Saturday, September 26, 2020

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, "Run"

Ludovico Einaudi, "Run"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The Great Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda (also known as M31), a mere 2.5 million light-years distant, is the closest large spiral to our own Milky Way. Andromeda is visible to the unaided eye as a small, faint, fuzzy patch, but because its surface brightness is so low, casual skygazers can't appreciate the galaxy's impressive extent in planet Earth's sky. 
This entertaining composite image compares the angular size of the nearby galaxy to a brighter, more familiar celestial sight. In it, a deep exposure of Andromeda, tracing beautiful blue star clusters in spiral arms far beyond the bright yellow core, is combined with a typical view of a nearly full Moon. Shown at the same angular scale, the Moon covers about 1/2 degree on the sky, while the galaxy is clearly several times that size. The deep Andromeda exposure also includes two bright satellite galaxies, M32 and M110 (below and right)."

"Be That Thing..."


“In Rome just as America, in the forum just as on Facebook, there was the temptation to replace action with argument. To philosophize instead of living philosophically. Today, in a society obsessed with content, outrage, and drama, it’s even easier to get lost in the echo chamber of the debate of what’s “better.” We can have endless discussions about what’s right and wrong. What should we do in this hypothetical situation or that one? How can we encourage other people to be better? (We can even debate the meaning of the above line: “What’s a man? What’s the definition of good? Why doesn’t it mention women?”) Of course, this is all a distraction. If you want to try to make the world a slightly better place, there’s a lot you can do. But only one thing guarantees an impact. Step away from the argument. Dig yourself out of the rubble. Stop wasting time with how things should be, would be, could be. Be that thing.”
- Ryan Holiday,

The Poet: Margaret Atwood, “The Moment”

“The Moment”

“The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 
We never belonged to you. 
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.”

- Margaret Atwood, 
“Morning in the Burned House”

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”

“For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks, “Problem or inconvenience?” I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference.” ~ Robert Fulghum, “Uh-Oh”

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”
by 
Robert Fulghum
  
“In the summer of 1959, at the Feather River Inn near the town of Blairsden in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. A resort environment. And I, just out of college, have a job that combines being the night desk clerk in the lodge and helping out with the horse-wrangling at the stables. The owner/manager is Italian-Swiss, with European notions about conditions of employment. He and I do not get along. I think he’s a fascist who wants pleasant employees who know their place, and he thinks I’m a good example of how democracy can be carried too far. I’m twenty-two and pretty free with my opinions, and he’s fifty-two and has a few opinions of his own. One week the employees had been served the same thing for lunch every single day. Two wieners, a mound of sauerkraut, and stale rolls. To compound insult with injury, the cost of meals was deducted from our check. I was outraged.

 On Friday night of that awful week, I was at my desk job around 11:00 P.M., and the night auditor had just come on duty. I went into the kitchen to get a bite to eat and saw notes to the chef to the effect that wieners and sauerkraut are on the employee menu for two more days.

That tears it. I quit! For lack of a better audience, I unloaded on the night auditor, Sigmund Wollman.

I declared that I have had it up to here; that I am going to get a plate of wieners and sauerkraut and go and wake up the owner and throw it on him. I am sick and tired of this crap and insulted and nobody is going to make me eat wieners and sauerkraut for a whole week and make me pay for it and who does he think he is anyhow and how can life be sustained on wieners and sauerkraut and this is un-American and I don’t like wieners and sauerkraut enough to eat it one day for God’s sake and the whole hotel stinks anyhow and the horses are all nags and the guests are all idiots and I’m packing my bags and heading for Montana where they never even heard of wieners and sauerkraut and wouldn’t feed that stuff to the pigs. Something like that. I’m still mad about it.

I raved on this way for twenty minutes, and needn’t repeat it all here. You get the drift. My monologue was delivered at the top of my lungs, punctuated by blows on the front desk with a fly-swatter, the kicking of chairs, and much profanity. A call to arms, freedom, unions, uprisings, and the breaking of chains for the working masses.

As I pitched my fit, Sigmund Wollman, the night auditor, sat quietly on his stool, smoking a cigarette, watching me with sorrowful eyes. Put a bloodhound in a suit and tie and you have Sigmund Wollman. He’s got good reason to look sorrowful. Survivor of Auschwitz. Three years. German Jew. Thin, coughed a lot. He liked being alone at the night job – gave him intellectual space, gave him peace and quiet, and, even more, he could go into the kitchen and have a snack whenever he wanted to – all the wieners and sauerkraut he wanted. To him, a feast. More than that, there’s nobody around at night to tell him what to do. In Auschwitz he dreamed of such a time. The only person he sees at work is me, the nightly disturber of his dream. Our shifts overlap for an hour. And here I am again. A one-man war party at full cry.

“Fulchum, are you finished?”
“No. Why?”
Lissen, Fulchum. Lissen me, lissen me. You know what’s wrong with you? It’s not wieners and kraut and it’s not the boss and it’s not the chef and it’s not this job.”
“So what’s wrong with me?”

“Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night.” In a gesture combining dismissal and blessing, he waved me off to bed.

Seldom in my life have I been hit between the eyes with a truth so hard. Years later I heard a Japanese Zen Buddhist priest describe what the moment of enlightenment was like and I knew exactly what he meant. There in that late-night darkness of the Feather River Inn, Sigmund Wollman simultaneously kicked my butt and opened a window in my mind.

For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks: “Fulchum. Problem or inconvenience?”

I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. Good night, Sig.”

The Daily "Near You?"

 
Carson City, Nevada, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

Greg Hunter, "Evil Covid Lies & People Died"

"Evil Covid Lies & People Died" 
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

"Dr. Chris Martenson is a futurist, economic researcher and holds a PhD in toxicology from Duke University. New statistics out by the CDC say the overwhelming majority of people have less than a .5% chance of dying from the CV19 virus. Martenson contends there was an overreaction to CV19, and real treatments have been ignored that could have saved lives. Martenson says, “Australia, UK, United States and a lot of Europe are going a little overboard on this whole thing and being ignorant and unsophisticated. If you are unsophisticated, you say we have to lock the whole country down. If you are sophisticated you say, no we don’t. People who are a little bit older and with co-morbidities, let’s keep them safe, and everybody else can get on with their lives.”

Dr. Martenson says, “We should open back up, and we can do it safely.” Martenson says officials lied about the safety and effectiveness of treatments such as the combination of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), zinc and Azithromycin. Martenson says, “A lot of people could have been saved. I know of doctors that were running trials where they were investigating HCQ, and they designed the trials to fail. In one really tragic case in the UK, they took people past the replication cycle, and not only really sick, but they gave them toxic doses of Hydroxychloroquine and said look, this stuff actually makes people sicker and not better. It’s hard to describe how evil that really is. I am shocked by what I’ve been seeing.”

Martenson says severe economic damage has been done to the economy. Wall Street wins while Main Street loses. Martenson contends, “The economy is very bad at this point in time, and it’s being covered up by a very, very complicit Federal Reserve that is just propping markets up. Citadel, the hedge fund where Former Fed Chief Ben Bernanke works, is just crushing it this year. The first half of the year they made more money than any other year. His company does nothing but just front run the Fed and scoop billions of dollars. The Fed is just rewarding skimmers and grifters. Meanwhile, Yelp just reported that nearly 100,000 U.S. businesses have permanently closed. There are coffee shops, restaurants, little inns, hotels and all kinds of things, and they are just crushed in this story. The Fed has been shoveling money to the super elites while everybody else has been suffering. The stimulus that has gone out has mainly gone to the well-connected, the megacorporations and the big banks. It’s really just cut the legs out from the upper middle class on down.”

Dr. Martenson also says that because of all the money printing that has already happened with much more to come, there will be some big inflation bubbling up. Martenson predicts, “Follow with me out to June of 2021, and we are going to find ourselves in a situation where the shale oil miracle has collapsed to five or six million barrels a day. We are going to be demanding, and our economy is going to be on fire at that point because of all this free money that is just sort of floating around. Then we are going to see inflation good and hard. We are going to have actual oil based inflation come through at that point in time. That is the prediction I am working with right now. People need to be ready for that, and that is what our seminars are all about.” Martenson likes physical assets such as gold, silver and farm land. Martenson shows people how to be more resilient for what is coming."

Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One 
with the co-founder of PeakProsperity.com, Dr. Chris Martenson.

"You Cannot Kill Me Here..."

"You cannot kill me here. Bring your soldiers, your death, your disease, your collapsed economy because it doesn't matter, I have nothing left to lose and you cannot kill me here. Bring the tears of orphans and the wails of a mother's loss, bring your Jesus on a cross, bring your hate and bitterness and long working hours, bring your empty wallets and love long since gone but you cannot kill me here. Bring your sneers, your snide remarks and friendships never felt, your letters never sent, your kisses never kissed, cigarettes smoked to the bone and cancer killing fears but you cannot kill me here. For I may fall and I may fail but I will stand again each time and you will find no satisfaction. Because you cannot kill me here." 
- Iain S. Thomas

"Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating: Companies Are Suddenly Closing All Over America"

"Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating: 
Companies Are Suddenly Closing All Over America"
by Epic Economist

"All across the nation, retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores. Evidently, this has been going on for many years, but as we are about to discuss, the bankruptcy numbers have never escalated as high as they did in 2020 in all US history. This is the worst retail cataclysm ever. To understand the extension of the damage - and if you haven't taken a trip to a mall since the sanitary outbreak has hit American grounds - let's picture a standard US shopping mall, with dozens or even hundreds of stores, consumers, and workers engaging, interacting and you can almost hear the sound of the economic activity flowing. Well, now this scenario is fading into a landscape that re-emerges almost entirely empty, with most stores closed, and the ones that remain open are liquidating stock so that they can shut down their doors for good, the customer presence is almost non-existent, the staff that used to be there to greet and assist the public is reduced to one person, timidly wearing a mask and standing alone behind the counter. That's no wonder why they call it "retail apocalypse", the setting looks exactly like one.

The stores are hollowed-out, malls are abandoned and the coming holiday season isn't likely to change much of this backdrop. In fact, big retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Home Depot already disclaimed they will not be open during Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, or even Christmas, and many other stores are bound to follow the same move. This month we recorded the highest retail bankruptcy rate of the past decade, and the struggle isn't over just yet, because the implications of more business closures will strike Main Street once again.

The columnist Donald Lambro has recently observed how damaging the effects of the virus outbreak were to this industry, leading retailers into a never-ending collision course. He pointed out that the new restrictions may have had a chilling effect on shoppers, who would naturally prefer to stay home and order goods online rather than risking exposure to the virus by venturing to department stores and shopping malls. Amongst the most reputed names that whether keep struggling to survive or have been already fatally pushed out of the market in face of the current crisis are Macy’s, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Kmart, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor, Men’s Wearhouse, Joseph A. Banks, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney.

Even though we do agree that the health crisis had a major influence on the collapse of this industry, it only boosted a trend that has been already happening. The massive bankruptcy surge didn’t just surface in February, along with the outbreak, but it certainly has amplified retailers’ problems. Since 2018, many of these businesses were signaling considerable failures in their activities. Back then, roughly 5,000 stores were closed, provoking shocked gasps in the markets. In 2019, the number escalated to almost 15,000 and the retail lay-offs experienced an increase of 92%. But nothing compares to what is happening in 2020. 

A few weeks ago, we reported a Yelp study which has shown that by the end of August, 163,735 U.S. businesses on Yelp have closed since the beginning of the sanitary crisis, marking a 23% increase from July 10. The study outlined that in the wake of the virus-related cases surge and continuous changes in local restrictions still happening in many states it was possible to see both permanent and temporary closures rising across the nation, with 60% of those closed businesses not reopening, configuring in 97,966 stores that will now be permanently closed.

Likewise, a recent poll unveiled that 70 percent of Americans believe our nation is going in the wrong direction. Without jobs, income, and federal assistance, American households are facing lots of anguish and financial pain. If the present situation is being considered as an economic recovery, that's a sign that much worse is coming next. If the US economy was really in a good shape, there wouldn't be millions of vacant square feet on shopping malls that used to be filled with retail stores. The real state crisis is transforming some areas into ghost towns. And we have to say, the word apocalypse won't cover what the future holds."

"How It Really Is"

 

Apologies

 
Apologies, ISP connectivity issues all day, apparently resolved.
Thanks for your patience and understanding.

"Civil War Two"

"Civil War Two"
by Jim Kunstler

"America has a new manufactured crisis, ElectionGate, as if all the other troubles piling up like tropical depressions marching across the September seas were not enough. America needs a constitutional crisis like a hole in the head, and that’s exactly what’s being engineered for the holiday season by the clever folks in the Democratic Party’s Lawfare auxiliary.

Here’s how it works: the complicit newspapers and cable news channels publish polls showing Joe Biden leading in several swing states, even if it’s not true. Facebook and Twitter amplify expectations of a Biden victory. This sets the stage for a furor when it turns out that he loses on election night. On cue, Antifa commences to riot all around the country. Meanwhile, a mighty harvest of mail-in votes pours into election districts utterly unequipped to validate them. Lawfare cadres agitate in the contested states’ legislatures to send rogue elector slates to the electoral college. The dispute ends up in congress, which awaits a seating of newly-elected representatives on January 4, hopefully for Lawfare, mostly Democrats. Whoops…!

Turns out, the Dems lost their majority there too. Fighting in the streets ramps up and overwhelms hamstrung police forces in Democratic-run cities. January 20 - Inauguration Day - rolls around, and the Dems ask the military to drag Trump out of the White House “with great dispatch!” as Mr. Biden himself put it so nicely back in the summer. The U.S. military breaks into two factions. Voilà: Civil War Two.

You didn’t read that here first, of course. It’s been all over the web for weeks, since the Democratic Party-sponsored Transition Integrity Project (cough cough) ran their summer “war game,” intending to demonstrate that any Trump election victory would be evidence of treason and require correction by any means necessary, including sedition, which they’d already tried a few times in an organized way since 2016 (and botched).

The Democrats are crazy enough now to want this. They have driven themselves crazy for years with the death-wish of eradicating western civ (and themselves with it). There are many reasons for this phenomenon, mostly derived from Marxist theories of revolution, but my own explanation departs from that.

The matter was neatly laid out a year ago during the impeachment ploy: After the color revolution in Ukraine, 2014, Mr. Biden was designated not just as “point man” overseeing American interests in that sad-sack country, but specifically as a watchdog against the notorious deep corruption of Ukraine’s entire political ecosystem - as if, you understand, the internal workings of Ukraine’s politics was any of our business in the first place.

The evidence aired publicly last year suggests that Mr. Biden jumped head-first and whole-heartedly into the hog-trough of loose money there, netting his son Hunter and cohorts millions of dollars for no-show jobs on the board of natural gas company, Burisma. And then, of course, Mr. Biden stupidly bragged on a recorded panel session at the Council on Foreign Relations about threatening to withhold U.S. aid money as a lever to induce Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to fire a prosecutor looking into Burisma’s sketchy affairs.

Naturally, the Democratic Party impeachment crew accused Mr. Trump of doing exactly what Mr. Biden accomplished a few years earlier. The impeachment fizzled, but the charges and the odor of the Biden-Burisma scandal lingered without resolution - all the while that Mr. Biden posed as a presidential candidate in the primaries.

This week, the Senate released a report detailing findings of their investigation into the Biden family’s exploits abroad. It didn’t look good. Also implicated are the State Department officers in the Kiev embassy who pretended not to notice any of this, pointing also to their engagement in further shenanigans around the Trump-Clinton election of 2016 - a lot of that entwined in the Clinton-sponsored RussiaGate scheme. Of course, the Senate was not so bold as to issue criminal referrals to the Justice Department.

If Mr. Biden actually shows up at this week’s debate, do you suppose that Mr. Trump will fail to bring up the subject? Does this finally force Mr. Biden’s withdrawal from what has been the most hollow, illusory, and dispirited campaign ever seen at this level in U.S. political history? All of which is to say that the Democratic Party has other things to worry about, besides who will replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. That may be hard to believe, but it’s how things are now after four years of implacable, seditious perfidy from the party.

A week ago, all the talk centered around the Democrats’ election coup plan, as publicized stupidly by the so-called Transition Integrity Project. Nice try. What if all those mail-in ballots sent out recently have Joe Biden’s name on them and it turns out that he is no longer a candidate? Hmmmm…. No doubt the recipients were so eager to fill them in and send them out that there’s no going back on that scam. Apparently, a Biden withdrawal was not one of the scenarios scrimmaged out in the Transition Integrity Project’s “war game.” What then? A do-over?

Hence, panic in the swamp. Joe Biden’s misadventures, and his pitiful fate, are but the outer rainbands of the brewing storm. There’s the threat of further and widespread riots, of course, but since when has insurrection proved to be a winning campaign strategy in a country not entirely gone to the dogs?

People who are not insane usually object to their businesses being torched and their homes invaded. At this point, after months of violent antics by criminal nihilists, one can even imagine Multnomah County, Oregon, turning Trumpwise. The orgy of political hysteria, insane thinking and violence is a psychotic reaction to the collapsing techno-industrial economy - a feature of it, actually.

When all familiar social and economic arrangements are threatened, people go nuts. Interestingly, the craziness actually started in the colleges and universities where ideas (the products of thinking) are supposed to be the stock-in-trade.

The more pressing the practical matters of daily life became, the less intellectuals wanted to face them. So, they desperately generated a force-field of crazy counter-ideas to repel the threat, a curriculum of wishful thinking, childish utopian nostrums and exercises in boundary-smashing. As all this moved out of the campuses (the graduation function), it infected every other corner of American endeavor, institutions, business, news media, sports, Hollywood, etc.

The country is now out of its mind… echoes of France, 1793… a rhyme, not a reprise."

"Covid-19 Pandemic Update 9/26/20"


SEP 26, 2020 8:03 AM ET:
 Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak 
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 32,590,000 
people, according to official counts, including 7,059,281 Americans.

      SEP 26, 2020 8:03 AM ET: 
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Updated 9/26/20, 6:23 AM ET
Click image for larger size.

Friday, September 25, 2020

"The Road to Nowhere: Whatever Can't Be Politicized Ceases to Exist"

"The Road to Nowhere: 
Whatever Can't Be Politicized Ceases to Exist"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"The essence of any Totalitarian society is the politicization of everything, as everything must be either supporting the status quo or it's a threat to the status quo. There is no middle ground in a Totalitarian society and so everything - literally everything - must be politicized to assess its true nature of being "for" or "against" the status quo. In such a society, what cannot be politicized ceases to exist. It isn't counted or recognized, and so it fades into a netherworld of shadows, a dangerous realm where the mere act of attempting to recognize a non-politicized experience is itself a threat to the status quo.

You will of course be thinking of the former Soviet Union (USSR) and other Totalitarian societies. Here's an extreme example of how the politicization of everything works: a conventional worker in a conventional factory happens to mention to a co-worker that he dreamed Stalin had fallen ill, and this worried him. The co-worker reported this disturbing dream to the proper authorities, who instantly recognized the true nature of the dream and sentenced the worker to 10 years in the Gulag for having an anti-Soviet dream. (A 10-year sentence in the Gulag was so common that it was nicknamed "a tenner.")

In America circa 2020, "a tenner" for the wrong thought, opinion or dream takes other forms. Indeed, even the claim that a dream might not have a political angle is itself cause for being sentenced to "a tenner," because the core of the Totalitarian society is the politicization of everything. Every object, entity, image, document, historical "fact," person, thought, emotion, reaction, narrative, opinion, everything tangible or intangible, has a barely concealed political subtext in a Totalitarian society.

There is nothing innocuous, innocent or whimsical in a Totalitarian society, at least in the public sphere. In an era permeated by the cruel marriage of surveillance capitalism and the bitterly divided state, even the once-private sphere is subject to public exposure and shaming/sentencing.

As in an Orwellian nightmare, your "smart" phone, vehicle, TV or Alexa-powered doorbell can eavesdrop and record your private conversations and behaviors, and somebody somewhere has access to this data and can share it with others.

The ostensible justification is "your safety" or "to catch wrongdoing," but this is transparently false. The real reason is to discern your political crimes. You need not commit any crimes per se to be persecuted; all that's needed is some tiny bit of evidence that reflects your true beliefs which by definition must be supportive of the status quo via endless virtual-signaling; if not, then they are necessarily a threat to the status quo.

To remain confidential, everyday life must be treated as wartime. Your hand-written journal is safe, as long as you don't share it digitally. But since we've morphed into an engagement-based social order, your selfhood now depends on engaging others digitally via "likes," shares, etc. and sharing your most "engaging" images and experiences.

A non-shared, non-digital private life is now a form of non-existence that most people find painful and isolating. Hence the obsessive addiction to social media and "sharing" one's (carefully edited) life online. Alas, even the most careful editing cannot conceal your true beliefs which will be revealed by the smallest detail: your location, the brand of items you're wearing, etc.

In a bitterly divided society, your beliefs will be political crimes to one camp or another. Any attempt to "find common ground" will be dismissed as a self-serving ploy, or more dangerously, as a hidden agenda of the forces attempting to destroy the Party.

Those furiously virtue-signaling to maintain their political righteousness within their chosen camp find the sands shifting beneath their feet. The most extreme virtue-signaling is rewarded until it becomes a new threat, and then those who strayed unknowingly beyond the invisible lines will find themselves cast out for political crimes whose definition is constantly changing.

Science has long be politicized, of course, but now it is being hyper-politicized as the stakes keep rising. Claims of neutrality are necessarily viewed as nothing more than clever facades to mask the real motives of self-interest and collusion. Just as time is a one-way arrow, the politicization of everything is a one-way road to dissolution and collapse. Wishing it wasn't so doesn't make it so."

“Dollar Crash Inevitable; Unemployment Chaos; Walmart Rips Employees; Precious Metals Smashed”

Jeremiah Babe,
“Dollar Crash Inevitable; Unemployment Chaos; 
Walmart Rips Employees; Precious Metals Smashed”

Musical Interlude: 2002, "We Meet Again"

2002, "We Meet Again"

Please view in full screen mode.

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Bright clusters and nebulae abound in the ancient northern constellation of Auriga. The region includes the open star cluster M38, emission nebula IC 410 with Tadpoles, Auriga’s own Flaming Star Nebula IC 405, and this interesting pair IC 417 (lower left) and NGC 1931. An imaginative eye toward the expansive IC 417 and diminutive NGC 1931 suggests a cosmic spider and fly. 
Click image for larger size.
About 10,000 light-years distant, both represent young, open star clusters formed in interstellar clouds and still embedded in glowing hydrogen gas. For scale, the more compact NGC 1931 is about 10 light-years across.”

Chet Raymo, “Half Sick Of Shadows”

Click image for larger size.

“Half Sick Of Shadows”
by Chet Raymo

“Who is this woman? Her name is on the prow of her boat: The Lady of Shalott.  Yes, it’s Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott,” from the poem of 1842, here illustrated by John William Waterhouse in 1888. By some unspecified curse this lovely maiden was confined to a tower…

“Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river”

…near Camelot, where, forbidden to look out the window, she observed the world in a mirror and wove what she saw into a tapestry. So what is she doing in the boat, with her hand-stitched creation? One day, Sir Lancelot rode by her tower alone. She saw him in the mirror and – “half sick of shadows” – couldn’t resist turning to see him unreflected.

“His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode…”

The mirror cracked. She left her loom, descended from the tower, found a boat, inscribed her name on the prow, and…

“Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right -
The leaves upon her falling light -
Thro’ the noises of the night”

…cast off to drift downstream to Camelot – and to Lancelot. But curses are not to be foiled.

“For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.”

We are all of us in a way the Lady of Shalott, all of us who seek to create an image of the world, artists, poets, scientists. We perceive the world through the filter of our limited senses, our biologically evolved brains, our nurtured preconceptions. We weave our tapestries, knowing that our creations are a reflection removed from reality. Our “curse” is to be in love with the real, yet never able to embrace it except in the cold glass of conceptualization. Our legacy? To be found in a boat lodged among the reeds, our tapestry draped across the thwart, with Camelot yet somewhere further down the stream, glistening, beckoning, inescapably out of reach. But, ah, there’s that gorgeous tapestry.

There is another curse, self made, and that is to mistake the mirrorworld for the world outside the window, to fail to recognize the contingency of our conceptualizations, to forego an honest seeking for the falsely found, and – most ominously – to want to impose our own mirrorworld on others.”

“Get Up Off Your Knees!”

“Get Up Off Your Knees!”
On your knees you may live to see another day, 
but you’ll never live to see better days.
by Robert Gore 

“Zoos are among the saddest places on earth: magnificent but confined creatures on display for gawking crowds, prevented from living out their biological destinies, fed their daily rations, and domesticated beyond where they could ever return to the wild. You have to feel pity and sorrow for these innocent prisoners; they’d flee in a heartbeat if they could.

Humans have made themselves inmates – whether of a zoo, prison, or asylum is hard to say, likely a combination of all three. Animals earn our admiration because they resist losing their freedom. Humans occasionally do too, but usually surrender theirs for promises and trifles. The promises are broken and the trifles grow more trifling as humanity for the most part gives up. Keep people amused and make sure the rations don’t stop and no outrage rousts them to try to reclaim their birthright. When they visit the zoo, the animals stare back at them with contempt.

In this country, we sing, “Sweet land of liberty,” and, “The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” We incant “freedom” and “liberty” during election seasons, but anything beyond that is considered embarrassing, bad form. A legislator denouncing a proposed law as an infringement of freedom would be regarded as a lunatic. Millions of pages of federal, state, and local laws and regulations already infringe freedom. The denouncer might be irrefutably right, but his denunciation would be irrelevant.

While wildlife should be free in the wild, coping with the risks to the best of their capabilities, humans are supposedly unsuited for freedom. Free humans might develop their own talents and capabilities, produce, exchange, exercise their rights, and engage in voluntary association and social intercourse, all unsupervised. You can argue that such activities are generally beneficial. However, there is a special class who are permitted to supervise and coerce the rest of us, to curtail our freedom. This special class ensures fairness or equality or some such thing. Who knows what might happen without them. Think of the dangers!

Just consider the concept of people deciding what’s in their own best interest. A hyphenated word lurks: self-interest. The special people are motivated by everything but self-interest, or so they say. Indeed, nobility of motive justifies their power and the destruction of your liberty. The desire to better your life is selfish, unlike the impulses supposedly animating those holding the guns to your head. After widespread surrender, few champion their right to their own lives, which is selfish after all, or challenge the special people’s moral superiority, which confers their right to hold the guns.

It might mitigate moral condemnation for liberty’s surrender if it had produced some benefit for those waving the white flag. An old bromide has it that liberty is irrelevant when people are starving. Nothing is further from the truth; it’s freedom that feeds people, creates wealth, and advances humanity. The historical record offers ample proof. It’s the absence of liberty that produces starvation, poverty, decay, destruction, genocide, and war. Here too the historical record is clear, one need go no farther back than the last century. During this ascendancy of the special people, humanity fought its two deadliest wars and over a hundred million were murdered, victims of special plans for a better world.

But somehow it’s liberty that’s dangerous. Fortunately the special people still rule, to make sure it doesn’t break out somewhere. Their reign assures that this century will challenge the last for the title: Century of Slaughter. They see their subjects are domesticated draft animals, just smart enough to keep economies running, not smart enough to challenge domestication. However, it’s been free minds and free markets, not draft animals, that have produced the wonders that make modern life modern. Welfare states are halfway houses to totalitarianism. As they grow, liberty shrinks and progress slows, stops, and reverses, the deterioration culminating in either anarchy or tyranny.

Judging from the prevalence of terms like “secular stagnation” and the “end of growth,” we are in the stop phase and reversal is nigh. People have seen their freedom shrink and have borne the consequences, although most don’t make the connection between the two. Incomes have stagnated, opportunities have diminished, life grows ever coarser, and fear of a looming apocalypse pervades the popular consciousness. Many are preparing for a future in which modernity is no longer modern, where access to necessities and conveniences cannot be taken for granted. Guns and gold are at the top of checklists, for a day when the inevitable failure of the special people leads to the inevitable tyranny or anarchy.

The discontent sweeping the planet is recognition that things are wrong on multiple fronts, although recognition of the root cause is rare. The idea that changing the hands on the levers offers solutions is magical thinking. The problems stem from granting the special people the levers in the first place. They may be replaced, but once the replacements have their hands on the levers, they’ll feel special, too. Power assuredly corrupts.

We’re closer to the real solution in the lament: “Why can’t they just leave us alone?” They – the special people – must leave us alone, it’s our moral right. Those who think the collapse will never come, or that freedom can be reclaimed without a fight, delude themselves. The craven adage: It’s better to live on one’s knees than die on one’s feet, offers a false choice. On your knees you may live to see another day, but you’ll never live to see better days. You may die on your feet, but liberty offers the only hope for better days. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth dying for.”

We are many, they are few...

"So Don't Ask Yourself..."

“So don’t ask yourself what people want. Ask instead, What is true? What really inspires me, excites me? What will really help people and take away their confusion and suffering? It’s sort of a funny, crazy way to go, but I think it’s the only way to bring water to the wasteland Joseph Campbell described. When I read something truthful, something real, I breathe a deep sigh and say, “Fantastic – I wasn’t mad or alone in thinking that, after all!” So often we are left to our own devices, struggling in the dark with this external and internal propaganda system. At that point, for someone to tell us the truth is a gift. In a world where people all around us are lying and confusing us, to be honest is a great kindness.”
- David Edwards

The Poet: Joy Harjo, “Remember”

“Remember”

“Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowa war
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember.”

- Joy Harjo,
“How We Become Human”

The Daily "Near You?"

 
Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for stopping by!

"Hell Can Wait"

By Bill Bonner

"The future is somebody else’s problem…"
– The Stansberry Digest paraphrasing U.S. Secretary of 
the Treasury Steve Mnuchin’s remarks to Congress yesterday.

SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – "And so, we come to the end of another week. Let’s see if we can summarize what we learned. The Old Economy is fading away…The New Economy is a dangerous bubble… One grows cold. The other is too hot to touch. What are we to do?

No Friends: Economies always evolve. And governments always try to look into the future and stop it from happening. The future has no friends. It generates no revenues. It pays no taxes. It can’t vote… It can’t riot in the streets… It can’t even write a letter to the editor.

The present, though, is Mr. Popularity. It makes profits, pays wages… and has deep pockets. After all, it owns 100% of America’s wealth. It has lobbyists, too, and trade unions, political parties, and 535 members of Congress ready to do its bidding. What’s more, the future is where Hell is located. The planet is overheating! Two million COVID-19 deaths! China is overtaking us! Robots are stealing our jobs! Oh… and here comes a depression!

Full Weimar: Whatever the threat, the feds mobilize to stop it… with green-energy subsidies, tariffs, sanctions, lockdowns, hiring credits… a Patriot Act… or a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)…Naturally, the feds are most eager to stop a depression. But they will not admit that they had any role in causing it… that their own policies (ultra-low interest rates and fake money) created excesses that need to be purged… Nor should you expect them to confess that their quack remedy (more money-printing) will only make the eventual correction worse.

So far this century, they’ve held off three major corrections. From October 2000 to July 2003, they chopped 5% off their key lending rate and set off the mortgage finance blow-up of 2008-2009. Then, they stymied that correction, too, again cutting their key rate by more than 500 points… and printing up an additional $3.6 trillion. And this year, they’ve gone Full Weimar, with rates back down to zero… and another $3 trillion in new money.

Old Economy Fails: But try as they will, the world still spins. And the future happens anyway. It just takes another shape. Their efforts to prevent necessary changes and corrections in the Old Economy – by flooding Wall Street with cash, for example – created a bubble in the New Economy. Most old-economy stocks are down for the year. In terms of gold – the only measure we trust – the old-economy Dow stocks have lost about 19% of their value since January. And of all the U.S.-listed stocks, only three are actually ahead of the game for the year.

New Economy Thrives: But look at what’s happened in the New Economy. The four leaders – Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google – are worth about $6 trillion in total. There are only two countries in the world with a GDP greater than that – the U.S. and China. Amazon alone is valued at 43% of the entire S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index. And Tesla is now worth almost as much as America’s largest retailer, Walmart, even though it has only 5% of its sales.

The feds’ foolish shutdown and their clumsy attempts to stop a much-needed reckoning have only accelerated the shift from Old to New. The internet darlings – Zoom, Amazon, Netflix, etc. – sucked up the new money like an escapee from a dry-out clinic.

Obsolete: And suddenly, much of the old economy infrastructure was obsolete. The new economy doesn’t need so much office space – people are working from home. Nor does it need so many parking places – who needs them? Restaurant tables… airplane seats… big-city housing… cruise ships… theatres… And if people don’t commute to work, they don’t need so many automobiles, either. Or so much gasoline… (Exxon stock has been cut in half so far this year.)

And the old industries don’t need so many workers, either. The trend has been in motion for a long time – replace human employees with robots. But come the coronavirus… and factories had to shut down, because humans were afraid of getting sick. And coming back to work, they expect more protective measures. But no robot ever put on a facemask. Robots don’t strike. They don’t complain. They don’t demand equal pay… or fear the virus. They don’t need a lunch counter. They don’t expect overtime pay… or hazard pay… or nighttime bonuses. Or air-conditioning. They don’t take breaks. They don’t vote. And they don’t give the boss any lip.

So, when the feds try to buck up the old economy with more free money and below-inflation lending rates, what do employers do? Call back the old workers? Or hire electronic brains and machine-powered arms?

Poor Schmucks: The trend is so unmistakable that even the Robinhooders can see it. They take their government checks ($1,200… or unemployment), turn their backs on Ford (down almost 30% this year) and GM (down almost 20%), and buy Tesla (up 363%!). They think they’re joining the future, not fighting it. But the feds’ fake money has turned the future into such a speculative bubble that it is ready to blow up again – for the fourth time this century.

The poor schmucks… They lost their jobs in the Old Economy and had to move in with their parents (more young people currently live with their parents and grandparents than at any time since World War II). And now, they’re going to lose their money in the New Economy.

Zoom Towns: But it’s not all gloom and doom. Many people are older, richer… and moving to zoom towns. A dear reader, James P., comments: "Living in a remote mountain valley, about 90 minutes from Colorado Springs, our economy is booming. New housing construction is booked out through late 2021. Available houses are getting offers above asking prices and selling in as little as 6 days. And this is in a place with only two paved roads – the rest are dirt; only dial-up DSL internet; no traffic lights; no hospital; a tiny pharmacy that opened two weeks ago; and where jobs and homes are simply unavailable for the working classes. The economy here is booming. But only because people are abandoning the cities as fast as they can move."

Some people are saving money at twice to three times last year’s rate – and sitting pretty. Many of them are retired… or able to work (remotely) in the New Economy. "They made the transition from Old to New smoothly. And they’re too smart (or too poor) to put their retirement money in the go-go FAANG stocks." But even for them… the future may not be easy. Having dodged one danger and avoided the other… they are now set up like bowling pins… ready to be knocked down when the next big balls come rolling down the alley.

Killer Blow: The first will bring deflation and depression, as the New Economy blows up… and the Old Economy fails to recover. The second will be the killer, as the feds fight the depression with trillions in printing-press money. According to the Financial Times, 90% of the American public favors more “stimulus.” And probably 100% of Congress.

They want the money now. The future can wait. But when the future shows up, it will almost certainly be Hell on wheels – wiping out savings, reducing Social Security, destroying the economy and the “social contract”… and raising the cost of living for everyone. When will it be over? In 5 years? Ten? More? We don’t know. But when it is over, we predict there will be few pins left standing."

"No Room For Cowards..."

“Life has no victims. There are no victims in this life. No one has the right to point fingers at his/her past and blame it for what he/she is today. We do not have the right to point our finger at someone else and blame that person for how we treat others, today. Don’t hide in the corner, pointing fingers at your past. Don’t sit under the table, talking about someone who has hurt you. Instead, stand up and face your past! Face your fears! Face your pain! And stomach it all! You may have to do so kicking and screaming and throwing fits and crying – but by all means – face it! This life makes no room for cowards.”
- C. Joybell C.

“Why Albert Einstein Thought We Were All Insane”

 

“Why Albert Einstein Thought We Were All Insane”
by Simon Black

“In the early summer of 1914, Albert Einstein was about to start a prestigious new job as Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. The position was a big deal for the 35-year old Einstein – confirmation that he was one of the leading scientific minds in the world. And he was excited about what he would be able to achieve there. But within weeks of Einstein’s arrival, the German government canceled plans for the Institute; World War I had broken out, and all of Europe was gearing up for one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.

The impact of the Great War was immeasurable. It cost the lives of 10 million people. It bankrupted entire nations. The war ripped two major European powers off the map – the Austro Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire – and deposited them in the garbage can of history. Austria-Hungary in particular boasted the second largest land mass in Europe, the third highest population, and one of the biggest economies. Plus it was a leading manufacturer of high-tech machinery. Yet by the end of the war it would no longer exist.

World War I also played a major role in the emergence of communism in Russia through the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Plus it was also a critical factor in the astonishing rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Without the Great War, Adolf Hitler would have been an obscure Austrian vagabond, and our world would be an entirely different place.

One of the most bizarre things about World War I was how predictable it was. Tensions had been building in Europe for years, and the threat of war was deemed so likely that most major governments invested heavily in detailed war plans. The most famous was Germany’s “Schlieffen Plan”, a military offensive strategy named after its architect, Count Alfred von Schlieffen. To describe the Schlieffen Plan as “comprehensive” is a massive understatement.

As AJP describes in his book War by Timetable, the Schlieffen Plan called for rapidly moving hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the front lines, plus food, equipment, horses, munitions, and other critical supplies, all in a matter of DAYS. Tens of thousands of trains were criss-crossing Europe during the mobilization, and as you can imagine, all the trains had to run precisely on time. A train that was even a minute early or a minute late would cause a chain reaction to the rest of the plan, affecting the time tables of other trains and other troop movements. In short, there was no room for error.

In many respects the Schlieffen Plan is still with us to this day – not with regards to war, but for monetary policy. Like the German General Staff more than a century ago, modern central bankers concoct the most complicated, elaborate plans to engineer economic victory. Their success depends on being able to precisely control the [sometimes irrational] behavior of hundreds of millions of consumers, millions of businesses, dozens of foreign nations, and trillions of dollars of capital. And just like the obtusely complex war plans from 1914, central bank policy requires that all the trains run on time. There is no room for error.

This is nuts. Economies are comprised of billions of moving pieces that are beyond anyone’s control and often have competing interests. A government that’s $27.5 trillion in debt requires cheap money (i.e. low interest rates) to stay afloat. Yet low interest rates are severely punishing for savers, retirees, and pension funds (including Social Security) because they’re unable to generate a sufficient rate of return to meet their needs.

Low interest rates are great for capital intensive businesses that need to borrow money. But they also create dangerous asset bubbles and can eventually cause a painful rise in inflation. Raise interest rates too high, however, and it could bankrupt debtors and throw the economy into a tailspin. Like I said, there’s no room for error – they have to find the perfect balance between growth and inflation.

Several years ago hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio summed it up perfectly when he said, “It becomes more and more difficult to balance those things as time goes on. It may not be a problem in the next year or two, but the risk of not getting it right increases with time.” The risk of them getting it wrong is clearly growing. I truly hope they don’t get it wrong. But if they ever do, people may finally look back and wonder how we could have been so foolish to hand total control of our economy over to an unelected committee of bureaucrats with a mediocre track record… and then expect them to get it right forever. It’s pretty insane when you think about it.

As Einstein quipped at the height of World War I in 1917, “What a pity we don’t live on Mars so that we could observe the futile activities of human beings only through a telescope…”

"Female Problems"

"Female Problems"
by Jim Kunstler

"History-the-trickster has paradoxically anointed the Great Disrupter, Mr. Trump, as the agent of order while the Democrats seek to bring chaos into every quarter of American life, a party of shrieking “Karens” and men acting like women. Such as: Tom Friedman of The New York Times mewling like a little girl to Anderson Cooper on CNN Thursday night that he was “living in terror,” that “everybody should be terrified,” because Mr. Trump “refuses to commit to accepting the election results.”

Is that so? I think it was Hillary Clinton who declared just a few weeks ago that “Joe Biden should not concede the election under any circumstances” - for instance, the circumstance that he loses the election. Of course, Mr. Trump, troll supremo, is simply punking his adversaries by proposing to play fair, that is, to play by the same rules they play by. And this only causes the Democrats to retreat into the chaos that is their comfort zone, where they hop up and down like fourteen-year-old girls in a tantrum.

They are provoked, you understand, because Mr. Trump actually represents the thing they hate most: Daddy! Daddy’s in da house, the White House, as a matter of fact, and this baleful symbolic circumstance has driven the Democrats out of their gourds for four years, turning them into a party of hysterical women and men acting like hysterical women. Would you want to get on an airplane in bad weather piloted by a crew of hysterical women? That’s kind of the Big Question going into this national election 2020.

Tantrums, tantrums everywhere! The hysterical women (including men) of the Democratic Party have enlisted Black Lives Matter as their official agents of chaos. It must be so, because every time chaos erupts in an American city, and buildings catch on fire, and businesses are looted and burnt down, and police are bushwhacked, the local Democrats in charge where these things happen do not offer a peep of objection. And neither Kamala Harris nor her sidekick Joe Biden send any message aimed at quelling the violent hysteria. One must conclude that they’re on-board with rioting, arson, looting, and bushwacking. Like I said: chaos = their comfort zone.

The Democrats like chaos because it works as an effective smokescreen to conceal the dirty secrets of their private behavior, namely 1) the fantastic international web of grift among the Biden family that was just this week detailed in a report issued jointly by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee (none of which was reported by The New York Times, CNN, or MSNBC); 2) the widening gyre of John Durham’s investigation into the origins of RussiaGate and now, surprise surprise, also into the suspicious doings of the Clinton Foundation; and 3) the financing and orchestration of BLM /Antifa riot mobs by Democratic Party-affiliated non-profit orgs.

So then, there is the key matter at hand: The Democratic Party’s open promise to bring their trademark chaos to the November 3 election, based on the tactical plan drawn up in “war gaming” by the shady Transition Integrity Project this past summer. The idea is to swamp the country with harvested mail-in ballots in order to confound a resolution of the vote and sow chaos in the electoral college - to which they will bring an army of Lawfare attorneys who will engineer the desired outcome in the swing statehouses with Democratic governors, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If Mr. Trump objects to these shenanigans, he’ll be labeled a “tyrant.”

It’s just the kind of election strategy that a gang of middle-school girls would dream up. Because they are hysterical fourteen-year-olds with undeveloped brains, it would never occur to them that Daddy might have a notion what they are up to, and a counter-plan to frustrate their scheme. They are in such a fugue of rage that they can’t think one play ahead on the gameboard. Well, as the wily Bonaparte once remarked, “never interrupt the enemy while he is making a mistake.”

The death of Justice RBG has amplified the hysteria. The Democrats are not just having a tantrum, now they’re chewing up the furniture, ululating, beating their flanks, discharging gobs of snot, peeing their panties, and foaming at the mouth. If he was anyone else but Daddy, Mr. Trump might have to take them out and have them shot.

Instead, the President is going to nominate a sane and reasonable Mommy to the Supreme Court, and Uncle Cocaine Mitch is going to see that she is confirmed, and there is an excellent chance that together they will bring order back to this deranged household - and then perhaps we can turn our attention to the real existential problems of financial crisis and economic collapse."
Oh Lord, this will not end well... lol