Monday, June 24, 2019

"Iran - Message Sent, Message Delivered"

"Iran - Message Sent, Message Delivered"
by Tom Luongo

"It is clear that Iran is sending the U.S. a stern message. And that message is we can hurt you asymmetrically as much as you hurt us. Over the weekend Iran’s leadership made it clear there was no mistake in their actions last week. They purposefully shot down one of our most advanced drones to send the U.S. a very clear warning. ‘Our capabilities far exceed your tolerance for withstanding them.’

The more we learn about this incident the more the initial story concocted by the U.S. looks specious. Drone in international airspace? Most likely not. Trump said someone made a mistake? No, completely deliberate.

The drone that was shot down, an RQ-4A Global Hawk, was the cream of our surveillance drones. It was flying in tandem with an anti-submarine Poseidon P-8 spy plane, which, according to Elijah Magnier was carrying far more than its normal crew of 9. Try 38.

That was not reported at first either in the initial flush for war. Iran then revealed just how loose with the truth the U.S. turned out to be and that forced a complete rethink of the situation. There was no mistake involved. No IRGC officer panicked. Iran deliberately targeted the Global Hawk after it failed to respond to hails to leave Iranian airspace and turned off its GPS, lights and digital systems. It was acting as a hostile and Iran treated it as such. After sparing the Poseidon P-8 and its crew and passengers Iran shot down the drone.

That said Iran made this decision only after getting confirmation that the U.S. ruled out going to war with them. So, they stood down from shooting the Poseidon, which was the initial target, according to Magnier’s sources within the IRGC.

“Iran was about to hit and destroy the US Navy P-8 Poseidon spy and anti-submarine Boeing that was flying in the area when we received confirmation that the US had decided not to go to war and not to bomb any control and command or missile batteries positions, cleared or non-cleared, along the Straits of Hormuz. Had Trump decided otherwise, we had orders to hit several US and US allies’ targets and the Middle East would have been the theatre of a very destructive war with huge losses on all sides”, said an Iranian IRGC General.

But even after that confirmation came down Iran still chose to shoot down the drone. This was a clear message that actions speak far louder than words. The Iranian leadership decided it was time to test Donald Trump’s mettle. They didn’t have to shoot down the drone. But if they didn’t it would give the U.S. carte blanche to violate Iranian airspace without fear of reprisal solely because back-channel communications say, for now, the U.S. has stayed its hand.

This is likely why Trump was so angry at the presser the other day with Justin Trudeau when asked about the incident. He made what he thought was a gesture of good faith to Iran and, to him, Iran spit in his eye.

And this is where Trump’s fundamental character flaws come to the fore. He’s simply not able to see things outside of his own personal costs. A classic narcissist. And this is why he wanted desperately to bomb Iranian targets in response. Because of his fundamental flaws he had to be talked off the ledge by, reportedly, Tucker Carlson. Good on Tucker if this is even remotely true, but should it have come to this?

If this is what passes for the decision-making flowchart of the Trump administration then we should all be really worried. In the end, this was just a drone and one that was 1) somewhere it shouldn’t have been and 2) acting in a very suspicious manner, if the Iranian side of the story is to be believed. And given the potential costs for Iran if they were wrong, the onus of proof, in my mind, lies with the U.S., which it will not provide. That’s a clear signal that we don’t have the evidence to back up our story.

Then Trump floats this nonsense about killing 150 Iranians wouldn’t be “proportionate.” So people who starve or are denied a better life because of sanctions and threats aren’t casualties, Don? Only those killed by bombs? Again, this is the position of a sick and dangerous narcissist. And don’t think I would only say this about Trump. No, this goes for all of this country’s leaders going back decades.

Sanctions are acts of war. Embargoes are immoral. Just because you can’t tie deaths to it directly doesn’t mean the effects of them aren’t real.

So Trump sends out two signals today. First, he tells everyone in the region they are on their own to protect their regional assets, i.e. oil tankers. This is a clear message that he’s done escalating this stand-off with Iran and is looking for ways out of this. Because if he were truly serious about taking all of Iran’s oil off the market he would be pledging 5th fleet escorts today rather than complaining that China should pay for securing their oil shipments.

Trump started this fight, now he doesn’t know how to get out of it. I expect Putin and Xi will sit him down at the G-20 and work through his options. These men always allow Trump to save face. Iran can’t. The only way they win here is to beat him thoroughly such that everyone knows it. But as I said over the weekend, Iran isn’t interested in allowing Trump to save face here without him giving up something "yuge". He started this fight and it’s up to him to put something tangible on the table. And saying, “I won’t bomb you back to the stone age over a drone” is not an olive branch.

The second thing he did today, confirming his impotence, was putting ineffectual and idiotic sanctions on Iran’s political leadership. I’m sure they are shaking in their turbans now!

The war-gaming after this incident was clear, however. Any retaliation by the U.S. would be catastrophic for the world economy. It would unleash a regional conflict on multiple fronts which would not be any kind of controlled theater. I’m sure even the biggest hawks on the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been uncomfortable with fighting those battles.

In the end, it looks like Iran’s message was sent and delivered. Trump found out that no amount of external direct pressure will get the Iranian government to fold. That for all the might of the U.S. military and financial empire, its weaknesses are deep enough that even a relatively weak military and economy like Iran’s can stop it all dead cold because of basic things like geography, logistics and simple human resolve."

"House Party"

"House Party"
by James Howard Kunstler

"As the first of 12 presidential debates blows in at mid-week like an evil patch of bad summer weather, twenty candidates vie for the position of Ole Massa on the Democratic Party plantation, and the air is gravid with bad vibes.

One highly-favored entry, Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) of charming South Bend, Indiana, stepped into (and tripped over) a big fresh patty of mule poop over the weekend at a “town hall” meeting that was called to address the June 16 shooting of one Eric Logan, 54, by a police officer dispatched to check out “a suspicious individual going through cars” at 2:30 a.m. The officer said the suspect came at him with a knife. The officer failed to switch on his body-cam, or so the police department said. Conclusions were jumped to. Then, in the wee hours just before Mayor Pete’s June 24 town hall, another black man was killed and 10 other people wounded in the shoot-up of a watering hole called Kelly’s Pub.

God knows what that was about - no police were involved in the shoot-up - but Mayor Pete caught the blame for it, of course, and the Sunday town hall meeting turned into a shriek-in by outraged “community” members. He was hardly allowed to admit his failures, issue apologies, and promise to do better. After the ordeal, Mayor Pete struggled to hold in his tears talking to the media. No doubt he will be pressured to keep ‘splainin’ these matters until either his campaign folds up its tent or he is anointed at the national convention in Milwaukee.

Leader-of-the-Pack (in the polls, anyway) Joe Biden stepped into it perhaps even deeper than Mayor Pete last week when he bragged about how well he was able to work with the old southern segregationist fossils, Herman Talmadge (GA) and James O. Eastland (MS), who were still around in the senate when “Uncle Joe” first came on the scene decades ago. “We didn’t agree on much,” the former Veep said, “but we got things done.” What’s more, the candidate averred, going perhaps a bridge too far, Senator Eastland “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’” as if Mr. Biden might have been mistaken for a waiter in the senators’ dining room, with its old fashioned-ways and renowned bean soup.

Senator Cory Booker (NJ), a.k.a. “Spartacus,” aiming to “speak truth to power,” as gladiators are wont to do, jumped on the remarks as “hurtful and harmful to African Americans.” Mr. Biden, something of a political fossil himself now, shot back that Senator Booker should apologize to him for imputing he had racist proclivities. The rest of the pack joined the feeding frenzy. Bernie Sanders backed up Mr. Booker’s call for a Biden apology. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), criticizing her leading rival said, “I’m not here to criticize other Democrats, but it’s never okay to celebrate segregationists. Never.” Senator Kamala Harris piled on, calling Mr. Biden “misinformed and wrong.”

The week’s doings left the impression that the Democratic Party has turned into one big race hustle, with reparations for slavery as the centerpiece on the banquet table and recriminations for “white privilege” as the main course. Senator Warren added a gender hustle amuse bouche to the menu over the weekend with demands for “reparations for gay and lesbian couples” who had to file income taxes as individuals in the pre gay marriage days.

African Americans comprise about 12.3 percent of the US population and about 4.5 percent “identify as” LGBTetc. The Hispanic demographic is 18.1 percent and the Democratic Party has already got them covered with its official opposition to the immigration laws - though there is evidence that Hispanic US citizen-voters are not uniformly on-board with that pander.

Now the party will be hard put to come up with some goodies for the rest of the US population. But it appears that it has only punishments and persecutions in mind for them. This may be the way the world ends for the party first consolidated by Andy Jackson, the old white slavemaster rascal, whose sins were later redressed with the election of Barack Obama. Hustling their way to an election disaster in 2020, they play right into the small-ish hands of Mr. Trump, the Golden Golem of Greatness."

And remember, any number times 0 is still... 0.

Musical Interlude: Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells Pt.1, Finale"

Mike Oldfield, "Tubular Bells Pt.1, Finale"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Galactic or open star clusters are young. These swarms of stars are born together near the plane of the Milky Way, but their numbers steadily dwindle as cluster members are ejected by galactic tides and gravitational interactions. In fact, this bright open cluster, known as M46, is around 300 million years young. It still contains a few hundred stars within a span of 30 light-years or so. Located about 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation Puppis, M46 also seems to contain contradictions to its youthful status. 
Click image for larger size.
In this pretty starscape, the colorful, circular patch above and right of the center of M46 is the planetary nebula NGC 2438. Fainter still, a second planetary nebula, PK231+4.1, is identified by the box at the right and enlarged in the inset. Planetary nebulae are a brief, final phase in the life of a sun-like star a billion years old or more, whose central reservoir of hydrogen fuel has been exhausted. NGC 2438 is estimated to be only 3,000 light-years distant, though, and moves at a different speed than M46 cluster members. Along with its fainter cohort, planetary nebula NGC 2438 is likely only by chance appearing near our line-of-sight to the young stars of M46.”

"There Is A Theory..."

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers 
exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear
 and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. 
There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
- Douglas Adams

“The Seat of the Soul”

“The Seat of the Soul” 
by Chet Raymo

"It was not my first visit. I had been there once before to talk with the great man, to the Castle of Cloux, near Amboise, in the valley of the Loire. He had been living there since 1516, at the invitation of Francis I, king of France. He was 67 years old, bundled up in a thick fur wrap by a roaring fire. His face showed age but not infirmity. Long white hair fell about his shoulders. White beard. Thick, downswept brows shaded his eyes like awnings. A strong nose. And of course the mouth, serious yet generous, not unlike the mouth of the Christ he had painted on the wall of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

The king likes to surround himself with luminaries - artists, poets, philosophers, talented people of all sorts. Leonardo's reputation, of course, is known throughout Europe. It was inevitable that the king would draw him to France. A prize of war? So be it.

The last time I visited we talked about his paintings, only three of which had followed him to France. This time I wanted to hear about his anatomical studies. I had heard he had hundreds of drawings, recording the meticulous dissection of cadavers. "Might I see them?" I asked. Kindly, he aquiesced, and asked his young apprentice and friend, Count Francesco Melzi, to fetch several thick portfolios. As I carefully turned the sheets, I was stunned. Never had I seen such detailed representations of the human frame. Bones, muscles, tissues. Heart, lungs, stomach, liver. "From life?" I asked, forgetting myself. "From death," he replied with a slight smile. "Not so may years ago I had the privilege of working with Marcantonio della Torre, professor of anatomy at the University of Pavia. He gave me access to corpses."

As the thickly-annotated sheets slipped through my fingers I realized I was looking at something marvelous, a marriage of art and science.


"Extraordinary," I whispered. "All a waste," he said. He closed his eyes. "A waste? What do you mean?" I knew I was looking at documents of historic significance.

He rocked quietly for a moment, then looked into my eyes. "I was looking of the soul," he said. "All my life I have been trying to capture the human soul in my paintings, the ineffable essence of a man or woman. But all I was painting was the surface of a person, the face, the skin. What I wanted was something else, whatever it is that shines out through the eyes, that warms and animates the skin. I wanted the thing behind the gesture, the lamp that gives the light."

"And…?" He pulled the fur robe more tightly about him. "I didn't find it. I didn't discover the seat of the soul. When I had taken the body apart, looked into its most secret recesses, all I had was a gory mess of tissue and blood."

"The soul had flown? Returned to its Maker?" "Perhaps." The old man looked to Count Melzi, who smiled sympathetically. Then Leonardo returned his gaze to me. "Perhaps," he said. "Or perhaps what I was looking for was there all along, in the face, in the gestures, in the glow of skin. As the music is in the tuned lyre. Dismember the lyre, untune the strings…"

I looked again at the densely inscribed sheets in my hands, the flayed muscles, the sectioned valves. "Sir," I whispered. "If I may be permitted. There is no music without wood and fret and strings. You have given us a …" "Shush," he said. He closed his eyes and his chin dropped to his chest. Melzi indicated it was time to go. I placed the anatomical drawings in their portfolios, and looked again at the old man in the chair. A great soul. Of science and of art.”
Related: 

"You Are Not Crazy: Taking a Time Out"

"You Are Not Crazy: Taking a Time Out"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Sometimes as adults, we just need a time out to refocus and gather ourselves before starting out again. Most of us feel a little crazy from time to time. Periods of high stress can make us feel like we’re losing it, as can being surrounded by people whose values are very different from our own. Losing a significant relationship and moving into a new life situation are other events that can cause us to feel off kilter. Circumstances like these recur in our lives, and they naturally affect our mental stability. The symptoms of our state of mind can range from having no recollection of putting our car keys where we eventually find them, to wondering if we’re seeing things clearly when everyone around us seems to be in denial of what’s going on right in front of their eyes. For most of us, the key to survival at times like these is to step back, take a deep breath, and regain our composure. Then we can decide what course of action to take.

Sometimes a time-out does the trick. We take a day off from whatever is making us feel crazy and, like magic, we feel in our right mind again. Talking to an objective friend can also help. We begin to see what it is about the situation that destabilizes us, and we can make changes from there. At other times, if the situation is particularly sticky, we may need to seek professional help. Meeting with someone who understands the way the human mind reacts to stress, loss, and difficulty can make us feel less alone and more supported. A therapist or a spiritual counselor can give us techniques that help bring us back to a sane state of mind so that we can affect useful changes. They can also mirror our basic goodness, helping us to see that we are actually okay.

The main purpose of the wake-up call that feeling crazy provides is to let us know that something in our lives is out of balance. Confirm for yourself that you are capable of creating a sane and peaceful reality for yourself. Try to remember that most people have felt, at one time or another, that they are losing it. You deserve a life that helps you thrive. Try and take some steps today to help you achieve more balance and a little less crazy."

"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

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

Click image for larger size.
"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."
- Steve Jobs, 
Commencement Speech, Stanford University, 2005

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true...

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called "The Whole Earth Catalog", which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of "The Whole Earth Catalog", and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now I wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."
"Listen to me. We're here to make a dent in the universe.
Otherwise why even be here?"
- Steve Jobs

"There Is A Difference..."

"There is a difference between a question and a wonder. I would prefer to answer only questions that will be useful to you. A child looks up at the starry sky at night and wonders. He is filled with the joy of the mystery of creation. Why should I explain everything to you and take away that joy? I will not. The purpose of my words is to create silence, to create joy. I am not here to stuff your head full of knowledge. A child starts out innocent. You ask him something and he says, "I don't know." Then that child grows up and thinks he knows everything. I'll teach you something. I'll teach you to say, "I don't know," and be glad. That is true knowledge."
- Christopher Pike

The Poet: Langston Hughes, "Mother To Son"

"Mother To Son"

"Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair."

- Langston Hughes

The Daily "Near You?"

Roswell, Georgia, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"How We - They - 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"

"If You Feel Like an Outsider as an Introvert, This Is the Perfect Book for You"

"If You Feel Like an Outsider as an Introvert,
 This Is the Perfect Book for You"
by Learning Mind

"Colin Wilson was ever the Outsider. As he huddled in his frigid room in Brockley, a South London suburb, alone on Christmas Day, he contemplated his position. He was alone, in isolation. He had no family or close relation to share that Christmas with. His girlfriend was at her parents’ house, and he did not want to see his. For the millionth time in his twenty-four years of age, he felt like an Outsider. And as he contemplated, he began to write what would later turn into a book that has been translated in over thirty languages and has never been out of print to this day. The book’s title was “The Outsider”.

In a later print of “The Outsider”, Wilson wrote in the introduction: “It struck me that I was in the position of so many of my favourite characters in fiction: Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge, the young writer in Hamsun’s Hunger: alone in my room, feeling totally cut off from the rest of society. It was not a position I relished…”

Wilson had never received a fully formal education. He descended from a working-class family and lived almost penniless in London. “The Outsider” was written in the reading room of the British Museum, as the writer slept in a sleeping bag on Hampstead Heath.

A voracious reader since a young age and an autodidact, Wilson felt an affinity towards the perennial, literary Outsider all too well. Like many introverts and consequent outsiders, he experienced feelings of intense alienation and could relate to a large number of literary heroes. Through their case studies, Wilson attempted to make a clear shape out of the outsider’s problem and exclusion from society. At the same time, he attempts a solution to the outsider’s problem. The core of his ideas goes something like this:

Who is the Outsider? Feelings of isolation, of being “out of sync with the world”, pervade the Outsider’s psyche. A lot of us can relate to this. Feeling misunderstood, lost in translation. Experiencing the society and others around us as something very overwhelming that we are unable to connect to.

The conventions and customs of one’s time seem absurd, at best, despairing at worst. The Outsider, Wilson wrote, is an individual who can see in a country filled with blind men. It’s a feeling familiar to introverts everywhere. Most of the time, one feels like they’re looking at the world through a partition glass. Always one step behind in a dance that others seem to know all the steps to, always just a tiny bit out of touch.

This is especially true for the outsider who is thrust in a society which favors extroversion. It’s a bane of our modern civilization; we promote productiveness, efficiency, networking. There’s no time or space for introspection, for fine-tuning with things belonging somewhere outside the material worldToday more than ever, there is no space for introverts. They are labelled “Outsiders”, throughout history.

The fallen Outsider: The problem lies in the very same thing that renders The Outsider exceptional; his (or her) heightened perception. For the Outsider can feel, and see but never express or comprehend, much less have the skill necessary to communicate their findings to their fellow men.

It’s a very frustrating conundrum, really. Introverted individuals can be extremely perceptive and uncover truths that are difficult to articulate about their fellow humans, or about the world in general. This, unfortunately, requires tremendous reserves of spiritual and mental energy and leaves one drained really easily.

More often than not, outsiders and introverts give all of their focus to the task or person at hand, leading to the forging of deeper, more intimate bonds with others. Quality wins over quantity. But in a world that always wants more, this can be a double-edged sword. The introvert becomes “unsociable”, “boring”, “strange and unusual”.

That is to say, the fallen Outsider is imbalanced. This can have many disadvantageous effects, such as mental struggles and negative feelings, or hurdles in integrating with other people. How does one achieve balance then? How does one acquire the self-sufficiency necessary to not be brought down by the state of the world, by the loneliness?

How to harness your introversion: Via “the great synthesis”, Wilson responds. In his opinion, the Outsider ought to look further, deeper, with an unprecedented intensity. He must acquire the vision to match his heightened perception.

It’s all about embracing who you are. By plunging into his own depths, the introvert, the Outsider, may find the vision he so needs to make sense of everything. In making every moment count as a mystical, almost religious experience, the Outsider breaks free from his vicious cycle.

This means that the introvert need not feel inferior or lesser than, on account of being different. It is that precise difference that makes introverts see the world differently. And seeing the world differently is beneficial to all because it helps us attribute new, creative meaning to our experiences and environment!

Perceiving the world with depth is necessary to survive, and intensity is something the majority of people desire and spend large amounts in trying to achieve it. In a world plagued by shallowness, the Outsider has one-upped everyone else.

We need introverts and Outsiders to embrace and harness their ways of seeing. We need people in touch with their inner self, with their emotions. They are the expedition leaders in the vast jungle of the human condition.

Sadly, even though the book catapulted Wilson into fame and counted him as member of “the Angry Young Men”, a new generation of promising British writers, the success did not last long. The press and critics cannibalized Wilson and for the remainder of his life refused to take him seriously. He became, once again, an Outsider. But he never stopped working towards his own vision, leaving behind a prolific body of work.

Introverts can learn a lot from the book for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is that an introvert is inherently an Outsider; always a bit out of touch with the noise and clamor of the rest. It is not a stretch to say that introverts experience a lot of the same negative emotions Wilson’s Outsider does.

In today’s fast-paced and production-oriented world, it can be hard to gain a more spiritual vision on life. It can be very easy, meanwhile, to feel like the madman in an oppressing crowd that does not understand. If you’ve ever felt that way, maybe the Outsider is for you. Maybe it’ll help you break free."
https://www.learning-mind.com

Related:
Colin Wilson on "The Outsider"
https://archive.org/details/wilson_outsider

"The Outsider", a poem compiled by Simo Sakari Aaltonen (2008)
http://www.ignaciodarnaude.com/

The 5%
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think;
 and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” 
- Thomas Edison
This resonates powerfully with you, doesn't it? This blog's not for everyone.
That you're here reading this says you're among the 5%, an Outsider too!
 Thanks for stopping by!

"How It Really Is"

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum
 and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable
 and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either." 
- Christopher Hitchens

 I believe him...

"Economic Market Snapshot 6/24/19"

Gregory Mannarino,
 "Epic: The Freak Show Starts Again Tomorrow! Then Another Begins"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:

"Why 'Easy Money'”

"Why 'Easy Money'”
by David Stockman 

"The constant, obvious flattery, contrary to all evidence, of the people around him [Tsar Nicholas I] had brought him to the point that he no longer saw his contradictions, no longer conformed his actions and words to reality, logic, or even simple common sense, but was fully convinced that all his orders, however senseless, unjust, and inconsistent with each other, became sensible, just, and consistent with each other only because he gave them."
– Leo Tolstoy, "Hadji Murat" (1851)

"Our monetary central planners insist that levitating the stock market is not their “third” mandate. And most of them appear to believe it. They also believe they can calibrate short-run inflation and economic growth rates. Wall Street preys on this faith. But the Federal Reserve has no magic wand. They’re incapable of making a billion prices salute to the second decimal place or trillions of gross domestic product spring to the next handle on the growth ladder. Their impact is all indirect.

Here’s what I mean… The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) establishes a “target range” for the federal funds rate. The fed funds rate is the rate at which banks and credit unions lend their excess reserve balances to other banks and credit unions on an overnight basis and with no collateral. This is the “interest rate channel” of monetary policy. “Transmission” to Main Street – of “easier” money, of late – “induces” households, businesses, and governments to borrow and spend more than they would otherwise.

This point is essential. So, let’s break it down. Capitalism generates an amount of aggregate output at any point in time. This aggregate output is simply the unplanned sum of contributions made by millions of workers, entrepreneurs, investors, savers, speculators, inventors, etc., each pursuing their self-interest across the warp and woof of an indescribably complex economic system. It is an eco-system… it’s organic, with life of its own.

The naturally occurring “macro” that presents to policymakers – monetary central planners, Members of Congress, Tweeters-in-Chief, and Deep State operators alike – is merely the sum of capitalism’s manifold, splendiferous “micros.” If they want more “macro” than market forces produce, they must get households and businesses to swap balance-sheet burdens tomorrow for more spending today. They induce them to steal from their own futures.

The problem is the Fed’s interest-rate tool’s been ground to a thin remnant. It just doesn’t work anymore for Main Street.
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We’ve talked about it in terms of “Peak Debt.” It means the balance sheet is saturated, so cutting interest rates produces more and more marginal increments of that “borrow and spend” effect. Households reached it on the eve of the Global Financial Crisis. The ratio of total debt to wage and salary income had reached 220%. The pre-Alan Greenspan norm was about 80%.

From 2000 to 2007, while interest rates were plunging, household debt was soaring from $6.5 trillion to $14.2 trillion. That’s 120%, about 8% to 11% per year. We saw partial normalization from 2004 through 2006. And, then, the next spasm of rate-cutting didn’t work. Money-market rates approached zero. Mortgage rates hit rock-bottom.

Household debt declined for several years after the crisis. And, even after tepid expansion returned in 2013, it never broke out of the 2% to 3% range. From the fourth quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2019, in fact, total household debt grew by only 10%.

During the most recent trailing-12-month period, ended March 31, 2019, the growth rate clocked in at just 2.8%. That’s marginally above the 2.27% inflation rate posted during the same period.

In summary, then, household debt grew by an average of 10.2% during the 2000-to-2007 cycle. But it’s only grown by an average of 0.8% during the 2007-to-2019 cycle. The fact of that radical deceleration is alone far more significant for the future than all the rubbish the Fed heads scribble into their monthly meeting statements.
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Whatever ails the U.S. economy at this moment or threatens worse down the road, it sure as hell isn’t interest rates.  As a practical matter, we don’t even have any, let alone rates so “high” they’re biting into growth, jobs, and incomes. In fact, at last quote, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was 2.03%. It’s crossed back under the inflation rate, at least as measured by the 16% trimmed-mean consumer price index, which posted at 2.27%. in April.

How in the world can anyone in their right mind be talking about cutting interest rates when the yield on even long-term money is negative after inflation? Well, our monetary central planners are so lost their puzzle palace that they’ve made themselves hostage to Wall Street’s, Bubblevision’s, and the Tweeter-in-Chief’s cries for “easier” money. And “easy money” is all they know at this point. So, that’s what they’ll do."

Of course I know you're not so naive as to believe any of that
 "easy money" will be going to YOU, right, Good Citizen?

"America’s Fake Money Will Get Fakier"

No joke. Look at your cash, if you have any...
"America’s Fake Money Will Get Fakier"
By Bill Bonner

"Money is one of the primary measures of value in any society, perhaps the primary one, the principal repository of value. As such, money is a central source of stability, continuity, and coherence in any community. Hence to tamper with the basic money supply is to tamper with a community’s sense of value. By making money worthless, inflation threatens to undermine and dissolve all sense of value in a society."
– Paul A. Cantor

DUBLIN –" We flew back to Dublin on Friday night. Here, in midsummer, the temperature is only half what it was in Dubai. While it was 110 degrees on the banks of the Persian Gulf… so hot we couldn’t go outside for more than a minute or two… when we stepped off the plane on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, the thermometer recorded only 55 degrees. Though the beginning of summer, it could have passed for the end of November in Maryland.

But Dublin is hopping. On Saturday, the sun shone and brought out the crowds. The streets, shops, and bars filled to overflowing, with tourists and locals eager to feel the sun on their faces at least once before winter returns. Then, on Sunday, summer never having gotten much of a foothold, came the autumn rains. We went to church services at Saint Ann’s Church, where the choir was superb.

Everything Goes Nuts: Meanwhile… Last week, the Fed said it still had investors’ backs. There would be no rate hike, said the Fed’s Jay Powell. Conspicuous by its absence was the word “patient” from Powell’s remarks. The implication being that rate cuts could be up next.

And then, according to Bloomberg: "Fed Loses Its Patience and Almost Everything You Can Trade Goes Nuts": "Stocks rose to records, bonds surged, oil jumped almost 10% and even gold got into the act, as traders celebrated a dovish conversion at the Federal Reserve. One back-of-the-envelope measure shows the rally in everything was the strongest since 2011."

And: "Bitcoin traded above $11,000 for the first time in 15 months, recouping more than half of the parabolic increase that captured the attention of mainstream investors before the cryptocurrency bubble burst last year." What to make of it?

Harmful Content: And here, we pause and dip into the Sunday papers. It helps to remind us that 95% of everything you read about public policy is wretched gobbledygook. Could it be that these price trends are, too? In Ireland, the Sunday Independent went right to the claptrap. “First social media controls revealed,” is the headline story on the front page. The Irish feds are setting up a “watchdog” to “target harmful content.”

What’s harmful content? It depends on who’s in charge. In China, anything critical of the Communist party, the government, or its economic policies is not only harmful, it gets you a prison sentence. In Dubai, blasphemy, indecency, insurrection – even cross-dressing, swearing, or dancing in public – can get you arrested.

In the U.S., in the 19th century, United States postal inspector and anti-vice activist Anthony Comstock banned anatomy textbooks from being sent via U.S. mail on the grounds that they were lewd. During his career as censor, he reportedly destroyed 15 tons of books and 4 million pictures. And here in Ireland, on page 6 of the Sunday Independent, we find the censors drooling over “food porn.” Dr. Donal O’Shea says social media postings of attractive eats “normalize” binge eating.

“Wait,” warned a friend. “You can’t talk about ‘bingeing’ anymore. It’s insensitive to people with a tendency to binge.”

“Oh…”

But this joke is too good to let political correctness stand in the way. A study by Oxford University showed that looking at food on the internet “makes it harder to resist eating.” Fat people binge, in other words.

“There are massive health implications,” says a government toad, calling for surgery, censorship, and other meddling. Yes, there are hefty implications for us all, we reply. But if you allow the feds to censor your opinions, thoughts, and news, you are a moron. How would the censor know better than you what you should see or think? The Sunday Independent doesn’t bother to raise the question.

Fakier Rates: But neither does any major newspaper bother to question how a central banker knows what interest rate is good for you. Last week, Fed chair Jay Powell and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi both affirmed their resolve to provide more stimulus in the months ahead. In other words, the guardians of the world’s most important measures of value said they would lend more fake money at even fakier interest rates.

This, of course, caused hearts to flutter in the markets. Investors are pretty sure that an already nutty situation is going to be even nuttier in the future. And they’re probably right. But there’s no guarantee they’re going to like it.

As you know, Dear Reader, here at the Diary, we only try to connect the dots. And taking shape before us is a staggering picture. It is almost impossible to believe it is true. We rub our eyes in wonder at the nuttiness of it. How could it be?

Bond investors own $13 trillion worth of loans… and pay for the privilege by making negative interest payments. The U.S. stock market hits an all-time closing high while the economy actually slows down. And people are so desperate for an honest currency that they turn to bitcoin… which they can’t see, can’t touch, and can’t understand.

How could it be? We squint and look closer. And out of the fog emerges a hypothesis… an explanation almost as strange as the picture itself: Americans have allowed the feds to censor their markets. More to come…"
Related:

"Getting Run Down: Recharging Your Batteries"

"Getting Run Down: Recharging Your Batteries"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Getting worn out and run down robs you of receiving what you need from the universe. Our natural state of being is vibrant, happy to be alive. Yet, there can be times when we feel run down and worn out. This does not mean that we are lazy or unfit for the tasks in our lives; it means that we need to recharge our batteries and find a way of keeping them charged. Vitamins and extra rest can be very helpful in restoring our physical bodies. And if we are willing to delve deeper, we may discover that there is an underlying cause for our exhaustion.

Whenever you are feeling run down, take an honest look at how you have been thinking, feeling and acting. You will likely find a belief, behavior pattern or even a relationship that is out of alignment with who you really are. Perhaps you believe you have to be perfect at everything or you have been bending over backwards to get people to like you. Maybe you are dealing with mild depression or simply have too much on your plate right now. There may also be people or situations in your life which are draining your energy. Once you get clear on the root cause, you can weed it out and better direct your flow of energy in the future.

In time, you might notice that the reasons you feel run down have less to do with how much you are doing and more to do with the fact that in your heart, you would rather be doing something else entirely. From now on, try and listen to what your heart really wants. It may take meditation, or just a moment of silent tuning in to gain the clarity you need, but it is well worth the effort. When you know what you truly want to do, and honor that in all situations, you will find that getting run down is a thing of the past."