active investors perform a role akin to the old New York Stock Exchange specialist who was expected to sell when the crowd wanted to buy and to buy when the crowd wanted to sell in order to maintain a balanced order book and keep markets on an even keel.

Passive investors may be enjoying the free ride for now but they’re in for a shock the next time the market breaks, as it did in 2008, 2000, 1998, 1994 and 1987. When the market goes down, passive fund managers will be forced to sell stocks in order to track the index. This selling will force the market down further and force more selling by the passive managers. This dynamic will feed on itself and accelerate the market crash. Passive investors will be looking for active investors to “step up” and buy. The problem is there won’t be any active investors left or at least not enough to make a difference. The market crash will be like a runaway train with no brakes. 

The elephant will die."
Of course, there's nothing we can do to stop or change what's coming, 
much, much sooner than later. But I for one want to at least try to 
understand it, and if you're reading this, you do too. Good!
- CP

"How the Supreme Court Failed Americans"

"How the Supreme Court Failed Americans"
by Bill Bonner

FRANKFURT, GERMANY – "It’s hard to know where to start. We connect the dots… but the dots just get wackier. The stock market – already outrageously overpriced – goes higher! The deficit – already way out of control – just gets worse! America’s empire – already overstretched, over-indebted, and oversized – just gets bigger. And the foundation myths – on which the whole edifice rests – just become further and further detached from reality.

Pack the Court: Last week, we looked at one of them. The Supreme Court, say the mythmakers, is the last bulwark protecting our freedom and guaranteeing our Constitution. That’s what it says on paper. That’s what you learn in civics classes. And that’s why Supreme Court justices must spend their whole lives beyond reproach… unblemished by sin… unsullied by mistakes… and untainted by the kind of flesh-and-blood goofiness that afflicts the rest of humankind. Only angels can join the Supremes; nominees must show their wings to gain admittance.

The measure of a great court is how courageous it is – that is, how far its judgements inconvenience the powerful and upset popular opinion. If the court is merely echoing the cronies and the mob, why bother having it? In the mid-1930s, the august justices considered many of Franklin Roosevelt’s programs to be unconstitutional. In response, Roosevelt proposed to “pack the court.” Whenever a justice hit 70 years of age and failed to retire, the president would simply appoint an additional judge. The plan never went into effect. The court backed down. And by 1938, the New Deal was no longer unconstitutional… It was the law of the land. The angels flew along with the wind, not against it. And since then, we can’t think of a single opinion that has significantly slowed the growth of the Deep State… nor any opinion that has been deeply at odds with public opinion.

Deep State Court: Thanks to the cowardice of the Supreme Court, the Deep State grows… and the power of states and individuals declines. Since the 1930s, the feds have intruded into almost every aspect of our lives, with no enabling provision in the Constitution. Where were the Supremes? And where have they been since the 1950s, when the feds began a long list of wars… without Congressional declaration?

And where have they been hiding out since 1971, when the feds substituted paper money for the gold and silver called for in the constitution?

And where in the Constitution does it give the feds the right to set prices… and to make one group of citizens (stockholders/Wall Street/cronies) richer at the expense of another group (wage earners)?

Where are the Supremes now… when the police, using a foul doctrine called “civil asset forfeiture,” with no due process of law, steal more money than freelance thieves?

Where are they now… when the president – on his own say-so – imposes taxes on hundreds of billions’ worth of imported consumer items, claiming it is a matter of national security?

Today, the whole idea of an independent court upholding the Constitution is fantasy. Justices are chosen by one branch of the Deep State – the administration – and approved by another, the legislature. Senators grill them harshly to make sure they don’t have any funny ideas – such as protecting citizens from the feds. The Supremes shirked. And now, POTUS has more power than George III… and the feds can do almost anything they please.

Re-Industrialize America: But now, let’s turn to the trade war… the South China Morning Post caught up with Steve Bannon and asked him what it was all about: Bannon, who claimed to have helped Trump draw up the trade war plan, said that in the past, tariffs had been limited to imports of between roughly US$10 billion and US$30 billion. But the sheer magnitude of the more than US$500 billion in question this time had “caught Beijing off guard." “It’s not just any tariff. It’s tariffs on a scale and depth that is previously inconceivable in U.S. history,” Bannon said. “They never envisioned that somebody would actually do this.”

He’s right about that. They probably never imagined Americans would do something that could have such catastrophic consequences for everyone – including the Deep State. And maybe they had a scholar who was an expert on the U.S. Constitution. Surely, he would have told China’s leaders that the U.S. president lacks the authority.

Tariffs are taxes; only Congress is supposed to have the power to levy taxes. And surely, in the debate that followed, it would soon come out that it is not the Chinese who would pay the tax, but Americans… and that the tax would directly damage U.S. industry and households. And yes… so far, it looks like we were wrong. Trade is what fattens up the goose. Kill trade and you strangle the poor bird. Then, everyone goes hungry… including the Deep State foxes who were planning to eat it.

We predicted that Mr. Trump would back down as soon as someone explained it to him. Apparently not. Bannon says the president is ready to go all the way, even if it threatens the whole shebang. From the South China Morning Post: Bannon said the aim was not just to force China to give up on its “unfair trade practices” – the ultimate goal was to “re-industrialise America” because manufacturing was the core of a nation’s power.

NBC News gives us a hint of what “re-industrializing” could be like: "The impact of President Donald Trump’s escalating tit-for-tat over tariffs is already being felt, say auto industry experts. New car prices are beginning to rise, and auto exports are dropping. But a new report warns that sales could plunge by as much as 2 million vehicles a year, resulting in the loss of up to 715,000 American jobs and a hit of as much as $62 billion to the U.S. GDP."

But our concern today is not the economic impact – which is obvious – but the wacky incoherence of it. Where in the Constitution does it give the feds the power to decide what kind of economy we have? Beats us. But it’s probably a good thing Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump have not decided to turn us into a nation of hunter-gatherers."

"How It Really Is"

Better enjoy it while it lasts...

"Do You?"

"He does not believe who does not live according to his belief."
 - Thomas Fuller
Isn't it curious how so many people, especially politicians, "talk the talk", and how so very, very few actually walk it? I suppose that's because words are cheap and easy, actions aren't. Real easy to run one's mouth, not so easy to actually do something, is it?
- CP

Creedence Clearwater Revival , “Fortunate Son”

"Going Full Porn"; A Comment

"Going Full Porn"
by James Howard Kunstler

"The Resistance didn’t quite hit it out of the park with Christine Blasey Ford. After all, how effective for the purpose of character assassination is a claim of “attempted rape” without even a when-and-where piece of the story? So the DC Dem-Progs have gone to their bench and found a real thumper in Deborah Ramirez who steps forward now with the ultimate giant-killer story of Brett Kavanaugh “thrusting his penis in her face and causing her to touch it without her consent,” (as reported in The New Yorker Magazine by Ronan Farrow, America’s self-appointed great white penis-hunter, and estranged son of filmmaker Woody Allen, infamous, reputed penis-mishandler).

The charge was obviously crafted to prompt the news media to repeat the word “penis” as many times possible because the word itself has terrifying powers to shock women’s sensibilities. And understandably so. It’s not for nothing that the rakes of merry old England referred to the male generative organ as “the frightful hog.” In our time, a better analog might be the ghastly interloper aboard the space-tug Nostromo in the classic sci-fi shocker Alien. Remember how it burst out of astronaut John Hurt’s chest, all slimy, drippy, and goopy, and sort of water-skied out of the sick bay to hide in the bilges? Dear me! Almost gave me a heart attack at the time and I was barely into my thirties.

Fast forward about seventy minutes to the climactic third reel where Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is preparing desperately to escape the wrecked Nostromo in her space lifeboat… and look who’s aboard staring her right in the face: the now full-grown alien beast, all goopy and tumescent, a veritable penis-of-death from another world. The movie came out in 1979, just a few years before the alleged facial penis-thrusting in the Yale freshman dorm. One wonders if Deborah Ramirez had seen the film and was possibly suffering from post-Alien-shock syndrome (PASS).

Here the Resistance has come up with a story so vivid and awful that it almost guarantees conviction without any necessary proof. I’m sure it will do the trick. It’s certainly an improvement over the old Anita Hill tale of Clarence Thomas noticing a pubic hair on his Coke can. A mere hair! The proto-Resistance of 1991 was far too timid in that case, and Mr. Thomas actually landed on the supreme court! Apparently, they learned their lesson on that one: When swinging for the fences, haul out the heavy lumber.

The part that I find interesting in the New Deborah Ramirez accusation is this: "After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away."

Six days of meditation, prayer, memory-wracking, attorney-prompting, and - no doubt - earnest and heartfelt coaching by Resistance memory-recovery shamans, overcame the effects of 35 years and, say, seven Jello-shots to retrieve the details of that long-ago encounter. (No one mentioned bong-hits, at least not yet, but how could there not have been, on top of the drinking games?) But the real gold in the story comes in this revelation: "Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married.”

Really? Maybe she should have gone to the weekly meeting of the Yale Freshman Women’s Math and Physics Circle instead of an apparently mostly male dorm party convened for the purpose of getting sh*tfaced drunk with the greatest possible efficiency. Did she not know what was going on there? Was she forced to stick around? Did the boys make her down those shots?

Now that all American womanhood has been faced, shall we say, with the image of the looming universal horrifying penis, all bets on the Kavanaugh nomination are off. But the gambit does raise the possibility that it will be answered by some rough justice from the conservative side of the field. It will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead how many Democratic house and senate members will be revealed as would-be rapists and sluts. I can’t imagine that none of them have secrets to hide. In fact, I would take the Ramirez accusation as tantamount to a declaration of war by the Resistance. And as the old saying goes, all’s fair in love and war."
A Comment: I'm conflicted, folks... Alas! In despair at our being reduced to being force-fed this new level of absurdity, this vilely self-righteous, politically-motivated, loathsome circus run amok, focusing everyone's attention on that alleged 35 year old image of monumental penile/facial encounter - an end-of-the-world latter day "Götterdämmerung"! - while the very real problems we face aren't discussed at all... What say ye? A leap from the cliff, or the highest building I can find? But no! Hope lives, as Kunstler writes: "It will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead how many Democratic house and senate members will be revealed as would-be rapists and sluts. I can’t imagine that none of them have secrets to hide. In fact, I would take the Ramirez accusation as tantamount to a declaration of war by the Resistance. And as the old saying goes, all’s fair in love and war." 

The fools, they've forgotten the wisdom of "Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone." Or, in the modern vernacular: "What goes around comes around." Instead of cliff-jumping it'll be much greater fun watching these hypocritically immorally degenerate clowns rip each other to pieces, don't you think? As Wikipedia so aptly describes the outcome of "Götterdämmerung": "The whole building catches fire, the Rhine overflows. Hagen jumps into the water trying to get the ring from the Rhine Maidens who drown him. The flood dies down and Valhalla (the gods’ palace) is lit up by the fire. The gods and the heroes die in the flames. The Twilight of the Gods has now happened." Instead of despair, let's sit by the fire, roasting marshmallows, and enjoy the show...
- CP
I couldn't resist! "Shall we dance?"  lol...

Richard Wagner, "Ride of the Valkyries"

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Musical Interlude: 2002, "We Meet Again"

2002, "We Meet Again"

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, "Lady Labyrinth" and "Nightbook”

Ludovico Einaudi, "Lady Labyrinth" and "Nightbook”

Ludovico Einaudi, “The Royal Albert Hall Concert”, In Full

Musical Interlude: Marvin Gaye, "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"

Marvin Gaye, "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"

Musical Interlude: Fairport Convention, “Tam Lin”

Fairport Convention, “Tam Lin”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“When stars form, pandemonium reigns. A particularly colorful case is the star forming region Simeis 188 which houses an unusual and bright cloud arc cataloged as NGC 6559. Visible above are red glowing emission nebulas of hydrogen, blue reflection nebulas of dust, dark absorption nebulas of dust, and the stars that formed from them. 
Click image for larger size.
The first massive stars formed from the dense gas will emit energetic light and winds that erode, fragment, and sculpt their birthplace. And then they explode. The resulting morass can be as beautiful as it is complex. After tens of millions of years, the dust boils away, the gas gets swept away, and all that is left is a naked open cluster of stars. Simeis 188 is located about 4,000 light years away and can be found about one degree northeast of M8, the Lagoon Nebula.”

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "All Will Come Again"

"All Will Come Again"

"All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

"Bad Company..."

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
 - John River

"The Only Story in the World: John Steinbeck on Kindness, Good and Evil, the Wellspring of Good Writing"

"The Only Story in the World: John Steinbeck on Kindness, 
Good and Evil, the Wellspring of Good Writing"
by Maria Popova

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up,” John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902–December 20, 1968) wrote as he contemplated good, evil, and the necessary contradiction of human nature at the peak of WWII. “It isn’t that the evil thing wins - it never will - but that it doesn’t die.”

A decade later, and a decade before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Steinbeck turned this abiding tug of war between good and evil into a literary inquiry in "East of Eden" (public library) — the 1952 novel that gave us his beautiful wisdom on creativity and the meaning of life, eventually adapted into the 1955 film of the same title starring James Dean.

Steinbeck opens the thirty-fourth chapter with a meditation on the most elemental question through which we experience and measure our lives: "A child may ask, “What is the world’s story about?” And a grown man or woman may wonder, “What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story about?”

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?"

At the most fundamental level, the triumph of good over evil presupposes an openhearted curiosity about what is other than ourselves and a certain willingness for understanding - the moral choice of fathoming and honoring the reality, experience, and needs of persons and entities existing beyond our own consciousness. Steinbeck, too, saw the centrality of empathic understanding in the choice of goodness. Perhaps unsurprisingly - since he used his private journal as a creative sandbox for his novels - this sentiment originated in a diary entry.

Decades before Annie Dillard contemplated why a generosity of spirit is the animating force of good writing, Steinbeck echoes Hemingway - “As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.” - and reflects in a journal entry from 1938, quoted in Steinbeck Center director Susan Shillinglaw’s introduction to a 1993 Penguin Classics edition of Steinbeck’s "Of Mice and Men":

"In every bit of honest writing in the world… there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other."

Complement with Hannah Arendt on our mightiest antidote to evil, James Baldwin on the terror within and the evil without, Mary McCarthy on human nature and how we determine if evil is forgivable, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky on why there are no bad people, then revisit Steinbeck on being vs. becomingthe difficult art of the fried breakup, and his remarkable advice on falling in love in a letter to his teenage son."
Freely download "East Of Eden", by John Steinbeck, here:

X22 Report, “Plans Are In Place To Take Down The Entire Central Banking Apparatus”

X22 Report, “Plans Are In Place To Take Down 
The Entire Central Banking Apparatus”

"I'll Bet..."

Musical Interlude: Moody Blues, “This Is The Moment”

Moody Blues, “This Is The Moment”
Photo: Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece

Let it autoplay the next song...  ;-)

The Daily "Near You?"

Culpeper, Virginia, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

Chet Raymo, “Trying To Be Good”

“Trying To Be Good”
by Chet Raymo

“A few lines from Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese":

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves."

I've quoted these lines before, if not here, then elsewhere. When I first read them back in the late 80s, they resonated with what I felt at the time. I had spent part of my earliest adulthood walking on my knees, both literally and metaphorically, seeking to tame what I took to be the animal within. Saint Augustine was whispering in my ear, and Bernanos' gloomy country priest walked at my side. I was ready to follow Thomas Merton into the desert; indeed, I once took myself briefly to the monastery at Gethsemane, Kentucky, where Merton was in residence.

That was a journey of more than a hundred miles, and I was busy repenting, although of what I don't know.

As I read those lines from Mary Oliver in middle age, I had long been cultivating the "soft animal" within, immersing myself in the is-ness of things, the flesh and blood, the gorgeously sensual. No more walking on my knees, repenting. I walked proudly upright, with my sketchbook and my watercolors, my binoculars and my magnifier, sniffing the world like an animal on the prowl. I was letting my body learn to "love what it loves." Those were the years I wrote The Soul of the Night and Honey From Stone -- the most intensely creative years of my life. The world offered itself to my imagination, if I may borrow another line from "Wild Geese."

And now, another half-lifetime has passed. The soft animal dozes, the body seeks repose. And I think of the first line quoted above: "You do not have to be good." What could the poet have possibly meant by that? Of course one has to be good. In a cell at Gethsemane or on the bridge over Queset Brook, one has to be good. And so one tries, one tries. The soft animal of the body that nature has contrived for us is not fine-tuned for goodness.”
“Wild Geese”
by  Mary Oliver

"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."