Friday, May 31, 2019

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Overheard in a Dream”

2002, “Overheard in a Dream”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“This colorful cosmic skyscape features a peculiar system of galaxies cataloged as Arp 227 some 100 million light-years distant. Swimming within the boundaries of the constellation Pisces, Arp 227 consists of the two galaxies prominent on the left; the curious shell galaxy NGC 474 and its blue, spiral-armed neighbor NGC 470. 
 Click image for larger size.
The faint, wide arcs or shells of NGC 474 could have been formed by a gravitational encounter with neighbor NGC 470. Alternately the shells could be caused by a merger with a smaller galaxy producing an effect analogous to ripples across the surface of a pond. Remarkably, the large galaxy on the right hand side of the deep image, NGC 467, appears to be surrounded by faint shells too, evidence of another interacting galaxy system. Intriguing background galaxies are scattered around the field that also includes spiky foreground stars. Of course, those stars lie well within our own Milky Way Galaxy. The field of view spans 25 arc minutes or about 1/2 degree on the sky.”

"Why Is There So Much Pain and Suffering?"

"Why Is There So Much Pain and Suffering?"
By Fred Pauser

"Mother Teresa said, “Suffering is a gift of God.” Well, it may be true that suffering tends to build character, but it also sometimes builds bitterness and criminals. In any case, we would naturally prefer to do without it, especially the extreme forms of it.

We can derive much toward answering the question from a basic knowledge of the evolution of life. Ernst Mayr succinctly summed up the process of natural selection: “Natural selection is a two-step process: (1) variations produced, and (2) variations sorted, with the elimination of the less fit so that you end up with a ‘selection’ of the best." Fitness may involve cooperative abilities as well as competitive, and the ability to adjust to varying environmental conditions.

Variations between individuals are produced by means such as mutations or genetic drift. The individuals that are most able to deal with the circumstances provided within their environmental niche are likely to be most able to reproduce and pass on their genes.

Contributions to the process of natural selection are also made by cataclysmic events such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteors and asteroids, etc. It is commonly believed that most dinosaurs were destroyed by such an event. Consequently, niches were opened to species that were more fit in terms of surviving that particular environmental upheaval.

As Teilhard de Chardin could see almost a century ago, evolution is directional. If we step back to see the big picture, nearly 4 billion years of life on earth is most notably characterized by overall increasing complexity and diversity of life, accompanied by greater capabilities, including the development of consciousness. Scientists are beginning to abandon Gould’s philosophy of non-directional evolution in favor of something more like de Chardin’s view.

Einstein said, “Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain.” This is the pleasure/pain principle. It applies to virtually all life, albeit in very rudimentary form in single-celled creatures. It is fundamental.

Humans and other creatures born without the functional pain apparatus of their peers, do not live long. Clearly, without the capacity for pain and suffering, the evolution of life would not and could not happen. Certainly all higher life forms including humans would not have had even a remote chance of coming into existence.

Suppose there is a God, and s/he created the world pretty much as it is (as per the Christian fundamentalist view), except there was no pain and suffering, and all danger had been removed for all creatures. Wouldn’t it be a dull and boring place? Would there be any reason to strive for anything?

But we humans are acutely aware of our ability to experience pain, and we do what we can to avoid it, while simultaneously striving to maximize satisfaction. This more than enables us to survive. As products of evolution we mirror the directional progress of evolution of increasing capabilities. as human history indicates.

We possess a nearly unique ability among animals in that we can visualize all sorts of future possibilities, which bestows upon us the potential for a kind of pain that other creatures are capable of experiencing only minimally if at all: anxiety. Other animals probably, in general, suffer less than we humans assume they do, because we tend to anthropomorphize. Perhaps natural selection is not quite as cruel as it seems to us. Besides a minimal anxiety factor, consider that death in nature through predation is usually swift, and it often occurs before creatures can experience much of the sort of suffering we associate with old age and years of gradual loss of abilities.

The human propensity to suffer the pain of anxiety through the ability to imagine, has a plus side. It leads to a greater ability to experience empathy and sympathy (as compared to other animals). We are at a stage of development whereby our world is becoming one united economic entity. Human similarities across the world are becoming quite apparent. We are increasingly aware of our interdependence. We are coming to realize (some of us) that it is in our own self-interest to relieve suffering among our fellows. So our intellectual capabilities are being used via the pleasure and pain systems in us, to advance morally as well as technologically. The spiritual notion of profound interconnectedness and unity is becoming less abstract, more real. Ironically, none of this, including our very existence, would be possible without the billions of years of evolutionary struggle and strife that preceded us."
Of course, there are alternative theories...

“So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the "burning marl." Old wives' tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is - other people!”
- Jean-Paul Sartre, "No Exit"

Freely download "No Exit", by Jean-Paul Sartre, here:

Chet Raymo, “Take My Arm”

“Take My Arm”
by Chet Raymo

“I'm sure I have referenced here before the poems of Grace Schulman, she who in inhabits that sweet melancholy place between "the necessity and impossibility of belief." Between, too, the necessity and impossibility of love.

Belief and love. They have so much in common, yet are as distinct as self and other. How strange that two people can hitch their lives together, on a whim, say, or wild intuition, knowing little if nothing about the other's hiddenness, about things that even the other does not fully understand and couldn’t articulate even if he did. Blind, deaf, dumb, they leap into the future, hoping to fly, and, for a moment, soaring, like Icarus, sunward.

The necessity of wax. The impossibility of wax. We "fall" in love, they say. Schulman: "We tramp the road of possibility. Give me your arm."

The Daily "Near You?"

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Write Your Worries On the Sand"

"I walked slowly out on the beach.
 A few yards below high-water mark I stopped and read the words again: 
   I let the paper blow away, reached down and picked up a fragment of shell.  
Kneeling there under the vault of the sky, I wrote several words, one above the other.
   Then I walked away, and I did not look back. I had written my troubles on the sand. 
   The tide was coming in."

- Arthur Gordon

"The Center Of The Universe..."

“When science discovers the center of the universe,
 a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it.”
- Bernard Baily

Free Downloads: Olaf Stapledon, "The Works Of Olaf Stapledon"; "Star Maker", et al

 "Letters to the Future"

“In 1917 the author Olaf Stapledon published “Letters to the Future,” a series of 4 letters addressed to his great grandson in the year 1999. This post is Letter 1, excerpted. How remarkably relevant they seem today...

“To my Great Grandson in early manhood. Sir,

If ever you come upon this letter, forgive its preglacial dialect, and have patience to spell out its meaning. How gladly would I address you in whatever speech lives in your ears! The thoughts which follow must, I know, reach you only as dead and fragile specimens; but today they live. They flit among us dazzlingly and elusively, and we fight about them; for some of us fear them as the plague and would exterminate them, while others prize them as the light of our world...

In some such vein as this might I preach you as good a half-truth as ever became a slogan. But it is only half the truth. And moreover preaching won’t go down with one’s relatives. So I will make a plain tale of my faith, and temper it with many queries. For obviously we who believe may be mistaken. You perhaps will have already exposed our error and set our altar in your museum. Indeed even today certain clever young persons are trying to budge it. They think, I suppose, that because so many goods have gone bad on our hands goodness itself must be illusory. Well, they may prove right in the end; but meanwhile we find some amusement in watching them apparently tugging in vain at the rock face. Whether they are right or wrong they have not yet convinced us. We still believe, and must act on our belief. Folly is less shameful than disloyalty.

But it may well seem inappropriate that I, whose career has been a texture of good luck and bad management, should undertake to be the spokesman of an age which, whatever its failings, has not been inarticulate. I speak, however, as kinsman to kinsman, hoping that something of the family mannerism may render me intelligible to you when our more public voices have already become archaic. Further it is just possible that my very obscurity may fit me to speak more faithfully for my period than any of its great unique personalities.

But how can I write cogently to one with whom I am not even acquainted? Are you rich with the culture of your age, or are you a boor or a philistine? Are you curious about the nature of things, or content to see no further than your own food and the curves of woman? I cannot know; but I shall presume that you have the broad interests that are not uncommon in our family, and (like the rest of us) a certain capacity of reasoning. If you have not, it is to be hoped that you will at least have the sense to hand this letter, and those which follow, to someone of intelligence,—if there be any such alive in your day.

For in ours it is impossible to be sure that the human mind is not destroying itself. We seem to ourselves to be in a unique crisis of this planet’s history, a crisis which may soon end, or may, we suspect, drag on even far beyond the lives of your remote descendants. We are accustomed to describe man’s present plight thus. His knowledge and power have lately increased extravagantly. His mind is embracing regions hitherto unguessed; and he can give effect to his will as never before. But these wide and deep discoveries, which should enlighten him as to what is truly desirable, do not in general have any influence on his choice of ends. He is ruled almost entirely by his animal and ancestral nature. He behaves very seldom in the manner that is uniquely human. Quite rightly he seeks the fulfillment of bodily and personal needs; and he even knows how to subordinate these to ends deemed more important; but his remoter ends are not as a rule chosen rationally, and are seldom objectively valid. He can transcend his private needs only for outworn or mistaken ideals imposed by ancestral taboos. For these alone are backed up by the forces of habit and public opinion.

Few of us today have seen what man is and what he might become. And of these, fewer see the starry universe as anything more than the stage of man’s drama. Even when we glimpse the things that are better than food and sex and applause, and better than all the virtues, we cannot long act in conformity with our vision. Very soon we succumb to the old cravings or the old sightless conscience. And so the great power that we are acquiring issues in disaster. And no one knows what will become of his own children in the stupid riot.

There seem to us three possibilities with regard to the world in your time. Either the interest of the mass of men and women will have definitely passed beyond the puerile ends which infect us, and a new epoch will be dawning in the life of this planet; or, like us, you will continue to be at heart no more than anthropoid. The latter is the more probable alternative. And if this is the case, either civilization will still be hanging by a thread, or it will be already shattered.

I may then be addressing one whose society will have crashed into a second barbarism before ever it has achieved true civilization, one who may perhaps regard us (if he knows of us at all) with the misunderstanding adulation so often lavished on a more intelligent past. Or I may be exposing myself to one who will really be of a finer mentality than has yet been achieved on this planet, and to an age that has at last won through to some agreed certainty of belief and some unquestionable judgment as to the good, and to full sanity of will. Or again you, like us, may be more than animal yet not fully human, seeing fitfully the good, but unable to serve it with any constancy. Such I expect will be your state; though if you have not actually crashed you must surely have outgrown some of our follies. Sanity of thought and sanity of will may not be quite so rare with you as with us. Persons of common intelligence will perhaps be less entangled in the maze of superstitions from which none of us today can entirely escape.

If you have outstripped us even thus far you will scarcely be able to conceive our mental confusion. For today every hoax finds some believer, and every truth is obscured by a fog of argument. While some pathetically dress up old idols in modern clothes, others are naively disillusioned because they have ransacked the universe in vain for a trace of God. Yet all the while (if I mistake not) in the streets and the farms, and indeed in every span of every man’s experience, something cries out for our admiration and our help, something better than any idol, something lovelier than the God of our fathers.

It is about this something that I must speak to you, lest your apprehension of it should through some misfortune happen to be more uncertain even than my own. But if, when you read these letters, you find that you have already passed beyond their range of thought, perhaps they will at least interest you historically; and perhaps you will forgive my importunity. However remote we may be from each other in time and in mentality, we are kin, and our two worlds are one. We, and all men, however gravely we conflict, are engaged on the same enterprise. In my language the goal of that enterprise may be called the fulfillment of the world’s capacity; but if this sounds barbarous to you, call it what you will, so long as you recognize in me a fellow-worker, though far-removed.”
Freely download the works of Olaf Stapledon here 
("Star Maker” highly recommended):

The Poet: Wendell Berry, “The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer”

“The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer”

“I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
 inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
 to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
 I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
 and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
 and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven's favor,
 in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
 so often laughing at funerals, that was because
 I knew the dead were already slipping away,
 preparing a comeback, and can I help it?
 And if at weddings I have gritted and gnashed
 my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom
 had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not
 be resurrected by a piece of cake. ‘Dance,’ they told me,
 and I stood still, and while they stood
 quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
 ‘Pray,’ they said, and I laughed, covering myself
 in the earth's brightnesses, and then stole off gray
 into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
 When they said, ‘I know my Redeemer liveth,’
 I told them, ‘He's dead.’ And when they told me
 ‘God is dead,’ I answered, ‘He goes fishing every day
 in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.’
 When they asked me would I like to contribute
 I said no, and when they had collected
 more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.
 When they asked me to join them I wouldn't,
 and then went off by myself and did more
 than they would have asked. ‘Well, then,’ they said
 ‘go and organize the International Brotherhood
 of Contraries,’ and I said, ‘Did you finish killing
 everybody who was against peace?’ So be it.
 Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
 thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
 I say I don't know. It is not the only or the easiest
 way to come to the truth. It is one way.”

- Wendell Berry

"How It Really Is"

"Economic Market Snapshot 5/31/19"

Gregory Mannarino, 
"Post Market Wrap Up 5/31/19: US Economy - Stairway To Heaven, Or Hell"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:

"The Great Central Bank Bubble is Bursting As I Write This..."

"The Great Central Bank Bubble is Bursting As I Write This..."
by Phoenix Capital

'A Crash is coming… Forget the trade war… forget the Mueller investigation/ deep state coup… forget the situation in Iran. The real story right now for the markets is that the global economy is sinking into a recession.

The reason this is a BIG deal is because Central Banks believed they could end the business cycle… meaning end the threat of recessions to the global economy. The argument here was that as long as Central Banks could control the bond market with interest rates and monetary programs like Quantitative Easing (QE) the real economy would somehow stay afloat.

Yes, there would be little if any growth under these circumstances, but by the flipside, there wouldn’t be an outright contraction/ recession. Central Banks were so convinced this would prove true, that two of the most important ones, (the European Central Bank or ECB and the Bank of Japan or BoJ) didn’t even come CLOSE to ending their interventions…

The ECB ended its last QE program in December… by March, it had already launched a new monetary program aimed at easing financial conditions… The BoJ didn’t even END its QE program… it simply changed its language from “we’re thinking about ending it” to “we’re not going to end it.” Why are these Central Banks so panicked? Because the global economy has rolled over… and no amount of money printing… or interest rate cuts is going to stop what’s coming.

Worldwide, the bond market has collapsed… there are now over $12.6 trillion in global bonds with NEGATIVE yields. Moreover, asset classes that are HIGHLY linked to economic growth, assets like Lumber and Copper are collapsing… telling us that the economic bounce that began in 2016 is OVER…
Click image for larger size.
And then there's the stock market... which has broken its bull market trendline... just as it did in 2000... and 2008... 
Click image for larger size.
Again... a Crash IS coming…"

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 5/31/19"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 5/31/19"
By Greg Hunter’s 

"Like a supernova flaming out, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller announced he’s closing his office and stepping down. Before he did, he gave a short press conference to trash President Trump on the way out by not giving him the presumption of innocence. Mueller said he would not “exonerate” Trump, even though his own report did not find any chargeable crimes. Mueller did give the Russians he charged with crimes the presumption of innocence. Slimey Mueller proved it was a partisan “witch hunt” all along, and gave the Democrats new reasons to try for an impeachment.

The President just hit Mexico with a brand new tariff because it is allowing massive amounts of illegal aliens to cross Mexico to get to the USA. The tariffs are scaring the markets, and stock futures are tanking.

On the crop front, more bad news. Corn and soybean planting is still way behind. Agriculture experts are warning of lower crop yields and higher prices."

Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

"The Warning of the 'Adjusted' Yield Curve"

"The Warning of the 'Adjusted' Yield Curve"
by Brian Maher

"Yesterday we furrowed our brow against the latest inversion of the “yield curve.” The 10-year Treasury yield has slipped beneath the 3-month Treasury yield — to its deepest point since the financial crisis, in fact. Inverted yield curves precede recessions nearly as reliably as days precede nights, horses precede carts… lies precede elections. The 10-year Treasury yield has dropped beneath the 3-month Treasury yield on six occasions spanning 50 years. Recession was the invariable consequence — a perfect 1,000% batter’s average.

But an inverted yield curve is no immediate menace. It may invert one year or more before uncaging its furies. But today we revise our initial projections — as we account for the “adjusted” yield curve.

The “adjusted” yield curve indicates recession may be far closer to hand than we suggested yesterday. When then might you expect the blow to land? Now… you realize we cannot spill the jar of jelly beans straight away. You must first suffer through today’s market update...

Markets plugged the leaking today. The Dow Jones gained 43 points on the day. The S&P scratched out six. The Nasdaq, meantime, added 20 points. Gold — safe haven gold — gained nearly $7 today. But to return to the “adjusted” yield curve… and the onset of the next recession.

The Nominal vs. the Real: We must first recognize the contrast between the nominal and the real. The world of appearance, that is — and the deeper reality within. For example… nominal interest rates may differ substantially from real interest rates. Nominal rates do not account for inflation. Real interest rates (the nominal rate minus inflation) do.

That is why a nominal rate near zero may in fact exceed a nominal rate of 12.5%... Nominal interest rates averaged 12.5% in 1979. Yet inflation ran to 13.3%. To arrive at the real interest rate…

We take 1979’s average nominal interest rate (12.5%) and subtract the inflation rate (13.3%). We then come to the arresting conclusion that the real interest rate was not 12.5%… but negative 0.8% (12.5 – 13.3 = -0.8).

Today’s nominal rate is between 2.25% and 2.50%. Meantime, (official) consumer price inflation goes at about 2%. Thus we find that today’s real interest rate lies somewhere between 0.25% and 0.50%. That is, despite today’s vastly lower nominal rate (12.5% versus 2.50%)… today’s real interest rate is actually higher than 1979’s negative 0.8%.

The Standard Yield Curve vs. The “Adjusted” Yield Curve: After this fashion, the standard yield curve may differ substantially from the “adjusted” yield curve. Michael Wilson is chief investment officer for Morgan Stanley. He has applied a similar treatment to distinguish the adjusted yield curve from the standard yield curve. The standard yield curve — Wilson insists — does not take in enough territory. It fails to account for the effects of quantitative easing (QE) and subsequent quantitative tightening (QT).

The adjusted yield curve does. It reveals that QE loosened financial conditions far more than standard models indicated. It further reveals that QT tightened conditions vastly more than officially recognized.

The adjusted curve takes aboard the Federal Reserve’s estimate that every $200 billion of QT equals an additional rate hike… for example. The standard yield curve does not. Thus the adjusted yield curve reveals a sharply more negative yield curve than the standard.

Here, in graphic detail, the adjusted yield curve plotted against the standard yield curve:
The lighter line represents the standard 10-year/3-month yield curve. The red line represents the adjusted yield curve — that is, adjusted for QE and QT. The adjusted yield curve rose steepest in 2013, when QE was in full roar. But then it began a flattening process...

QT Drastically Flattened the Adjusted Curve: The Federal Reserve announced the end of quantitative easing in late 2014. And Ms. Yellen began jawboning rates higher with “forward guidance” — insinuating that higher rates were on the way in 2015. Thus financial conditions began to bite… and the adjusted yield curve began to even out. By the time QT was in full swing, the adjusted curve flattened drastically. The standard curve — which failed to account for QT’s constraining effects — did not match its intensity.

Explains Zero Hedge: "The adjusted curve shows record steepness in 2013 as the QE program peaked, which makes sense as it took record monetary support to get the economy going again after the great recession. The amount of flattening thereafter is commensurate with a significant amount of monetary tightening that is perhaps underappreciated by the average investor."

Now our tale acquires pace — and mercifully — its point.

The Adjusted Yield Curve Inverted Long Before the Standard: After years of flattening out, the standard yield curve finally inverted in March. Prior to March, it last inverted since 2007 — when it presented an omen of crisis. But since March, the standard curve bounced in and out of negative territory. The recession warning it flashed was therefore dimmed and faint — until veering steeply negative this week.

But the adjusted yield curve did not invert in March... It inverted last November — four months prior. And it has remained negative to this day. Wilson: "Adjusting the yield curve for QE and QT shows an inversion began at the end of last year and persisted ever since."

Thus it gives no false or fleeting alarm — as the standard March inversion may have represented. We refer you once again to the above chart. Note how deeply the adjusted yield curve runs beneath the standard curve.

A “Far More Immediate Menace”: Meantime, evidence reveals recession ensues 311 days — on average — after the 3-month/10-year yield curve inverts. But if the adjusted curve inverted last November… we are presented with a far more immediate menace.

Here Wilson sharpens the business to a painful point, sharp as any thorn: "Economic risk is greater than most investors may think... The adjusted yield curve inverted last November and has remained in negative territory ever since, surpassing the minimum time required for a valid meaningful economic slowdown signal. It also suggests the “shot clock” started six months ago, putting us “in the zone” for a recession watch."

If recession commences 311 days after the curve inverts — on average — some 180 days have already lapsed. And so the countdown calendar must be rolled forward. Perhaps four–five months remain… until the fearful threshold is crossed. If the present expansion can peg along until July, it will become the longest expansion on record. But if the adjusted yield curve tells an accurate tale, celebration will be brief..."

Musical Interlude: 2002, “A Year And A Day”

2002, “A Year And A Day”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud by chance has assumed this recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is some 1,500 light-years distant, embedded in the vast Orion cloud complex. 
 Click image for larger size.
About five light-years "tall", the dark cloud is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is visible only because its obscuring dust is silhouetted against the glowing red emission nebula IC 434. Stars are forming within the dark cloud. Contrasting blue reflection nebula NGC 2023, surrounding a hot, young star, is at the lower left. The gorgeous color image combines both narrowband and broadband images recorded using three different telescopes.”

"Stunning New Universe Fly-Through Really Puts Things Into Perspective"

"The Real Hopeless Victims..."

"Anyone Who Isn't Confused..."

"Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't understand the situation."
- Edward R. Murrow

"Another Rather Convenient Result..."

We are actively discouraged from thinking constructively and questioningly, and once an individual has accepted the numb acquiescence so encouraged, an insidiously vicious circle has been successfully promoted. Another rather convenient result of such a situation is that people, who don’t think constructively, don’t even realize it.”
- Michael Timothy, "The Anti-Intellectual Ethic"

“Are We Suffering Societal ‘Stockholm Syndrome?’"

“Are We Suffering Societal ‘Stockholm Syndrome?’"
by web2.iadfw

“The term, “Stockholm Syndrome”, was coined in the early 70's to describe the puzzling reactions of four bank employees to their captor. On August 23, 1973, three women and one man were taken hostage in one of the largest banks in Stockholm. They were held for six days by two ex-convicts who threatened their lives but also showed them kindness. To the world's surprise, all of the hostages strongly resisted the government's efforts to rescue them and were quite eager to defend their captors. Indeed, several months after the hostages were saved by the police, they still had warm feelings for the men who threatened their lives. Two of the women eventually got engaged to the captors.

The Stockholm incident compelled journalists and social scientists to research whether the emotional bonding between captors and captives was a "freak" incident or a common occurrence in oppressive situations. They discovered that it's such a common phenomenon that it deserves a name. Thus the label, Stockholm Syndrome, was born. It has happened to concentration camp prisoners, cult members, civilians in Chinese Communist prisons, pimp-procured prostitutes, incest victims, physically and/or emotionally abused children, battered women, prisoners of war, victims of hijackings, and of course, hostages. Virtually anyone can get Stockholm Syndrome it the following conditions are met:

•  Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to act on that threat.
•  The captive's perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror.
•  Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor.
 Perceived inability to escape.

Stockholm Syndrome is a survival mechanism. The men and women who get it are not lunatics. They are fighting for their lives. They deserve compassion, not ridicule.”
Are we collectively suffering a mass societal form of Stockholm Syndrome? We watch impotently, numbly, as these psychopaths savagely rape what’s left of this country and world, and do nothing. How could we tell, if everyone else is similarly afflicted? Are we so grateful for the crumbs from their table that we consciously choose to ignore all else that’s happening, no matter how insane, outrageous or illegal it is? Something is very, very wrong here... - CP

"Economic Market Snapshot 5/30/19"

Gregory Mannarino, "Post Market Wrap Up 5/30/19: 
A Love Roller Coaster, With Beautiful Letters, And A Song!"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:
"Market Insight: Investors Are Growing Worried"
By Joe Withrow, Head of Research, Bonner & Partners

"Interest rates are in free-fall… That’s the story of today’s chart, which tracks the 10-Year Treasury rate from the start of 2017 through today. 
After hitting an 8.5-year high of 3.2% last November, the 10-Year Treasury rate has plummeted to just over 2.2%. As you can see, that’s its lowest level since September 2017. This move has been driven by flight-to-safety investing. Investors hoping to protect their capital have poured into Treasury bonds.

Remember, interest rates move in the opposite direction of bond prices. When investors flock to Treasury bonds, it drives prices up… and interest rates down. This tells us that investors are growing worried. And it’s easy to see why.

After falling roughly 20% from September 20 to December 24 last year, the S&P 500 has been volatile again this month. Could another 20%-plus drop be on the way? And looking at the Dow… as Bill wrote yesterday, it has had five straight weeks of losses. That hasn’t happened in eight years. And several key economic indicators are not as rosy as the talking heads on TV would have you believe.

So, we can’t help but notice… it’s starting to look more and more like 2008 out there. That’s why the tattered Crash Flag flies proudly once again…"

The Daily "Near You?"

Reading, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by!

The Poet: Fernando Pessoa, “I Don’t Know If The Stars Rule The World”

“I Don’t Know If The Stars Rule The World”

“I don’t know if the stars rule the world,
Or if Tarot or playing cards
Can reveal anything.
I don’t know if the rolling of dice
Can lead to any conclusion.
But I also don’t know
If anything is attained
By living the way most people do.

Yes, I don’t know
If I should believe in this daily rising sun
Whose authenticity no one can guarantee me,
Or if it would be better (because better or more convenient)
To believe in some other sun,
One that shines even at night,
Some profound incandescence of things,
Surpassing my understanding.

For now...
(Let’s take it slow)
For now
I have an absolutely secure grip on the stair-rail,
I secure it with my hand –
This rail that doesn’t belong to me
And that I lean on as I ascend...
Yes... I ascend...
I ascend to this:
I don’t know if the stars rule the world.”

- Fernando Pessoa

"There Is Beauty..."

"There is beauty laced within this day… be courageous enough to find it,
 be kind enough to share it, and at the end of the day, be wise enough to let it go."
- Steve Maraboli

"A Dog Named Beautiful"

"A Dog Named Beautiful"
By Eric Spitznagel

"In September of 2016, Rob Kugler got some terrible news about his beloved dog, a black lab named Bella. The bone cancer that had taken her left front leg just a year earlier had spread to her lungs and mouth. Her already terminal illness was threatening to cut her short, eight-year-long life even shorter.
Bella en route to Red Feather Lakes, CO.

Kugler, a former Marine staff sergeant struggling with his own demons, refused to accept the death sentence and decided to take his canine best friend on an epic cross-country road trip. For Kugler, the trip was about much more than Internet fame. When he saw photos of himself and Bella in some new city, he saw a version of himself he barely recognized anymore. “My head is held higher than it’s been in a while,” he writes. “Bella’s face looks confident, and my face looks confident too — and it hasn’t looked that way for a long time.”

The invisible third passenger on their journey was Kugler’s deceased older brother Mike, a fellow Marine killed in Iraq in 2008 when his convoy hit a roadside bomb. He was Kugler’s hero, and the reason he enlisted at all. Even worse, he was stationed just 40 miles away from Kugler in Iraq, and Kugler had reason to believe his brother was en route to see him when he was killed.

The guilt, Kugler admits, has been crushing. His long goodbye with Bella helped Kugler reconcile what he never had a chance to do with his brother. “Losing Mike changed my whole perspective,” he told The Post. “You realize how precious time is. Bella’s diagnosis was awful but it was also a gift. I wasn’t able to be there for Mike at the end, to tell him how much he mattered to me, but I could be there for Bella.”
Bella poses next to her favorite graffiti in Detroit.

It pushed him to do all the things he would’ve otherwise put off till tomorrow. “I learned to treat every day like it’s my last on Earth,” he says. Along his journey, he and Bella visited several retired military friends — many of whom, just like Kugler, have dog companions of their own. It didn’t surprise Kugler, who says vets find a connection with dogs they can’t get with other non-military civilians.

“You can have a relationship with another human being, but they still have their own lives,” he says. “Even in a marriage, they have something else in their world besides you. But with a dog, you’re it. You’re their everything. Their lives are all about being with you. Those are the kind of bonds you form when you’re in the military. And it’s not like that anywhere else.”

Bella and Kugler take in the sunrise at a beach in North Carolina.

Bella died in October 2016, and remembering that day still makes Kugler emotional. “I don’t know if I can talk about this,” he says, his voice breaking. “She was wagging her tail right up until the end.” Kugler remembers lying in the grass with Bella just days before she passed and daydreaming of Mike, in which he told his late brother that Bella would be joining him soon. “Mike reassure(s) me he’ll watch her until I get there,” Kugler writes of his vivid dream. “I hand Mike Bella’s pink leash.”

Two and a half years later, Kugler still feels an absence. Not just of Bella, but the sense of purpose that came with their aimless road trip. “One of the hardest parts of a trip like that is what to do next,” he told The Post. “It’s almost like being in the Marines and having this monumental, life-changing experience, and then coming home and everything just… stops.”

Today, he lives in Oregon and he still hasn’t figured out what he wants to do. He works odd jobs and donates his time to veteran causes while figuring out his next move. He’s also met someone — a woman named Kristen who found him after following his and Bella’s journey on Instagram and who also traveled around the country with her own dying dog, a golden retriever named Franklin Waffles. They’ve moved in together and have adopted two border-collie puppies, Max and Jasper, whom Kugler affectionately calls “my boys.”

But still, the guilt lingers. For his brother. For Bella. “I don’t want to wallow in the sorrow, which is so easy to do,” Kugler says. “It helps to have the boys running around the house. I feel more disconnected from the feeling that death is always around the corner. Now I’ve got the feeling of, oh my gosh, there’s so much youthful energy here. We’ve got years of this to look forward to.”

Looking back, he says his trip wasn’t about running away but “embracing the life we have left.” “If we focus on fighting death, we can only lose,” he says. “If we focus on living life, we can only win.”
Hat tip to Stucky at The Burning Platform

"How It Really Is"

"On Inevitability, Beauty, Truth, & Experience"

"On Inevitability, Beauty, Truth, & Experience"
By Doug “Uncola” Lynn

“If we focus on fighting death, we can only lose…
If we focus on living life, we can only win.”

"For many years, I’ve held on to the feeling of invincibility I’ve known all of my life. Like the sense one has before a test when they just know they have a better-than-average chance of coming up aces; of being prepared to rise above the challenge and feeling lucky at the same time. Even when I went through a bout of depression and paralysis several years ago – it was, in part, because I was angry that the inevitable shit-show was taking too long to get started and the waiting to die was killing me.

But now, this is the first year where I no longer feel invincible. For whatever reason, it seems like a turning point. Or, rather, the beginning of the descent down the other side of the mountain. I don’t sleep as soundly as I have in the past and, in the mornings, my old injuries yield more aches and pains. My endurance is less, my hands can’t grip as tight as before, and my range of physical movement is increasingly restricted; or at least more than it once was. Additionally, my eyesight is diminished as are my senses of hearing and smell.

I’m older now and, of course, none of the above was a surprise as I’ve been watching them transpire for some time. It’s just now, this year, these have become absolutely undeniable on a daily basis and I’m okay with that because seasons change. That’s all. Even so, we can fight to delay the inevitable by eating the right foods, drinking lots of water (I drink distilled), and getting plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. Yet time waits on no one and our bodies wind down like clocks.

Inevitability is as inevitability does.

Over a rainy Memorial Day weekend, I watched a film on Netflix called “American Honey”. It was sort of an arthouse flick starring Shia LaBeouf and some unknown young actress in her first role. They traveled from town to town with a crew of tattooed and pierced young magazine salespeople while drinking lots of booze, smoking weed, and having sex. In a way, it was an allegory of youth’s flame lighting up the random universe amidst making money and love. And isn’t that pretty much the story our lives?

What struck me about the film was the interwoven beauty and decay; and danger. Heartwarming human connections amidst cultural degradation. Stunning sunrises and sunsets over insects, filth, sweat, and muddy water. Is that not the very essence of life? Good and bad in varying measures and defined at any given time by what we sense.

Take, for example, the politics of our time. Corruption and lies in the darkest of swamps versus courage and truth shining like campfires on the surrounding horizons.

For no apparent reason, I was thinking today of the author, intellectual, and conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. Here was a guy who experienced the American dream. He lived large within a charmed life. Receiving an Ivy League education during the height of American prosperity and influence: A former army officer, sail-boating enthusiast, spy novelist, and 1991 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I recall Rush Limbaugh once telling a story how his soda was spiked by Buckley before a television interview and, at the time, found myself smiling while I was driving as the tale was told.

I also saw an interview of Buckley in his later years, telling the interviewer that he had grown “weary of life” and that he welcomed death. I found that peculiar at the time, coming from one who was so blessed, had lived so large, and who had obtained such legacies and lasting influence.

It made me ask the question: “What’s the point?”

Perhaps it is this: We cannot know light without darkness, or experience the comforting warmth of the hearth without a chill in the air. Nor can we fully appreciate day without night, each season without the other seasons, or decency without corruption. What is life without death, joy without suffering, living without dying?

Our lives are defined by what we think we see and whether or not the perceived proverbial glass is half empty or half full.  It depends upon where we are looking. And, perhaps, upon how full we are ourselves.  There is a fullness of gratitude that derives from humility and an inner emptiness from pride. Pride wants to capture life, but life cannot be caught.  Instead, our experience flows through us like oxygen; and over us as rain.

Beauty is akin to a butterfly and when trapped it wilts like a plucked flower in the sun. Neither can it be made to subdue. A passive observer must consciousness be to know the breeze. And the quieter we become, the more we see. The winds of fear may be blowing through your lives and filling your eyes with dust. Perhaps we are riding the crest of waves, out of control, ‘til our very foundations are shaken in the core.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it – the wind in our eyes."