Saturday, April 23, 2022

"All Of Us..."

"So long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let
ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice..."
- William Faulkner

"Mortgages Are More Expensive Than You Think and So Is Everything Else"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly 4/23/22:
"Mortgages Are More Expensive Than
 You Think and So Is Everything Else"
"People are going to be shocked to learn how expensive mortgages are right now. The rates have climbed so much in the last two months that it is added $500 a month to the average mortgage. The average person‘s grocery bill has gone up hundreds of dollars a month."

Musical Interlude: Peder B. Helland, "High Above"

Full screen recommended.
"Beautiful Relaxing Music for Stress Relief -
Relax, Sleep, Meditate, Study (High Above)"
Beautiful relaxing music for stress relief, composed by
Peder B. Helland. This track is called "High Above" and can be
used to relax, sleep, meditate, study, work, do yoga, read and more.

"A Look to the Heavens"

“In one of the brightest parts of Milky Way lies a nebula where some of the oddest things occur. NGC 3372, known as the Great Nebula in Carina, is home to massive stars and changing nebulas. The Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324), the bright structure just above the image center, houses several of these massive stars and has itself changed its appearance.
The entire Carina Nebula spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically. Eta Carinae is the brightest star near the image center, just left of the Keyhole Nebula. While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that much of the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory.”

"You May Think..."

"To show mercy is not naive. To hold out against the end of hope is not stupidity or madness. It is fundamentally human. Of course... we are all doomed; we are all poisoned from our birth by the rot of stars. That does not mean we should succumb to the seductive fallacy of despair, the dark tide that would drown us. You may think I'm stupid, you may call me a madman and a fool, but at least I stand upright in a fallen world."
- Rick Yancey

“Standing Up When It’s Too Late”

“Standing Up When It’s Too Late”
By JR Nyquist

This article is a comparison between America and another great empire faced with rot in high office and a decline of the state – Rome. The writer, JR Nyquist, artfully points out it’s not the big events that sink an empire but many seemingly little ones. You could call what is happening to the U.S. “death by a thousand cuts.” Except in this story, people are not really aware how deep the cuts are and exactly who is doing the cutting. I loved this piece, and I hope you do as well.” – Greg Hunter
“There is a letter by Marcus Tullius Cicero, dated 18 December 50 B.C. This letter was written to his friend Atticus on the eve of the Roman Civil War. He wrote as follows: “The political situation alarms me deeply, and so far I have found scarcely anybody who is not for giving Caesar what he demands rather than fighting it out.” To explain the situation in brief, G. Julius Caesar had demanded the right to circumvent the Roman constitution, to break laws with impunity, to extend his command over a large army by using that army to threaten the Senate of Rome. “And why should we start standing up to him now?” asked Cicero. The next day he wrote to Atticus: “We should have stood up to him [Caesar] when he was weak, and that would have been easy. Now we have to deal with eleven legions…” Though he hated the idea of civil war, the only course, said Cicero, was to follow “the honest men or whoever may be called such, even if they plunge.”

And who were these “honest men”? “I don’t know of any,” wrote Cicero in the same letter. “There are honest individuals, but there are no honest groups.” Then he asked rhetorically if the Senate was honest, or the tax farmers, or the capitalists. None were frightened of living under an autocracy, he lamented. The capitalists, especially, “never have objected to that, so long as they were left in peace.” But civil war occurred nonetheless, because people are not free to be dishonest forever. They must admit to certain responsibilities, and oppose the advance of evil. The previous inclination to look away, to do nothing, to shrug off responsibility, proves in the end to be no more than a delaying tactic. They attempted to put off calamity, Cicero suggested, and made it all the more calamitous. That is all.

Why did the Roman Senate suddenly stand up to Caesar? What triggered their resistance? As with all free people, they began with policies of procrastination and appeasement. They hoped that the problem (i.e., Caesar) would go away. In the end, however, they discovered their mistake. Everyone still hoped for peace, though none believed it was possible. Everyone wanted to avoid war, but nobody saw a way out. Pompey stood before the Senate and gave voice to what everyone thought. “If we give Caesar the consulship, it will mean the subversion of the constitution.” In other words, it would mean the end of Rome, the end of the republic, the destruction of their country.

In a fitting preface to John Dickinson’s “Death of a Republic,” George L. Haskins wrote, “that the history of Rome is the history of the world, that, as all roads lead to Rome, so all history ends or begins with Rome.” Why do free people fall into complacency? Why are threats ignored until the eleventh hour?

“Surely,” wrote Cicero at the end of Caesar’s dictatorship, “our present sufferings are all too well deserved. For had we not allowed outrages to go unpunished on all sides, it would never have been possible for a single individual to seize tyrannical power.” Caesar’s cause was not right, but evil, Cicero explained. “Mere confiscations of the property of individual citizens were far from enough to satisfy him. Whole provinces and countries succumbed to his onslaught, in one comprehensive universal catastrophe…” As for the city of Rome, Cicero lamented, “nothing is left - only the lifeless walls of houses. And even they look afraid that some further terrifying attack may be imminent. The real Rome is gone forever.”

Republics are slow to defend themselves against enemies that advance, like Caesar, under camouflage. But make no mistake, republics always defend. Groups and categories of men may not be honest or brave, but when they are finally confronted with the truth – as individuals – they see no other course. They stand up and fight. We should not be surprised, therefore, that Caesar was struck down in the Senate and killed by thrusting daggers.

It is all too true, of course. “We should have stood up to him when he was weak,” Cicero lamented. The problem with republican government is its tardiness; or rather, tardiness in the face of danger. As Machiavelli wrote, “The institutions normally used by republics are slow in functioning. No assembly or magistrate can do everything alone. In many cases, they have to consult with one another, and to reconcile their diverse views takes time. Where there is a question of remedying a situation that will not brook delay, such a procedure is dangerous.”

Machiavelli concluded, therefore, “that republics in imminent danger, having no recourse to dictatorship, will always be ruined when some grave misfortune befalls them.” This is the weakness of republican government. Here is the ground on which it dies. An obvious threat, like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor is not the greatest danger. It is the subtle, camouflaged threat, that creeps up from behind. It is this camouflage that gives reluctant men a way out. “We need not fight. We need not make a fuss. There is nothing to fear.”

When this is the prevailing view, people who understand a given threat may ask: “What is to be done?” As long as we are isolated individuals, there is nothing to do. The individual may be honest with himself, but groups are not honest. What prevails overall is an optimistic dismissal. “The threat isn’t real.” This is how Hitler got so far. This is how Communism took over so many countries, and continues today under camouflage. There is nothing the individual can do that will sway the crowd. And as we are a republic, our political system operates according to the psychology of a crowd. The majority are caught up in the fads and media trends of the moment. Cynical and empty publicity characterizes much of our public discourse. But one day the country will awaken. Then, and only then, Americans will stop going along as if nothing serious hangs over them. Will it be too late? Perhaps it will be too late to save the republic. But it will not be too late to save the country.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Medicine Bow, Wyoming, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Predator Nation"

"Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of Americas political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.

If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated population under the control of a small, ultrawealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political extremism."
- Charles Ferguson, "Predator Nation," June 2012
"Predator Nation: How Financial Criminalization Crashed
 the Economy, and the Culprits Got Off Scot-Free"

"Yet Another Food Supply Chain Disruption - What's Causing It"

Full screen recommended.
City Prepping, 4/23/22:
"Yet Another Food Supply Chain Disruption - What's Causing It"
"Yet another food supply chain issue is emerging. In this video, we'll detail the issue and provide some real solutions to help you get ready. Download the Start Preparing! Survival Guide here:"

"Strange Prices At Target! This Is Ridiculous!"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 4/23/22:
"Strange Prices At Target! This Is Ridiculous!"
"In today's vlog we are at Target and are noticing very strange price increases! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and the empty shelves situation! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
Related, highly informative and recommended:
Great Depression Mother
(Excerpt) "Inflation May Take the Food Out of 
Your Mouth Before it Goes Away"
"So much has happened with the rise of inflation and so much is continuing to crowd in behind the scenes on the production end that I believe we will see inflation burning hotter for longer in the months ahead. Those saying we are nearing peak inflation are as wrong as they were when they said it months ago and as wrong as they were when they said “inflation is transitory” a year or more ago."
Please view this complete, lengthy and highly recommended article here:

As it's said, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet!" But we will...

"Brace Yourself For Catastrophic Change In American Standard Of Living As Prices Hit New Levels!"

Full screen recommended.
"Brace Yourself For Catastrophic Change In 
American Standard Of Living As Prices Hit New Levels!"
by The Atlantis Report

"Natural Gas Prices up 215% since Joe Biden took office. You can thank Joe Biden for shutting down/curtailing American oil and gas production. One of the WORST Decisions in US History. And let's deplete our natural gas supplies and ship LNG to Europe, circle back, and then empty out the rest of our strategic reserves for a temporary .05 cent reduction in price, while taxes are at least 25% of the total price. Then go to war with our domestic reserves at zero.

And if China invades Taiwan, oil will spike to $200 a barrel. Where will the US military get their oil if Biden depleted the reserves? Everything this administration does harms the citizens in America. Before this is over everyone will wish they had the grain back to feed cattle. Everyone better quickly develop a taste for eating fried cockroach Klaus bars. I'm betting in Washington, DC it's the beef that will be served. The cockroach bars will be for the rest of us.

Ultimately, and perhaps sooner rather than later, it will become (even more) painfully obvious, that too much land is being utilized for the purposes of distilling alcohol for fuel. And some of that land will be reverted back to broader crop production. Then, too, the idea of driving giant vanity vehicles (giant SUVs and enormous pick-up trucks - so often for no reason than to look like a 'big man') that get horrid MPG will become frowned upon by society.

Stagflation and a deflationary depression for the next 8 years. The FED will tighten and then reverse and go back to trillions of QE. But this time it will not work. They will have a new game. A new currency.

Now the middlemen will have to get a real job. The currency has always been people. This new thing is just physical digital bondage, like leg irons. The Fed is going to try to expand the money supply even more aggressively to try to stimulate it, which is why we’re going to have more inflation during the next recession. What's another 10 trillion at this point? This whole thing is like a tree that is still standing but hollow inside from termites.

If China captures Taiwan then semiconductors will be first on our list of concerns. It will be a while before we have sufficient capacity in the USSA to make our own in sufficient numbers. Everything today is run by microcomputers, guided by electronic sensors, etc. I've read of large farming equipment that is computerized to the max. Fabs just don't spring up overnight.

The US doesn't manufacture anything it's major trading partners need. The Central Banks with loose fiscal policy wasted decades of GDP on fake growth in areas that are irrelevant. While the US was declining and wholesaling itself to its adversaries they gained significant industrial and technological capabilities. The economic decline and resulting wars will be used as an excuse to implement an openly acknowledged world government digital currency and digital passport based on social credit that can be revoked to force everyone into bondage to a global hegemony and a resulting dissolution of national and human sovereignty."

"I Remember..."

"I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more, the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort, to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires, and expires too soon, too soon, before life itself."
- Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924, English writer

Freely Read Online: Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

"Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope.
Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.
In the end that’s all we have – to hold on tight until dawn.”
- Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

by Gregory David Roberts

“Crime and punishment, passion and loyalty, betrayal and redemption are only a few of the ingredients in “Shantaram,” a massive, over-the-top, mostly autobiographical novel. Shantaram is the name given Mr. Lindsay, or Linbaba, the larger-than-life hero. It means “man of God’s peace,” which is what the Indian people know of Lin. What they do not know is that prior to his arrival in Bombay he escaped from an Australian prison where he had begun serving a 19-year sentence. He served two years and leaped over the wall. He was imprisoned for a string of armed robberies performed to support his heroin addiction, which started when his marriage fell apart and he lost custody of his daughter. All of that is enough for several lifetimes, but for Greg Roberts, that’s only the beginning.

He arrives in Bombay with little money, an assumed name, false papers, an untellable past, and no plans for the future. Fortunately, he meets Prabaker right away, a sweet, smiling man who is a street guide. He takes to Lin immediately, eventually introducing him to his home village, where they end up living for six months. When they return to Bombay, they take up residence in a sprawling illegal slum of 25,000 people and Linbaba becomes the resident “doctor.” With a prison knowledge of first aid and whatever medicines he can cadge from doing trades with the local Mafia, he sets up a practice and is regarded as heaven-sent by these poor people who have nothing but illness, rat bites, dysentery, and anemia. He also meets Karla, an enigmatic Swiss-American woman, with whom he falls in love. Theirs is a complicated relationship, and Karla’s connections are murky from the outset.

Roberts is not reluctant to wax poetic; in fact, some of his prose is downright embarrassing. Throughout the novel, however, all 944 pages of it, every single sentence rings true. He is a tough guy with a tender heart, one capable of what is judged criminal behavior, but a basically decent, intelligent man who would never intentionally hurt anyone, especially anyone he knew. He is a magnet for trouble, a soldier of fortune, a picaresque hero: the rascal who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. His story is irresistible. Stay tuned for the prequel and the sequel.”
– Valerie Ryan
“But I couldn't respond. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still, and gave no reaction at all. But the soul has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no color or accent or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can't be stilled. I clenched my teeth against the stars. I closed my eyes. I surrendered to sleep. One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.”
- Gregory David Roberts, "Shantaram"
Freely read “Shantaram” online, by Gregory David Roberts, here:
There is a download option for registered users.

"All Of The Available Data..."

"All of the available data show that the typical American citizen has about
as much interest in the life of the mind as does your average armadillo."
- Morris Berman

Apologies to armadillos for the comparison...

The Poet: Carl Sandburg, "Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind"

"Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind"

The past is a bucket of ashes.”

"The woman named Tomorrow 
sits with a hairpin in her teeth 
and takes her time 
and does her hair the way she wants it 
and fastens at last the last braid and coil 
and puts the hairpin where it belongs 
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it? 
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone. 
What of it? Let the dead be dead. 

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold 
and the girls were golden girls 
and the panels read and the girls chanted: 
We are the greatest city, 
the greatest nation: 
nothing like us ever was. 

The doors are twisted on broken hinges. 
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind 
where the golden girls ran and the panels read: 
We are the greatest city, 
the greatest nation, 
nothing like us ever was. 

It has happened before. 
Strong men put up a city and got 
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women 
to warble: We are the greatest city, 
the greatest nation, 
nothing like us ever was. 

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened 
and paid the singers well 
and felt good about it all, 
there were rats and lizards who listened... 
and the only listeners left now... 
are…the rats…and the lizards. 

And there are black crows 
crying, “Caw, caw,” 
bringing mud and sticks 
building a nest 
over the words carved 
on the doors where the panels were cedar 
and the strips on the panels were gold 
and the golden girls came singing: 
We are the greatest city, 
the greatest nation: 
nothing like us ever was. 

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,” 
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways. 
And the only listeners now are…the rats…and the lizards. 

The feet of the rats 
scribble on the door sills; 
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints 
chatter the pedigrees of the rats 
and babble of the blood 
and gabble of the breed 
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers 
of the rats. 

And the wind shifts 
and the dust on a door sill shifts 
and even the writing of the rat footprints 
tells us nothing, nothing at all 
about the greatest city, the greatest nation 
where the strong men listened 
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was."

- Carl Sandburg

"How It Really Is"


Friday, April 22, 2022

"We Are Left Alone..."

"We work in the dark. We do what we can to battle the evil that would otherwise destroy us. But if a man's character is his fate, it's not a choice but a calling. Sometimes the weight of this burden causes us to falter from the fragile fortress of our mind, allowing the monster without to turn within. We are left alone staring into the abyss, into the laughing face of madness."
- Fox Mulder, "X-Files"

"Staring Into the Abyss"

"Staring Into the Abyss"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"The global economy is perched on the edge of an abyss, and averting our gaze doesn't actually lessen the risk, it increases it because problems which aren't faced directly and addressed directly fester and rot the system from within. This is why we're collectively staring into the abyss: all the big problems have been dismissed, ignored or papered over with PR-happy-talk "solutions" that only make the problem worse. There are three basic techniques that our "leadership" (public and private) have used to avoid dealing directly with our pressing problems:

1. Appear to address the problems by doing more of what's failed spectacularly.
2. Propose magical-thinking happy-happy technological "solutions" that are appealing but impractical.
3. Keep the status quo glued together to maximize quick-buck gains for the elite while guaranteeing long-term catastrophe for the entire society / economy.

Doing more of what's failed spectacularly is one of the phrases you've seen here over the years. This generates an illusion of control because the tried-and-true Band-Aid makes it look like the problem is being addressed. Since doing more of what's failed spectacularly doesn't break the system immediately, everyone incorrectly assumes it's benign or actually helping.

The Federal Reserve's blowing of serial speculative credit-asset bubbles is a good example. With the bogus goal of generating a "wealth effect" that only rewards the already-rich, the Fed has exacerbated socially fatal neofeudal inequality and created guaranteed-to-pop bubbles that each collapsed with devastating consequences for the credulous who believed the Fed's poisonous assurances that a) this isn't a bubble and b) bubbles never pop.

The Fed's "solution" - blowing an even bigger bubble to paper over the catastrophic losses when the previous bubble popped - has finally reached the endgame: three bubbles and you're out (2000, 2008-09 and 2021-22). Sorry to disappoint the beneficiaries of the three Fed bubbles, but there won't be a fourth bubble. Bubbles don't inflate at the bottom of the abyss.

Magical thinking abounds in finance, energy and and economic policy. Examples include substituting nuclear power for hydrocarbons, conveniently sidestepping the reality that we'd need to build a new reactor a week for years to make a difference, and the really inconvenient reality that the U.S. has built a grand total of two new reactors in the past 25 years and the world has a few dozen under construction - a scale roughly 1/100th of what's needed.

In finance, magical thinking appears across the entire spectrum from the fanciful delusions of Modern Monetary Theory (we can't go broke because we can always print more money - uh, sure, that will work just fine, guaranteed) to the Fed's "if we just make the already-rich even richer while bankrupting the bottom 90%, everything will work out just peachy." Peachy for whom? That question is never answered because the billionaires are so charmingly bashful.

The New Nobility elites reckon that if they can keep the crumbling cliff edge from collapsing for a few more years, they can maximize their private gains and then escape to their New Zealand bunkers when the consequences of their plunder send the global economy into the abyss. The elites are in effect selling seats in the Titanic's lifeboats to the highest bidders. The ship is doomed and they see this tragedy as a terrifically profitable opportunity.

Another analogy is polluting your nation and people so a handful of industrialists and party hacks can get super-rich. The land, water and air are all poisoned and the people sick and dying, but who cares once you're secure in your fortified villa?

None of humanity's most pressing problems have been addressed by any elite, any where. So sorry, but "you'll own nothing and be miserable - oops, we mean happy, yes, deliriously happy" doesn't count as a solution. Every elite is pursuing the same self-serving agenda of maximizing their private plunder and hoping - perhaps vainly - to escape the consequences of their obsession with short-term gains at the expense of the planet and its people.

Watch your step while peering into the abyss. The cliff edge is crumbling faster than we realize."

"We Got Big Trouble - Stock Market Crushed Today; Party Is Over; Bank Collapse; Economy Unraveling"

Jeremiah Babe, PM 4/22/22:
"We Got Big Trouble - Stock Market Crushed Today;
 Party Is Over; Bank Collapse; Economy Unraveling"

"Oh No... A New Phase Has Begun"

Full screen recommended.
Canadian Prepper, "Oh No... A New Phase Has Begun"
"Sleeper cells are activating, the food is burning down, Russia targeting NATO, the markets are crashing, and the elites are running for their bunkers, Taiwan accidentally scares the hell out of its population, everything is falling apart... If you see something on a shelf... buy it now."

"Rent Price Bubble Trigger Housing Crash As Mortgage Rate Hikes Push Prices To Explode"

Full screen recommended.
"Rent Price Bubble Trigger Housing Crash 
As Mortgage Rate Hikes Push Prices To Explode"
by Epic Economist

"An impending housing market crash is leaving economists, real estate experts, and policymakers increasingly worried as home price appreciation continues to balloon at unforeseen levels and mortgage rates continue to soar. Millions of homeowners are waking up to the fact that their monthly housing payments are getting significantly more expensive. At the same time, millions of potential buyers are getting entirely priced out of the market. For that reason, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported many signs indicating a “brewing U.S. housing bubble," and researchers concluded that as affordability worsens and impacts people’s purchasing power, home prices are set to collapse as they finally readjust to our economic reality.

Last month, when rates went above the 4% mark, the number of buyers applying for mortgages dropped considerably. Home prices have already jumped by a staggering 19.2% nationally. In some markets, that increase was well above the 30% mark, and according to new estimates released by the National Association of Realtors, in March alone, at least 9 million more buyers were priced out of the market.

The breath-taking pace of home price appreciation has started to raise fears that a real estate bubble could be setting the stage for another burst, which led economists with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to publish a note warning about the consequences of the growing U.S. housing bubble, and explain that even though today’s fundamentals are different than the ones that led to the previous bubble, the risks are still very real.

As market conditions remain volatile, Americans are feeling increasingly pessimistic about the future of their own housing options. A recent article shared by The Hill showed that more and more Americans are losing confidence they will ever own a home. A new survey by the Federal Reserve of New York uncovered that only 43.4% of renters believe they’ll ever own a home, the first reading below 50% in the survey's history. Compared with last February, the drop amounted to a decline of 10 percentage points.

The latest increase in rates means that buyers all around the nation are paying nearly 42% more in their monthly mortgage payments for the same house today than they did a year ago. The combination of rising home prices and escalating mortgage rates has added hundreds, in some cases thousands, of dollars a month to those mortgage bills.

And that’s coming on top of what all of those potential buyers are spending on everything else. With inflation running at 8.5%, and gas prices soaring 40%, millions of people out there are completely tapped out. This is not what a healthy market looks like. Considering the many supply and demand imbalances, the growing inequality gap in net household wealth, and worsening work conditions in today’s labor market, most buyers don’t have enough cushion to stay afloat when the real estate market breaks.

With wages failing to keep pace with the rise in house prices and mortgage rates, a meaningful decline cannot be ruled out. And if even those who swore up and down that there was nothing wrong going on in the market over the past two years are now admitting that there are serious risks of a bubble burst, we should start bracing for another disaster in the months ahead."

"Empathy Triggers"

"Empathy Triggers"
by John Robb

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”
- E.O. Wilson

"Empathy triggers are used to mobilize network swarms, which is, as we have seen with the response to the invasion of Ukraine, a key element of network warfare. Let’s figure out how they work. What does an “empathy trigger” look like?

Here’s a widely shared picture that shows a pregnant Ukrainian woman on a stretcher in front of a building shattered by a Russian bombardment (both she and her baby died).
Pictures with descriptions like this are something we have seen in traditional media (TV, newspapers, magazines, etc.) for a century, and although they have an impact on us, that impact is muted. It feels slightly removed due to the nature of the medium.

However, everything changes when that picture and description of a victim are in a social media post. Due to the nature of the medium, instead of simply evoking sympathy or sadness, it can often trigger a strong empathic reaction. For example:
Empathy triggers like these, distributed to tens of millions of people online, can mobilize millions into action for protest or war. An excellent example of this is the smartphone video of George Floyd:
Social networking has rewired us. “Empathy triggers” work so well because social networking and smartphones have fundamentally changed how our brains process news. It has rewired us. Here’s how:

Scan. We can’t read all the news we receive, there’s too much of it, and it would be impossible to make sense of it all even if we did. Instead of reading it, we scan it, looking for novelty and patterns.

Social cue. We don’t simply read the news and form opinions in isolation anymore. Online, the news is packaged as a social cue that lets us figure out what other people are thinking.

Addiction. The news isn’t just a one-way flow of information anymore. Online, it’s interactive, with social feedback loops and induced hormone release (cortisol in fear of getting it wrong and dopamine for getting it right) that make it addictive.

Addictively scanning our news feed for social cues doesn’t just make us more vulnerable to empathy triggers; it encourages us to seek them out.

Another contributing factor is that empathy isn’t simply sympathy; it’s a powerful pre-verbal form of communication. A form of communication that humanity has only recently learned to mitigate with reason in large group settings. Here’s how empathic communication works: "Empathic communication is an involuntary process if you are not actively resisting it. As a result, this form of communication is usually limited to children (it’s critical for socialization) and for intimate groups (family).

In empathic communication, we build an internal model of the other person's feelings based on cues (face, body, screams, etc.). We feel what the victim feels: their fear, anger, and pain. Our faces grimace in pain like the victim, and we can feel the knee on our necks (George Floyd). We connect at a deep level. When we empathize with victims, they are no longer strangers; we form a fictive kinship with them. They are now part of our tribe, and they are being threatened. When we combine these elements - addictive social cue scanning and involuntary connections that produce fictive kinship - we get a powerful tool for mobilizing a networked swarm."

"An Explosion Is Coming"

"An Explosion Is Coming"
by Jeffrey Tucker

“You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've 
been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country.” 
- Gore Vidal.

"Did you catch the absolute frenzy about Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter? Employees at Twitter were falling on their fainting couches repeatedly. The Washington Post warned of the grave danger to democracy. Now think about this. This is a highly censored platform. They ban you for raising questions about vaccines. You are dinged for wondering a bit about Zelenskyy’s war drums. They body-bag you if you say that the virus is not what they claim it is. Not so democratic, is it? It’s certainly not in the democratic spirit.

Imagine dialing back the censorship just a bit. Imagine a hole the size of a nail in a major dam. This is precisely what “they” do not want. It would expose the strangest fact about our world today, namely that the oppressions and wreckages all around us are the products of just a few hundred people around the world. Forget the 1%. It’s more like the 0.0001%. It’s a small group with wildly outsized influence. It feels wrong. It is undemocratic. Plus they have proven their incompetence on every subject from economics to monetary finance to virus control. They are effectively discredited. Now there is one goal: Keep the masses from rising up.

What Is Forgivable? Social science and psychology have produced a large and very interesting literature about what the human mind can forgive and get over, versus that which people can remember for a lifetime or many generations. Some things are bad but one moves on. The death of a parent is painful but we recover. Stock market losses are bad luck but we wait it out. Even job loss, as bad as it is, eventually recedes in our memory once we have a new job that makes us happy. Relationships can go wrong but the next good relationship heals the pain.

What is the most salient, pressing, burning and possibly permanent form of hurt? Things that harm our children. Actions that steal our patrimony (as Machiavelli said) and external forms of intervention that rob us of our social status. Those things we do not forgive. Instead, we seethe. In any case, this is what the literature has explained and it seems right.

Now consider the last two years. Perhaps half the country thinks that the president found his way to power through illicit means of some sort. Forget the ballot-counting issues. It’s all about the manipulation of democratic process via mail-in ballots and so on. I tend to be rather moderate on such questions but I’m an outlier here: Multitudes believe the election to have been outright stolen.

An Unfair Race: So much for credibility at the top. Now consider what has happened to children over two years. Many in the middle class have faced the grim reality that their kids learned next to nothing online. They are massively behind. Meanwhile, the rich kids in private schools are far ahead of them. Keep in mind: These are schools for which people pay with VERY high property taxes. The unions and the germophobes shut them down for two years! Did people get refunds? Nope. They were robbed.

Also millions of people over two years were denied access to funerals and even hospital visits for loved ones like parents and grandparents. We can deal with death. We cannot deal with politicians and bureaucrats who barred us from providing comfort to the dying and then grieving ourselves.

This is utterly unforgivable.

Now consider vaccine mandates. Most people never wanted their skin to be stuck with a needle and have their bodies pumped full of some untested substance, generated by tax-funded medical labs, operating without liability. Those who went along are still furious to this day. This anger will last a lifetime. And to top it off, none of these goofy and truly evil strategies achieved anything in terms of disease mitigation, much less in cushioning the economic blow of the lockdowns.

Inflation: The most remarkable form of robbery came in the form of the seemingly wonderful stimulus checks. Wow, the government is giving me something… and then the government took it away in the form of inflation.

And let’s talk about inflation and public fury. Some people in some countries get used to it. Americans are not that way. We’ve been through 40 years of relatively tolerable levels. The Fed assured us that it had it all under control. For a year now, all of the top experts said that prices would settle back and everything would be fine. Of course, it wasn’t true.

Now people feel it very intensely: Their standard of living is falling. Fast. There is nowhere where money makes money. Nothing feels safe. We are being secretly robbed at every turn. We seek explanations. They blame Putin. They blame business. They blame you and me. They blame everyone but themselves. This is unbearably obvious.

The pace of increase has cooled a bit for now, down from 13.5% to 12%, according to real-time measurements. That’s still very high. Plus, there is plenty of room for these numbers to get out of control very quickly as we approach the end of the summer months and into fall.

The Explosion: In 2016, I gave a speech in which I said that people who hate Trump should feel gratitude for him. Compared with the real mood in the country, Trump really did represent a moderating force. That was six years ago, and long before lockdowns, inflation, a sketchy election and vast social and economic wreckage.

The administrative state is right now as angry at us as we are at them. There is a peaceful solution here but it doesn’t seem to be on the table. Will governments have learned their lessons? Look around! We live in a world burdened by extremely stupid public agencies that have lost public trust.

If I’ve learned anything new over the last two years, it’s about the strange way in which the ruling class is impervious to the will of the people, even when it shows up in devastating polls. They seem not to regard this as a corrective but a challenge. Are the elites right to fear a world of free speech? They certainly are. In a digital age with the potential for mass communication and action, a genuine platform that allows people to actually share information and say what they really think could be truly revolutionary.

This sounds exciting and like something we should welcome. Maybe. My actual worry is deeper, namely that we have traveled too far down the path for this to end in peace and tranquility. The powder keg is growing more combustible by the day. Now consider the present situation and add recession/depression on top of it all. There is no precedent in our lifetimes for what this could mean. Hang in there, my friends! An explosion is coming."

"Yet Now..."

“Yet now, as he roared across the night sky toward an unknown destiny, he found himself facing that bleak and ultimate question which so few men can answer to their satisfaction. What have I done with my life, he asked himself, that the world will be poorer if I leave it?”
- Arthur C. Clarke, “Glide Path”

Musical Interlude: Peder B. Helland, "Deep Space, Ambient Meditation and Sleep Music from Soothing Relaxation"

Full screen recommended.
Peder B. Helland, "Deep Space, Ambient Meditation
and Sleep Music from Soothing Relaxation"

Be kind to yourself, relax and enjoy this beautiful video...

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Large galaxies and faint nebulae highlight this deep image of the M81 Group of galaxies. First and foremost in the wide-angle 12-hour exposure is the grand design spiral galaxy M81, the largest galaxy visible in the image. M81 is gravitationally interacting with M82 just below it, a big galaxy with an unusual halo of filamentary red-glowing gas.
Around the image many other galaxies from the M81 Group of galaxies can be seen. Together with other galaxy congregates including our Local Group of galaxies and the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, the M81 Group is part of the expansive Virgo Supercluster of Galaxies. This whole galaxy menagerie is seen through the faint glow of an Integrated Flux Nebula, a little studied complex of diffuse gas and dust clouds in our Milky Way Galaxy."

"Reflect On What Happens..."

“Reflect on what happens when a terrible winter blizzard strikes. You hear the weather warning but probably fail to act on it. The sky darkens. Then the storm hits with full fury, and the air is a howling whiteness. One by one, your links to the machine age breakdown. Electricity flickers out, cutting off the TV. Batteries fade, cutting off the radio. Phones go dead. Roads become impassible, and cars get stuck. Food supplies dwindle. Day to day vestiges of modern civilization – bank machines, mutual funds, mass retailers, computers, satellites, airplanes, governments – all recede into irrelevance. Picture yourself and your loved ones in the midst of a howling blizzard that lasts several years. Think about what you would need, who could help you, and why your fate might matter to anybody other than yourself. That is how to plan for a secular winter. Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted.”
– Strauss and Howe, “The Fourth Turning”

"Humanity On The Brink: 'Everyone Will Be Dead' If Both Sides Continue To Escalate World War 3"

"Humanity On The Brink: 'Everyone Will Be Dead'
If Both Sides Continue To Escalate World War 3"
by Michael Snyder

"In all of modern history, the world has never had a worse group of leaders than it does right now, and the fate of civilization is literally in their hands. If both sides continue to escalate matters, the proxy war in Ukraine will eventually become a shooting war between the United States and Russia. And once a shooting war between the United States and Russia starts, it will only be a matter of time before it goes nuclear. It is often said that there are no winners in a nuclear war, and that is certainly true. But if a nuclear war becomes inevitable, you definitely want to be on the side that strikes first. Because a devastating surprise first strike may not enable you to “win” a nuclear war, but it will certainly give you the best chance of surviving one.

Donald Trump can see where things are heading. This week, he penned the most ominous statement that he has ever issued… “It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement. If they don’t do it soon, there will be nothing left but death, destruction, and carnage. This is a war that never should have happened, but it did. The solution can never be as good as it would have been before the shooting started, but there is a solution, and it should be figured out now - not later - when everyone will be DEAD!”

Like Trump, I am desperately hoping that a negotiated agreement can be reached somehow, because if a full-blown nuclear war erupts billions of people will die. We must not allow that to happen.

Unfortunately, officials in the U.S. are not taking this threat seriously. In fact, I have been seeing talking heads all over cable news downplaying the threat of nuclear war. These experts assure us that Russia “would never use nuclear weapons”, but meanwhile Russia continues to feverishly prepare for a potential nuclear war with the United States.

In fact, the Russians just conducted a test of the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile… "Russia has test launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, raising fears of a further escalation of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. The Russian leader said the Sarmat missile, also known as Satan-2, will provide ‘food for thought for those who try to threaten Russia’ and will make his enemies ‘think twice’."

It is being reported that the Sarmat has a range of 11,000 miles and can hit any target on the entire planet. It can carry up to 15 independently targetable warheads, and the Russians are bragging that the collective power of those warheads could destroy an area the size of Texas or France. Remember, this is just one missile that we are talking about. Ultimately, the Russians are planning to put vast numbers of these missiles into service.
According to Vladimir Putin, nobody in the world has anything like these new missiles… “The new complex has the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defense. It has no analogues in the world and won’t have for a long time to come,” Putin said. “This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security from external threats and provide food for thought for those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country.”
Sadly, he is right. The U.S. doesn’t have anything even close. Minuteman III missiles that went into service in the 1970s are still the backbone of the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal, and they are not scheduled to be replaced by something new until about 2030.

Needless to say, the test of the new Sarmat missile was intended as a message to anyone that is attempting to aid the Ukrainians… "Russia notified the US of the ICBM test launch in accordance with the New Start treaty, but its rhetoric and choice to go ahead with the treaty stands in stark contrast to the US, which had canceled an ICBM test-launch in March not long after Russia began its war on Ukraine. Putin and his aides have repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in what experts believe to be a ploy to warn powerful countries like the UK, Germany and the US from coming to Ukraine’s aid."

This missile test represents yet another escalation by the Russians, and that is extremely alarming. But U.S. officials are escalating matters as well. On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced another round of sanctions against Russia… "The United States on Wednesday unveiled its latest round of sanctions going after Russia over its war on Ukraine, this time targeting a key commercial bank and “a global network of more than 40 individuals and entities led by U.S.-designated Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.”

In a news release, the US Treasury Department said it was also targeting “companies operating in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry, reportedly the third largest in the world,” noting it was the first time it has “designated a virtual currency mining company.”

And the Biden administration is also telling us that another “military aid package” will soon be sent to Ukraine… "The Biden administration is preparing to announce another substantial military aid package for Ukraine this week, five U.S officials tell NBC News. Three officials said the package is expected to be similar in size to the $800 million one the administration announced last week. Two officials said the package is expected to include more artillery and tens of thousands more artillery rounds, which will likely be critical to the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region."

At this point, we are providing most of the weapons and ammunition for the Ukrainian military, we are constantly providing them with battlefield intelligence, and we are even training their troops on our own soil.

Yes, that last part is actually true. As I have discussed previously, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has publicly admitted that Ukrainian troops are actually being flown to the United States to be trained how to fight the Russians… “This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ukrainian troops training in the U.S. who are returning home to Ukraine today. Their bravery and skill are amazing. I made clear the U.S. will continue to provide them with the assistance they need.”

Like I said at the beginning of this article, this is a proxy war between the United States and Russia. If the American people truly understood the implications of what our leaders are doing, there would be massive protests in the streets of every U.S. city right now. So when will everyone finally wake up? Hopefully it will be before we get to the “everyone is dead” part of the story."
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