Saturday, October 10, 2020

Greg Hunter, "Boatloads of Money Coming No Matter Who Wins"

"Boatloads of Money Coming No Matter Who Wins"
By Greg Hunter’s 

"Money manager Axel Merk manages about $1 billion in assets. Surprisingly, the signals he is getting from the markets are relatively calm despite the political storm sweeping the country. Merk explains, “The markets are not pricing in a panic. There is also a betting market about when the results are going to be known, and that has priced in less tensions. The results are going to be known sooner rather than later. The markets are pricing in a clear winner.”

Maybe the markets are seeing what Merk is seeing no matter who wins in November. Merk says, “We love one guy and hate the other guy. I care more about fiscal spending. As I said earlier, yeah, we are going to spend a boatload of money. They are going to spend it a little differently and on different priorities, but they are going to spend a boatload of money. They are politicians, and they can’t help it. One big difference with Trump is we are going to get a reduction in regulation and regulatory burden, and with Biden we will get an increase.”

Either way, expect deficits and money printing as far as the eye can see or until the US dollar breaks. Merk says, “What’s going to break the dollar? Something is going to break it, we don’t know. Maybe it’s going to be coming from some place we don’t know about. The states are good candidates, and who knows which state it’s going to be. If the Democrats have a sweep, maybe they bail out the states. We have quite a polarized electorate these days, and if we are going to bail out the Democrats, I don’t think the other states are going to like it. Marriages often break up over money, and if we cannot do our budgeting, there is going to be fighting. Of course, the Fed is probably going to help everybody out, and we are going to patch this thing up longer than we can imagine.”

Merk likes gold because of all the money printing and the eventual inflation that is surely coming from printing all those digital dollars. He also likes a diversified portfolio, but one of his very favorite investments is gold. Merk tells me he holds more than some people would and is holding it as a core investment. His simple advice for the little guy is, “Spend less money than you make so you can save more.”

Join Greg Hunter of as he goes One-on-One
 with money manager Axel Merk, founder of Merk Investments.

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Spirit Moves"

2002, "Spirit Moves"
Full screen mode recommended.

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Galaxies of the Virgo Cluster are scattered across this deep telescopic field of view. The cosmic scene spans about three Full Moons, captured in dark skies near Jalisco, Mexico, planet Earth. About 50 million light-years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the closest large galaxy cluster to our own local galaxy group. Prominent here are Virgo's bright elliptical galaxies from the Messier catalog, M87 at the top left, and M84 and M86 seen (bottom to top) below and right of center. 
Click image for larger size.
M84 and M86 are recognized as part of Markarian's Chain, a visually striking line-up of galaxies vertically on the right side of this frame. Near the middle of the chain lies an intriguing interacting pair of galaxies, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435, known to some as Markarian's Eyes. Of course giant elliptical galaxy M87 dominates the Virgo cluster. It's the home of a super massive black hole, the first black hole ever imaged by planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope."

The Poet: Wendell Berry, "The Circles Of Our Lives"

"The Circles Of Our Lives"

"Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon,
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.

Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return,
Within the circles of our lives..."

- Wendell Berry

"Life is A Journey - Don't Be Afraid"

"Life is A Journey - Don't Be Afraid"
- Author Unknown

"Life is a journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination, our purpose in life. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, weaknesses, and faith. Along the way, we may stumble upon obstacles that will come between the paths that we are destined to take. In order to follow the right path, we must overcome these obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are really blessings in disguise, only we don't realize that at the time.

Along our journey we will be confronted with many situations, some will be filled with joy, and some will be filled with heartache. How we react to what we are faced will determine what kind of outcome the rest of our journey through life will be like. When things don't always go our way, we have two choices in dealing with the situations. We can focus on the fact that things didn't go how we had hoped they would and let life pass us by, or two, we can make the best out of the situation and know that these are only temporary setbacks and find the lessons that are to be learned.

Time stops for no one, and if we allow ourselves to focus on the negative we might miss out on some really amazing things that life has to offer. We can't go back to the past, we can only take the lessons that we have learned and the experiences that we have gained from it and move on. It is because of the heartaches, as well as the hardships, that in the end help to make us a stronger person.

The people that we meet on our journey, are people that we are destined to meet. Everybody comes into our lives for some reason or another and we don't always know their purpose until it is too late. They all play some kind of role. Some may stay for a lifetime; others may only stay for a short while. It is often the people who stay for only a short time that end up making a lasting impression not only in our lives, but in our hearts as well. Although we may not realize it at the time, they will make a difference and change our lives in a way we never could imagine. To think that one person can have such a profound effect on your life forever is truly a blessing. It is because of these encounters that we learn some of life's best lessons and sometimes we even learn a little bit about ourselves.

People will come and go into our lives quickly, but sometimes we are lucky to meet that one special person that will stay in our hearts forever no matter what. Even though we may not always end up being with that person and they may not always stay in our life for as long as we like, the lessons that we have learned from them and the experiences that we have gained from meeting that person, will stay with us forever.

It's these things that will give us strength to continue with our journey. We know that we can always look back on those times of our past and know that because of that one individual, we are who we are and we can remember the wonderful moments that we have shared with that person. Memories are priceless treasures that we can cherish forever in our hearts. They also enable us to go on with our journey for whatever life has in store for us. Sometimes all it takes is one special person to help us look inside ourselves and find a whole different person that we never knew existed. Our eyes are suddenly opened to a world we never knew existed- a world where time is so precious and moments never seem to last long enough.

Throughout this adventure, people will give you advice and insights on how to live your life but when it all comes down to it, you must always do what you feel is right. Always follow your heart, and most importantly never have any regrets. Don't hold anything back. Say what you want to say, and do what you want to do, because sometimes we don't get a second chance to say or do what we should have the first time around.

It is often said that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. It all depends on how one defines the word "strong". It can have different meanings to different people. In this sense, "stronger" means looking back at the person you were and comparing it to the person you have become today. It also means looking deep into your soul and realizing that the person you are today couldn't exist if it weren't for the things that have happened in the past or for the people that you have met. Everything that happens in our life happens for a reason and sometimes that means we must face heartaches in order to experience joy."
- Author Unknown, found here:

"Someone Once Told Me..."

"Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, that reminds us to cherish every moment because they'll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we live it. After all, Number One, we're only mortal."
- Captain Jean-Luc Picard

"15 Things You Should Do Before The Imminent Economic Collapse 2020 Worldwide Starvation"

(Full screen mode recommended.)
"15 Things You Should Do Before The Imminent 
Economic Collapse 2020 Worldwide Starvation"
by Epic Economist

"In this video, we decided to bring you a list with 15 last-minute preps that will help you survive a catastrophic collapse. Considering everything we have warned throughout the history of our channel, and how many of these things in fact happened, we decided to gather tips to help you in case you ever find yourself having to quickly prepare to face the effects of a societal meltdown. 

You don’t have to do everything by the book, you just have to do something. We know that living conditions aren't favorable for lots of people right now, and not everyone has the means, time, and energy to dive head-on into the universe of preparedness. But you don't need a huge stockpile or to learn everything there is to know about wilderness survival to actually stay safe, keep your family members secured, minimize the effects of uncertainty and ensure a certain level of comfort not to let yourself be defeated by a situation that is beyond your control.

After taking a look at all the developments we witnessed this year, we do have reason to believe that things are going to get a whole lot worse. Just follow the track of events with us: we're seeing over 60 million Americans out of their job posts, thousands of companies filing for bankruptcy, a completely wrecked political scenario, an exhausted economic system, a massive debt bubble that continues to grow every day it goes by, and in the meantime, our relationship with our natural surroundings only gets more destructive and, as a result, more natural disasters spread worldwide. 

In the past, we warned you about the possibility of a global health crisis, and unfortunately, that's exactly where we are at right now. We have alerted that unpredictable natural disasters could drive tens of thousands of people into despair, leaving grocery shelves empty, and we just experienced that. 

We have argued how the current economic collapse would be much bigger and much more dangerous than the Great Depression, and that turned out to be proven true. We have told you that a biblical wave of bankruptcies was being formed at the horizon and today we're are seeing it crash and drag 50% of all small businesses with it, while large corporations are being supported by intensive care, and tens of millions of jobs are permanently lost.

We have discussed about the ruthless character of our leaders and how a food shortage made by design could compromise our ability to afford food and limit our access to the essentials we needed. And in recent days, we could see the disturbing effects of supply chain disruptions and we're now on the verge of the most shocking and calamitous hunger crisis ever witnessed in the developed world.

All we ever aimed to do was deliver you the difficult news that the mainstream media outlets purposedly fails to assess. They try to conceal the inconvenient truths to keep the population unaware of the risks they'll face in the future, fearing that a well-informed, anger and dissatisfied public would react, accelerating the pace of the deterioration of the system. But the more they try to keep us in the dark, the more we seek a way out of darkness. 

That’s why, we always tried to maintain a truthful dialogue with our viewers, highlighting the importance of being conscious and prepared for the challenges ahead. We don't want to spread panic nor despair. We want you to know what is happening when the time comes will know what to do. We want to disseminate real information, but the reality is: things are not looking good.

So we thought it would be helpful to know what could make a difference to guarantee your protection, because after all there is more life to live beyond what we conceive as civilization. For that reason, we gathered a list of last-minute preps for you to do or get before it’s too late."

The Daily "Near You?"

Owyhee, Nevada, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"95 Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness "

"95 Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness"
by Marc Chernoff

"At the cusp of a new day, week, month or year, most of us take a little time to reflect on our lives by looking back over the past and ahead into the future. We ponder the successes, failures and standout events that are slowly scripting our life/s story. This process of self-reflection helps us maintain a conscious awareness of where we've been and where we intend to go. It is pertinent to the organization and preservation of our long-term goals and happiness. The questions below will help you with this process. Because when it comes to finding meaning in life, asking the right questions is the answer.

1. In one sentence, who are you?
2. Why do you matter?
3. What is your life motto?
4. What's something you have that everyone wants?
5. What is missing in your life?
6. What's been on your mind most lately?
7. Happiness is a ________?
8. What stands between you and happiness?
9. What do you need most right now?
10. What does the child inside you long for?
11. What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of?
12. What's been bothering you lately?
13. What are you scared of?
14. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?
15. What will you never give up on?
16. What do you want to remember forever?
17. What makes you feel secure?
18. Which activities make you lose track of time?
19. What's the most difficult decision you've ever made?
20. What's the best decision you've ever made?
21. What are you most grateful for?
22. What is worth the pain?
23. In order of importance, how would you rank: happiness, money, love, health, fame?
24. What is something you/ve always wanted, but don't yet have?
25. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year?
26. What's the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months?
27. What's the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?
28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now?
29. What will you never do?
30. What's something you said you'd never do, but have since done?
31. What's something new you recently learned about yourself?
32. What do you sometimes pretend to understand that you really do not?
33. In one sentence, what do you wish for your future self?
34. What worries you most about the future?
35. When you look into the past, what do you miss most?
36. What's something from the past that you don't miss at all?
37. What recently reminded you of how fast time flies?
38. What is the biggest challenge you face right now?
39. In one word, how would you describe your personality?
40. What never fails to frustrate you?
41. What are you known for by your friends and family?
42. What's something most people don't know about you?
43. What's a common misconception people have about you?
44. What's something a lot of people do that you disagree with?
45. What's a belief you hold with which many people disagree?
46. What's something that's harder for you than it is for most people?
47. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?
48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?
49. When you think of home,what, specifically, do you think of?
50. What's the most valuable thing you own?
51. If you had to move 3000 miles away, what would you miss most?
52. What would make you smile right now?
53. What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy?
54. What do you wish did not exist in your life?
55. What should you avoid to improve your life?
56. What is something you would hate to go without for a day?
57. What's the biggest lie you once believed was true?
58. What's something bad that happened to you that made you stronger?
59. What's something nobody could ever steal from you?
60. What's something you disliked when you were younger that you truly enjoy today?
61. What are you glad you quit?
62. What do you need to spend more time doing?
63. What are you naturally good at?
64. What have you been counting or keeping track of recently?
65. What has the little voice inside your head been saying lately?
66. What's something you should always be careful with?
67. What should always be taken seriously?
68. What should never be taken seriously?
69. What are three things you can't get enough of?
70. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
71. What fascinates you?
72. What's the difference between being alive and truly living?
73. What's something you would do every day if you could?
74. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
75. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
76. What makes you feel incomplete?
77. When did you experience a major turning point in your life?
78. What or who do you wish you lived closer to?
79. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
80. What's something you know you can count on?
81. What makes you feel comfortable?
82. What's something about you that has never changed?
83. What will be different about your life in exactly one year?
84. What mistakes do you make over and over again?
85. What do you have a hard time saying no to?
86. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
87. What's something that used to scare you, but no longer does?
88. What promise to yourself do you still need to fulfill?
89. What do you appreciate most about your current situation?
90. What's something simple that makes you smile?
91. So far, what has been the primary focus of your life?
92. How do you know when it's time to move on?
93. What's something you wish you could do one more time?
94. When you're 90-years-old, what will matter to you the most?
95. What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?"

"Sometime In Your Life..."

"Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have baked it or bought or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a lot, or die a little, even."
- Daniel Berrigan

"Has Our Luck Finally Run Out?"

"Has Our Luck Finally Run Out?"
by Charles Hugh-Smith

"Long-term cycles escape our notice because they play out over many years or even decades; few noticed the decreasing rainfall in the Mediterranean region in 150 A.D. but this gradual decline in rainfall slowly but surely reduced the grain harvests of the Roman Empire, which coupled with rising populations resulted in a reduced caloric intake for many people. This weakened their immune systems in subtle ways, leaving them more vulnerable to the Antonine Plague of 165 AD.

The decline of temperatures in Northern Europe in the early 1300s led to “years without summer” and failed grain harvests which reduced the caloric intake of most people, leaving them weakened and more vulnerable to the Black Plague which swept Europe in 1347.

I’ve mentioned the book "The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire" a number of times as a source for understanding the impact of natural cycles on human civilization. It’s important to note that the natural cycles and pandemics of 200 AD didn’t just cripple the Roman Empire; this same era saw the collapse of the mighty Parthian Empire of Persia, the kingdoms of India and the Han Dynasty in China.

In addition to natural cycles, there are human socio-economic cycles of debt and decay of civic values and the social contract: a proliferation of parasitic elites, a weakening of state finances and a decline in the purchasing power of wages/labor. The rising dependence on debt and its eventual collapse is a cycle noted by Kondratieff and others, and Peter Turchin listed these three dynamics as the key drivers of decisive discord of the kind that brings down empires and nations. All three are playing out globally in the present.

In this context, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 was a political expression of long-brewing discontent with precisely these issues: the rise of self-serving parasitic elites, the decay/corruption of the social contract and state finances and the decades-long decline in the purchasing power of wages/labor.

Which brings us to karma, a topic of some confusion in Western cultures more familiar with Divine Retribution than with actions having consequences even without Divine Intervention, which is the essence of karma. Broadly speaking, the U.S. squandered the opportunities presented by the end of the Cold War 30 years ago on hubristic Exceptionalism, wars of choice, parasitic elites and an unprecedented waste of resources on unproductive consumption.

Now the plan–for lack of any real plan–is to borrow trillions of dollars to fund an even more spectacular orgy of unproductive consumption, on the bizarre belief that “money” can be conjured out of thin air in essentially infinite quantities and squandered, and there will magically be no consequences of this trickery in the real world.

Actions have consequences, and after 30 years of waste, fraud and corruption being normalized by the parasitic elites while the purchasing power of labor decayed, the karmic consequences can no longer be delayed by doing more of what’s hollowed out the economy and society.

Which brings us to luck. As a general rule, historians seek explanations which leave luck out of the equation. This gives us a false confidence in the predictability and power of human will and action and cycles. Yes, cycles and human action influence outcomes, but we do a great disservice by shunting luck into the shadows as a non-factor.

If Emperor Pius had chosen someone other than Marcus Aurelius as his successor, someone weak, vain and self-absorbed like so many of Rome’s late-stage emperors, then Rome would have fallen by 170 AD as the Antonine Plague crippled finances and the army, and the invading hordes would have swept the empire into the dustbin of history. It can be argued that only Marcus Aurelius had the experience and character to sell off the Imperial treasure to raise the money needed to pay the soldiers and spend virtually his entire term in power in the front lines of battle, preserving Rome from complete collapse. That was good judgement by Pius but also good luck.

As we ponder luck, consider the estimate that had the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago struck the Earth 30 minutes earlier or later, it would not have generated the Nuclear Winter that destroyed the dinosaurs. (A direct hit in deep water would have spawned a monstrous tsunami, but no dust cloud. A direct hit on land would have raised a dust cloud but without the water vapor/steam generated by the vaporization of millions of gallons of sea water, the cloud wouldn’t have risen high enough to encircle the planet.) That was bad luck for the dinosaurs, and good luck for the mammals who replaced them.

The global economy has been extraordinarily lucky for 75 years. Food and energy have been cheap and abundant. (If you think food and energy are expensive now, think about prices doubling or tripling, and then doubling again.)

In our complacency and hubris, we attribute this to our wonderful technologies, which we assume guarantee us permanent surpluses of energy and food. The idea that technology has reached hard limits or that it could fail doesn’t occur to us. We’ve taken good luck to be our birthright because it’s all we’ve known. We attribute this good fortune to things within our control–technology, wise investments and policies, etc. The possibility that all these powers that we consider so godlike are insignificant doesn’t occur to us because we’ve enjoyed the favorable winds of luck without even being aware of it.

We are woefully unprepared for a long run of bad luck. My sense is the cycles have turned and the good luck has drained from the hour-glass. Energy and food will no longer be cheap and abundant, our luck in leadership will vanish, and our vaunted technologies will fail to maintain an abundance so vast that we can squander the finite wealth of soil, water, resources and energy on mindless consumption.

I’m reminded of a line from an Albert King song, "Born Under a Bad Sign" (composed by Booker T. Jones and William Bell): “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” The next five years might have us singing this line with feeling."

"How It Really Is"


"The New Abbreviation For Omertà Is FBI"

"The New Abbreviation For Omertà Is FBI"
by Michael Shannon

"Omerta is the Italian word for the Mafia’s code of silence. When a button soldier was arrested he was expected, upon pain of death, to maintain complete silence regarding the crimes of his fellow Mafioso. The code broke down after the FBI got serious and started making arrests. When confronted with the choice of a long prison stretch or testifying against the family, the Mafia’s ‘made men’ sang like canaries. Surprisingly, Omerta was contagious. Close contact with Mafia members during investigations has caused Omerta to jump the lawbreaker–law enforcement barrier and spread to the FBI.

My prediction is Omerta will last much longer among the corrupt FBI’s headquarters staff. That’s because the chances of special agents who break the law being prosecuted by fellow members of the Injustice Department are slim and none.

The Federalist has examined the latest text messages coup plotters wanted to keep hidden. Three years of the Russia Collusion Delusion has given Americans a good idea of who the major players in the conspiracy were. It takes quite a few minions to keep the wheels turning on a coup. Now we are getting more insight into machinations of less famous plotters.

Text messages show the whole Russia investigation was the FBI doing opposition research on Trump for Hillary Clinton, “[D]oing all this election research – I think some of these guys [FBI senior officials] want a [C]linton presidency.”

It quickly became obvious to the minions that the scope of the unprecedented tampering with Trump’s campaign was driven by conspiracy-obsessed anti-Trump fanatics, “I’m tellying [sic] man, if this thing ever gets FOIA’d, there are going to be some tough questions asked. [A]nd a great deal of those will be related to Brian having a scope way outside the boundaries of logic[.]”

The pursuit of Michael Flynn was a witch hunt from the beginning, with no basis in reality. It was simply a way to get back at Flynn, whom Obama hated, and disrupt the Trump administration. Instead of using a subpoena to investigate Flynn’s finances, which require a judge to approve, rogue FBI agents used a “national security letter” that bypassed judicial review and didn’t require probable cause.

The actions of the leaders of the FBI and the Obama administration – who should have been defending the Constitution - remind me of the KGB – under Lavrentiy Beria who famously told Stalin that guilt or innocence were unimportant, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” Michael Flynn was the man.

The minions understood the ruse. “What do we expect to get from an NSL[?]” an agent texted. “We put out traces, tripwires to community and nothing.” “[B]ingo,” was the response. “[S]o what’s an NSL going to do – no content. If we’re working to close down the cases, I’m not sure what NSL results would do to help.” “[E]xactly that makes no sense,” was the reply.

It got so bad, some agents even took Trump’s side and said the president was correct when he tweeted “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”

The texts again, “So [the Trump investigation] is going to stay open? ” “[Y]ep. [C]rimes report being drafted.” “[Obscenity],” the first agent replied. “[J]esus,” a third agent wrote. “[T]rump was right. [S]till not put together… .why do we do this to ourselves. [W]hat is wrong with these people[?]?"

What indeed? The minions saw the Constitution being undermined. They saw the FBI being perverted by power-mad bureaucrats. They witnessed the law and FBI regulations being broken. And what did they do? Become whistleblowers? Leak to the press? Resign in protest? Make an arrest on their own?

Certainly not. Like good Mafioso, they observed the code of Omerta. And they hedged their bets by buying personal liability insurance to protect themselves if a new attorney general started asking pertinent questions. Aside from that, they continued to be Good Germans and follow orders as willing participants in the greatest political scandal in U.S. history.

One of the anonymous agents typed, “Hahah this is a nightmare.” He was referring to the investigation, but the truth is the nightmare is ours. There was no one in the FBI or the Justice Department with the moral courage to put a stop to this coup. There was no one willing to defend the Constitution or the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump. They kept quiet and kept their jobs at the expense of their honor and our country.

Conservatives can stop dreaming about a groundswell of law enforcement officers and government officials bravely remembering their oaths. Federal law enforcement officers who will refuse to obey unconstitutional orders from a Biden/Harris administration. The left has both Omerta and the FBI. We are on our own."

"The Only Final Sin..."

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is 
getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."
- Hunter S. Thompson

“Don’t Forget How Strange This All Is”

“Don’t Forget How Strange This All Is”
by David Cain

“Jerry Seinfeld joked that if aliens came to earth and saw people walking dogs, they would assume the dogs are the leaders. The dog walks out front, and a gangly creature trailing behind him picks up his feces and carries it for him.

Throughout my life I’ve had moments where I felt like one of these visiting aliens, where something I knew to be normal suddenly seemed bizarre. I remember walking home from somewhere, struck by how strange streets are: flat strips of artificial rock embedded in the earth so that our traveling machines don’t get stuck in the mud.

Everything else seemed strange too. Metal poles bending over the road, tipped by glowing orbs. Rectangular dwellings made of lumber and artificial rocks. The background noise is always the hum of distant traveling machines, and all of this stuff was built and operated by a single species of ape.

Even stranger was the fact that these strange things usually don’t seem strange. I know I’m not the only one who has felt this. A few people have shared similar experiences with me, and according to “The School of Life”,  it was a central theme in Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel “Nausea.

Sartre apparently believed that the world is far stranger and more absurd than it normally seems. Most of the time, however, we ascribe a kind of logic and order to the world that it doesn’t really have, so that we’re not constantly bewildered by it. Sometimes we momentarily lose track of that logic, and the true strangeness of life is revealed. In these moments, we see the world as it is when it’s been “stripped of any of the prejudices and stabilizing assumptions lent to us by our day-to-day routines.” In other words, we occasionally see the world as if for the first time, which could only be a very strange experience indeed.

Although I know this experience isn’t unique to me, I had no idea whether most people could relate. So when I discovered the surprisingly popular podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” I felt that a small but significant part of my experience had been understood. Night Vale is a fictional desert town, and each episode of the podcast is about 20 minutes of broadcasts from its public radio station. The host reads public service announcements, advertisements, community news and weather, and messages from the City Council. That would be extremely boring, except that almost everything that happens in the Night Vale is incredibly strange, even impossible.

The first announcement in the first episode is a reminder from City Council that dogs are not allowed in the dog park, and neither are citizens, and if you see hooded figures in the park you are not to approach them. In an unrelated matter, there is a cat hovering four feet off the ground next to the sink in the men’s washroom at the radio station. It cannot move from its spot in mid-air, but it seems happy, and staff have left food and water for it.

Wednesday has been canceled, due to a scheduling error. There is a glowing cloud raining small animals on a farm at the edge of town. A large pyramid has appeared in a prominent public space, apparently when nobody was looking. 

I imagine that when most people hear about WTNV, they listen to five minutes of it and turn it off. It feels like a joke at first, or at best, bad art. I kept listening, thinking the weird happenings are some kind of allegory, or a code to be deciphered. But they’re not. The story stays absurd, kind of like an over-the-top Twin Peaks, where none of the weirdness ever gets explained.

Everything is weird until it’s familiar: I was listening to the podcast on headphones, walking down our local riverside path, and I passed an older couple sun-tanning. I’ve seen people tanning a thousand times, but only then did the activity strike me as completely hilarious. In our world, people sometimes take off all their clothes—or at least as much as society will allow—so that they can get radiation burns from a glowing ball in the sky. Even though everyone knows this practice increases your chances of developing a fatal disease, people still do it because they like the color of the burned flesh. Skin burned to a certain tone confers social benefits for a few weeks.

The fact that we live on a planet at all would be unbelievable if we weren’t already used to it. Nobody could have dreamed up this setting: life is set on one of many ball-shaped rocks moving in circles around a bigger, glowing ball. And we have great affection for these other balls. When officials demoted Pluto to a minor ball, people were outraged, even though none of them had ever actually seen it. When the spaceship sent to take pictures of Pluto finally arrived, we discovered it had a giant white heart on its side. It had been loving us back the whole time!

Listening to Night Vale reminds us that our world is no less strange, just more familiar. If in our world, as in Night Vale, taco shops sometimes became encased in amber, we would accept that as a fact of life after seeing it a few times. But that’s no weirder than the fact that in order to live, we must breathe a gas that combusts so easily and so violently that every city has to have specialized departments dedicated to shooting water onto anything at a moment’s notice. (Bill Bryson captures this strangeness beautifully in “A Short History of Nearly Everything.“)*

You can see the weirdness in almost any normal phenomenon by imagining how you’d describe it to someone not from Earth or any place like it. Water falls uncontrollably from the sky? Pop culture is obsessed with people who pretend to be other people in moving pictures? We eat fresh food grown on the opposite side of the planet? What?

So our world is really weird and chaotic, which is a helpful thing to realize, because we suffer so much insisting that it should be sensible and orderly. We have to live in a very strange place, and when we forget that it’s strange due to familiarity blindness, it can seem like something’s always gone temporarily wrong. We become preoccupied with returning society to a kind of balance or sanity that it never had, often berating or abusing certain people or certain groups in the process. It’s quite a relief to remember that life was always nuts.

Albert Camus (who is an obvious influence in Night Vale) argued that the universe is always absurd and chaotic, yet we’re always trying to find meaning and order in it. When you listen to Night Vale, making sense is the first thing your mind tries to do with what it hears, and it can’t. When you relax that need for the events to make sense, something softens. You stop straining. You listen more for the moment and less for how each moment serves everything else. You gain a sense of humor about the whole thing, however dark it gets.

Because it requires listeners to voluntarily open up to extreme strangeness, Night Vale has made me a less uptight about our own society’s political and cultural nonsense. I am seeing society less like a troubled person who was once sane, and more like a funny-looking animal, adorably knocking things over by accident. milky way

The three options: Camus thought our unreasonable demand for meaning and sense was fundamental to human beings, and that it creates a ton of pain for us. He saw only three ways to respond to life’s absurdity: we can deny it (usually by claiming that a God has designed it this way), we can commit suicide, or we can embrace the weirdness and live in it wholeheartedly. The last option, he figured, was the only good one. When you stop expecting the world to be sensible, suddenly it all makes sense.

Embracing the weirdness takes the edge off of everything, even death. Whenever you’re worried about “big picture” ideas, such as war, climate change, crime, corporate greed, you can remember that this whole weird thing called life just happened, and it’s always fresh and interesting, even though nobody really asked for it. And in that light, the thought of it ending one day doesn’t seem distressing at all - when your time comes, all you can do is say, “Wow, that was odd.”

"Fat Mary Comes to Call"

"Fat Mary Comes to Call"
By Bill Bonner

"There’s been so much to talk about this week… Donald Trump’s almost miraculous three-day recovery from the Black Death… His sudden discovery of fiscal virtue – putting an end to negotiations on a new bailout boondoggle… and then, his sudden lapse… announcing that he was “ready to sign” more giveaways… (or, at least, where it might improve his chances of being re-elected – forget the Blue Cities!) The upcoming Doomsday Debt Debacle… And Friday brings news that the White House is “open to bigger stimulus bill as Mnuchin, Pelosi talk” (Bloomberg).  As we discussed yesterday, an economy cannot be “stimulated.” It can only be distorted… and perverted. Both parties are in favor of more perversion; but, behind in the polls, the Trump team is probably more antsy for it.

Originario War: Anyhow, with so much going on, we didn’t have time to tell you what happened last weekend. For the benefit of new readers, we’ve been quarantined down here on our ranch in Argentina for seven months. It’s not a bad place to be locked up… We can ramble around in a space the size of Utah without ever crossing a public road. 

Trouble is, there’s a war going on here. It’s between the landowners and some “native American activists” – the Originarios – who’ve invented a lost tribe of Indians… and claim to be taking back their ancestral lands. On Saturday… their local Pocahontas came to visit.

Maria La Gorda was one of the brightest students at the local school. Of course, up here in the mountains, there weren’t a lot of Elon Musks or René Descartes in the class; the competition was weak. Still, the school mistress thought Maria could grow up to be a nurse… or a schoolteacher herself. But it didn’t work out that way.

Now, “Fat Mary,” as she is known locally, is about 40 years old, and lives up in a pretty valley with no road access. It is so remote that in the 15 years we’ve been here, we have visited only once, though it is part of our ranch. It is high up… and hidden behind bare mountains. But it is up there where our water comes from.
Looking down on Maria’s valley.

Maria has had six children. Some have grown up and moved away. Three are said to still be with her.  “Who is her husband?” we once asked naively. “Up here, they say ‘it is the wind,’” came the answer.

About 10 years ago, a surly breeze blew across the valley. It brought with it a public health nurse from Peru. He was hired to go around to the local people and do what he could to keep them healthy.  Alas, he dispensed more than antibiotics. He brought a message of insurrection. He is now the “chief” of the local tribe. Maria is one of his most enthusiastic admirers. 

The police had told us to expect a visit. But not from Maria. Instead, a small, wiry man named Juan, who was squatting on our land, was supposed to come and ask permission to remain. Maria and Juan came into the courtyard and took seats at the center table. “We’ve come to tell you that we represent the originario community,” Maria began. “And we’re here to tell you that this is our land. And we will do what we want on it. You think you can buy it. But it is not for sale. Someone stole it from my [great… great… great, etc.] grandfather. Now, we’re taking it back.” Maria wasn’t pussyfooting around. In a few words, she had set the terms of the debate. They were the owners, she asserted, not us.

Uphill Battle: “But Maria,” we argued. “You don’t get title to land just because you had an ancestor who lived on it. If that were the case, I could go back to Ireland and claim land there. Or the descendants of the Manhattan tribe could claim Times Square. There is a system of laws… and rights to private property. It’s been around for hundreds of years.”

Maria, unimpressed by our arguments, insists that because she is an originaria, she doesn’t have to pay attention to the laws of white men… particularly those who arrived in the country only 15 years ago and whose grasp of the local idiom is still only más o menos.

“You think you can come in with your pockets full of money and take over. But this farm belongs to the people who have always been here… who have worked it for hundreds of years.” Maria is loose on the details. There are no people here who’ve worked the land for hundreds of years. The whole area was depopulated after the Battle of Gualfin. The surviving indigenous people were shipped off where they wouldn’t cause any trouble.  Was that nice? Was that fair? Of course not. But it was the way property changed hands in the entire New World, North America as well as South America, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Trying to reverse 500 years of property titles is going to be an uphill battle.

More to It: Besides, the whole tribe is as counterfeit as its Peruvian chief.  “Maria’s family came from over near Chile,” explains the foreman. “Everybody knows it. None of the families are original to here. They came fairly recently. And the tribe they say they are part of was exterminated even before the Spanish arrived – by the Inca. They just invented this tribe thing because it lets them get away with not paying their rent.”

But there’s more to it than that. The rent is so low, it’s almost not worth collecting. And the property itself has very little value. It’s not just about money, in other words.  Maria and her “community” think they are undoing the wrongs of the past and making the world a better place… at least, for them. She and other renters are supposed to give us five goats for every 100 they have in their herds. We don’t want the goats. And they’re not saleable. But it is part of the ritual, the barleycorn that proves the relationship. We are the owners. They are renters.

Maria doesn’t buy it. “God put us here. We are meant to be owners… with all the water… the housing… and the food… we need.” “God was pretty cheap with the water,” we muttered.

Immediate Concern: How Maria knows what God has in mind was never clarified. But there was no point in arguing with her. Besides, the real object of the conversation was the weasely little man sitting next to her. Juan. They were like Jack Sprat and his wife. Maria must have eaten every piece of fat that came her way; Juan ate none.

But it was Juan who had the immediate concern. He is a squatter. Maria, tucked away in her mountain fastness, causes few problems. But Juan built a house smack dab in the middle of the farm… without permission. We came back one year… and there it was.  And whatever bogus claim Maria may have to originaria status, Juan has none. He has no land. He only came over from a neighboring farm a couple of years ago. And only to shack up with another woman, Maria’s neighbor.

Juan admitted to the police that he was not from our farm… and had no right to build the house. Last week, he told them that he would behave from now on, and sign a document declaring that he was living on our land. And that he would ask our permission to remain. That would have been fine with us. We didn’t expect him to pay rent. We wouldn’t demand to tear the house down. All we wanted was a piece of paper… proof that the land was ours, not his. But in coming to see us, he followed Maria’s lead.  “I’m not going to sign anything,” he said. “It won’t cost you anything… and I’m not going to throw you out…” “No, I won’t sign.” “Then I’ll have to throw you out.” “I’ll die first… You’ll have to carry me out.” “Oh no… Don’t die…” we roared with laughter. “We’re just talking about property rights. It’s not that serious.”

Why Bother? After a while, we gave up on the conversation. There was nothing to be gained. They have their position; we have ours.  Normally, you’d refer this to the police or the courts. But why bother? We’ve already denounced Juan four times. The police are sick of hearing about it. And they can’t do much, either. Anyone who claims to be an originario is a protected species. It’s almost impossible to evict him. 

Readers may wonder why we bother at all. There’s no money in it. And don’t we have problems enough already? But there are some problems you just can’t solve. We can’t get the originarios off our land. And we can’t make it rain. Maybe that is what keeps us here… the majestic futility of it. We live on the edge… on the rim of the abyss. We can’t defeat our enemies. But, at least, as long as we are engaged in combat, we are still alive.

Trip to Pucarilla: Our ranch is at the end of the road (Gualfin means “the place at the end”)… where civilization ends… and the wild mountains begin. There are no farms further west, just ragged peaks, puma, vicuna, volcanoes, the salt flats of “the dead man,” and a high desert.  In one part of the Atacama desert west of here, it has never rained… and the air is so thin, travelers crossing over to Chile are advised to take oxygen tanks with them.

But there are quiet, idyllic moments, too. Ceasefires… truces… in the ongoing battle.  On Sunday, we took our usual afternoon holiday… this time, driving over to Pucarilla, the tiny valley where our grapes are grown. It is a beautiful place. And the weather was beautiful, too – sunny and warm. It is springtime. The vines have begun to sprout leaves. 

But here, it is also the most dangerous time of the year. Each spring – October, November, and December – the ranch faces disaster. It has not rained here since January or February. Everything is parched. Many of the cattle have been taken down to another farm. The remaining ones are moved around… kept alive by eating every dried-up weed on the ranch. We had a picnic under an old grape arbor…
Our picnic spot

…and then crossed a field of dry grass down to the river.

No Water: There was no water. We could walk down the middle of the riverbed without getting our boots wet. This time of year, there is never much water… But it is unusual for the river to be completely dry.  A reservoir up the valley collects what little water there is. We need every drop of it to keep the grapes alive until January… hoping that the summer rains will come on schedule. 

Some years, they don’t come at all. And then, the grass dies, the grapes shrivel, and the cattle go hungry.  Three years ago, a drought forced us to shut down almost completely, taking all the cattle off the farm. There was nothing left for them to eat.

We drove up to look at the reservoir, hoping to see it brimming with cool water. But there was little water in it.  “This is going to be a bad year,” we said to ourselves.

Getting Serious: Back at the house on Sunday evening, Samuel, one of the farmhands, stopped by. “I guess La Gorda told you,” he said. “Told us? She told us that she was the owner of the ranch. What more was there to say?” Samuel smiled. La Gorda had threatened him a month ago. She said if he dared to go into her valley, she’d go to the police and accuse him of rape.

“She didn’t mention the water?” “No…” “Well, I went up the valley yesterday. They cut off the water to Pucarilla. They put up a little dam. They’re using our water. I guess they think they own that, too.”

Now, the situation is getting serious. We could laugh at Maria and Juan and their fantasies. But cutting off our water is real.  Without the water coming down from the upper valleys, even as little as it is, we will soon be finished. “Go back up there tomorrow. Take Pablo and Gustavo with you. If the river is blocked, unblock it. Okay?” “Yes, Boss.”

To be continued…"

"Do You Believe..."

"Do you believe," said Candide, "that men have always massacred each other as they do today, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?" 

"Do you believe," said Martin, "that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?" 
- Voltaire

Friday, October 9, 2020

Musical Interlude: Moby, "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" (Ben-E.dit)

"Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" (Ben-E.dit)

“Money Printing Goes Crazy; Economic Danger Everywhere; Credit Tightens; Purchasing Power Destroyed”

Jeremiah Babe,
“Money Printing Goes Crazy; Economic Danger Everywhere; 
Credit Tightens; Purchasing Power Destroyed”

Gregory Mannarino, "Wake Up America And The WORLD! You Are Being Played"


Gregory Mannarino,
"Wake Up America And The WORLD! You Are Being Played"

"Where Is The Compassion?"

"Where Is The Compassion?"
by Bill Rice, Jr.

"Where is compassion for the millions who’ve suffered harm from lockdowns? Like myself, I’m sure many Americans are starting to grow tired of being labeled “insensitive” or “uncaring” or lacking compassion because we are perceived as not caring about “at-risk” people who might contract the coronavirus. Let’s talk about “compassion for our fellow man.”

• Where’s the compassion for the single mom who is increasingly struggling to purchase diapers or baby formula for her children? Where’s the compassion for the victims of child abuse, which is no doubt spiking due to the collapse of the economy?

• Where’s the compassion for those who have already committed suicide, or attempted suicide or will do either in coming months and years?

• Where’s the compassion for the tens of thousands of business owners who have permanently closed their businesses, or for the tens of millions of unemployed former employees? Where’s the compassion for those who have been forced to declare bankruptcy, or are agonizing over doing this?

• Where’s the compassion for the millions of college students who are experiencing increased levels of anxiety and depression over draconian campus policies that keep them isolated and prevents them from receiving a real education?

• Where’s the compassion for the younger school children who are unnecessarily living in fear? Where’s the compassion for the same children who can’t even play or socialize with other children anymore?

• Where’s the compassion for the hundreds of millions of people in impoverished nations who will suffer famine, misery or death because food logistic systems are falling apart?

• Where’s the compassion for those who spent weeks or months in a hospital - for every health reason - and could not spend a minute with their loved ones, many dying alone by themselves?

• Where’s the compassion for family members who received no comfort from neighbors and friends after their loved one died because these people were not allowed to attend their funeral?

I’m not even mentioning the terrifying disappearance of fundamental rights and liberties that are being forfeited at a mind-boggling pace, or the growth of authoritarian governments. Or our “new normal,” which now censors and bullies those who happen to hold opposing views.

Do most Americans now believe that less freedom and more government control will benefit mankind? Has anyone else noticed the surge in violent crimesoccurring in practically every city in this country?

Am I the only person who has noticed the arguments and fights that have become commonplace over mask and COVID policies? Families and life-long friendships have been destroyed over debates over these issues. Is the extreme polarization of an entire country a positive development for families and society?

I wonder if people realize all of the above is actually happening… or do these people know these things are now commonplace, but simply don’t care? To these people, I’d ask what exactly is your definition of “compassion?”

One would be hard-pressed to find individuals who lack compassion for those who have died due to COVID. However, common sense tells us that “higher risk” citizens are smart enough to take their own precautions. The argument that we should essentially lockdown the world - and everyone should live in constant fear even if their own risks are minuscule - has transformed our country into a grim, unrecognizable place, a world where the worst is probably yet to occur.

COVID has and will continue to claim lives, but 99.9 percent of the country’s population will NOT die from this virus. By now practically every family in the country has already experienced negative consequences or obvious harm… not from the virus, but from the policy responses to the virus. If normal activities continue to be prohibited, the number of Americans who will suffer life-altering hardships will approach 100 percent of our population.

My question: Where’s the compassion for these hundreds of millions of people?"

Musical Interlude: Simon & Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Simon & Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“This pretty, open cluster of stars, M34, is about the size of the Full Moon on the sky. Easy to appreciate in small telescopes, it lies some 1,800 light-years away in the constellation Perseus. At that distance, M34 physically spans about 15 light-years. Formed at the same time from the same cloud of dust and gas, all the stars of M34 are about 200 million years young. 
But like any open star cluster orbiting in the plane of our galaxy, M34 will eventually disperse as it experiences gravitational tides and encounters with the Milky Way's interstellar clouds and other stars. Over four billion years ago, our own Sun was likely formed in a similar open star cluster.”

Chet Raymo, “On Saying ‘I Don't Know’"

“On Saying ‘I Don't Know’"
by Chet Raymo

"When Charles and Emma Darwin bought the house that would be their family home for forty years, at Downe, sixteen miles south of London, one of Charles' first improvements was to have the flints removed from the property's chalky meadow. The glassy stones were more than an agricultural nuisance; they were a puzzle to be solved. The countryside about Downe is pretty much pure chalk, and Darwin was confident he knew where the chalk came from: the calcerous deposits of the myriad planktonic organisms that lived in a sea that was once superincumbant upon the land. But what was the origin of the flints and how did they find their way into the chalk?

Tramp across any plowed field in England's chalky North or South Downs and these fist-sized nodules of pure, hard, yellow silica are common underfoot. In the white cliffs along the English Channel they can sometimes be seen interspersed in the chalk as dark bands. The flints are chemically very different from chalk, and their presence in the otherwise pure calcium carbonate has long been something of a geological mystery.

Darwin was baffled. The most plausible modern explanation is that the nodules had their origin in siliceous sponges that grew on the sea floor and other siliceous marine microfossils. When these organisms died, their substance dissolved in sea water and was dispersed within the carbonate ooze, then precipitated out around other organic remains in a process called petrification. This modern explanation sounds a little iffy to me. I'm no geologist, but if someone asked me where the flints came from, I'd say with Darwin: "I don't know." Those three little words - "I don't know" - may be modern science's most important contribution to the world. Yes, we have learned an astonishing amount about how the world works, but of equal significance is our growing awareness of how much we don't know. The physician/essayist Lewis Thomas wrote: "The greatest of all the accomplishments of twentieth-century science has been the discovery of human ignorance."

Charles Darwin was certainly not adverse to saying "I don't know," and did so frequently in his many letters to family and friends. He was especially ready to confess his ignorance with regard to the big questions, the questions traditionally addressed by religion. Like Einstein and other great scientific minds after him, he was deeply conscious of the profound mystery of existence, and reluctant to cover his ignorance with myth and fable.

In a letter to the American biologist Asa Gray, Darwin wrote: "I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can."

The physicist Heinz Pagels might have been describing Charles Darwin when he wrote: "The capacity to tolerate complexity and welcome contradiction, not the need for simplicity and certainty, is the attribute of an explorer. Centuries ago, when some people suspended their search for absolute truth and began instead to ask how things worked, modern science was born. Curiously, it was by abandoning the search for absolute truth that science began to make progress, opening the material universe to human exploration."

Consciousness of our ignorance is a very modern thing, and an open door to mystery. Darwin counted himself an agnostic, but in his reverence for the creative agency of nature I would count him a devoutly religious man. "There is a grandeur in this view of life," he famously wrote on the last page of "The Origin of Species"; the grandeur Darwin spoke of has more of the divine about it than did any Olympian diety.

Today, Darwin's home has been lovingly restored to what it was in his lifetime, and a visitor can almost feel the spirit of the great man moving through the rooms that once bustled with happy family life. A collection of flints is arrayed on a table in Darwin's cluttered study, as they might have been when Darwin sat beside them pondering their meaning. Those glassy stones were a adamantine reminder of how rich was the mystery of existence and how little of it he yet understood.”