Monday, November 19, 2018

"Why Does America Have 13 Million Households That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?"

"Why Does America Have 13 Million Households 
That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?"
by Michael Snyder

"Have you ever had a day when your children were crying due to hunger but the cupboards were completely bare and your bank account was empty? If you haven’t, you should consider yourself to be extremely blessed, because this is what real life feels like for millions upon millions of Americans in 2018. As you will see below, a third of all Americans cannot even afford “the basics” each month, and 13 million households are officially considered to be “food insecure”. In other words, they don’t have enough to eat. Many parents out there choose to skip a meal (or two) each day just so that their kids can have full stomachs. But sometimes the money runs out completely, and that is when it gets really tough.

In recent years, the wealthy have been doing quite well, and many of them have very little sympathy for the struggles of the poor. But the cold, hard reality of the matter is that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and approximately one-third of the entire nation cannot even afford the basics each monthConsider the following statistics.The average American can’t scrape together $500 for an emergency. A third of Americans can’t afford food, shelter, and healthcare. Healthcare for a family now costs $28k- about half of median income, which is $60k."

Those are very sobering numbers, and you won’t often hear them repeated by the mainstream media. For a moment, I would like you to consider three questions:
• Have you ever avoided taking a family member to the hospital because you were afraid of what the bill might look like?
• Have you ever turned off your phone because you were sick and tired of getting calls from bill collectors?
• Have you ever laid awake at night with a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach because you didn’t know how you were going to pay the bills at the end of the month?

If so, you certainly have a lot of company. The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, and those that are “doing well” make up only a very small percentage of the overall population.

Not too long ago, CNN profiled a two-year-old boy named Ryder Pfaffly and the rest of his household. Sadly, they are one of the 13.1 million households in America that do not have enough food to eatRyder’s family represents America’s 13.1 million households with children that often go without food: “food-insecure households.”“Food is a struggle at times,” said Ryder’s mom, Kelly Ann Pfaffly, who also is raising a newborn boy. Pfaffly, 23, and her 24-year-old husband, Justin, have been married five years. They - along with Ryder, his 7-year-old sister and his infant brother - all live in a small room at the hotel. “We’ve been struggling for quite sometime now,” she said. “But we always find a way to make it.”

Of course Ryder and his family are far from alone. At this point, more than half of all U.S. households with children receive assistance from the government each month. The middle class is steadily eroding, and the ranks of the “working poor” have been growing rapidly.

Many of the working poor are single parents, and they often suffer in silence because they don’t want those around them to look down on them. Here is an excerpt from one single mom’s heartbreaking story: "I stared potential landlords down with a seven-year-old standing next to me and a baby on my hip, asking to apply for a tiny studio apartment I could barely afford. I spoke to a dozen secretaries at local churches, asking if they had funds to help me pay for childcare. I went hungry and bounced checks to order pizza for dinner.

Struggling to take care of my daughter on my own, I needed whatever government assistance I qualified for – a few hundred bucks a month in food stamps, free school lunches, childcare vouchers and coupons for milk and cheese – while I simultaneously worked as a maid, juggling 10 clients between going to class to put myself through college. Very few of my friends knew. They didn’t know the work I put into finding these resources – hours on the phone, standing in line, handing over thick packets to prove my need."

It can be absolutely soul crushing to work as hard as you possibly can day after day and it still isn’t enough.

It has been said that money can’t buy happiness, and that is true, but it can certainly make things easier. According to a very startling Gallup survey, those that are living in poverty are about twice as likely to have struggled with depression as those that are not: "Americans in poverty are more likely than those who are not to struggle with a wide array of chronic health problems, and depression disproportionately affects those in poverty the most. About 31% of Americans in poverty say they have at some point been diagnosed with depression compared with 15.8% of those not in poverty. Impoverished Americans are also more likely to report asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks - which are likely related to the higher level of obesity found for this group - 31.8% vs. 26% for adults not in poverty."

After digesting these numbers, some of the things that we have seen happen politically in this country start to make sense. Americans are looking for hope, and so many of them keep going back and forth from one party to the other hoping that someone can come up with some solutions that will start to make their lives better.

Unfortunately, our system has not been fixed, and we live at a time when the economy is beginning to really slow down again. During the last recession, thousands of businesses went under, millions of people lost their jobs and multitudes of Americans could no longer pay their mortgages. The same thing will happen again, and it will be very painful for our society.

One trend that is going to continue to escalate is different generations all living together under one roof. Even though the U.S. economy supposedly “recovered” after the last recession, this is a trend that has been steadily rising: "A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center found 52% of U.S. residents in their 60s -17.4 million people - are financially supporting either a parent or an adult child, up from 45% in 2005. Among them, about 1.2 million support both a parent and a child, more than double the number a decade earlier, according to an analysis of the Pew findings and census data.

The squeeze is coming from both ends. With lifespans growing longer, the number of 60-somethings with living parents has more than doubled since 1998, to about 10 million, according to an Urban Institute analysis of University of Michigan data, and they are increasingly expensive to care for. At the same time, many boomers are helping their children deal with career or health problems, or are sharing the heavy burden of student loans."

In the end, you have got to do what you have got to do in order to survive from month to month. At one time, America’s “endless prosperity” seemed like it would roll on indefinitely, but now we have entered a different era. Things are going to be tough during the days to come, and we are all going to need more flexibility than ever before."
But of course Friday we'll see this absolute disgrace...
This is who and what we are...

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, “Adagio for Sleep”

Liquid Mind, “Adagio for Sleep” 

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Big, beautiful, barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 lies some 70 million light-years away on the banks of the constellation Eridanus. This Hubble Space Telescope composite view of the gorgeous island universe is one of the largest Hubble images ever made of a complete galaxy. NGC 1300 spans over 100,000 light-years and the Hubble image reveals striking details of the galaxy's dominant central bar and majestic spiral arms. 
Click image for larger size.
In fact, on close inspection the nucleus of this classic barred spiral itself shows a remarkable region of spiral structure about 3,000 light-years across. Unlike other spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, NGC 1300 is not presently known to have a massive central black hole.”

"A Bridge to Acceptance: Dealing with Disappointment"

"A Bridge to Acceptance: Dealing with Disappointment"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"The gift of disappointment is to bring us into reality so we don’t get stuck in the realm of how things might have been. Whenever we do something in life with an expectation of how we’d like it to turn out, we risk experiencing disappointment. When things don’t go the way we had envisioned, we may feel a range of emotions from slightly let down to depressed or even angry. We might direct our feelings inward toward ourselves, or outward toward other people or the universe in general. Whether we feel disappointed by ourselves, a friend, or life in general, disappointment is always a tough feeling to experience. Still, it is a natural part of life, and there are many ways of dealing with it when we find ourselves in its presence.

As with any feeling, disappointment has come to us for a reason, and we don’t need to fear acknowledging it or feeling it. The more we are able to accept how we are feeling and process it, the sooner we will move into new emotional territory. As we sit down to allow ourselves to feel our disappointment, we might want to write about the experience of being disappointed—the situation that preceded it, what we were hoping would happen, and what did happen. The gift of disappointment is its ability to bring us into alignment with reality so that we don’t get stuck for too long in the realm of how things might have been.

As we consider other disappointments in our life and how we have moved past them, we may even see that in some cases what happened was actually better in the long run than what we had wanted to happen. Disappointment often leaves us feeling deflated with its message that things don’t always turn out the way we want. The beauty of disappointment, though, is that it provides us a bridge to its other side where the acceptance of reality, wisdom, and the energy to begin again can be found."

"Life..."

"Life is never easy for those who dream."
- Robert James Waller

"Life Happens When You’re Away"

"Life Happens When You’re Away"
by Bill Bonner

"Thy love afar is spite at home."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – "Another week. This one should be slow… with many people off for Thanksgiving. But you never know. The old-timers say the days before a holiday are especially indicative of the market’s mood. Traders don’t like leaving themselves in danger while they’re away from their terminals. That is, if they think there is much chance of a crash, they will sell out in advance so they can enjoy the holiday without fear.

Life Happened: Meanwhile, we are back at home after six months abroad. “What’s new?” we ask. “The charm of ordinary life,” answered a familiar voice. On Saturday, we attended a memorial service for a cousin, Joe, who died two weeks ago. On Sunday came a christening for a grandchild. One gone. One arrived. Score = even.

“People worry about changing Chinese trade policies… or who will win the Ravens game. They spend their time on their iPhones and computers. Real life goes on around them… and they don’t even notice. They may be focused on the wrong things, the wrong places, and the wrong people. A man makes a billion dollars in California. A woman wins an election in Arizona. A transvestite in New York sues a museum over its bathroom policy. And right here at home, their eyes are shut. We never even met your cousin’s wife.”

We had seen little of Joe over the past 50 years. In the early 1960s, we worked together with our cousins in the tobacco fields – dragooned into sweaty service by uncles desperate for cheap labor. But in June 1966, we graduated from high school. By September, we had all dispersed – to join the army… to begin careers and families… to go to college… or simply to disappear. By 1970, at least three of our small circle of friends were already dead. One died of a drug overdose. Another was killed in a barroom brawl. The third died in the war. But most of us just went about trying to meet the challenges of ordinary life – earning a living, getting married, having children, and getting along as best one can. And life happened… a half century of it.

Life in Photos: The reunion on Saturday was the first of what, surely, will be many. Our cousin died in his seventies… of “age-related” disease. That is, he did not die prematurely of a heart attack, in an accident, or by medical fluke. He died as the rest of us will – of something aggravated by something else and set in motion by the wear and tear of time. We are all over 70 now… and all holding a losing hand.

Joe cashed in his chips already. But there, pinned to the bulletin boards, was the life we never saw.
The photos showed Joe dressed in a tuxedo at his wedding… with his brothers, admiring a motorcycle… at the beach with his two daughters… at a daughter’s graduation… driving a tractor… collecting trash and treasures… at home… on vacation …at weddings and on birthdays… A whole life recalled in photos. We were in none of them.

We went off to Europe and South America. Joe stayed home. We studied economics and finance. Joe delivered the mail. “So many people spend so much time worrying about elections and the economy,” continued the familiar voice, looking in our direction. “They miss so much of what is really going on around them in their own families, the things that really matter. We miss a lot… simply because we are not here.”

While We Were Away: The christening of our granddaughter on Sunday drew many of the same relatives as the funeral, but it was a happier occasion… the beginning of a life, not the end. We gathered at the church in the morning, splashed water on her head, and then came back to the house for a reception. There, too, we caught up with people we had scarcely seen at all in three decades.

Many had grown old since we last saw them – gray hair, slightly bent over… talking of hospital visits. Their children had grown up, too. Now, they spoke of a new generation… with unfamiliar names. Life had happened to them, too.

“When did that happen?” we wondered to the familiar voice. “While we were away,” came the answer. “Ordinary life doesn’t stand still just because we are off on a lark somewhere else. It goes on. We know what we gain from our travels, but we don’t know what we lose.”

The Poet: Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Solitude”

“Solitude”

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For this brave old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded.
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.”

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Daily "Near You?

Munich, Bayern, Germany. Thanks for stopping by!

"Don't Explain..."

"It's Possible The Decline Has Already Begun..."

"It's Possible The Decline Has Already Begun..."
by Simon Black

"October can be an unforgiving month.
 • The terrible stock market crash that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression was in October of 1929.
• The stock market crash known as Black Monday was in October of 1987.
• In 1997, the Asian financial crisis sparked another stock market crash in… you guessed it—October.
• And back in 2007 at the height of the giant bubble that almost brought down the entire financial system, the stock market peaked once again in... October.

It’s not that October is particular cursed. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I do find it strangely ominous that asset prices seemed to have peaked last month (October) and have been in decline ever since. Real estate prices are starting to show signs of strain; more than one-third of homes for sale had a large price cut in October– the most discounting in the past eight years. Corporate and government bonds are falling.

The S&P 500 is down 7%, and the big popular technology stocks that have been fueling the boom in stock prices for the past several years have been violently declining. Facebook is down 36% from its peak. Apple is down 18% (and down more today on news of production cuts for iPhones). Semiconductor giant NVIDIA is down 45%.

Oh, it’s not just in the US either. Deutsche Bank says 89% of all asset classes it tracks are negative this year – the worst year since 1901. This is often how a big downturn begins: gradually, then suddenly. Asset prices stew and fester, slowly grinding downward for months while people maintain hope that prices will recover.

I remember spending time in Florida back in 2007 when property prices had already started declining. All the real estate agents I met kept telling themselves ridiculous affirmations about how the market was going to come roaring back soon, and the good times would return. Less than a year later the worst financial panic since the Great Depression had set in. And it would be years before prices would finally recover.

Remember - asset prices peaked in October 2007. But the giant financial crisis didn’t kick off for nearly a year, in September 2008. We might be in a similar situation today; it’s possible that markets peaked last month. And we’re now in the “stew and fester” phase where prices gradually decline while people keep hope that the boom times are coming just around the corner. And then, within a year or so, something sets off another huge crisis that pops the bubble once and for all… just like the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers did back in 2008.

We won’t know what that event will be until after it happens. But what we do know for sure is that the last financial crisis was caused by too much idiotic debt in the system. Banks were lending money to legions of borrowers who had a history of not paying their debts… and then actually pretended like these toxic loans were great investments.

Today, we’re seeing the same stupid debt work its way into the corporate and government sectors. Instead of giving million-dollar mortgages to unemployed borrowers with a history of default, investors are loaning billions of dollars to money-losing zombie businesses, or to governments that are already in debt up to their eyeballs, all while pretending these are safe, credible investments.

Total global debt back in 2008 was about $173 trillion, worth about 280% of GDP.

Today total global debt is $250 trillion, worth about 320% of GDP. It’s only gotten worse.

This is the sequel of the same movie we saw ten years ago… and it would be pretty foolish to not expect the same ending."

"Economic Market Snapshot 11/19/18"

Gregory Mannarino, "Really? Seriously? 
Mild Economic Recovery Becomes Boom! Now Recession?"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:

"How It Really Is"

"It Must Be Borne In Mind"; "Some Of Us..."

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

"Welcome to GenderWorld"

"Welcome to GenderWorld"
by James Howard Kunstler

"The defeat of Hillary, and the elevation of the vulgar Mr. Trump, loosed a fury of women against men in America that now verges on a kind of all-consuming chaos, like those western wildfires turning every product of human endeavor in the burn-path to smoke and ash. All the sorrows of our national life are assigned lately to the wicked white male patriarchy that must be defeated to usher in a satori of female sharing-and-caring.

A case in point is Sam Harris’s dialogue on his “Waking Up”(#141) podcast with Rebecca Traister of New York Magazine, author of the new book "Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger." (Click here for the Harris-Traister chat.) There is no better interlocutor of the current right-think about men and women than Ms. Traister. She puts it across as though her brain was shot out of a cannon from a graduate seminar on “Engendering the Intellectual Space” as if there are no other points at issue in our national life than the power valences between the two sexes - and, of course, even suggesting that the human mammal comprises two sexes is a punishable offense these days.

To get a sense of the true chaos behind her argument, just have a look at the cover of Good and Mad. Notice that the blood-red title stands against a gray field of the word “F*CK” (asterisk hers) repeated 120 times on a 5 X 24 grid. Deconstruct that. Is it the generative act of copulation itself that she is inveighing against? Should it be gotten rid of? Will that solve the problems of a foundering hyper-complex industrial society?

Ms. Traister might have used the word “power” five hundred times in her conversation with the excessively gallant Sam Harris. The choo-choo train of “poststructuralist” ideology that pulled into the college scene in the 1990s, when she was a student, is based on the idea that all relations between men and women - and all human endeavor, for that matter - come down to questions of who has power over whom. The result, naturally enough, has been an escalating power struggle between men and women that has the potential to tear this society apart.

It has already damaged our understanding of what men and women are supposed to be, and the outcome so far is that men are not sufficiently female and vice-versa. Thus the consecration of “transgender, intersex, non-binary, gender-nonconforming” states of being as heroic, and the demonizing cries of “toxic masculinity” ringing through the ivory towers, the halls of congress, and the corporate C-suites.

Much of this stems from the fact that only in the past half century have men and women tried to occupy the same work-spaces, especially in political bureaucracies. Until fairly recently, men and women existed in rather separate work-and-social worlds, with behaviors that seem weird and quaint today — for instance, the practice of men and women retiring to different rooms for conversation after a dinner party, based on the idea, possibly true, that they had categorically different interests (as suggested by James Damore in his notorious Google memo).

Now, to suggest that there was anything to these divisions of sexual space amounts to another punishable offense, but that is probably the least of the dreary consequences in this contest. The worst part is that we’re burning all our political capital in this foolishly contrived war at the expense of all the other actual tasks we face. If the US Senate put one-tenth of its attention to rebuilding the passenger rail system as it put into the furor raised by Christine Blasey Ford, we might have addressed the awful problem of our soon-to-be obsolete mass-motoring matrix. But then trains are such a male concern. They have so little to do with… feelings!

Apropos of the war between men and women itself, something really bugs me: the deliberate  and convenient overlooking of women’s sexual power over men. That is what has been absent in the #MeToo movement, and quite dishonestly so. It’s really something to see the various indignant women of cable news coming onto the flatscreen every night to inveigh against men while dressed, coiffed, and made up like thousand-dollar Las Vegas call girls - except for Rachel Maddow, of course, who opts to present as the nation’s guidance counselor.

In fact, women have tremendous sexual power over men, and it is exactly that which provokes so much of the idiotic behavior that has come to be categorized as “abuse” where men and women intersect and the mists of pheromones perplex the air. It is at least as potent as the power that men supposedly exert in politics and the workplace. And it incorporates a range of behaviors that are subtle and insidious. (Classic literature certainly understands this, but it’s being removed from the curriculum for doing that.) The failure to even acknowledge female sexual power or to dismiss it as inconsequential is just plain dirty fighting - though it’s proclaimed unselfconsciously on the cover of Rebecca Traister’s book: “F*CK, F*CK, F*CK, F*CK, F*CK. See for yourself."
Click image for larger size.

"MENSA Poster Child Elected To Congress"

In an instagram video to supporters this weekend, Ocasio-Cortez appeared to have missed Civics 101 in high school. "If we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress - Uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House,” she said. Congress has two chambers, the House and the Senate, while the government has three branches: the executive (the President and his administration), the legislative (Congress), and the judicial (the courts).
Oh yeah, a real bright bulb here...

Another reason why "We're so freakin' doomed!"
- The Mogambo Guru

Apologies to MENSA for impugning their character...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"We Only Get To Choose..."

“We don't get to choose what is true.
 We only get to choose what we do about it.”
- Kami Garcia

"The Problem With Proverbs"

"The Problem With Proverbs"
by Patrick Cockburn

"My father, Claud Cockburn, invented a game in which participants made up national sayings that had to be completely meaningless but sound appropriate to their purported country of origin. An example could be the traditional Norwegian saying, “the tree is taller than the highest wave” or, as they say in India, “all is not nothingness, nor the nothingness all”.

The idea for the game came to him on the top of a bus in London which was crawling along in a traffic jam. He overheard a passenger in the seat in front of him complain to a friend about their slow pace, whereupon the friend gave a resigned shrug of the shoulders and replied, “speed is what you make it”. The meaninglessness of the words impressed my father along with a sense that the mustn’t-grumble-but-endure tone of the speaker was peculiarly British.

The sayings should appear at least vaguely meaningful at first sight. For instance, there is the French proverb “il y a des gants sans les mains dedans – some gloves have no hands in them”. Plausible proverbs devoid of meaning are not necessarily easy to manufacture. At first, the traditional Scandinavian saying, “the pine is tall, but does not reach the sky” looks like a winner, but it contains the trite idea that the large or successful have their limitations. A similar objection might rule out the nostrum of Norfolk country folk, in fact invented by my wife, which holds that “burrowing badgers catch no butterflies”.

National sayings may be dull from overuse or were shallow stuff in the first place. As a foreign correspondent, I used occasionally to buy books of local proverbs, hoping that I could use one in an article to illustrate some news event in the country where I was reporting. Inclusion of an obscure but exotic local nostrum in my copy was much better than a quote from a diplomat and would hopefully give the reader the impression that I had my finger on the pulse of indigenous culture and tradition. I did this in Haiti in the early 1990s and again in Afghanistan 10 years later. My idea never really worked out because people in lots of countries seem to have made the same true but banal observations about life. Friends in Beirut used to tell me political jokes with tears of laughter running down their faces, but then had to give me a tutorial on who-was-who in Lebanese politics before I could even pretend to laugh at the right moments.

Sayings by individuals are generally more interesting than national proverbs, but the appetite for these soon cloys. Those most frequently quoted in dictionaries of quotations come across as self-important, patronizing and with a firm grip on the obvious. Often they sound plain wrong or are speaking for effect, as with Gertrude Stein declaring that “in the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is”. This has a contrived midnight-oil feel to it as does Stein’s overused remark, speaking of Oakland, California, that “there is no there there”. The quote used to be especially favored by foreign writers and journalists making snide remarks about the supposed lack of character of American heartlands.

Jokes can be more telling about national character and beliefs than proverbs, though really good ones that don’t sound dated are rare. For instance, there is an Israeli joke used to describe a succession of senior Israeli military officers in recent decades which simply says, “he was so stupid that even the other generals noticed”. This tells one more about what many well-informed Israelis privately think of their military commanders than a dozen carefully written analyses of the Israeli army.

The British sometimes claim that their humor is too subtle and ironic to appeal to those from different cultures. An example often cited is the famous Punch cartoon of the 1930s showing two hippos in a tropical pool, one saying to the other, “I keep thinking it’s Tuesday”. When I was about eight years old I was given a 20-volume collection of old Punch cartoons that dated from the beginning of the First World War until the end of the 1930s and which I found very unfunny. I can remember only one cartoon that seems genuinely amusing in retrospect. It shows a parliamentary candidate on a platform addressing a political meeting with the Union flag behind him. In contrast to contemporary cartoons, there are several lines of dialogue underneath. So far as I recall, they read: “Voice from audience: ‘Can the candidate explain why the Union Jack behind him is upside-down?’ Candidate (glancing round): ‘I can only suppose that the person who put it there was so lacking in common patriotism that he did not know the correct position of our national emblem.’ Voice from audience: ‘Well, it isn’t upside-down.’ ”

Proverbs and memorable remarks inevitably degrade into clichés through overuse. Famous quotes, such as the denunciation of Roman imperialism put into the mouth of a British resistance leader by Tacitus – “they make a desert and they call it peace” – has echoed down the centuries but loses impact through overfamiliarity.

Collections of quotations tend to draw on a limited pool of predictable contributors. By way of contrast, what is striking about the recently published "Quips & Quotes: A Journalist’s Commonplace Book" by my friend Richard Ingrams is its freshness, skepticism and depth. Put together haphazardly by the author over the last half-century, it is a mix of quotes from people long forgotten and others still famous. Their sayings bubble with originality. Lenin quotes are fairly common but I never knew he had said that “the best government has only to be in power long enough for everybody to wish to remove it”. The statement is simple enough but worth bearing in mind as an explanation for every revolution in history down to the Arab Spring uprisings last year. There is the same sort of compelling simplicity in the words of William Cobbett, the great radical journalist, who wrote that “it is the chief business of a government to take care that one part of the people does not cause the other part to lead miserable lives”.

Not many people remember Sefton Delmer, the chief foreign correspondent of the "Daily Express" in the 1950s, but he once said: “I can only think clearly in a five-star hotel.” He is quoted as saying on another occasion that “in real life, the women pursue the men. It is only in Somerset Maugham that the men pursue the women”. I particularly like the remark of Peter Cook: “Cricket is nothing if it is not one man pitted against a fish.”

Few real proverbs are as interesting as these. But my father discovered two, both Chinese, that are equal in appeal and which I have never seen quoted elsewhere. One says: “Do not tie your shoelace in a melon field or adjust your hat under a plum tree if you want to avoid suspicion.” The other competes with Peter Cook’s in its cryptic allure: “Of nine bald men, eight are deceitful and the ninth is dumb.”

"How the Brain Stops Time"

"How the Brain Stops Time"
by Jeff Wise

"One of the strangest side-effects of intense fear is time dilation, the apparent slowing-down of time. It's a common trope in movies and TV shows, like the memorable scene from "The Matrix" in which time slows down so dramatically that bullets fired at the hero seem to move at a walking pace. In real life, our perceptions aren't keyed up quite that dramatically, but survivors of life-and-death situations often report that things seem to take longer to happen, objects fall more slowly, and they're capable of complex thoughts in what would normally be the blink of an eye.

Now a research team from Israel reports that not only does time slow down, but that it slows down more for some than for others. Anxious people, they found, experience greater time dilation in response to the same threat stimuli. An intriguing result, and one that raises a more fundamental question: how, exactly, does the brain carry out this remarkable feat?

Researcher David Eagleman has tackled his very issue in a very clever way. He reasoned that when time seems to slow down in real life, our senses and cognition must somehow speed up-either that, or time dilation is merely an illusion. This is the riddle he set out to solve. "Does the experience of slow motion really happen," Eagleman says, "or does it only seem to have happened in retrospect?" To find out, he first needed a way to generate fear of sufficient intensity in his experimental subjects. Instead of skydiving, he found a thrill ride near the university campus called Suspended Catch Air Device, an open-air tower from which participants are dropped, upside down, into a net 150 feet below. There are no harnesses, no safety lines. Subject plummet in free fall for three seconds, then hit the net at 70 miles per hour.

Was it scary enough to generate a sense of time dilation? To see, Eagleman asked subjects who'd already taken the plunge to estimate how long it took them to fall, using a stopwatch to tick off what they felt to be an equivalent amount of time. Then he asked them to watch someone else fall and then estimate the elapsed time for their plunge in the same way. On average, participants felt that their own experience had taken 36 percent longer. Time dilation was in effect.

Next, Eagleman outfitted his test subjects with a special device that he and his students had constructed. They called it the perceptual chronometer. It's a simple numeric display that straps to a user's wrist, with a knob on the side let the researchers adjust the rate at which the numbers flash. The idea was to dial up the speed of the flashing until it was just a bit too quick for the subject to read while looking at it in a non-stressed mental state. Eagleman reasoned that, if fear really does speed up our rate of perception, then once his subjects were in the terror of freefall, they should be able to make out the numbers on the display. As it turned out, they couldn't. That means that fear does not actually speed up our rate of perception or mental processing. Instead, it allows us to remember what we do experience in greater detail. Since our perception of time is based on the number of things we remember, fearful experiences thus seem to unfold more slowly.

Eagleman's findings are important not just for understanding the experience of fear, but for the very nature of consciousness. After all, the test subjects who fell from the SCAD tower certainly believed, as they accelerated through freefall, that they knew what the experience was like at that very moment. They thought that it seemed to be moving slowly. Yet Eaglemen's findings suggest that that sensation could only have been superimposed after the fact. The implication is that we don't really have a direct experience of what we're feeling ‘right now,' but only a memory - an unreliable memory - of what we thought it felt like some seconds or milliseconds ago. The vivid present tense we all think we inhabit might itself be a retroactive illusion."

Free Download: David Icke, "The Biggest Secret"

"Maybe They're Not Human"
by Julian Walsh

"Today I would like to return to your awareness an aspect of the Human condition that condones violence under certain circumstances. To this end, we find ourselves going along with the most egregious of things, not least of which is war. Here we find not only a consensus of opinion -  but an accepted truth. People kill people. That’s what we do. People have been killing each other over borders, religion, ideology, politics and resources as far back as history will take us. It’s a given that we will continue in this maniacal cycle of war, truce and temporary peace until our time on this planet is through. It’s our nature and so it is our course and therefore our destiny! Or is it?

Of course most people are good-natured, loving and kind, but they are often unaware of some of the more sinister elements in our world. Does our slumber make us a threat to the survival of humanity? If so, can one surmise that our “enemy” might actually be the person we see every morning in the mirror? Are we complicit in some way by simply being oblivious? Is this what the others mean by “sheeple,” those who simply go along to get along and never ask probing questions? 

We sit around the proverbial card table and we’re handed the rules. We don’t really question them. The rules are the rules and that’s that! And at the end of the night, should one run out of money because the others understood the rules better, then maybe a moment of truth will beckon. Perhaps one will decide it is best not to bother with the rules at all - and instead seek to unmask the rule maker.

War on Peace: We live in a culture of "political correctness" where people are likely to become more offended by an off-color remark or a waving middle finger than by war. Like with most templates of social order, political correctness is just another illusion, a construct we’ve bought into. It’s there to give the impression that society cares. Society does not care. We are told warm and fuzzy things to make us believe we live in a benevolent culture. We do not! We live in a war culture - we live in a prison culture and we live in a culture of denial. Don’t believe it? Like I said - denial! 

At seventeen a child still needs a note from their mother to be excused from a day at school. Well that’s kind of innocent, warm and fuzzy. Six months later they just might shove a rifle into his arms, march him to the front lines and order him to kill. And when that particular son or daughter doesn’t return home, they say “freedom is not free” and that your child paid the ultimate price for the wonderful life we so enjoy today. The wonderful life minus this beautiful child, that is. Give me a break! I cannot stand the Orwellian double speak and propaganda, the hypocrisy that spews from the orifice of the rule maker. 

In a war culture you go to “war” on everything. We have the so-called “war on terror” which theoretically cannot be beat. It is impossible to end a war with an “enemy” that is not defined by a border. And so this war will continue not only on foreign soils, but right here in the good ol’ land of the free. The latest buzz is all about domestic terrorism. See something, say something. Well I’m seeing something and I’m sure trying my best to say something.

We love that word war. We must! We have gone to war on drugs and on poverty, war on hunger and obesity. Of course let’s not forget those wars fought with battle armor and guns. We just want to do war on everything, don’t we? And it’s sort of strange, really - you see it’s not just a U.S. thing or a Russia thing. It’s not just the powder keg we call North Korea or the spiraling tension between Japan and China. We’re all into this war thing. 

There are considerable agreements made behind the scenes. There’s complicity and cooperation on a level that is mind boggling to the newly awakened. Let face it, often there’s a lot of money to be made on both sides of the war equation. The opium trade in Afghanistan is just one example. Business has never been better or more lucrative since the U.S. loaned its assistance. War is good business for the handful that actually benefit from it. But at what cost?

Psychopaths in Skin Suits: An online dictionary source defines psychopath as: “a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc. Also called sociopath, a person afflicted with a personality disorder characterized by a tendency to commit antisocial and sometimes violent acts and a failure to feel guilt for such acts.”

That pretty much sums up who’s running our world. Are they entirely Human? To be honest, I’m not so certain.

I have difficulty defining the Human species without considering our remarkable propensity to love and be loved. But there are those that do not love or care for others and one must wonder just what planet they’re from. Perhaps we can generalize and simply call some people psychopathic. They might as well be lizards in skin suits so far as I’m concerned. To call them Human seems a stretch indeed. But they walk the walk and talk the talk. We get tricked by these tricksters - they’re good at their game and they know it. They’ve had plenty of time to really get it all honed down good and tight.

The Rule Makers: Back in the 1960’s when the so-called counter culture or “hippie generation” emerged onto the scene, many began to question whether what they were told about the JFK and Dr. King assassinations was true. The Vietnam War only served to galvanize this awakening. Back in those days, news outside the mainstream channels came mainly through relatively obscure articles, books and by word-of-mouth. The energy of this movement was captured in a big way, however, through the music of that era. We don’t have Janis Joplin anymore, but we do have the internet, and this has greatly contributed to a mass awakening and the unstoppable momentum of the “truth movement.” 

People who “run” the world do not necessarily have any allegiance to a particular country or party, yet they make decisions based on their one-world governmental view that affects you and me on a daily basis. Where do they get their power? Well, ultimately their power comes from their ability to manage all of us.

And where are the clergy? Why have they not been calling for an end to all the rampant bloodshed in these trying times? That’s right - they’re not allowed to discuss politics. It violates their 501(c)(3) pact with the government. That’s another way of saying they’re taking “hush money.” Don’t talk about war and politics - and get a nice little break from the taxman. This gig is rigged! Say one thing and do another - that’s the name of the game. They’ll preach platitudes of love and peace but they’ll never preach the horrors of war and bring the message to the street.

Final Thought: In 1988, director John Carpenter released a film entitled, “They Live.” It follows a drifter referred to as "Nada,” who discovers that the so-called ruling classes were in fact malevolent entities masquerading as Human. They manipulate people into spending money, breeding and accepting the status quo through the constant bombardment of subliminal messages via mass media. Some might feel this was more of a documentary than a sci-fi thriller.

The film is famously remembered for its five-and-half minute alley fight between the actor that was able to “see” these entities (Roddy Piper) and the actor that would not see (Keith David) because he wasn’t willing to put on the special glasses that permitted this ability. Carpenter drags the brutal fight scene out for an almost comical duration. After watching the scene, I realized he was really trying to convey the frustration and difficulty involved in trying to wake up a fellow Human. Just put on the damn glasses and take a look! Nope - won’t do it!

A musician friend of mine whose band saw considerable success in the late 1960’s always ends his conversations by saying, “keep it real.” Keep it real! Well that’s what I try to do. But it just isn’t always that easy. There are unseen forces at work trying desperately to keep us apart and in the dark. The tension building in Russia is yet another chapter waiting to explode. It might even be the final one. Never has there been a more urgent time for the Human race to start behaving as “Humans” again. We need to pull the rubber masks off those who claim to be serving us and realize they would rather “serve us” with a sprig of parsley and mash potatoes on the side. 

Are these people Human? Those who feed off of war and profit from death and destruction seem to fit rather nicely in that shape-shifting, lizard category I’d say. So who are they - what are they? That’s a question I continue to debate. On the plus side, this awakening movement keeps getting stronger by the day. I’m optimistic that despite some of the more grim forecasts out there, we still have a pretty decent chance of turning our situation around. It only takes a motivated, three percent of any population to effect major changes in policy and direction. I think we’re nearly there.”
What if? What if the world is not what it appears to be, not what you've been conditioned to see and believe? No, I haven't lost my mind quite yet (depending on who you talk to lol), but if you can keep an open mind - a very hard thing to do, granted - then download this book, and decide for yourself...

Freely download "The Biggest Secret", by David Icke, here:
http://david.icke.free.fr/

And what if it's true? Ahh, then what? Of course, you could always see for yourselves...
https://www.youtube.com/

What if?

"It Is What It Is..."; "Because..."

"Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is.
 The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
- Virginia Satir

"There is much asked and only so much I think I can or should answer, and so, in this post I would like to give a few thoughts on what seemed to be the overwhelming question: "WHY?" And here is the best answer I can give: Because. Because sometimes, life is damned unfair. Because sometimes, we lose people we love and it hurts deeply. Because sometimes there aren't really answers to our questions except for what we discover, the meaning we assign them over time. Because acceptance is yet another of life's "here's a side of hurt" lessons and it is never truly acceptance unless it has cost us something to arrive there. Why, you ask? Because, I answer. Inadequate yet true."
- Libba Bray