Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Free Download: Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus"

"A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus on Our Search for 
Meaning and Why Happiness Is Our Moral Obligation”
by Maria Popova

“To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” Albert Camus (November 7, 1913–January 4, 1960) wrote in his 119-page philosophical essay "The Myth of Sisyphus" in 1942. “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest - whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories - comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect. Everything else… is child’s play; we must first of all answer the question.” 

One of the most famous opening lines of the twentieth century captures one of humanity’s most enduring philosophical challenges - the impulse at the heart of Seneca’s meditations on life and Montaigne’s timeless essays and Maya Angelou’s reflections, and a wealth of human inquiry in between. But Camus, the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature after Rudyard Kipling, addressed it with unparalleled courage of conviction and insight into the irreconcilable longings of the human spirit.

In the beautifully titled and beautifully written "A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning" (public library), historian Robert Zaretsky considers Camus’s lifelong quest to shed light on the absurd condition, his “yearning for a meaning or a unity to our lives,” and its timeless yet increasingly timely legacy: If the question abides, it is because it is more than a matter of historical or biographical interest. Our pursuit of meaning, and the consequences should we come up empty-handed, are matters of eternal immediacy.

Camus pursues the perennial prey of philosophy - the questions of who we are, where and whether we can find meaning, and what we can truly know about ourselves and the world - less with the intention of capturing them than continuing the chase.”

Reflecting on the parallels between Camus and Montaigne, Zaretsky finds in this ongoing chase one crucial difference of dispositions: “Camus achieves with the Myth what the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty claimed for Montaigne’s Essays: it places “a consciousness astonished at itself at the core of human existence.”

For Camus, however, this astonishment results from our confrontation with a world that refuses to surrender meaning. It occurs when our need for meaning shatters against the indifference, immovable and absolute, of the world. As a result, absurdity is not an autonomous state; it does not exist in the world, but is instead exhaled from the abyss that divides us from a mute world.”

Camus himself captured this with extraordinary elegance when he wrote in "The Myth of Sisyphus": “This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. For the moment it is all that links them together.”

To discern these echoes amid the silence of the world, Zaretsky suggests, was at the heart of Camus’s tussle with the absurd: "We must not cease in our exploration, Camus affirms, if only to hear more sharply the silence of the world. In effect, silence sounds out when human beings enter the equation. If “silences must make themselves heard,” it is because those who can hear inevitably demand it. And if the silence persists, where are we to find meaning?”

This search for meaning was not only the lens through which Camus examined every dimension of life, from the existential to the immediate, but also what he saw as our greatest source of agency. In one particularly prescient diary entry from November of 1940, as WWII was gathering momentum, he writes: “Understand this: we can despair of the meaning of life in general, but not of the particular forms that it takes; we can despair of existence, for we have no power over it, but not of history, where the individual can do everything. It is individuals who are killing us today. Why should not individuals manage to give the world peace? We must simply begin without thinking of such grandiose aims.”

For Camus, the question of meaning was closely related to that of happiness - something he explored with great insight in his notebooks. Zaretsky writes: “Camus observed that absurdity might ambush us on a street corner or a sun-blasted beach. But so, too, do beauty and the happiness that attends it. All too often, we know we are happy only when we no longer are.”

Perhaps most importantly, Camus issued a clarion call of dissent in a culture that often conflates happiness with laziness and championed the idea that happiness is nothing less than a moral obligation. A few months before his death, Camus appeared on the TV show Gros Plan. Dressed in a trench coat, he flashed his mischievous boyish smile and proclaimed into the camera: “Today, happiness has become an eccentric activity. The proof is that we tend to hide from others when we practice it. As far as I’m concerned, I tend to think that one needs to be strong and happy in order to help those who are unfortunate.”

This wasn’t a case of Camus arriving at some mythic epiphany in his old age - the cultivation of happiness and the eradication of its obstacles was his most persistent lens on meaning. More than two decades earlier, he had contemplated “the demand for happiness and the patient quest for it” in his journal, capturing with elegant simplicity the essence of the meaningful life - an ability to live with presence despite the knowledge that we are impermanent: "We must" be happy with our friends, in harmony with the world, and earn our happiness by following a path which nevertheless leads to death.”

But his most piercing point integrates the questions of happiness and meaning into the eternal quest to find ourselves and live our truth: ”It is not so easy to become what one is, to rediscover one’s deepest measure.”
Freely download "The Myth of Sisyphus," by  Albert Camus, here:

Musical Interlude: Kevin Kern, “Above The Clouds”

Kevin Kern, “Above The Clouds”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Face-on spiral galaxy M77 lies a mere 47 million light-years away toward the aquatic constellation Cetus. At that estimated distance, the gorgeous island universe is about 100 thousand light-years across. Also known as NGC 1068, its compact and very bright core is well studied by astronomers exploring the mysteries of supermassive black holes in active Seyfert galaxies. 
 Click image for larger size.
M77 is also seen at x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, and radio wavelengths. But this sharp visible light image based on Hubble data follows its winding spiral arms traced by obscuring dust clouds and red-tinted star forming regions close in to the galaxy's luminous core."

"The Cruelest Joke of All..."

"The smallest decisions made had such profound repercussions. One ten-minute wait could save a life… or end it. One wrong turn down the right street or one seemingly unimportant conversation, and everything was changed. It wasn't right that each lifetime was defined, ruined, ended, and made by such seemingly innocuous details. A major life-threatening event should come with a flashing warning sign that either said ABANDON ALL HOPE or SAFETY AHEAD. It was the cruelest joke of all that no one could see the most vicious curves until they were over the edge, falling into the abyss below."
- Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Hell..."

"Why did people call it Hell?" I wondered. No place was Hell, no place could be Hell. It's the people calling it Hell, that's the only thing that made it so. People just sticking names on places, so that no one could see those places properly anymore. No, Hell wasn't anything to do with place, Hell was all to do with people. Maybe Hell was people."
- John Marsden

Chet Raymo, “When The Morning Stars Sing Together”

 
“When The Morning Stars Sing Together”
by Chet Raymo

"A Chinese proverb: A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Which might be an acceptable epigraph for this blog. I can't imagine anyone coming here looking for answers. Certainly, providing answers is the last thing on my mind. I would like to think you come for song.

We are, I think, by and large, a community who distrusts answers, at least answers that are vehemently held. We are made uncomfortable by stridency. By dogma. By the desire to proselytize. We wear our truths lightly, gaily, as a song bird wears its feathers. We are grateful to those who push back the clouds of ignorance and hold the reins of passion. With Blake, we sing their praises, a song we have spent a lifetime learning. We sing to celebrate. We sing because we have a song.”

"There Are Simply No Answers..."

“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”
- Barry Lopez

The Poet: Langston Hughes, "Dreams"

"Dreams"

"Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow."

- Langston Hughes

The Daily "Near You?"

Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by!

"His Own Easiest Dupe..."

"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he 
wishes to be true he generally believes to be true."
 - Demosthenes

Gregory Mannarino, "Post Market Wrap Up 10/23/18: Live Stream"

Gregory Mannarino, "Post Market Wrap Up 10/23/18: Live Stream"

"The Chinese Debt Bomb Is Set to Explode"

"The No.1 Reason You Should Be Worried About the Market"
by Brian Maher

"It finally feels like autumn here in Baltimore. The air has taken on a seasonal chill… and passersby on Charles Street are bundled against the cooler weather. In the park by our Mount Vernon office, summer’s lush green has faded to sickly olive-yellow.  A time to be born and a time to die, as Ecclesiastes reminds us. Meantime, to the north, a heavy October frost has settled upon Wall Street…

The Dow Jones was down another 126 points today. The damage could have been far worse - the index was down over 500 points at one point. A late afternoon rally salvaged the day. The Dow has nonetheless given back some 1,700 points since its Oct. 3 peak. The S&P has shed roughly 200. The index is suffering its worst month in nearly three years, in fact. The Nasdaq has lost over 700 points this month.

But is it not earnings season? And have not this year’s tax cuts fattened corporate coffers? This year’s quarterly earnings seasons have been tonic for the stock market. Many observers expected this earnings season would bring needed warmth to thaw things out... as the rising sun chases morning frost from a pumpkin patch. But the market’s overall response has been… cool.

140 S&P companies have reported third-quarter earnings to this point. And as MarketWatch tells us, roughly 75% have surpassed Wall Street’s net profit estimates. I am unimpressed, counters the market.  As notes CNBC’s Bob Pisani: "The market has a problem: Many stocks are no longer rising on good earnings or guidance. Companies that are seeing a boost to their fourth-quarter earnings estimates are not being rewarded with higher stock prices."

Zero Hedge informs us that markets have not reacted so negatively to positive earnings since August 2000 - "just as the dot-com bubble was bursting." 

Let us hope history does not repeat... or even rhyme. "U.S. corporate earnings season has started with more of a whimper than a bang," affirms Nick Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research. 

Case brilliantly in point: Today’s rout was in part triggered by an earnings announcement from Caterpillar - an earnings report that actually surpassed expectations. Wall Street projected earnings of $13.3 billion. Actual earnings were $13.5 billion. In fact, Caterpillar’s earnings represent a 46% increase over last year’s third quarter. Caterpillar was nonetheless down nearly 8% on the day. It is now fallen over 30% from its all-time high this January.

“Excuse me?” comes your response. “Earnings surpassed expectations and the stock goes to pieces?” But it is not so much where you are, says Wall Street - but where you are going. “It is now clear that we are past peak earnings momentum," observes the aforesaid Colas. Many consider Caterpillar an economic bellwether. As goes Caterpillar, that is, so goes the world. And the company claims the trade war is tugging on the bottom line: "Manufacturing costs were higher due to increased material and freight costs. Material costs were higher primarily due to increases in steel prices and tariffs."

Perhaps Caterpillar provides a broad hint of coming rough house with China. Third-quarter Chinese growth expanded at its softest pace since the financial crisis in 2009. The Chinese stock market is also some 30% off its 52-week high - deep into bear market terrain. But the worst is “yet to come," warns Kevin Lai, economist at Daiwa Capital Markets.

China is the world’s second-largest economy. The Chinese economic transmission is connected to the driveshaft of global trade, which is connected to the axle of growth, which is connected to the wheels of progress. If the Chinese economic transmission is slipping… how does the whole bucket of bolts keep going?

Let us not forget that an economically insecure China is also a geopolitically insecure China. The United States Navy has just paraded two warships through the Taiwan Strait, China’s maritime sandbox. The Chinese navy was toweringly unamused.  Who knows if someone gets an itchy trigger finger one of these days?

Meantime, 85% of fund managers surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch believe global growth is in its late stages.  This month the IMF has also lowered both its 2018 and 2019 global growth forecasts.  Returning to the domestic scenes, the Federal Reserve expects the U.S. economy to grow 3.1% this year… 2.5% in 2019… and 2.0% in 2020.

Is this the model of economic health? Yet the Fed intends to steam ahead with additional interest rate hikes and designs against its balance sheet. And so we find Jerome Powell at the helm of his Titanic, proceeding in the night at flank speed... dismissing reports of ice ahead.

Below, Jim Rickards shows you why the Chinese “debt bomb” is set to explode, and how it could even result in a shooting war with the U.S. Read on."
"The Chinese Debt Bomb Is Set to Explode"
By Jim Rickards

"Warnings about China’s debt burdens and a potential debt crisis there are nothing new. China has a higher debt-to-GDP ratio than the U.S., and China’s central bank has printed more money since the 2008 financial crisis than the Federal Reserve.  Much Chinese debt is denominated in dollars, which get harder to repay as the yuan weakens. Plus, other debt is owed by one state-owned enterprise to another in a daisy chain of bad debts that everyone pretends can be repaid (they can’t). 

Still more debt is in the form of wealth management products, or WMPs. The WMPs are high-yield securities deceptively sold as bank deposits (they’re not) and invested in real estate projects that cannot repay the loan. 

Much of China’s “growth” (about 25% of the total) has consisted of wasted infrastructure investment in ghost cities and white elephant transportation infrastructure. That investment was financed with debt that now cannot be repaid. This was fine for creating short-term jobs and providing business to cement, glass and steel vendors, but it was not a sustainable model since the infrastructure either was not used at all or did not generate sufficient revenue. All of this is bad enough, but things may have just gotten a lot worse. 

It turns out that local governments and provinces have issued $6 trillion of off-the-books debt that was not accounted for in previous financial analyses. To put that in perspective, $6 trillion is equal to almost 30% of the entire U.S. national debt, and that’s just the newly discovered part, not counting all the other debt China already has. 

China’s leadership did begin a deleveraging campaign last year to get the situation under control. Its Communist dictator-for-life Xi Jinping started a debt clean-up and deleveraging program. But the economy began a dramatic slowdown as soon as the credit spigot was turned off. 

China’s leaders panicked at the slowdown and started the credit flow again with lower interest rates, higher bank leverage and more debt-financed, government-directed infrastructure spending. Of course, all this did was postpone the day of reckoning and make the debt crisis worse when it does arrive.  China’s debt is so sketchy that it cannot be rolled over or refinanced except by the Chinese government itself. In turn, that means exposing the bad debt for what it is, which risks a financial and liquidity crisis.  The economy has slowed so much that markets are collapsing. With every passing day, a full Chinese financial collapse draws closer. 

The bottom line is, the Chinese debt bomb is getting ready to explode. This situation cannot be separated from the currency wars and trade wars. My readers are familiar with my thesis that the world responds to a situation of too much debt and not enough growth with first currency wars, then trade wars.

Currency wars begin in a condition of too much debt and not enough growth. Countries steal growth from their trading partners by cheapening their currencies to promote exports, discourage imports, import inflation and increase their GDP. This works in the short run but always fails in the long run because of retaliation when trading partners respond to devaluation by devaluing their own currencies.

The currency wars are eventually followed by trade wars in which countries try to improve GDP by raising tariffs on imports from trading partners. Trade wars fail for the same reasons as currency wars — retaliation. Tariffs are met with counter-tariffs until world trade contracts and the entire world is worse off. Trade wars are not limited to tariffs and reduced trade. As with any war, there is a lot of collateral damage.

But that is not always the end of the escalation… Finally come shooting wars, which actually do improve growth through war manufacturing and post-war rebuilding but at a very high cost in death, destruction and war debt. This pattern occurred in the 1920s and 1930s and seems to be happening again.

The currency wars began in 2010. The trade wars began in 2018, and the shooting wars may not be far behind. From the South China Sea to the Persian Gulf, tensions are already simmering.

The China-U.S. trade war is not a short-term bit of posturing. It is serious, dangerous and will get worse before it gets better. Let’s hope that the historical segue into shooting wars does not occur this time. But the risk of an accident between U.S. and Chinese naval forces remains a real risk in the waters off China’s east coast. Two U.S. ships just sailed through the Taiwan Strait, which were shadowed by Chinese naval vessels. It’s not difficult to envision some type of incident at some point, which could rapidly escalate. It may not, but the possibility exists.

But a trade war does not have to lead to a shooting war to be devastating. A financial crisis resulting from currency wars and trade wars is a distinct possibility. Financial crises occur on a regular basis including 1987, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2007 and 2008. That’s about once every five years for the past 30 years. There has not been a financial crisis for 10 years so the world seems overdue. It’s also the case that each crisis is bigger than the one before and requires more intervention by the central banks. In the next crisis, possibly soon, the central banks themselves will need to be bailed out, probably by the IMF.

Knowing this economic history is useful, but can investors actually see the next crisis coming in time to react?  The answer is “yes” if you’re looking in the right places and listening to the right voices. Right now, the voices warning of financial collapse are no longer from the fringe - they’re from the heart of the global power elite.

Global financial elites like financial guru Mohamed El-Erian, have also warned about the potential for another financial crisis if currency war and trade war issues are not soon resolved. Warnings are also coming from other elite economists such as Larry Summers, Nouriel Roubini and from institutions such as the BIS and major central banks. But also from the most elite warning of all. 

The IMF, which sits at the top of the global financial pyramid, is now warning of a “financial meltdown” that could come at any time.  This time, the Fed and other central banks are not in a position to deal with a recession or panic should one arise in the near future. 

Again, these are not fringe player or bloggers. They are the global financial elite. If they’re concerned about financial stability, maybe you should be concerned also. Preparation means 10% percent of your investable assets in gold or silver and another 30% in cash. That allocation will preserve wealth and provide dry powder for bottom-fishing in the crisis to come."

"How It Really Is"

"Economic Market Snapshot"

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CNN Fear and Greed Index 

Gregory Mannarino, “Stocks Market Dives. Is This THE BIG ONE?”

Gregory Mannarino, “Stocks Market Dives. Is This THE BIG ONE?”
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"The Truth Is..."

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."
- M. Scott Peck

Free Download: Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front”

“You still think it's beautiful to die for your country. The first bombardment
taught us better. When it comes to dying for country, it's better not to die at all.”
- "Paul Baumer", "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930)

"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.
But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying.
You will die like a dog for no good reason."
- Ernest Hemingway

Freely download “All Quiet on the Western Front”, by Erich Maria Remarque, here:
http://explainallquietonthewesternfront.weebly.com/

"Classical Conditioning for Peace"

"Classical Conditioning for Peace"
by David Swanson

"According to the analysis of police-murder-instigator Dave Grossman, the reason that only a minority of soldiers attempted to kill in World War II and earlier wars was a general aversion to committing murder. * And the reason that the vast majority of U.S. soldiers (marines, sailors, etc.) have attempted to kill in recent decades is “classical conditioning.” A fireman rushes into a fire without thinking, if he or she has been conditioned through drill repetition to do so. Soldiers kill without thinking, if they have been trained to do so through the repetition of the realistic simulation of killing. Of course, afterwards, you can hardly stop people from thinking about what they’ve done. The top cause of death in the U.S. military is suicide, and the top indicator of a risk of suicide is combat guilt.

I’m wondering what would happen if a government were to invest heavily in advertising and recruitment, and then pay hundreds of thousands of young people good salaries to be conditioned for peace. I strongly suspect that one thing that would not happen would be regret and guilt leading to suicide. But what would such conditioning even look like, and what side-effects might it have?

I’ve never thought of this before, primarily, I think, because I don’t want to trick anybody into being peaceful, and don’t believe it’s necessary. When I talk with people who believe that war can be justified, and who are open to talking about it, more often than not I persuade them through straightforward respectful discussion that in fact war can never be justified. If I just had 7.6 billion hours with which to spend an hour with each person, I tell myself, I could talk most of them out of belief in war, and some of them into taking action to undo governmental preparations for war.

However, I just watched a Netflix show in which an attempt is made to condition someone for peace. At least that’s one way of looking at this show. It’s called "Sacrifice" by Derren Brown. I’m about to spoil any surprises in it for you. Stop reading here to avoid spoilers.

It should be noted that The Guardian, Metro, and Decider didn’t much like this show, and generally objected to the ethical decision to manipulate the man who is the subject of the show’s experiment. To believe the show’s producer, however, the man was quite pleased with having been so experimented on. In any event, one would be very hard pressed to get a corporate publication to object to the manipulation of children through video games and war movies, and to the manipulation of military recruits to kill and to believe that they are likely to survive unharmed. If manipulating someone is objectionable - and I can certainly see why it would be - should we reserve those objections for the manipulation of someone for a good cause?

In fairness, similar publications have had somewhat similar objections when Derren Brown, in another Netflix show, manipulated people into doing what they believed was committing murder. But it was individual murder, not mass murder, and not with any uniforms or bombs or national anthems or any of the accouterments that make it OK.

If you watch the preview for "Sacrifice," the conclusion won’t surprise you. It’s just the in-between parts you won’t be sure about. A show that attempts to get a man to put himself between a gun and a stranger wouldn’t be aired unless, in the end, the man did it. But how is he brought to the point of doing it?

What makes the show more interesting and valuable, is that the man, Phil, is a U.S. citizen highly prejudiced against “immigrants,” and Brown intends to get Phil to take a bullet to protect a Latino immigrant from a racist white American. So, there are two things that Brown claims to do to Phil: make him brave, and make him care about people he hasn’t cared about.

The make-him-brave part is done with Phil’s consent. The manipulative part is that Brown tells Phil he’s installing a “chip” in his body that will help to make him brave, which is of course not actually true. The rest of the bravery conditioning is done with Phil’s participation. He listens to audio recordings and thinks brave thoughts. He’s conditioned to associate a certain musical jingle and hand motion with finding great courage. Ethical complaints with this seem weaker than practical ones, specifically the likelihood that it wouldn’t work on everyone.

The caring part of the conditioning is in some ways more dishonest, but also less like conditioning. (Brown calls this “empathy,” rather than caring, but it’s not clear that it relates to the strict sense of empathy, meaning experiencing the world from someone else’s point of view.) Phil is shown DNA ancestry results that find him to have ancestors in Palestine and Mexico. He’s nudged in the direction of reconsidering his prejudices. He’s not told that that’s what’s happening. He’s not agreed to it. But he’s told what are presumably accurate facts. If the DNA results were fabricated, or would have to be fabricated in the case of many other people, that presents a certain weakness. But there’s no repetitive conditioning involved here.

There is another element in the preparation to care, however. Phil and a Latino-looking man are asked to sit and stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Phil becomes emotional and asks to give the man a hug. Hardly a word is said. This is not rational persuasion. But there’s also nothing dishonest about it. I can’t imagine what harm would be done by employing this technique on a mass scale.

The most dishonest and manipulative part of the experiment is the use of numerous actors to create a staged incident in which Phil is led to make a choice to get out of a truck and stand in front of a man being threatened with a gun. The world cannot hire a hundred people to manipulate every one person into acting heroically. The math doesn’t work. The paranoia of everyone afraid they were in a show would be damaging, even if it might have some positive results as well. And one heroic act isn’t enough.

But why couldn’t “empathy exercises,” DNA results, bravery practice (with or without placebos, but always respectful and consensual), be combined with rational, fact-based education about alternatives to war, nonviolent dispute resolution, the rule of law, restorative justice, anthropology, the actual history of wars and war propaganda, the environmental damage of militarism, the counterproductive results of bellicosity, and the need for courageous concerned actions to reform corrupt systems, to reverse destructive policies, and to mitigate the oncoming disaster of climate chaos? What would be wrong with conditioning ourselves to work for peace?"
*"Unnatural Born Killers"
by Melanie Joy

"There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating humans' seemingly natural aversion to killing. Much of the research in this area has been conducted by the military; analysts have found that soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy's head, or not to fire at all. ("Men Against Fire: How Many Soldiers Actually Fired Their Weapons at the Enemy During the Vietnam War?")

Studies of combat activity during the Napoleonic and Civil Wars revealed stirking statistics. Given the ability of the men, their proximity to the enemy, and the capacity of their weapons, the number of enemy soldiers hit should have been well over 50 percent, resulting in a killing rate of hundreds per minute. Instead, however, the hit rate was only one or two per minute. And a similar phenomenon occured during World War I: according to British Lieutenant George Roupell, the only way he could get his men to stop firing into the air was by drawing his sword, walking down the trench, "beating them] on the backside and telling them to fire low".1  World War II fire rates were also remarkably low: historian and US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall rerported that, during battle, the firing rate was a mere 15 to 20 percent; in other words, out of every hundred men engaged in a firefight, only fifteen to twenty actually used their weapons. And in Vietnam, for every enemy soldier killed, more than fifty thousand bullets were fired.2

What these studies have taught the miltiary is that in order to get soldiers to shoot to kill, to actively participate in violence, the soldiers must be sufficiencly desensitized to the act of killing. In other words, they have to learn not to feel - and not to feel responsible - for their actions. They must be taught to override their own conscience. Yet these studies also demonstrate that even in the face of immediate danger, in situations of extreme violence, most people are averse to killing. In other words, as Marshall concludes, "the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be 'conscientious objectors'".3

1: Dave Grossman, "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in war and Society." New York: Back Bay Books, 1996, 12.
2: Grossman, Martha Stout, "The Sociopath Next Door." New York: Broadway Books, 2005.
3: Grossman, 15._ [Originally Posted by Excerpt from "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows", Melanie Joy

"Casualties of War"

Monday, October 22, 2018

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, "Velvet Morning"


Liquid Mind, "Velvet Morning"
Liquid Mind ® is the name used by Los Angeles composer and producer
 Chuck Wild of the best-selling Liquid Mind relaxation music albums.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp3BuiupOrc&feature=related

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades is one of the brightest and closest open clusters. Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae. 
 Click image for larger size.
This remarkable wide-field (3 degree) image of the region shows the famous star cluster near the center, while highlighting lesser known dusty reflection nebulas nearby, across an area that would span over 20 light-years. In this case, the sister stars and cosmic dust clouds are not related, they just happen to be passing through the same region of space.”

The Poet: William Stafford , "Starting With Little Things"

"Starting With Little Things"
 

"Love the earth like a mole,
fur-near. Nearsighted,
hold close the clods,
their fine-print headlines.
Pat them with soft hands-
Like spades, but pink and loving; they
break rock, nudge giants aside,
affable plow.
Fields are to touch;
each day nuzzle your way.
Tomorrow the world."

- William Stafford 

Gregory Mannarino, “Post Market Wrap Up 10/22/18: More Lies! Really? No Way…”

Gregory Mannarino, 
“Post Market Wrap Up 10/22/18: More Lies! Really? No Way…”
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"Amber..."

"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."
- Kurt Vonnegut

The Daily "Near You?"

Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Forget Russia. Here’s the Real Threat to American Elections…"

"Forget Russia. 
Here’s the Real Threat to American Elections…"
by Bill Bonner

WATERFORD, IRELAND – "Alleluia! We join with all Americans today in breathing a sigh of relief; justice is being done. The bad guys are being hunted down. Our pristine democracy – in its pure white, unblemished, unsullied, and unbelievable gown – is being protected. Finally, at least one of our foreign enemies has been nabbed by the gendarmes and will soon be railroaded by the courts; others will surely follow.

The perp is Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova. The feds claim she is responsible for overseeing the funds for a Russian conspiracy to meddle in U.S. elections. And now, too, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are after the Chinese, who – as we just learned last week – are also trying to subvert the will and wisdom of the American people. More on both of those stories in a minute…

Chinese Meddling: We’re back in Ireland after a week in Bermuda. It wasn’t a vacation. Instead, we got together with old friends… and the whole team of researchers and analysts who work with our Legacy Research Group. We also met TV personalities Glenn Beck and John Stossel, and listened to two days of speeches and panel discussions.

We gave you a version of our speech on Friday, as we had prepared it. But as we listened to the other speakers, we revised and rewrote… to address the issues raised by other speakers. And as we revised, we began to see more clearly how the pieces fit together. More about that tomorrow… along with our takeaways on cryptocurrencies, pot stocks, gold, commodities, and much more…

But today, we begin the week by looking at the latest news. From Reuters: "U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of seeking to meddle in the Nov. 6 U.S. congressional elections, saying Beijing did not want his Republican Party to do well because of his pugnacious stance on trade."

Yes, America’s president says China’s got it in for him. No details were offered, however. We were left to wonder how the Chinese might meddle… Would they send out fake news? Or true stories? Or was the whole “Chinese meddling” idea a form of fake news itself, intended to… well… meddle with the next election results?

The whole idea of interfering with the U.S. elections takes our breath away. Every clown on the planet interferes. One writes a letter to the editor. Another posts something silly on the internet. A third makes a campaign contribution. Fantasy, prevarication, and confusion – that’s what elections are all about! And while the experts have been unable to find any traces of Chinese meddling, in the case of Russian meddling, they say they have more smoking guns than at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Information Warfare: Millions of dollars have been spent on the Russian meddling meme. Millions of hours of research, investigation, and testimony… and billions of hours of the public’s most limited resource – its time – have been invested in the issue. And on Friday, the federales finally collared a Russian woman, a U.S. resident – the above-mentioned Khusyaynova. The papers summarized the charges against her as – are you ready for this? – “information warfare.”

What exactly is information warfare? A capital crime? A misdemeanor? Is it when you drop propaganda from bombers? Or is it like Radio Free Europe, where you send messages to citizens of other countries to try to give them a second opinion? Frankly, we didn’t know there was a law against it. Au contraire, we thought it was protected by the First Amendment.

Nevertheless, Reuters reports that the G-men grabbed the desperado and are preparing to perp-walk her right to jail: "Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, became the first person charged with a crime for attempting to interfere in the 2018 U.S. elections, according to a government official with knowledge of the investigation."

Biggest Interferer: Maybe the crime busters got the wrong person. As near as we can tell, the biggest interferer – apart from the candidates and the political parties themselves – is casino mogul and Israeli citizen Sheldon Adelson. The Huffington Post put Adelson’s spending on the 2012 race at $150 million. And Bloomberg reports that Adelson is responsible for donating more than $100 million to this year’s midterms alone. The money keeps flowing… from the poor punters putting their quarters in Adelson’s Las Vegas slot machines to the rich politicos inside the Beltway.

Compared to the money Adelson spends, the Russkies’ budget (reported to be $10 million for all of 2018) is pathetic. And the papers reported over the weekend that between them, Republicans and Democrats have on-hand some $623 million more to spend on this year’s midterm races – every penny fully intending to upset the results.

It was as if the Internal Revenue Service announced a crackdown on Wall Street tax evasion… and arrested a kid with a lemonade stand on nearby Beaver Street just to let everyone know it was serious. And here, we stand up in support of what is right, fair, and virtuous. That is, we stand with the meddlers. If Adelson and other meddlers want to spend their money getting some pliant jackass elected – well, that’s the American way!

Nom de Plume: But the Russians are wasting their money. According to the press reports, they used “fake personas on social media to stoke arguments about race and other contentious issues.” Whoa! But wait… When did it become a crime to use a nom de plume? And how is stirring up controversy different from what shock jocks, provocateurs, telephone callers, presidential candidates, and practically everyone else does? But let’s look more closely… Maybe we’ll see what this is all about.

More from Reuters: "Using social media and other avenues, the Russians are waging “information warfare against the United States,” to sow distrust in the political system, according to the complaint… The complaint included Facebook and Twitter posts that were both critical of Republicans and supportive of President Donald Trump. One post in March, for example, suggested Trump deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un aimed at denuclearization."

Well… whoa, again! Are they serious about this? A Nobel Peace Prize for The Donald may be absurd. But it’s hardly illegal. As for spreading distrust, even we, in our own small way here at the Diary, try to do it every day. That is, we try to connect the dots, revealing the public spectacle of D.C. and Wall Street; readers can draw their own conclusions.

But we’re no match for the president. He’s the master of sowing discord and distrust. Other members of Congress aren’t bad, either. Lyin’ Ted? Pocahontas? Two years ago, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward.” Now, they’re campaigning together. And what about Pocahontas? Elizabeth Warren says she took a DNA test to “restore trust in government.” Neither the Russians nor the Chinese will do better than that."