Saturday, January 1, 2022

"Last Chance To Get Out Before The Crash"

Full screen recommended.
"Last Chance To Get Out Before The Crash"
by Epic Economist

"The U.S. economy is falling apart all around us. With inflation soaring to the highest level in 40 years, the central bank is trying to stay ahead of a potential hyperinflationary spike by rolling back its Quantitative Easing policies, initiating a taper, and introducing interest rake hikes. All of that indicates that a liquidity crunch is near. According to the financial and economic analyst, Charles Hugh Smith, this might be investors' last chance to get out of the bubble before its inevitable explosion. Investors have missed the timing to get out of the rally several times in the past because the vast majority of them don't see -- or don't want to see -- the rising dangers until after the crash happens and causes very painful losses. But in Smith's view, "every asset bubble has a last chance to get out before the crash point that becomes obvious in the aftermath".

Today, this last opportunity to exit before the stock market crashes is exceedingly difficult to identify for a series of reasons. First and foremost is the extreme confidence investors have at the peak of the bubble that more gains are right ahead. Everyone who sold when the bubble started to show signs of bursting is eager to get back in, so every dip in the market is reversed by 'buy the dip buyers' who have been collecting huge profits from buying previous dips. In theory, even after conditions start to reverse in the broader market, the bubble can still reach a new peak and even a double peak, head and shoulders if investors keep going all-in in the market. The rally that follows the beginning of a downward trend tends to exceed whatever levels were considered bearish triggers. So bullish investors have the deceiving notion that the market still has enough technical support to provide further gains.

But that's when they miss the last chance to exit the market. They keep buying shares to fuel a rally that has already begun to falter. The 'buy-the-dippers' ignore this decline and buy the second dip. "That too falters and once the third buy-the-dip has failed to rally back to previous highs, many buy-the-dippers have been wiped out and the momentum of buying slackens," Smith continues. It's only when investors collectively realize that the 'buy-the-dip' strategy has failed and will not work anymore that a major sell-off begins, turns into a self-reinforcing avalanche, and the stock market finally crashes. For those who want to believe that the rally will last forever, none of this is visible until it's too late to get out of the bubble with some profits in hand.

Right now, bulls are still thinking that fundamentals don't matter and the Fed will do everything in its power to prevent a collapse while bears are still mumbling about elevated risk. However, the tech bubble has already popped. We have already witnessed the first dip and soon traders will realize that there's no way to keep reaching new highs anymore. Everywhere we look, we can find a series of indicators showing that this window is closing fast. But the problem is that most people don't want to look at the red flags. All of this is scaring some veteran insiders, who worry that the stock market will go from a zero-interest rate to a zero-alternative environment. Amongst them is the chief strategist at RIA Advisors, Lance Roberts, who recently warned his clients that "without exception, rate-hiking campaigns led to a negative outcome". The last time we've seen such exuberant stock prices was during the peak of the dot-com bubble. And at this point, anything could derail the market, but Roberts exposes the top ten threats signaling the arrival of a downturn.

Today, the best-case scenario for the market seems to be one in which the number of virus cases significantly drops, inflation fades away by itself, rate hikes and tapering don't affect the economy or stocks, and consumers continue their strong spending. Needless to say, that's a lot of boxes that need to be checked. Only a miracle would bring back economic and financial conditions to somewhat normal levels to impede the looming stock market crash. This last chance to protect yourself from the disaster that is fast approaching. It's your choice to take it or risk losing everything."

"What's Causing The California Mass Exodus And Collapse; Credit Cards Shut Off; Mortgage Debt Explodes"

Jeremiah Babe, PM 1/1/22:
"What's Causing The California Mass Exodus And Collapse; 
Credit Cards Shut Off; Mortgage Debt Explodes"

"Will Real Estate Finally Crash in 2022? Let’s Tour the Current Market"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly, PM 1/1/22:
"Will Real Estate Finally Crash in 2022? 
Let’s Tour the Current Market"
"2021 was a record year for Real Estate sales. What will 2023 bring us? The most interesting part is that real estate has shot up around the world. It’s not just in the United States but the worldwide real estate market is that an absolute peak right now."

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, "Natural Light"

Full screen recommended.
Ludovico Einaudi, "Natural Light"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy NGC 5643? A swirling disk of stars and gas, NGC 5643's appearance is dominated by blue spiral arms and brown dust, as shown in the featured image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The core of this active galaxy glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found. 
An unusual central glow makes NGC 5643 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. NGC 5643, is a relatively close 55 million light years away, spans about 100 thousand light years across, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Wolf (Lupus)."

"What We Owe To Ourselves..."

"That we can never know," answered the wolf angrily. "That's for the future. But what we can know is the importance of what we owe to the present. Here and now, and nowhere else. For nothing else exists, except in our minds. What we owe to ourselves, and to those we're bound to. And we can at least hope to make a better future, for everything."
- David Clement Davies

"Huxley vs. Orwell"

"Huxley vs. Orwell"
by  Neil Postman

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one... 

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism... 

Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance...
Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy...
As Huxley remarked in 'Brave New World Revisited', the civil libertarians and the rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In '1984,' Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In 'Brave New World,' they are controlled by inflicting pleasure...

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."
Huxley was quite obviously correct...

"Centering Ourselves: Gathering Our Straying Thoughts"

"Centering Ourselves:
Gathering Our Straying Thoughts"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"All too often our lives can be spread too thin and it becomes important to gather our thoughts and center ourselves to become whole again. When our thoughts are scattered in several directions at once and we are no longer conscious of what we are doing or why, it is time to center ourselves. When we center ourselves, we begin by acknowledging that we have become spread too thin and we are no longer unified inside. Our thoughts might be out of sync with our feelings, and our actions may be out of sync with both. The main signs that we need to center ourselves are scattered thoughts and a feeling of disconnection or numbness, as if we are no longer able to take anything in. In addition, we may feel unfocused and not present in our bodies. Centering ourselves is a way of coming to terms with all the different energies within us and drawing them back into ourselves.

Centering yourself means that you are working from or being aware of the core of your being in the solar plexus area of your body. At first it may not make sense, but as you progress you will understand what this feels like. We naturally know how to center ourselves when we take a deep breath, for example, before making a big announcement or doing something big. Another way to center ourselves is to sit down and engage in breath meditation. We can start by simply getting into a comfortable upright position and noticing as our breath enters and leaves our bodies. Our breath flows into our center and out from our center, and this process can serve as a template for all of our interactions in the world. In conversations, we can take what our friends are saying into the center of our beings and respond from the center. Our whole lives mirror this ebb and flow of energy that begins and ends at the center of ourselves. If we follow this ebb and flow, we are in harmony with the universe, and when we find we are out of harmony, we can always come back into balance by sitting down and observing our breath.

When we sit down to center ourselves we can imagine that we are gathering our straying thoughts and energies back into ourselves, the way a mother duck gathers her babies around her. We can also visualize ourselves casting a net and pulling all the disparate parts of ourselves back to the center of our being, creating a sense of fluid integration. From this place of centeredness, we can begin again, directing ourselves outward in a more intentional way."
Michael Sealey, 
"Guided Meditation for Detachment From Over-Thinking 

"A Little Late..."


The Daily "Near You?"

Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"It Has Become Our Collective Fate..."

"We live in radical times surrounded by tasks that seem impossible. It has become our collective fate to be alive in a time of great tragedies, to live in a period of overwhelming disasters and to stand at the edge of sweeping changes. The river of life is flooding before us, and a tide of poisons affect the air we breathe and the waters we drink and even tarnish the dreams of those who are young and as yet innocent. The snake-bitten condition has already spread throughout the collective body.

However, it is in troubled times that it becomes most important to remember that the wonder of life places the medicine of the self near where the poison dwells. The gifts always lie near the wounds, the remedies are often made from poisonous substances, and love often appears where deep losses become acknowledged. Along the arc of healing the wounds and the poisons of life are created the exact opportunities for bringing out all the medicines and making things whole again."
- Michael Meade, "Fate And Destiny"

"We Have No Idea How Good We Can Get"

"We Have No Idea How Good We Can Get"
by Paul Rosenberg

"I can still remember the first time someone told me that they believed in the Calvinist doctrine of “the depravity of man.” It shocked me. To complain about human behavior I very well understood; there’s plenty of bad behavior in the world. But to flatly call the human species depraved... hopelessly unredeemable... that was, and remains, obscene to me.

The sad truth, however, is that the modern West swims in a sea of Calvinism. The corporate bullhorns feed everyone they can a steady diet of the bad, ugly, and if possible the bloody. Under their influence, we would believe that all is darkness, that truth is illusion, that the human path is ever-downward, and that all professions of goodness are scams.

In other words, the minds of millions of people (billions, probably), are continually pushed to imagine that human depravity is a fact. That strategy is terribly effective – there’s no better tool for manipulating humans than fear – but it is no less than obscene and evil. And it’s false. Humans are amazing creatures, and very often kind, gracious and loving creatures.

The Real Revolutionaries: I’ve used this passage from G.K. Chesterton’s "The Defendant" before, but it’s so important that I could use it once a month and feel fine about it: "Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelly, have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness."

The popular image of a revolutionary is of someone railing against the rulers of their place and leading a mob against them to bring in a new political regime. Notwithstanding the ridiculous notion of politics saving us from politics, this has always been a fantasy. It’s very dramatic of course, which is why it remains, but in real life it simply doesn’t happen [1].

The real revolution, certainly in our time, is not to bring anything down, but simply to realize that we’ve outgrown a dark and manipulative public order, and that it’s fit for no more than to be tossed aside, like the worn-out clothing of our youth.

Real revolutionaries don’t want to take over an outmoded and abusive status quo, but to transcend it... to leave it behind and build better things. Behind such a belief, as Chesterton noted, will stand a realization of the goodness of existence.

How Good Can We Get? Consider the millions of hours... billions of hours... wasted every year fighting the mostly-imaginary evils pumped through television, radio and social media. Then, please, consider that the problems so terrifyingly portrayed are seldom really solved. So, what if we spent that time (and energy and money) to improve ourselves instead?

How silly is it to spend our time and treasure fighting within a system that can never allow its problems to be solved – if the system solved them it would have no reason to exist – when we are quite able to improve ourselves instead?

Consider, please: We have no real idea of how good we can get, because we’ve never seriously focused on making ourselves better.

Or, said differently: Instead of endlessly imagining human evil, what if we started imagining human greatness? One is just as possible as the other. So why shouldn’t we take the bright path instead of the permanently dark path that’s proven not to work? And I will add that the progress we have seen in the world... science, medicine and the like... has mainly come from people who imagined better ways, better things,  and better lives.

This, then, is the radical and revolutionary belief that stands before us: That mankind is far better than we’ve imagined... that human life can be satisfying and rewarding... that we are capable of being far more than we’ve imagined. All we have to do is to lift up our eyes and start trying."

[1]  It’s probably worth adding that the American Revolution wasn’t a revolution per se. Rather, it was a new society, on a new continent, that grew in a condition of “salutary neglect,” after which the Crown attempted to drag it into submission. The Americans of 1776 fought to be left alone rather than to bring down the Crown.

"2022: The Year of Breakdown"

"2022: The Year of Breakdown"
by Charles Hugh-Smith

"If we look at the fragility and instability of essential systems, it’s clear that 2022 will be the year of breakdown. Let’s start by reviewing how systems break down, a process I’ve simplified into the graphic below.
1. Regardless of whether it was planned or not, all systems are optimized to process specific inputs to generate specific outputs. Each system is pared down to maximize efficiency as the means to maximize profits. This efficiency in service of maximizing profits requires trade-offs that only become visible when some key part of the system fails.

The system that ships containers around the world offers a useful example. Shipping containers revolutionized shipping and reduced costs by commoditizing containers (all standard sizes), container ships (specifically designed to carry thousands of containers and container ports with specifically designed cranes, docks and truck lanes/queueing.

It’s possible to load a container on some other craft with a jury-rigged crane, but the efficiency of that is essentially a fraction of the optimized system: the jury-rigged crane will only be able to load a handful of containers, the ship will only be able to carry a few containers, and the likelihood of the containers shifting increases.

The infrastructure and labor are both highly specialized. Calling out the National Guard to speed up container offloading is a useless gesture unless the Guard can deliver more cranes and experienced operators. The greater the optimization, the greater the fragility as the breaking of any one link brings the entire system to a halt. Throwing in equipment and labor that the system isn’t designed to use will fail.

Virtually every essential system has been stripped of redundancy, resilience, reserves and adaptability as the means to fully optimize inputs, processes and outputs. The system works well if every link in the dependency chain is working perfectly. Should one link go down, the entire system goes down.

2. Cost-cutting has stripped systems of back-up staffing and expertise. Full-time workers have been replaced by gig workers, contract workers, part-time staff on call, etc. Experienced staff cost too much so they’ve been let go as well, so there is no depth in numbers or knowledge.

3. Management is top-heavy with MBAs and bean-counters with little pragmatic experience or knowledge of the systems they’re managing. Management is optimized to advance those who can generate big profits, not those with experiential skills needed to meet crises in real-world dependency chains, production, breakdowns, etc. So when the system comes apart, managers simply don’t have the knowledge or skills to solve real-world problems.

The skills that are most desirable when everything is running smoothly are useless in crisis. Who do you want to go into combat with, the continuously promoted officer who won high marks for filing reports on time or the officer with actual combat experience who got passed over for promotion because he/she didn’t devote the proper attention to paperwork, meetings, virtue-signaling and derriere-kissing? Unfortunately the vast majority of our systems are managed by people who lack the long experience and hands-on skills needed to meet cascading crises.

4. Systems are now so complex and opaque that they are in effect optimized to fail in ways that are impervious to quick fixes. Bureaucratic mission drift, virtue-signaling, the erosion of accountability, multiplying platforms and software and the endless expansion of compliance and regulatory burdens have loaded every system with numerous points of failure and procedural friction that contributes little or nothing to the organization’s core mission. As resources are devoted to make-work procedural black holes, the mission decays and collapses at the first crisis.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: contacting essential services (tax payments, etc.) rarely generates a timely reply, much less a solution; a new bridge or subway line takes decades to build and is billions over budget; software projects intended to streamline complex regulatory processes (building permits, etc.) never work right and end up slowing the whole system down, fraud is rampant, software security is laughably poor…the list is almost endless.

5. Once the system has been stripped of resources, experienced staff, back-up equipment and supplies and loaded with unproductive friction, even a small crisis will bring down the entire system. In the graphic below, all of these resources are the buffer that enables systems to respond to the pressing demands of crises. Once these are gone, the only possible result is systemic collapse.

6. We’ve collectively lost the ability and willingness to deal with crises for which there is no happy-story ending. We only want to hear the optimistic story, the glimmers of hope, the miracle cures, the painless tech fix, etc., and if we get a dose of reality instead, we’re quick to dismiss the bearer of inconvenient news as an alarmist, a doom-and-gloomer, etc.

In other words, our economy and society have been optimized for failure. Drifting along in a daze of disconnected-from-reality complacency we are completely unprepared to deal with realities that don’t respond to magical thinking, optimism, hope and tech fantasies."

"How It Really Is"


Gregory Mannarino, "Must Watch! Calls For 2022"

Gregory Mannarino, "Must Watch! Calls For 2022"

"2022: More Stupidity, More Arrogance, More Evil, More Rebellion"

"2022: More Stupidity, More Arrogance, 
More Evil, More Rebellion"
by Robert Gore

"Chaos will reign as the future upends the past. Chaos doesn’t lend itself to prediction. Stupidity, arrogance, and evil ultimately destroy themselves, but their rampage was unabated in 2021. A group of stupid, arrogant, and evil people are using a virus and its variants to shepherd the world into a scheme of totalitarian global governance. This was conspiracy theory when the virus first surfaced; now it’s nakedly obvious reality. The one redeeming feature of the year was that more people saw the light.

The self-impressed and self-anointed rule not by claim of divine right, but by claim of superior intelligence and virtue. Real intelligence and virtue hope to find the same in other people; our commissars prey on human weakness. Fear and panic are their allies, truth and rationality their enemies.

As word leaks out of Covid outbreaks on 100 percent vaccinated college campuses, sports teams, naval vessels, and cruise ships, and as fully vaccinated athletes drop incapacitated or dead in front of stadiums full of people and millions of TV viewers, the truth that can’t be hidden is grasped by anyone with a shred of intellectual integrity. The vaccines have failed their ostensible purpose, to protect against the virus and its variants. They have, however, admirably fulfilled their real purpose: a totalitarian grab for power and control.

The coming year will see attempts to institute the rest of the agenda: mandatory vaccination, implanted vaccine passport microchips, fully digitized money, a social credit system, and segregation or elimination for those who refuse to play along. The coming year will also see the inexorable progress of the Doom Loop described in “The Means Are The End.”

The vaccines and their perpetual boosters are an intentional attack on the human immune system. They will continue to produce their adverse effects, including impaired natural immune system functionality, which increases susceptibility not just to Covid and variants, but to many other maladies as well. Early indications are that the omicron variant is more likely to strike the vaccinated than the unvaccinated.

Because it’s essentially the common cold, Omicron has been hailed as the usual downward viral mutation that either burns itself out or becomes an endemic but low-level threat. Covid, therefore, is over. The optimism is misplaced and betrays either ignorance or deliberate obfuscation of the true aims of the Covid commissars. Covid has never been about health and safety, it’s been about power and using vaccines to insidiously and inexorably degrade the true frontline health defense, the immune system. The commissars would insist on vaccinations and boosters even if Covid developed a beneficial variant (see “The Oopsilon Variant,” SLL, 9/1/21).

The gap between excess deaths and baselines will continue to widen in highly vaccinated areas. That makes blaming the steadily shrinking pool of unvaccinated scapegoats problematic, so the deaths will be blamed on breakthrough Covid even though its downward mutations make it less lethal.

Any actual science that might point the finger at vaccines, particularly autopsies, will continue to be discouraged or banned. The surprisingly few autopsies that have been conducted indicate that the spike proteins the vaccines prompt the body to produce end up in virtually every human tissue, organ, and system and cause persistent, long-term damage (see here and here). Real science will be ignored, as it has from the beginning, and the commissars will continue to chant: “Get vaccinated and booster, booster, booster forever.”

The Covid and vaccine charade is an excellent distraction from the mess they’ve made of the world, particularly the U.S. government and its satraps. In government nothing succeeds like failure and they continue to double-, triple-, and quadruple-down on failure.

No country has ever fiat-debted its way to prosperity, and many have done so to their ruin, but the last two years have seen an unprecedented explosion of such debt. While it initially produces an increase in demand from those who receive it, that sugar high soon runs into an iron law of reality: pieces of paper and computer entries don’t conjure real goods and services.

With more demand and the same or less supply, fiat-debt inflation conjures only rising prices as both producers and consumers catch on to the currency debasement. Count on prices ratcheting higher as those responsible for it continue to blame the phenomenon on everything but their currency debasement. It will continue as government debt “monetization”—exchanging government fiat debt for central bank fiat debt—remains essential to financing governments.

Creditors will express their dissatisfaction with microscopic yields in a world of non-transitory, persistently rising prices by selling the debt instruments that are handing them negative real yields (nominal yields minus the inflation rate). Interest rates being the inverse of bond prices, falling bond prices will cause interest rates to rise, which would put pressure on all debt-supported financial and real asset prices as well.

Rising interest rates will make it increasingly difficult for governments to fund themselves. Central banks will continue to fill the every-increasing gap in demand for government fiat debt, a financial Doom Loop of fiat-debt inflation met with more fiat-debt inflation that eventually becomes hyperinflation. It will be hard to blame this Doom Loop on the unvaccinated, although attempts will be made, but there is another set of all-purpose scapegoats available: Russia and China, the leaders of an Eurasian-centered multipolar axis.

They have seen this train wreck coming and have been “dedollarizing,” a polite term for getting out of crappy fiat debt before it gets even crappier. They’ve also been stockpiling “Real Money” (gold and silver). On current trend the Russians and Chinese will have most of the world’s real money when the American block’s currencies collapse. They will of course be blamed for that collapse, which bears a startling resemblance to blaming the unvaccinated for refusing dangerous vaccines that don’t protect the vaccinated. Like probity at a frat party, logic is always in short supply among collapsing governments.

If it weren’t, our collapsing government wouldn’t be trying so hard to antagonize the governments of Russia, China, Iran, and the rest of the Eurasian block. Vladimir Putin has issued an ultimatum. Perhaps he’s bluffing and the high-tech weapons he and his Chinese buddies have been bragging about are fictional. Perhaps they’re not, but don’t expect American policymakers to even acknowledge the possibility.

Good poker players always reckon the cost of being wrong before they call a bluff, but nobody in the Biden administration seems to have any recognition of the downsides. They include losing a world war against a powerful alliance. The American political establishment floats on an arrogant bubble of belief in a military that just lost Afghanistan, wastes much of its appropriations on boondoggles like the F-35, and whose leadership is more interested in woke doctrine and Covid orthodoxy than defending the country. Even victory would be Pyrrhic: a few more Americans than Russians and Chinese left standing after global nuclear annihilation.

The bright spot of 2021 can be summed up in three words: Let’s Go Brandon! Just as the Trump election had much wider significance—as much a vote against those who presume to rule as a vote for Trump—Let’s Go Brandon! encompasses the entire presumptuous class, not just the increasingly despised Biden. Their dirty secret is that they’ve been at war with the 99 percent since FDR. Their greatest fear is that the 99 percent catch on, which they increasingly are.

Once enlightened, they don’t go back to sleep. They don’t watch CNN or take out subscriptions to the Washington Post or New York Times. Instead, they turn to the alternative media, a hydra that continues to defy the many efforts to suppress or eradicate it. They make Robert F. Kennedy’s take down of Saint Fauci the number one Amazon bestseller and Let’s Go Brandon! a viral cry of rebellion. Never underestimate the power of great memes, which can be more powerful than blockbuster disclosures and incisive commentary.

The Internet is home to much of the world’s remaining vitality. Governments want to kill the vitality without killing the Internet, which is essential to commerce, finance, production, infrastructures, governance, and armed forces. It can’t be done. China offers a test case. By the government’s own falsified statistics its economic debt-fueled “miracle” is faltering as it stifles the Internet and enacts other totalitarian measures.

Vitality’s root word is vital, and the vitality and dynamism that flow from freedom are vital for economic, social, and political progress. If the presumptuous class thinks docile automatons and a state-approved, bulletin-board Internet will produce anything but regress they’re deluded.

And evil. Their ultimate aim is to kill millions or billions, and whatever remains of the human spirit. Ultimately they are cowards, as are their praetorian military and police who they think will protect them. Their loyalty only extends to their next payday and the opportunities their positions give them to extort and terrify the citizenry.

There is abundant docility, but the human spirit is unquenchable and animates the growing rebellion. The rebels already greatly outnumber the miserable mélange of rulers, hangers-on, and the praetorian guard. Most of the docile will meet the fate evil has in store for them. The graveyards will be filled with Darwin awardees who didn’t think or act for themselves. However, the hell this evil is bent on creating for us will assuredly be its own as well.

One bothersome detail dramatically ups their fear-and-loathing quotient: most of the U.S. enlightened own firearms. Imposing totalitarianism is going to be a whole different kettle of fish than in the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, although many of their unarmed citizens are commendably taking to the streets. Whatever bravado cowards demonstrate disappears when the other side starts firing back.

Beyond the continuing stupidity, arrogance, and evil of the presumptuous class and the intensifying resistance to it, predictions about 2022 are a fool’s errand. The centrifugal forces of decentralization and autonomy are overwhelming the dying forces of centralization, command, and control. The process is bloody and chaotic. Chaos doesn’t lend itself to prediction.

The obvious advice is to do the best you can to stay prepared financially, logistically, and emotionally. The only other nugget is to think and act for yourself. There’s no guarantee that will keep you out of the graveyard, but failure to do so guarantees a spot."
Hat tip to the Burning Platform.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Musical Interlude: Josh Groban, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)"

Full screen recommended.
Josh Groban, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)"

Happy New Year 2022!


Happy New Year, folks! See you on the other side!

"The U.S. Is a Powder Keg"

"The U.S. Is a Powder Keg"
by Brian Maher

"Inflation is soaring, economic growth is slowing, and the nation is bitterly divided politically between Red and Blue. It is further divided over vaccine mandates. Blue State America favors mandates, Red State America opposes them. There appears to be little middle ground of national consensus, for good or ill. And Americans are rapidly losing faith in the institutions that have held this diverse country together. Add it all up and the U.S. is a “powder keg,” argues Jeffrey Tucker today. Read on."
The U.S. Is A Powder Keg
By Jeffrey Tucker

"I don’t shop at high-end stores with philosophies. I go for el cheapo places that don’t have olive bars and don’t play Schubert on the intercom. I just want the stuff I need at the lowest possible prices. So, I was stunned at the 40% increase in my usual bill I recently received at the cheap place. I thought I was buying in a minimalist way.

Later I looked more carefully at what went wrong. I bought beef and bacon. Beef price increases are now at double-digit rates, and bacon is even higher. You are paying much more per pound than one year ago. Pork and chicken are less, but that could change. Turkeys were in short supply for Thanksgiving. It was the most expensive Thanksgiving meal in our lifetimes. Christmas dinner was no better for most Americans.

Stores don’t tag groceries based on the percentage increases in prices. Those you have to remember from last week and last month. Indeed, stores have every reason to disguise this. Manufacturers too, which is why packaging these days is holding ever less product. This is called “shrinkflation.” It is an epidemic right now, as manufacturers are struggling to survive huge increases in their own costs.

Biggest Inflation Spike in Over 30 Years: We’re currently seeing the biggest inflation spike in over 30 years. Even the Fed has dropped the term “transitory.” And inflation is probably even worse than the official figures show. Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index reveals that the year-over-year change in the index for construction materials has been up almost 20%. And have you looked at gasoline prices? Hopefully not.

Most important here are the monetary effects. All the money that the Fed sloshed up in the last 20 months reduces the value of money or what it can buy. This inflation will never hit all products and all sectors evenly. It moves from sector to sector. But these days the toxin is moving so fast and in so many directions it makes one’s head spin.

Not So Thrifty: We keep hoping each month to get good news. Perhaps the Fed will prove correct that inflation is only transitory. Sadly, that is not likely. They have been way off in their predictions. The Producer Price Index is the one to watch because these price increases get passed on to consumer prices as inventory is depleted.

Clothing is a case in point. We’ve already been facing high prices and shortages on the shelves. This is driving people to the thrift stores. The major headlines are starting to show this. Thrift store prices too are on the increase, as I predicted two months ago. The percent change in the producer prices that go into making polyester clothing is now up something like 25%.

Even if monetary policy is fixed, even if supply chains are repaired, even if the clogs at the dock are unclogged, it will be months before this figures into consumer prices. Sadly, there is almost no chance that any of these good changes happen, meaning that these higher and higher prices are here to stay.

A Broken State: As I’ve mentioned before, there is something about American political culture that is especially averse to inflation. People frankly hate it, especially since we’ve lived 40-plus years without consumer inflation being a particularly pressing problem. Now looking at price trends creates shock and even hatred. It is hitting the Biden administration particularly hard. Biden’s approval rating is absolutely tanking. His approval ratings are historically bad. We can speculate why. Inflation plays a role. But also the vaccine mandate seems to have hit the Biden approval rating very hard. His Tuesday speech did nothing to change perceptions.

In the coming month, millions of jobs could be affected by this. The protests are growing in every city, and the people protesting are union members, city employees and even tech workers. They are furious that the government would presume the right to tell people what medicines they must inject into their bodies, especially when triple-vaxxed people are coming down with the omicron variant.

Think of what they’re saying: The government wants to punish the unvaccinated, even though the triple-vaxxed are still catching the virus. They say the vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized or die, but data from around the world indicates that the omicron variant is pretty much benign, even for the unvaxxed. For most, it amounts to a mild cold.

But politicians are once again looking to lock down society, based on a minimal threat. You have to wonder why. The good news is that we still have a vestige of federalism in this country, unlike most European nations. The courts have ruled that many of these vaccine mandates are unconstitutional. The administration continues to fight back, of course. But individual state governments are a bulwark against federal overreach.

Yet the Biden administration has gone completely lawless, not just ignoring the U.S. Constitution but also advocating that businesses ignore the courts. That’s dangerously close to announcing that we now live with dictatorship. It’s no wonder that even Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is talking about secession from the union. If he is saying this, I truly cannot imagine the kind of anger there is among the citizens.

If you wanted to live in exciting times, you chose a great time to be alive. The conditions are ripe not only for continuing electoral bloodbaths but more street protests, explosive town halls, hate-filled school board meetings and much worse. A more divisive and destructive policy is hard to imagine.

Sadly, these policies are dividing friends and family. Some people with vaccinations don’t see the big deal here. Just get the jab, they say, and then you can be free. Others find this idea to be outrageous, an immoral acquiescence to power that can only lead to even worse outcomes.

Powder Keg: Yet many politicians and their bureaucratic lackeys continue to push the vaccines that most everyone knows by now have failed to live up to their promise. Indeed, if the vaccines were as good and safe as they say, the government wouldn't need to mandate them. The mandates, ironically, undermine public confidence. It’s hard to imagine that public confidence in everything could fall further, but it will. To top it off, making all the above much worse, they’re mandating vaccines for the kids. You want revolution in this country? This is a good way to foment one.

The U.S. has become a powder keg. Only time will tell if it blows."

"Beware of New IRS Income Reporting - Thieves Now Have to Report Income"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly, PM 12/31/21:
"Beware of New IRS Income Reporting - 
Thieves Now Have to Report Income"
"The IRS has just issued some unbelievable recording requirements for 2021 tax returns. Even criminals have to report their ill gotten gains. Whether you are with a smash and grab crew or do other nefarious things you are responsible to report your income."

Celente and Mannarino, "2022 Stock Market Forecast"

Celente and Mannarino, "2022 Stock Market Forecast"
"The Trends Journal is a weekly magazine analyzing global current events forming future trends. Our mission is to present Facts and Truth over fear and propaganda to help subscribers prepare for What’s Next in these increasingly turbulent times."

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Journey Within"

Full screen recommended.
2002, "Journey Within"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"In the heart of the Rosette Nebula lies a bright open cluster of stars that lights up the nebula. The stars of NGC 2244 formed from the surrounding gas only a few million years ago. The featured image using multiple exposures and very specific colors of Sulfur (shaded red), Hydrogen (green), and Oxygen (blue), captures the central region in tremendous detail. 
A hot wind of particles streams away from the cluster stars and contributes to an already complex menagerie of gas and dust filaments while slowly evacuating the cluster center. The Rosette Nebula's center measures about 50 light-years across, lies about 5,200 light-years away, and is visible with binoculars towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros)."

Chet Raymo, “The Sound And Fury”

“The Sound And Fury”
by Chet Raymo

“Not so long ago, I mentioned here Himmler and Heydrich, two of Hitler's most terrible henchmen. A friend said to me: "If there's no afterlife, no heaven or hell, then those two diabolical creatures got away with it. Their fate was no different than that of any one of their victims, an innocent child perhaps." And, yes, if there is no God who dispenses final justice, then we are left with an aching feeling of irresolution, of virtue unrewarded, of vice unpunished. Heydrich was gunned down by partisan assassins, and Himmler committed suicide a few hours before his inevitable capture, both fates arguably less tragic than that of their victims. How much more satisfying to think that the two mass murderers will spend an eternity in hell, while their victims find bliss.

This may not be a logically consistent argument for the existence of God, but it is certainly compelling. My friend says: "If there's no afterlife, then it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course, this emotive argument for the existence of God is balanced by another argument against his existence – the problem of evil: How can a just and loving God allow the existence of a Himmler or Heydrich in the first place. Here the argument is not just emotional, but consists of a thorny contradiction.

It comes down, essentially, to head vs. heart - what we would like to be true with all of our heart, vs. what our head tells us is an unresolvable conundrum. So each of us decides: To follow our hearts and make the blind leap of faith, or to follow our heads and learn to live with the sound and the fury. For those of us who choose the second alternative, the relevant words are that distressing coda, "signifying nothing." Our task is one of signification, of finding a satisfying meaning this side of the grave.

For many of us, that means finding our place in the great cosmic unfolding, and of recognizing that our lives are not inconsequential, that by being here we jigger the trajectory of the universe in some way, no matter how small, and preferably for the good and just. Yes, we make a leap of faith too, I suppose- that love, justice, and creativity are virtues worth living for- but at least it is a leap of faith that is not into the unknown, does not embody logical contradiction, and is consistent with what we know to be true, or at least as true as we can make it.”

"I Rescued A Human Today..."

"I Rescued A Human Today..."

"Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one. I rescued a human today.”

"This World..."

"This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle;
wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it."
- Thomas Carlyle

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

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

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

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

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

- Fernando Pessoa

The Daily "Near You?"

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Thanks for stopping by!

"The Future..."



“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be
 insane by those who could not hear the music.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Biden’s Staring into the Abyss - And So Are We"

"Biden’s Staring into the Abyss - And So Are We"
by Pat Buchanan

“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,” wrote Emily Dickinson. “And sore must be the storm/That could abash the little Bird/That kept so many warm.” Staring ahead on New Year’s Eve, at what appear to be the coming storms of 2022, this once-hopeful country is going to have to fall back on its reserves.

What storms? Suddenly, the omicron variant of the coronavirus is sweeping the nation, shutting schools, shops, restaurants and bars that were only lately reopened. In this last week of 2021, new infections twice set records. Is a fifth wave of the pandemic arriving, just two years after the first wave hit in March 2020?

What is hopeful here? While the numbers of infected are exploding and deaths are rising anew, the omicron variant appears to be less severe and less lethal than the delta variant — and possibly less enduring. From the medical community one hears the hope that the omicron variant could displace the delta and, as has happened in South Africa, burn itself out. Still, if the present rate of infections and deaths continues, we could have a virus-related million American deaths by spring.

A second storm is economic, with inflation now running at 6.8%, the highest rate since the last days of Jimmy Carter and first days of Ronald Reagan. Should this trend continue, inflation could be crushing to President Joe Biden’s party and presidency next November. And, according to Thursday’s Washington Post, that may be what is coming: “Strong consumer demand, continuing supply chain troubles and the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus threaten to prolong sharply rising prices well into 2022, potentially making inflation the premier economic challenge of the new year.” As for U.S. economic growth, forecasts for the first quarter of 2022 are being cut back from 5.2% to 2.2%.

Nor does the world look any more tranquil from this vantage point. In the second week of January, U.S. talks with Russia begin, probably in Geneva, on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand for assurances that Ukraine not be admitted into NATO and no U.S. offensive weapons be stationed in a border nation from which they can be used to attack Russia with only minutes notice. The hopeful news: Putin reportedly ordered 10,000 of the 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border back to their bases deeper in Russia. Still, it is hard to believe Putin is bluffing when he says that if Ukraine is invited to become a full member of NATO, Russia will see to it that the consummation never comes to pass.

As for China, there is no sign it is backing off from any of its territorial demands — on its Himalayan border with India, with half a dozen rival nations in the South and East China seas, or with Taiwan. Probably the best we can hope for in the simmering Taiwan crisis is that China will put off its insistence on annexation of the island of 24 million while it digests the lately free city of Hong Kong.

Negotiation with Iran on a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal appears to be nearing the fish-or-cut-bait moment. Should the talks collapse without Iran’s return to the restrictions of the deal, we will, early in the new year, hear more animated talk of “other options” and “Plan B” — synonyms for U.S. attacks on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

Hovering over all of the above is the gnawing and growing concern among the American people about the physical and mental capacities of their president. A month ago, a Politico poll found that while 46% of Americans believe Biden is mentally fit for his office, 48% disagree. In the same poll, only about one-half of all Americans felt Biden was “in good health.”

All that talk of a few months back of Biden being a statesman of superior competence, perhaps a second Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson, has died out. Yet the maladies and crises the country confronts from inflation, China, Russia, Iran, the explosion of shootings and murders in major cities, and our bleeding border are not Biden’s alone; they are America’s. They are ours. If Joe Biden fails, the country does not succeed.

Yet, since mid-August, an average of national polls has shown Biden to be slipping underwater and sinking deeper. His disapproval rating is now 10 points higher than his approval rating, which sits in the low 40s.

What does the future hold? The latest news brought to 23 the number of House Democrats who are retiring or looking for another position rather than running for reelection in 2022. Yet, to regain the House majority, the GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber. Most pundits believe the Democrats will lose the House and, if they do, the U.S. government will grind to gridlock for the next two years. Not exactly a formula for the restoration of a lost national unity or purpose."