Saturday, August 6, 2022

"All That Matters..."

"Angel: Well, I guess I kinda worked it out. If there's no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters... then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is. What we do. Now. Today. I fought for so long, for redemption, for a reward, and finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.
Kate Lockley: And now you do?
Angel: Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help, because I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Kate Lockley: Yikes. It sounds like you've had an epiphany.
Angel: I keep saying that, but nobody's listening."
"Angel", 2001

"The Point Of No Return"

"The Point Of No Return"
by Dr. Thomas Sowell

"This is an election year. But the issues this year are not about Democrats and Republicans. The big issue is whether this nation has degenerated to a point of no return - a point where we risk destroying ourselves, before our enemies can destroy us. If there is one moment that symbolized our degeneration, it was when an enraged mob gathered in front of the Supreme Court and a leader of the United States Senate shouted threats against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying "You won't know what hit you!"

There have always been irresponsible demagogues. But there was once a time when anyone who shouted threats to a Supreme Court Justice would see the end of his own political career, and could not show his face in decent society again.

You either believe in laws or you believe in mob rule. It doesn't matter whether you agree with the law or agree with the mob on some particular issue. If threats of violence against judges - and publishing where a judge's children go to school - is the way to settle issues, then there is not much point in having elections or laws.

There is also not much point in expecting to have freedom. Threats and violence were the way the Nazis came to power in Germany. Freedom is not free. If you can't be bothered to vote against storm-trooper tactics - regardless of who engages in them, or over what issue - then you can forfeit your freedom. Worse yet, you can forfeit the freedom of generations not yet born.

Some people seem to think that the Supreme Court has banned abortions. It has done nothing of the sort. The Supreme Court has in fact done something very different, something long overdue and potentially historic. It has said that their own court had no business making policy decisions which nothing in the Constitution gave them the authority to make.

Get out a copy of the Constitution - and see if you can find anything in there that says the federal government is authorized to make laws about abortion. Check out the 10th Amendment, which says that the federal government is limited to the specific powers it was granted, with all other powers going to the states or to the people.

Why do we elect legislators to do what the voters want done, if unelected judges are going to make up laws on their own, instead of applying the laws that elected officials passed? This is part of a very long struggle that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Back in the early 20th century, Progressives like President Woodrow Wilson decided that the Constitution put too many limits on the powers they wanted to use. Claiming that it was nearly impossible to amend the Constitution, Progressives advocated that judges "interpret" the Constitutional limits out of the way. This was just the first in a long series of sophistries.

In reality, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years - from 1913 through 1920 - during the heyday of the Progressive era. When the people wanted the Constitution amended, it was amended. When the elites wanted the Constitution amended, but the people did not, that is called democracy.

Another great sophistry was using the federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce to call all sorts of other things interstate commerce. In 1995, elites were shocked when the Supreme Court ruled - 5 to 4 - that carrying a gun near a school was not interstate commerce. States had a right to ban carrying a gun near a school, and most of them did. But the federal government had no such authority. Nor did the Constitution give the federal government the right to make laws about abortion, one way or the other.

What both state and federal laws do have the right to stop is threats against judges and their families. This is not a partisan issue. The Republican governor of Virginia is providing protection to Supreme Court Justices who live in that state. But the Republican governor of Maryland seems to think that harassing judges and their families is no big deal. Voters need to find out who is for or against mob rule, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. We are not going to be a free or decent society otherwise."

A "free or decent society?" Surely you jest...

"Have You Had Enough? A Million People are Boycotting Paying the Gas Bill"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly 8/6/22:
"Have You Had Enough? 
A Million People are Boycotting Paying the Gas Bill"
"When is enough, enough? People are fed up with high energy prices around the world. There is a group of people that are boycotting paying their gas bill right now. Is this right? Plus, we ran into Mark Cuban in Laguna Beach. What a great guy."
Comments here:

"Here’s What the Government Should Really Do in the Greater Depression"

"Here’s What the Government Should Really 
Do in the Greater Depression"
by Doug Casey

"It’s hard to have a conversation today, or even overhear one, without being exposed to moronic – and I now use that word in its colloquial as well as its clinical sense – opinions about what “we” should do. “We,” of course, is the government. Everyone believes it should “Do Something.” And it is.

But why deal in half-measures? Why only send everybody a check for $1,200? Why not buy everyone a new Cadillac to get Detroit back to work, a big new house to help builders, and a $10,000 check that must be deposited at a failing bank and then spent at Victoria’s Secret. A plan like that certainly sounds like more fun than what I’m going to propose. Especially since Americans are going to be a bit short on fun over the next little while. They used it all up over the last generation.

I’ve explained elsewhere why we’re embarked on the Greater Depression. That’s a done deal. But here is what needs to happen if the depression is to be as brief and as therapeutic as possible.

1. Allow collapse of bankrupt entities. They’re uneconomic (as their bankruptcy has proven), their managements are overpaid and are proven incompetents. The bailout money going into them is simply wasted. Most of the real wealth now owned by the bankrupt will still exist. It will simply change ownership. If you’ve dug yourself into a hole and want to get out, the first thing to do is stop digging. But that’s not nearly enough. At this point, it would be a half-measure. Perhaps only a 3-foot rope over a 12-foot gap. If you allow the collapse of unprofitable enterprises without changing the conditions that created the problem, recovery is going to be even harder. So…

2. Deregulate. Contrary to what almost everyone thinks, the main purpose of regulation is not to protect consumers but to entrench the current order. Regulation prevents new institutions from arising quickly and cheaply. Does the Department of Agriculture really need 100,000 employees to regulate fewer than two million farms in the U.S.? Has the Department of Energy, created in 1977 to somehow solve a temporary crisis, done anything of value with its 110,000 employees and contractors and $32 billion annual budget? How about the terminally corrupt Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has outlived whatever usefulness it might have had by 100 years.

The FTC, SEC, FCC, FAA, DOT, HHS, HUD, Labor, Commerce, serve little or no useful public purpose. Eliminate them and the entire economy would blossom – except for the parasitical lobbying and legal trades. There are hundreds of agencies like these. Most aren’t just useless. They’re actively destructive.

3. Abolish the Fed. This is the actual engine of inflation. Money is just a medium of exchange and a store of value; you don’t need a central bank to have money. In fact, central banks are always just engines of inflation. They benefit only the cronies who get their money first. What would we use as money? It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a commodity, that can’t be created out of thin air. But gold is the obvious choice. The whole idea of a central bank is a swindle. Massive bailouts couldn’t and wouldn’t have been done without it.

4. Cut taxes 50%… to start. The economy would boom. The money won’t be needed with all the agencies gone. Certainly not if the next two points are followed.

5. Default on the national debt. I realize this is a shocker, unless you recall that the debt will never be paid anyway. And why should the next several generations have to pay for the stupidity of their parents? A default sounds dishonorable - and it is, in civil society. But government is different. It hasn’t been “We the People” for a long time; it’s now a self-dealing behemoth, run by cronies. It’s like a building with a rotten foundation - better to bring it down with a controlled demolition, than wait for it fall unpredictably. Governments default all the time, though most defaults are subtle, through inflation. In an outright default, however, the only people who get hurt are those who lent money to an institution that can only repay them by stealing money from others. They should be punished.

6. Disentangle and disengage. The entanglements the U.S. needs to escape prominently include the UN and NATO. The U.S. combat troops now in over 100 foreign countries can come home. They’re not “defending” anything, except for local collaborators, and are just picking up bad habits and antagonizing the locals. The U.S. spends more money on the military than most other countries in the world put together. Since the government is bankrupt, spending on the military and its sport wars significantly adds to the economy’s problems.

What the Government Will Actually Do: The chances of any of these things happening, however, are slim to none. And Slim’s out of town. So let’s look at what will actually happen.

1. Let enterprises collapse? No way. Every corrupt and failed institution, instead of being allowed to turn into compost to be recycled by the economic worms into fertilizer for a new generation of businesses, is going to be propped up like a zombie. They’ll continue doing the same stupid things that got the country into the current mess. The wave of collapses is going to get much worse. Lots of banks will fail, so the FDIC will need hundreds of billions more in funding. They’ll try bailing out everything - they already are. Who knows where they’ll stop?

I play poker. Sometimes you see a player undergo a temporary psychotic break. They’ll make totally irrational, wild, stupid bets in a desperate attempt to get out even. It’s called “going on tilt.” The U.S. government, as an enterprise, is now on tilt.

2. Deregulate? No, that’s out of the question. Everyone is convinced a lack of regulation allowed the financial collapse that started in 2008. It must, they feel, have been a lack of oversight that allowed “The Virus” to invade the country. And so, with the approval of the public, the government will set up lots of new agencies. The 70,000 degraded beings who crawled out of the woodwork to work for the TSA - for the terror crisis of 2001 - will be the model. I just hope one of the new organizations doesn’t sport a black uniform with silver flashings. Of course, the largest agency of the U.S. government is now Homeland Security, so anything is possible.

3. Abolish the Fed? Despite having been debauched, and turned into a veritable money-printing machine, the Federal Reserve has become far more important than ever. Why? Without it the U.S. government would only be able to borrow funds from citizens, who are tapped out. Or foreigners, who increasingly see it as irresponsible. And who else would buy the securities of failing corporations to support them? Multi-trillion-dollar deficits are now the norm, and a central bank is needed to fund them.

4. Cut taxes? No. Taxes on the rich, or those the government decides belong in that category - people like you - are going through the roof. Herbert Hoover - who is somehow painted as a free-marketer - exacerbated the last depression by raising marginal rates from 25% to 63% in 1932. With multi-trillion dollar deficits for the indefinite future, taxes will rise.

Initially, it’s likely to be on politically incorrect things, like tobacco, alcohol, guns, oil, coal, and luxuries… but that’s just be for starters. Taxes on imports will be permanent, justified by saying it will not only generate revenue for the government, but save U.S. jobs, and punish undeserving foriegners. Smoot-Hawley, the Hoover innovation that sealed the fate of the economy in the ‘30s, will ride again.

Along with this, we’ll likely see foreign exchange controls, starting with a tax on spending and investing abroad. The rationale will be the same: it generates revenue, and keeps capital (and jobs) in the U.S. Better yet, FX controls only affect the rich (who else can afford to do things abroad?), and the unpatriotic (who else would even dream of doing anything abroad during a crisis like this?).

6. Default on the national debt? Actually, this will happen. But through inflation. Which, believe it or not, is much more destructive, and less honest, than simply saying “I can’t, and won’t, honor my obligation.”

7. Disengage? No way. War is the health of the state. Like almost nothing else, it gets people to pull together. It doesn’t matter if we’re marching to hell; it’s important to be united, they say. The U.S. has a huge, bloated, military machine which will just rust away, if it’s not used. So of course they’ll use it. It’s like owning a giant hammer: after a while, everything starts to look like a nail.

Good News? So the prognosis is not good. In fact, it’s not just going to be bad. It’s going to be worse than even I think it’s going to be. People have come to rely on the government as if it were a cornucopia, when it’s more like a cesspool.

If we moved rapidly and radically toward a free-market society, we’d still have a depression – the distortions and misallocations of capital are massive and would still have to be liquidated – but although the correction would be sharp, it would also be short. Like the downturn of 1920-21, not the one of 1929-46.

As serious as the financial and economic problems are going to be over the years to come, adequate attention hasn’t been focused on potential social problems in the U.S. Don’t forget that during the last depression, there was little consumer debt (people actually bought things using “lay-away” plans, if anybody remembers those). Almost everybody had some savings… as opposed to a lot of debt. People were much closer to the farm, and most actually knew how to plant a garden.

Families tended to be geographically closer and more mutually supportive – a function that’s been usurped by things like welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and such, which have given people a false sense of security.

Labor was much less productive, but average monthly expenses were much lower, not just in absolute but in relative terms. If you lost your job, you went out to get another, at some wage, any wage. Society was vastly less regulated in those days, so it was much easier.

It’s a good question what millions of people who lose their jobs are going to do now, especially if they’re stuck in a suburb or exurb, surrounded by many thousands of others like themselves. People in Blue counties and Red counties don’t like each other, blame each other, and can’t even have a conversation anymore. Could the natives get restless? Actually, it would be a surprise if they didn’t."

"Groupthink: We Are All Victims" (Excerpt)

"Groupthink: We Are All Victims" (Excerpt)
by Robert W Malone MD, MS

“Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.”
Fredrich Nietzsche

Excerpt: "We all seek to understand the root causes of the COVID crisis. We crave an answer, and hope is that we can find some sort of rationale for the harm that has been done, something that will help make sense out of one of the most profound policy fiascos in the history of the United States. In tracing the various threads which seem to lead towards comprehension of the larger issues and processes, there has been a tendency to focus on external actors and forces. Examples include the Medical-Pharmaceutical Industrial complex, the World Health Organization, the World Economic Foundation, the Chinese Central Communist Party, the central banking system/Federal Reserve, the large “hedge funds” (Blackrock, State Street, Vanguard), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Corporate/social media and Big Technology, the Trusted News Initiative, and the United Nations.

In terms of the inexplicable behavior of the general population in response to the information which bombards all of us, the denialism and seeming hypnosis of colleagues, friends and family, Mattias Desmit’s 21st century update of the work of Hannah Arendt, Joost Meerloo, and so many others is often cited as the most important text for comprehending the large scale psychological processes which have driven much of the COVID crisis madness. Dr. Desmit, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University (Belgium) and a practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapist, has provided the world with a guide to the Mass Formation process (Mass formation Psychosis, Mass Hypnosis) which seems to have influenced so much of the madness that has gripped both the United States as well as much of the rest of the world."
Please view this complete article here:

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Realms of Splendor"; "Feast of Immortals"

2002, "Realms of Splendor"
2002, "Feast of Immortals"

"A Look to the Heavens"

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

The Poet: James Baldwin, "Amen"


 "No, I don't feel death coming.
I feel death going:
having thrown up his hands,
for the moment.
I feel like I know him
better than I did.
Those arms held me,
for a while,
and, when we meet again,
there will be that secret knowledge
between us." 

- James Baldwin

"Humanity Today..."

"Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life."
- Edward O. Wilson

"Overcome Frustration, Don't Believe The Lies; Economic Instability; Recession Mongers; McDonald Fries"

Full screen recommended.
Jeremiah Babe, 8/6/22:
"Overcome Frustration, Don't Believe The Lies;
 Economic Instability; Recession Mongers; McDonald Fries"
Comments here:


The ugly truth behind Friday's jobs report, interpreting 
mainstream media and figuring out what would Jerome do?
by Joel Bowman

“We used to have Bob Hope, Steve Jobs and Johnny Cash… now we have no hope, no jobs and no cash! Let’s just hope Kevin Bacon doesn’t die soon!”
~ Popular Internet joke

Buenos Aires, Argentina - "Jobs up... stocks down. That was the take-away from yesterday’s headlines. After all the experts had tortured their numbers, the consensus predicted 258,000 new jobs were added in July. Then, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (which, without the Labor, is really just BS), announced that, in fact, 528,000 were added.

Stocks promptly sank on the news. Here’s CNBC: "Stocks wavered Friday in a volatile trading session after the July jobs report was much better than expected, as investors assessed what a strong labor market would mean for the Federal Reserve’s rate tightening campaign."

Both the S&P500 and the Nasdaq were down for the session. The Dow was up a smidge. Wait... what gives? Aren’t jobs good for the economy? Isn’t a strong economy good for the companies that operate within it? Isn’t 528k a bigger number than 258k? Let’s back up a moment, to get a clearer picture...

Truth vs. Power: First of all, the mainstream media – at this point little more than a virtual bullhorn for establishment opinion – has become expert at burying the real story. Once a proud and noble profession, which aimed to “speak truth to power,” to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,” the fourth estate has largely deteriorated into muckraking partisanship, where everything is viewed through the warped looking glass of Team Red vs. Team Blue politics. Joe Biden could announce tomorrow that 2+2=4 and half the country would be up in arms. Same for Trump, Obama, Bush, et al. Nothing new there. Every aspect of modern life has come to be presented through the lens of one or another political party... even (and sometimes especially) things that seemingly have nothing to do with politics.

Curious about the origins of the virus that (was used to) shut the world down for two years? That’s political. Wonder about the efficacy of masks and/or vaccines? That’s political, too. Confused as to the accepted definition of a recession... and whether or not the country is actually in one? Again, such a consideration is not merely a matter of interpreting the relevant economic data, but a question of political allegiance. (More on “mere semantics” in tomorrow’s Sunday Session...)

An earnest reader, looking for “just the facts, ma’am,” has a long way to go to get to the truth, if he can even find it at all. Instead he gets “narratives,” “talking points” and “positions.” Modern day mythology, in other words, concocted by insiders to coral outsiders into manageable formation.

WWJ(P)D? As if that weren’t enough, investors must also take into account the likely action of the biggest para-market actor of them all, the mighty Federal Reserve Central Banking System of the United States of America. Every inflation print... every GDP read... every fleck and mote of economic data that comes down the pike must be interpreted in light of the all-important question, “What Would Jerome (Powell) Do?” (WWJ(P)D?)

As Dan Denning explained in yesterday’s note to Bonner Private Research members... “Good news is bad news when it comes to monetary policy,” he wrote. “If the economy is stronger and wages are going up (BLS reports average hourly wage growth of 5.9%) then the economy can handle higher interest rates and Quantitative Tightening from the Fed, right? Higher rates and lower liquidity are bearish for stocks.”

But might investors have missed the story for the headline, the truth behind the myth? What if wages were not growing... but actually sinking? What if the unemployment rate was not 3.5%... but 9.6%? What if all were not as it appears?

Digging deeper into the actual numbers, Dan helps readers get to the bottom of the story. Here’s a choice snippet from his note from yesterday..."The Bureau said the US economy gained 528,000 jobs in July. Consensus forecasts were for a gain of 258,000. By all accounts it was an incredible result. And I do mean in-credible.

Here’s the bad news. The real unemployment rate is 9.6%. Nearly 100 million Americans are out of the workforce. Much of the gain in jobs came from people taking a SECOND or part-time job. The labor force participation rate is at the same level it was in March 1977. And with official inflation at 9.1%, wages are still getting crushed by cost-of-living increases for ordinary Americans. Don’t take it from me. The following facts come straight from the BLS report (emphasis added is mine):

"The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 5.9 million in July, little changed over the month. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 303,000 to 3.9 million in July. This rise reflected an increase in the number of persons whose hours were cut due to slack work or business conditions. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons is below its February 2020 level of 4.4 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent, were little changed over the month. Both measures remain below their February 2020 values (63.4 percent and 61.2 percent, respectively)."

From a high-level point of view, it’s great news that the 22 million jobs lost between March and April of 2020 are back. It’s also great news that the official unemployment rate is the lowest since 1969. But remember, the government response to the pandemic created an economic calamity for Middle Class Americans. The market economy has repaired some of that damage. But the pandemic did not ruin the job market. Government policy did. You have to read beyond the headline figures to get the full picture about the state of the labor market in the United States.

It’s not political, dear reader. Them’s just the numbers. But you do have to take the time to find them. Reading behind the headlines is a big part of what we try to do at Bonner Private Research. Whether you’re investing your money or your time (or both!), it pays to take a step back, question accepted wisdom and reevaluate what you thought you knew... “Come to think of it, how do I know what I think I know... other than that’s what I’ve been told?” We won’t always get it right, of course... but, as our founder Bill Bonner says, “Sometimes right. Sometimes Wrong. Always in doubt.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Frankfort, Illinois, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"A Long March..."

"The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair."
- Bertrand Russell

"The Worst Of Them All..."

"Science may have found a cure for most evils,
but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -
the apathy of human beings."
- Author Unknown
"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass.  When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination - indeed, everything and anything except me."
- Ralph Ellison, "Prologue to Invisible Man"
Full screen recommended.
Phil Collins, "Another Day In Paradise"

"How It Really Is"


"One Of The Most Tragic Things That I Have Read In A Long Time"

"One Of The Most Tragic Things 
That I Have Read In A Long Time"
by Michael Snyder

"Things have never been harder for America’s farmers and ranchers than they are right now. Their relentless hard work keeps us fed, but now many of them are being financially ruined by forces beyond their control. Prices for fertilizer, farm equipment and diesel fuel have spiraled to absolutely absurd heights, and meanwhile extremely bizarre weather patterns are making it almost impossible to operate successfully in many parts of the nation. A lot of farmers and ranchers have already gone out of business, and many more will go out of business in the months ahead unless some sort of a miracle happens.

Back in 1900, there were approximately 5.7 million family farms in the United States, but at that time the total population of the country was just 76 million. Today, there are only about 2.2 million family farms in the United States, but the total population of the country has grown to 329 million.

Agriculture is slowly but surely being consolidated, and the big fish have far more power than the little fish do. It has gotten to a point where it has become nearly impossible for many small farmers and ranchers to survive. To illustrate this, I would like to share something that a farmer named Sheila Payne Blackburn recently posted on Facebook

I am the last one left on our farm and ranch here in central Texas. It has been in our family and in our blood for over 150 years. I was raised to never back down, never give up, get back in the saddle, cowgirls don’t cry, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, hang tough, and every other cowboy expression you can think of.

I have watched my great grandparents, grandparents and my parents die young. Their bodies run down and weak, their minds overwhelmed with stress, and their bank accounts empty. They gave everything they had for our way of life. I have survived drought, floods, excessive heat, -4 degree winters, broncs, bulls that want to kill you, and death of beloved livestock.

But today – today, I think I’m finally broken. Today my body, heart, spirit, and strength are gone. When my dad left this world, he left me holding the bag. He didn’t want to! But he did. Massive debt, tractors that won’t run, old broken down equipment, pickups that barely make it through a pasture. But he also left me the land that I love, the cattle, my heritage, my dream, my knowledge, and passion. But I feel I can’t go up from here.

Our government wants to destroy us. I can’t buy another 20 year old tractor at $120,000 for something that will not even probably make it a week. I can’t afford the diesel to fill up that tractor for $600 to just have to do it again tomorrow.

I can’t afford the fertilizer, the seed, the oil, the grease, the parts. Why should I spend $700 an acre to plow, plant, fertilize, weed kill? A grand total of $140,000. To only lose it in a drought. And really never make that money back! Hell my calves will only bring $800 to $900 a piece. But that same whole beef will cost the consumer $5,000 at the grocery store.

Today my pride means nothing to me anymore! Today I want to live to see my grandchildren grow older! Today I am tired of the heat, the wind, the drought! Today I know that it is only me, and no one will probably take over! Today I wonder what I’m fighting for! Today I am weak. Today I think I am through.

I know I am not the only one that feels this way anymore! Say a prayer for your farmers. Some of us are barely hanging on."

That is truly one of the most tragic things that I have read in a long time. Small farmers and small ranchers are the backbone of this country, and without them we don’t eat. Unfortunately, hardly anyone seems to notice that more of them are going under with each passing day.

Many Americans simply do not care about the plight of our farmers and ranchers right now, but they will definitely start to care when the price of beef doubles or even triples. The following was recently posted on Facebook by a rancher named Brad Allison…"$125 a roll, crap is getting real. The cattlemen doesn’t have a chance. Lick tubs almost $140 a tub, cubes close to $14 a bag. We are getting priced out of existence… Pray for your ranchers to be able to hang in there. Meat prices at the grocery is not their fault, it’s above their head, they surely are not making the profit. 10,000 head of cattle sold in three counties here in the last three weeks from cattlemen drowning. Middle age cattle going to slaughter because we can’t afford to feed them."

This is a very serious national crisis, but most Americans don’t realize it yet. But once these cost increases start showing up at the grocery store in 2023, everyone will finally realize what we are facing. For decades, we have been able to take our farmers and our ranchers for granted. Now everything is changing, and a trip to the grocery store will soon be far more painful.
Yeah, "most Americans don’t realize it yet." And don't care, and deliberately won't, until, in horror, they realize what's happening as an unimaginable new reality viciously slaps that smug smile off their faces. Look around, think it's getting bad now? Well, "you ain't seen nuthin' yet." But you, and all of us, will...
- CP

"Shopping Trip To Kroger Marketplace! Prices Are Crazy!"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 8/6/22:
"Shopping Trip To Kroger Marketplace! Prices Are Crazy!"
"In today's vlog we are at Kroger, and are noticing massive price increases! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and a lot of empty shelves! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
Comments here:

Gregory Mannarino, "Yield Curve Is The Most Inverted Since The Dot-Com Bubble/Meltdown"

Gregory Mannarino, PM 8/5/22:
"Yield Curve Is The Most Inverted Since
 The Dot-Com Bubble/Meltdown"
Comments here:

"Success, Fight Club, Strippers and Socialists"

"Success, Fight Club, Strippers and Socialists"
by John Wilder

"I had a conversation with a friend today. Oh, sure, I hear you say, what would an iconoclastic iron-jawed individualist with a body odor redolent of medium rare ribeye (with just a hint of pepper) like John Wilder need with a friend? I guess we all have our little weaknesses. And dogs follow me. Because I smell like steak.

In this particular case as with most of my friends, I’ve known this friend for years. I’ve known most of my close friends longer than The Boy has been alive, and he’s in college now. It’s nice. If a day, a week, a month or a year goes by, so what? We can still restart the conversation where we left off. It’s as comfortable as watching a movie you’ve seen a dozen times.

I’ll make the observation that the only place where the character of people change is in a movie – almost all of my close friends have the same sense of humor and the same sense of values that they had when our friendships were forming. Absent a significant emotional event, people are a constant. And I like that.

There is a corresponding trust that comes with being a close friend – honesty. That’s why when talking with my friend, I really enjoyed the chance to be honest. Honesty is difficult because it requires that trust, because really honest criticism is hard to take, even when it comes from a friend. Or a co-worker. Or a relative. Or someone you just met. Or your UPS® delivery guy. Oh, wait. Most people don’t like honest. But my friends do.

This particular friend is really in a good position in life, which seems to be a common pattern with my friends. He has a spouse that makes more money than he does, and, in general, the household probably brings in enough cash each month so that Nigerian princes send emails to them asking for money. They’re wealthy enough that they donate to the homeless. This appears to be a more socially acceptable donation strategy than my “donation to the topless,” scheme.

But lest ye want to class my friend as the evil, selfish, wealthy type, he’s not. The family has a huge number of kids, and it’s a close family. My friend is constantly taking time off to go to athletic events, and when we catch up, I can sense that the relationship he has with his kids isn’t a surface relationship – it’s genuine and deep. I can tell, because I know people who understand genuine relationships, who listen to both sides of a family argument – my neighbors.

And yet... despite the wealth, despite the great family, my friend feels that there’s something missing. He is as high as he wants to go in the company he works at – any higher and the travel demands would pull him away from family. He’s long since mastered his job – there is little that can be thrown at him that he hasn’t seen in the last fifteen or so years. So, his condition is one of high pay, mastery of work, and, improbably, discontent.

John Wilder: “You realize you have an advantage that 99% of people would die for. You’re financially secure. You can quit your job anytime. Literally, you could walk in to your boss this afternoon and quit. Your lifestyle wouldn’t change a bit.”
Not Elon Musk: “Yes.”
Unlikely Voice of Wisdom John Wilder: “So, what is it you want to do?”
Really, I Promise It Isn’t Elon Musk: “I need to think about it.”
Channeling Tyler Durden From Fight Club® John Wilder: “No. If you think about it, you’ll end up doing nothing but thinking about it. You have to do something. Physically start it. This weekend. I’ll check back on Monday to see how you did.”

There is a scene in the movie Fight Club™ where Tyler Durden holds a gun to the head of a liquor store clerk. If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly suggest it. I probably watch it once a month while I write – I think there are few movies that communicate the human condition in modern life so well.
Full screen recommended.
And it’s true. I tend to think that everyone’s life would be a little better if they had Tyler Durden to be a life coach, to ever so gently coax them to be the best they can be while holding a .357 magnum Colt® Python™ to their head. That seems to be a bit frowned upon, so that leaves my friends with me. See how lucky you are?

In my role as Dr. Durden, I’ve noticed that there’s a problem some people have. It’s being too clever. It’s thinking. How do I know? It’s my problem that I try to compensate for by writing and doing. If I think about doing something, it will never get done. I keep thinking about fixing the banister that broke when we moved into the house a decade ago. It’s never been high on my list, since people falling down stairs is funny, with extra points if they are really old. But thinking about doing something never accomplishes anything.

If I plan to do it, it will get done. Half of my time driving to and from work on a day I’m going to write a post, I’m writing it in my head, selecting jokes, thinking of themes. It’s also spent thinking of how I’m going to connect the idea I want to share with students who might be forced to read this post when Mrs. Grundy tells them to compare and contrast my work with that poseur, Mark Twain, in high school in the year 2248 (that’s when Kirk will be a sophomore).

It may look like I’m driving to work, but I’m really plotting out what I’m going to write about. To be honest, it sometimes takes both lanes to do that. I wish the State Patrol® would be a little more understanding to artists like me.

Thankfully, The Mrs. is. The Mrs. and I had a conversation the other night. It may or may not have involved wine – I’m not telling unless I’ve been subpoenaed and am under oath to a House subcommittee. Actually, it wasn’t so much a conversation as The Mrs. describing to me how she felt about this little project I publish three times a week.

I don’t make any money on this blog, though I’ve made clear since day one that can change at any time. I have plans for several (eventual) ways to do that including adding subliminal messages causing you to want to pay for my health insurance. It looks like it’s already worked for Bernie Sanders.

No, at this point, writing is a hobby. But it’s a hobby that takes over 20 hours a week, sometimes closer to 30 hours. I still have a job, and I won’t stop interacting my family, so most nights I won’t even start writing before 9pm. A lot of that time comes from time I’d normally be selfishly engaged in what you mortals call “sleep”, but a chunk of that time comes directly from time I’d be spending with The Mrs. When I’m writing, I’m simply not available. I’m writing.

The Mrs.: “You know, I would certainly have an issue with the time that you spend writing, if it weren’t important.” There was more to this, where she detailed the number of hours I spend. But I keyed in on the word “Important.”

I was a little surprised by that. “Important?”

The Mrs.: “Yes. I can see that what you’re writing about is important. People need to hear it. So keep doing it.”

Okay, that proves she never reads this stuff. But as I talked more with my friend, the concept of “meaning” came up.

My Friend Who is Really Most Certainly Not Elon Musk: “So, it’s about meaning?”
Suddenly as Wise as the Roman Philosopher Seneca John Wilder: “That’s silly. You don’t go off chasing ‘meaning’ in your life. Pick out something you like to do, and do it. But figure out how to make it important to other people. You like to woodwork, right? You say you never have time to do it. Do it this weekend. Film it. Put it up on YouTube®. I’ll be checking up with you on Monday.”

I asked myself, why is my friend working at all? I think because he feels he’s supposed to work. That having a job is a rule, it’s what he’s always done. The problem that many of us have is that we tend to create rules where there aren’t any rules. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we need to justify what we do. Perhaps it’s like my two important rules for life:

Don’t tell everything you know.

Success? My friend is already successful in most ways a person can be successful. Their life is really good. I told them, directly, “You’ve been given so many gifts. If you don’t make something special of your life, you’re wasting it.”

Interestingly, this applies to you, too. And me. How will your breakfast taste tomorrow?"

Friday, August 5, 2022

Bertrand Russell, “Three Passions”

“Three Passions”

”Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of humankind.

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of people.
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart,
Of children in famine, of victims tortured,
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living.”

- Bertrand Russell
“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"

"Alert! They Warn Americans To Prepare For A Depression: More Devastating Than Most People Expect"

Full screen recommended.
"Alert! They Warn Americans To Prepare For A Depression: 
More Devastating Than Most People Expect"
by Epic Economist

"Former President Trump came forward during a rally last week to warn that America’s economy is going down the drain and is set to face a much bigger disaster than a typical downturn over the next couple of months. His forecasts came shortly before new official numbers showed that U.S. economic growth is declining for the second consecutive quarter while consumer prices reached the highest level in a generation, and Americans' purchasing power continues to shrink. At this point, there's no way to avoid another economic slump, and what is coming next is going to be even more devastating than most people expect, experts say.

“Where we’re going now could be a very bad place.” He emphasized that millions of Americans are seeing their real wages collapse as inflation continues to rise and eat a bigger share of workers’ buying power. At the same time, worsening labor conditions have resulted in a historically depressed labor force participation rate, and the administration’s current push for a Green New Deal is only going to accelerate our economic slump given that the nation’s critical energy supplies are dwindling. “We got to get this act in order, we have to get this country going, or we’re going to have a serious problem,” he alerted.

In his view, calling the next downturn a recession is not enough to describe the difficulties we’re all going to face. Considering that virtually every sector of the economy is being hit by one disruption after the other, Trump argues that an economic depression that will rival the Great Depression of the 1930s is ahead, and a few days after his speech, new official numbers were released and they indicate that his forecasts might be spot on.

“On Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released data showing that real U.S. GDP fell by an annualized 0.9 percent in the second quarter after contracting 1.6 percent in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth are a common definition for a recession, although recessions in the United States are officially declared by a committee of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research using a broader definition than the two-quarter rule,” as explained by Tom Ozimek in a new article for The Epoch Times.

No wonder why so many experts believe things will get far worse as we move towards the end of the year. In his remarks, the former president also criticized the current government’s handling of the economy, blaming the Democrat-controlled White House for soaring inflation and growing economic imbalances.

On top of all of that, skyrocketing energy prices are making the situation much more complicated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, soaring energy costs accounted for around half of the headline inflation figure. Trump argued that these decisions left the United States in a very vulnerable position. Now, we’re literally “begging” other countries to pump more oil instead of trying to ramp up domestic production. The shortage of energy supplies is already slowing down manufacturing activity and contributing to the deterioration of the country’s economic conditions. The term “recession” can be described as a broad-based weakness in the economy, and that’s exactly what we’re witnessing right now.

It’s safe to say that their attempts to curb inflation by rising interest rates will only make things worse. Our money is gradually becoming worthless paper and the decaying living standards of our country will destroy our Republic and plunge us into an economic depression unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetime. The moment of truth has arrived. Now more than ever, it’s time to wake up."
“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.”
- Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

God help us, indeed...

Musical Interlude: The Moody Blues, "Your Wildest Dreams"

Full screen recommended.
The Moody Blues, "Your Wildest Dreams"

"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)."

"We Were Made For These Times"

by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”

The Poet: William Stafford, "The Gift"

"The Gift"

"Time wants to show you a different country. It's the one
that your life conceals, the one waiting outside
when curtains are drawn, the one Grandmother hinted at
in her crochet design, the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It's the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then, violated
in various ways. (And sometimes it's turn about.)
You get tired of that. Long-suffering, you wait
and pray, and maybe good things come - maybe
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. It is called happiness.

It's a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you've been and how people
and weather treated you. It's a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, "Here, take it, it's yours."

- William Stafford