"In today's vlog we are at Kroger, and are noticing massive price increases! We are here to go over a new sale tactic that Kroger is trying! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
"I made a historical video on Russian prices on February 23, 2022. A few hours before... And I also promised to give you an update about the prices in Russian stores. So it's 6 and a half months of sanctions today, and I'm doing an update. Also I have seen a few articles on the Western media that prices in Russian stores went down compared to prices in Europe. Let's check this out!"
“What are those red clouds surrounding the Andromeda galaxy? This galaxy, M31, is often imaged by planet Earth-based astronomers. As the nearest large spiral galaxy, it is a familiar sight with dark dust lanes, bright yellowish core, and spiral arms traced by clouds of bright blue stars.
A mosaic of well-exposed broad and narrow-band image data, this colorful portrait of our neighboring island universe offers strikingly unfamiliar features though, faint reddish clouds of glowing ionized hydrogen gas in the same wide field of view. These ionized hydrogen clouds surely lie in the foreground of the scene, well within our Milky Way Galaxy. They are likely associated with the pervasive, dusty interstellar cirrus clouds scattered hundreds of light-years above our own galactic plane.”
“Is there a flight from reason in the United States? Everywhere we look, science is under attack. In government. In the schools. In the churches. We are offered faith-based substitutes. The “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic novels outsells everything else on the shelves. People are more interested in astrology than astronomy. Intelligent design is championed at the highest levels of government. Alternative medicine - faith healing, homeopathy, energy therapies, New Age healing, and the like - is more popular than ever. Scripture and revelation are embraced as more reliable sources of knowledge than anything we might learn empirically.
We are entering, it seems, a new Dark Age. For a substantial number of our fellow citizens, it's as if the Enlightenment never happened.
Let me take you back to the Hellenistic city of Alexandria, at the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt, in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Alexandria was then the seat of a magnificent flowering of mathematical and scientific thought. The city welcomed all comers - Eratosthenes from Cyrene, Aristarchus from Samos, Archimedes from Sicily, Apollonius from Rhodes, Hipparchus from Nicaea, Galen from Pergamon, and so on - the only requirement being an inquisitive mind and a bent for explaining the world in terms that made no reference to the gods. Geography and astronomy became mathematical sciences. Eratosthenes measured the size of the Earth. Aristarchus deduced the sizes and distances of the Sun and Moon.
These spectacular achievements get no more than passing mention in textbooks of Western Civilization. We learn in school about the Golden Age of Greece and the glory that was Rome, Sophocles and Ovid, the Parthenon and the Pantheon, triremes and aqueducts, but very little of the invention of scientific thinking in the white city at the mouth of the Nile.
Alexandria was built on a ribbon of land between Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean Sea. It was graced with forums, temples, marketplaces, palaces, a double harbor with a famous lighthouse, quays, warehouses, and, prominently, a museum ("place of the muses"), and the famous library over which Eratosthenes presided. The museum and library were together the equivalent of a great modern university. It was the dream of the first rulers of Alexandria - the Ptolemys - that the library would possess a copy of every book in the known world, and within a century hundreds of thousands of scrolls were collected within its walls. By the middle of the first century B.C. Diodorus of Sicily could say that Alexandria was "the first city of the civilized world, certainly far ahead of all the rest in elegance and extent and riches and luxury."
In his book "The Greeks and the Irrational", the scholar E. R. Dodds was thinking of the Greek culture of Alexandria when he wrote: "Despite its lack of political freedom, the society of the third century B.C. was in many ways the nearest approach to an 'open' society that the world had yet seen, and nearer than any that would be seen again until modern times." It was a society confident of its powers. Aristotle had asked his fellow citizens to recognize a divine spark within themselves: the intellect. Men and women who exercise reason can live like gods, he said. For Zeno, the human intellect was not merely akin to God, it is God, a portion of the divine substance. Temples are superfluous, he said; God's true temple is the human intellect.
Of this supreme confidence in rational thought, the Alexandrians created a new empirical, mathematical way of knowing. But the seeds of irrationality were also there, embedded in popular culture, or perhaps embedded in the human soul. Soon enough, supernaturalism returned. Astrology and magical healing replaced astronomy and medicine. Cults flourished, rationalists were scapegoated, and scientific culture began to decline.
The old dualisms - mind and matter, God and nature, soul and body - which the rationalists had striven to overcome, reasserted themselves with fresh vigor. Dodds calls it "the return of the irrational." He writes: "As the intellectuals withdrew further into a world of their own, the popular mind was left increasingly defenseless. . .and left without guidance, a growing number relapsed with a sigh of relief into the pleasures and comforts of the primitive. . . better the rigid determinism of the astrological Fate than the terrifying burden of daily responsibility."
Harvard historian of science Gerald Holton sees a similarity between Dodds' description of the decline of Greek culture and the resurgence of anti-science in our own time. Once again, astrology, magical healing, and other kinds of superstitious thinking are in ascendancy. Once again, cults flourish and rationalists are scapegoated.
The Greek experience shows that movements to delegitimize science are always present, says Holton, ready to bend civilization their way by the glorification of folk belief, violence, mystification, and the rabid ideologies of ethnic and nationalistic passions. Dodds calls it "the fear of freedom - the unconscious flight from the heavy burden of individual choice which an open society lays upon its members."
Science can only prosper in a free and open society, in an atmosphere of rational skepticism where traditional patterns of thought are challenged and subjected to critical scrutiny. Science will only flourish when a people have confidence in the power of the human intellect to make sense of the world."
"All of us live in a silo of our own making to some degree. We read news sites we like and we like them because they tend to cover the stuff we think is important, in a way we hope is accurate. We admire opinions with which we agree. We hang out with people who share our interests. That’s normal. It’s also normal to know it and know others have different opinions and interests. Most normie conservatives get that Fox News is biased toward the Republicans, but they know all of the other stations are heavily biased to the Democrats.
This self-awareness has never applied to the Left. Every normal person has had a conversation with a Progressive friend where they claim the news is biased against them or is too easy on some conservative they currently hate. They will argue that Fox News is poisoning the minds of the public. When you point out that 90% of the mass media is run by hard left true believers, they scoff and say you’re nuts. The hive mind of Progressives has always allowed them to pretend they are surrounded by a sea of their enemies.
One point made by some on the Dissident Right is that this blinkered view of the world has infected the so-called conservatives. They are blind to the intellectual revolution going on over here, because they stare at Lefty all day. Like people looking directly into the sun, they are blind to everything else. As a result, the legacy conservatives carry on like it is 1984 and Dutch Reagan is riding high. Much of what so-called conservatism is these days is just a weird nostalgia trip, celebrating a fictional past with no connection to the present.
There are many reasons why so-called conservatives are becoming irrelevant, but the main reason is that their good friends on the Left are racing off into a fantasy land of their own creation. Listen to a modern Progressive talk and it is a weird combination of echolalic babbling and paranoia about dark forces that are imaginary. Replace “Russian hacking” with “work of the devil” and their howling makes more sense. Things like “foreign meddling” and “institutional racism” are just stand-ins for Old Scratch.
This increasingly weird disconnect between the Left and this place we call earth shows up in their main propaganda organs. Those old enough to remember reading English versions of communist newspapers can recognize the unintended humor on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post. This front page item is a good example. Everything in that “news” story describes a world that only exists in the fevered imaginations of the Left. It was a fictional account of present reality written for believers.
This Andrew Sullivan piece bumps up against this reality a little bit, but from a different angle. His argument is that the fantasy land of academia is casting a long shadow over American society, so it is imperative that the college campus be reformed to look something like reality. His framing of things is mostly wrong because he is just a slightly less berserk member of the hive he is trying analyze. His description of the dynamic on campus, though, is correct. It is a world untethered from reality.
The fact is, the college campus is the apotheosis of Progressive spiritualism. It has been dominated by the Left for as long as anyone has been a live. The constant flow of credit money into American higher education has removed all restraints on the people in charge. They are free to indulge whatever fantasies they have at the moment, as no one ever gets fired and the money spigot stays open. As a result, the American college campus is the full flowering of the Progressive imagination. It’s Wakanda for cat ladies.
This lurch into madness is the result of plenty. Up until recent, the threat of nuclear annihilation and the lack of universal prosperity has reined in the excesses of the Left. In order to win elections, Progressive politicians had to focus on better economics and expanding opportunity. Of course, the Cold War kept everyone focused on practical reality, as a mistake could have set off a nuclear exchange. That’s no longer the case, in human terms, and there are looming threats.
Progressivism has always been a spiritual movement. It is the quest for cosmic justice based on the notion that we are only as good as the weakest among us. That is a fine and noble sentiment, as long as it remains a sentiment. The reality of scarcity has always kept this spiritualism in check. As we enter into a post-abundance world, Progressives are free to explore the far reaches of their mysticism. The result is a ruling class that is looking more like eastern mystics, than pragmatic rulers.
It is why civic nationalism is a dead end street. You see it in the Andrew Sullivan piece about the campus culture. What he is arguing in favor of is the same things we hear from civic nationalists. They all agree with Progressives that we need a unifying religion. They just want a debate about the contours and end points of the religion. The fact that no one has ever pulled this off without ushering in a bloodbath never gets mentioned, Instead, all of these folks prefer to frolic in imagination land, where all their dreams come true.”
“There are meaningful warnings which history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy. But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their offensive; you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?”
"These are the Best of Times - It’s All Downhill from Here"
"There’s so many signs in the economy that things are headed in a more problematic direction. What if these are the best of times right now? What if they will not be as good as they are today for a decade? Are you ready?"
"The monstrous thing is not that men have created roses out of this dung heap, but that, for some reason or other, they should want roses. For some reason or other man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only one second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality. Everything is endured - disgrace, humiliation, poverty, war, crime, ennui - in the belief that overnight something will occur, a miracle, which will render life tolerable. And all the while a meter is running inside and there is no hand that can reach in there and shut it off."
"Recently there has been news about a major counteroffensive by the Ukrainian armed forces (UAF) in eastern-southern Ukraine. Both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries are large, professional organizations backed by institutions designed to produce qualified warriors. Both militaries are well led, well equipped, and well prepared to undertake the missions assigned them. They are among the largest military organizations in Europe.
The Russian military is staffed by officers of the highest caliber, who have undergone extensive training in the military arts. They are experts in strategy, operations, and tactics. They know their business.
The Ukrainian military has undergone a radical transformation in the years since 2014, where Soviet-era doctrine has been replaced by a hybrid doctrine which incorporates NATO doctrine and methodologies. This transformation has been accelerated dramatically since the outset of the Special Military Operation, with the Ukrainian military virtually transitioning from older Soviet-era heavy equipment to an arsenal which more closely mirrors the table of organization and equipment of the NATO nations which are providing billions of dollars of equipment and training.
The Ukrainians are, like their Russian counterparts, military professionals adept at the necessity of adapting to battlefield realities. The Ukrainian experience, however, is complicated by the complexity associated by trying to meld two disparate doctrinal approaches to war (Soviet-era and modern NATO) under combat conditions. This complexity creates opportunities for mistakes, and mistakes on the battlefield often result in casualties - significant casualties.
Russia has fought three different style wars in the six months that the Special Military Operation has been underway. The first was a war of maneuver, designed to seize as much territory as possible to shape the battlefield militarily and politically. The Special Military Operation was conducted with approximately 200,000 Russian and allied forces, who were up against an active-duty Ukrainian military of some 260,000 troops backed by up to 600,000 reservists.
The standard 3:1 attacker-defender ratio did not apply - the Russians sought to use speed, surprise, and audacity to minimize Ukraine’s numerical advantage, and in the process hoping for a rapid political collapse in Ukraine that would prevent any major fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. This plan succeeded in some areas (in the south, for instance), and did fix Ukrainian troops in place and cause the diversion of reinforcements away from critical zones of operation. But it failed strategically - the Ukrainians did not collapse, but rather solidified, ensuring a long, hard fight ahead.
The second phase of the Russian operation had the Russians regroup to focus on the conquest/liberation of the Donbas region. Here, Russia adapted its operational methodology, using its superiority in firepower to conduct a slow, deliberate advance against Ukrainian forces dug into extensive defensive networks and, in doing so, achieving unheard of casualty ratios that had ten or more Ukrainians being killed or wounded for every Russian casualty.
While Russia was slowly advancing against dug in Ukrainian forces, the US and NATO provided Ukraine with billions of dollars of military equipment, including the equivalent of several armored divisions of heavy equipment (tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery, and support vehicles), along with extensive operational training on this equipment at military installations outside Ukraine. In short, while Russia was busy destroying the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, Ukraine was busy reconstituting that army, replacing destroyed units with fresh forces that were extremely well equipped, well trained, and well led.
The second phase of the conflict saw Russia destroy the old Ukrainian army. In its stead, Russia faced mobilized territorial and national units, supported by reconstituted NATO-trained forces. But the bulk of the NATO trained forces were held in reserve. These are the forces that have been committed in the current phase of fighting - a new third phase. Russia finds itself in a full-fledged proxy war with NATO, facing a NATO-style military force that is being logistically sustained by NATO, trained by NATO, provided with NATO intelligence, and working in harmony with NATO military planners.
What this means is that the current Ukrainian counteroffensive should not be viewed as an extension of the phase two battle, but rather the initiation of a new third phase which is not a Ukrainian-Russian conflict, but a NATO-Russian conflict. The Ukrainian battle plan has “Made in Brussels” stamped all over it.
The force composition was determined by NATO, as was the timing of the attacks and the direction of the attacks. NATO intelligence carefully located seams in the Russian defenses, and identified critical command and control, logistics, and reserve concentration nodes that were targeted by Ukrainian artillery which operates on a fire control plan created by NATO.
The tactics used by Ukraine appear to be completely new. Probing attacks are launched to force the Russians to reveal their defensive fires, which are then suppressed by Ukrainian counterbattery fires directed by drones and/or counterbattery radars. Then highly mobile Ukrainian forces rapidly advance through identified seams in the Russian defense, driving deep into largely unprotected territory. These main columns are supported by raids carried out by vehicle mounted troops which strike Russian rear area positions, further disrupting any Russian response. In short, the Ukrainian army that Russia is facing in Kherson and around Kharkov is unlike any Ukrainian opponent it has previously faced. Advantage, Ukraine.
Russia, however, is a capable military opponent. The potential for a Ukrainian counteroffensive has been known for some time. To think that Russia has been taken completely unawares is to be dismissive of the professionalism of the Russian armed forces. But there are some operational realities that accrue when Russia has self-limited itself to a forces structure of around 200,000 men, especially when fighting on a battlefield as large as the one that exists in Ukraine.
There are simply not enough forces to go around, and as a result, Russia has deployed forces in low-priority sectors more thinly than would be otherwise advisable. These forces occupy strongpoints that are designed to cover the gaps between strongpoints with firepower. The Russians have also identified forces who would reinforce these thinly held areas of the front as required.
It is possible to have a situation where Russia anticipated the potential for a concerted Ukrainian counterattack, and yet was still taken by surprise at the combination of new factors that presented themselves once this attack materialized. The speed of the Ukrainian advance was unexpected, as were the tactics used by Ukraine. The level of operational planning support and intelligence provided by NATO in support of this counterattack likewise appeared to have taken the Russians by surprise.
But the Russian army is extremely adaptive. They have shown a willingness to save lives by giving up territory, allowing the Ukrainians to expend resources and capability without conducting a decisive engagement with Russian troops. Where required, Russian troops matched the audacity and courage of the Ukrainian forces with their own courage-laced tenacity, holding out in an effort to delay the Ukrainian advance while other Russian forces redeployed.
At the end of the day, it appears that Ukraine will exhaust its carefully gathered reserve forces before the bulk of Russia’s response engages. The Kherson offensive appears to have stalled, and whether by design or accident, the Kharkov offensive is shaping up to become a trap for the Ukrainian forces committed, who find themselves in danger of being cut off and destroyed.
At the end of the day, this counteroffensive will end in a strategic Ukrainian defeat. Russia will restore the front to its original positions and be able to resume offensive operations. The Ukrainians, meanwhile, will have squandered their reserves, limiting their ability to respond to a new Russian advance.
This doesn’t mean the war is over. Ukraine continues to receive billions of dollars of military assistance, and currently has tens of thousands of troops undergoing extensive training in NATO nations. There will be a fourth phase, and a fifth phase…as many phases as necessary before Ukraine either exhausts its will to fight and die, or NATO exhausts its ability to continue supplying the Ukrainian military. I said back in April that the decision by the US to provide billions of dollars of military assistance was ‘a game changer.”
What we are witnessing in Ukraine today is how this money has changed the game. The result is more dead Ukrainian and Russian forces, more dead civilians, and more destroyed equipment. But the end game remains the same - Russia will win. Its just that the cost for extending this war has become much higher for all parties involved."
"I have been hearing from so many people that have a really bad feeling about what the months ahead will bring. Global events are starting to spiral out of control, and it has become exceedingly clear that we are rapidly moving into extremely challenging times. In the past, we would always talk about famine, war and pestilence in hypothetical terms, but now they have become clear and present dangers. For weeks, I have been warning that the period of relative stability that we have been enjoying this summer would soon be over. The fall is almost here, and winter is coming. Of course the difficulties that we will be facing as 2022 rolls into 2023 will just be the beginning of our problems. The years in front of us aren’t going to look anything like the years that we have just been through, and many will be absolutely shocked by how fast conditions change.
Today, I went to the grocery store and I was horrified by how much prices have risen. But these prices will look like bargains six months from now. As I have carefully been documenting, we are in the beginning stages of the worst global food crisis that any of us have ever seen. Right now, crops are being devastated by endless drought all over the globe. China is currently experiencing the worst drought that it has witnessed in recorded history, the western half of the U.S. is in the midst of the worst multi-year megadrought in 1,200 years, and Europe is enduring the worst drought that it has been through in at least 500 years.
Agricultural production is going to be way down all over Europe in 2022, and now the energy crisis is threatening crops that have actually been grown successfully. That is because putting harvested vegetables in cold storage is no longer profitable because of how insanely high energy prices have become.
For example, Norwegian vegetable farmer Per Odd Gjestvang is leaving tons of leeks in the field to die because it simply costs too much to store them as he normally does…"Around 29 tonnes of leeks are lost. It has a gross value of around 700,000. “This is madness. This is food that should have been harvested and taken care of,” says Gjestvang. On the farm, the family grows around 3,000 tonnes of vegetables each growing season. The leeks had normally been taken to cold storage, so that they would be found in Norwegian vegetable counters this winter. But the calculation simply does not add up for the farmer.
With today’s electricity prices, Gjestvang does not see it as financially sound to spend money on storing the vegetables. In that case, it will be a purely loss-making project, he believes. So tons and tons of good vegetables will rot instead of showing up in the stores in the months ahead."
Gjestvang knows that this is a tremendous waste, but he just can’t afford to pay 16 times as much for cooling than he did last year…"In the high season, Gjestvang uses around 80,000 kilowatt-hours a month for cooling. Previously, Gjestvang paid around [NOK] 24,000 for electricity per month. Now the price is almost 16 times as high. The way the market is now, with a cautiously high electricity price of NOK five [the country’s base currency], it will be NOK 400,000. It is not possible to achieve, he says."
This is happening all over Europe. If Europeans think that vegetable prices are high now, just wait until we get into early 2023.
Meanwhile, crops are failing here in the United States on a widespread basis. The following comes from the Washington Post…"It was a bad year for corn. And for tomatoes. And for many other American crops. Farmers, agricultural economists and others taking stock of this summer’s growing season say drought conditions and extreme weather have wreaked havoc on many row crops, fruits and vegetables, with the American Farm Bureau Federation suggesting yields could be down by as much as a third compared with last year."
If yields really are down “by as much as a third” what do you think that will do to food prices? It doesn’t take a genius to answer that question.
A global food crisis is here, and there is no short-term hope on the horizon. In fact, one UN official is now projecting that total global grain production could be down another 40 percent in 2023 due to elevated fertilizer prices…"More than six months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global fertilizer crunch threatens to starve a planet as prices are too high for some farmers ahead of the next planting season. That’s the view of Maximo Torero, chief economist from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), who told Bloomberg TV that elevated fertilizer prices could decrease global grain production by upwards of 40% in the next planting season." If that actually happened, it would be catastrophic.
The one thing that would really help is if the war in Ukraine ended. That would definitely stabilize global energy prices and give us a chance to start digging our way out of this mess. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. Instead of trying to find a way to achieve peace with Russia, the Biden administration continues to escalate matters…"The Biden administration is arming Ukraine with weapons that can do serious damage to Russian forces, and, unlike early in the war, U.S. officials don’t appear worried about Moscow’s reaction.
In the past several months, Washington has detailed tranches of new drones, harder-hitting missiles and deadly rocket systems as part of billions of dollars pledged to the former Soviet country. The clear support is a far cry from the early days of the war, when the U.S. government seemed hesitant to list exactly what was being sent into Ukraine so as not to tip off or draw the ire of Moscow. All of this assistance is starting to really help on the battlefield." (That's not true, Michael, due to rampant theft and corruption. - CP)
In recent days, a counter-offensive in the Kharkiv area has had great success. (I'm sorry, Michael, but that simply is not true. - CP) Apparently a very large number of foreign fighters under the umbrella of “the international legion of Ukraine” are involved in this counter-offensive. But the Russians suspect that a lot of these foreign fighters are actually special operations personnel from the United States, the UK and other NATO countries. If that is true, the war in Ukraine has now gone to an entirely new and dangerous level.
Of course the Russians continue to escalate matters as well. Cutting off the flow of gas to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was a very aggressive move, and now Europe is facing a winter in which large segments of the economy literally shut down for the foreseeable future…"In addition, energy prices have reached a level that threatens the existence of many companies. Just this week, German toilet paper company Hakle filed for bankruptcy, with the owners citing unsustainable energy and material costs as the primary factor. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Europe’s steel industry, which requires massive amounts of cheap natural gas to run, is slashing production and facing severe financial headwinds. Other sectors, such as chemical production, agriculture, and automating are all facing unprecedented hurdles as the energy crisis continues to grip Europe.
Cries for help from the once booming German economy are now coming from business leaders, associations, and consumers, with the Federation of German Industries (BDI) also warning of a wave of bankruptcies due to energy cost inflation. A new analysis by the BDI states that this is a major challenge for 58 percent of companies, and 34 percent believe the current crisis represents a matter of survival. Germany is no exception either, with warning from the United Kingdom showing that six in ten manufacturing companies face the risk of closure due to the energy crisis."
The fall of the European economy has arrived, and the winter that follows is going to be extraordinarily painful. Of course the U.S. economy is headed for major league problems as well. We are facing a massive global food crisis, a massive global energy crisis, a massive global inflation crisis and a war with Russia all at the same time.
And to be honest, what we have been through so far is just the very small tip of a very large iceberg. Decades of incredibly bad decisions have brought us to this point, and our leaders continue to make even more incredibly bad decisions. So buckle up, because the ride ahead is going to be extremely unpleasant."
“You go up to a man, and you say, “How are things going, Joe?” and he says, “Oh fine, fine… couldn’t be better.” And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn’t be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much.”
"Inevitable economic collapse, dollar crash, middle class wipe out, inflation crisis. This is what is waiting for us in 2022-23. Prepare now." Ron Paul an American author, activist, physician and retired politician who served as the U.S. representative for Texas's 22nd congressional district from 1976 to 1977 and again from 1979 to 1985.
"Future Historians May Call This The ‘Crisis of the 21st Century’"
by Simon Black
"In the year 210 AD, after two decades of constant warfare, Roman Emperor Septimius Severus was finally satisfied: he had conquered nearly the entire known western world. This was the year that the Roman Empire reached its maximum territory – approximately 5 million square kilometers, stretching from Morocco to Georgia, from southern Scotland to western Iran. Plus Rome controlled absolutely everything in and around the Mediterranean. They controlled the Black Sea. They controlled the Nile and Danube Rivers. They controlled the Silk Road.
In short, Rome controlled virtually every known trade route in the world, and this gave them extraordinary economic power. But it came at great cost: It’s expensive to wage war. It’s even more expensive to maintain a huge empire. And in order to pay for it all, Septimius Severus resorted to heavily debasing the Roman currency. The purity of the denarius silver coin plunged from 83.5% down to just 55% during his rule.
Severus died the following year in 211, at which point his son Caracalla became emperor after murdering his own brother. Caracalla was legendary for his cruelty, brutality, and poor decisions. He executed many of Rome’s most productive citizens, doubled tax rates, and debased the currency even further. Caracalla was eventually slain by one of his own soldiers. But Rome’s string of bloodthirsty, maniacal emperors was just getting started.
By 218 AD, for example, the new Emperor Elagabalus completely ignored the duties of his office because he was so obsessed with his own sexuality. Elagabalus reportedly offered to give away half of the Roman Empire as payment to any surgeon who could turn him into a woman, and he used to regularly prostitute himself at local brothels around Rome. He too, was assassinated.
In fact political assassinations were becoming so commonplace in Rome that it was almost remarkable when an emperor died of natural causes. In 238 AD, for example, Rome had SIX different emperors in a single year, with each plotting the murder of his predecessor. Throughout the entire third century, in fact, Rome had a total of 35 different emperors. Only one is certain to have died of natural causes. Most were murdered by rivals.
By mid-century, Rome was in full-blown crisis. In fact historians today actually call this period the “Crisis of the Third Century”. The political turmoil caused deep distrust in institutions; the Emperors themselves were typically corrupt, depraved, incompetent, or all of the above, and Romans lost all confidence in their government. Moreover, the currency had been debased so severely that inflation was rampant across the empire.
The government was routinely failing to secure its borders, and various foreign tribes began flooding into Roman territory, causing severe disruptions to trade and agricultural production. Rising powers in the region – namely the Kingdom of Alemannia – even began conducting raids in the Empire and directly engaging the Roman military. Rome suffered a number of embarrassing military defeats, shattering its reputation as a strong, invincible superpower.
Oh, and there was also a massive pandemic in the year 249. (Stop me when this all sounds familiar). It was known as the Plague of Cyprian, and it caused even more widespread economic devastation. In particular, the pandemic caused major labor shortages, and nearly every industry struggled to find enough workers. So naturally the imperial government stepped in and started forcing people into government service. They needed more soldiers to enforce their ridiculous edicts, and more tax collectors to steal people’s money. And this made the labor shortages even worse.
Rome was essentially in a period of nasty stagflation. The currency was constantly losing value, prices were rising, and the economy was shrinking. Trust was at an all-time low, social divisions were extreme, civil war was commonplace, corruption reigned, and people felt like the situation was hopeless.
It was around this time that the Empire literally began to split apart. By 270, in fact, what used to be known as the Roman Empire had actually divided into three distinct regional empires. And it appeared that the once-dominant superpower was no more.
But that’s also when a former soldier named Lucius Domitius Aurelianus became emperor of the new, smaller, regional Roman Empire. He is known to history as Aurelian, and his top priority upon assuming power was reunifying the Empire. His military victories were nothing short of astonishing; within just a few years, Aurelian had reconquered nearly all of the Roman territory that had been lost during the Crisis of the Third Century. He also took steps to reform the currency, heal social divisions, eliminate corruption, and slash the government budget.
Aurelian only ruled for about five years (before he, too, was murdered by rivals). But his actions were so successful in helping to end the crisis that he was given the title Restitutor Orbis – Restorer of the World. Rome eventually did fall. But without Aurelian, it would have all probably ended in 270 AD. In just five years he managed to implement enough reforms to keep the western empire going for another two centuries.
Centuries from now, future historians may look back on this time as America’s “Crisis of the 21st century”. When you think about it, so far this century the US has endured the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror, the Global Financial Crisis, a complete breakdown of trust, extreme social divisions, chaos at the border, cancel culture, Big Tech censorship, the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of China, humiliation in Afghanistan, war in Europe, record high debts and deficits, inflation, stagflation, and much more.
It looks eerily similar to Rome’s Crisis of the Third Century. And I know for many people it seems hopeless. But it’s not. The 1970s was another extremely dark period in the United States which included stagflation, crime, political corruption, energy crisis, hostages in Iran, and the constant threat of war with the Soviet Union. It was a horrible time. But nothing unifies voters and focuses their minds on the right priorities like shared suffering.
And so in 1980, voters threw all the bums out and brought in a new government that, within a few years, tamed inflation, cut taxes, reduced the size of government, strengthened the military, and set much better conditions for economic prosperity. (I’d actually encourage you to watch Ronald Reagan’s brief remarks during his very first press conference in 1981, summarizing his administration’s mission.)
If we’re being intellectually honest, government bears the bulk of the responsibility for most of the problems we’re facing today. So theoretically, a better, more responsible government has the power to arrest the decline and move things in the right direction once again. And there is substantial historical precedent for this turnaround thesis; Aurelian is just one example.
But it would be a major affront to our basic human dignity to capitulate all responsibility for our lives to politicians. And frankly I think this is a huge problem. Too often people believe that they don’t have control over their own lives, and that things will only start to improve once the ‘right’ people have been elected.
Sure, it’s possible that a better, reform-minded government may emerge from this Crisis of the 21st Century. But the reality is that no one needs to wait for an election, or for some politician to ride to the rescue. Most of us as individuals lack the authority or resources to fix national problems on a grand scale. But we absolutely have the power, and a multitude of tools at our disposal, to set ourselves up for success.
For example, we know Social Security’s major trust funds will run out of money in about 10 years, causing the program to make drastic cuts to its benefits. But we also have a number of tools available to fix this problem for ourselves – like setting up a robust retirement structure and channeling side-income into tax-advantaged investments. We know taxes are on the rise and likely to rise more. But we also have completely legal ways to reduce them.
We may be facing certain domestic risks at home. But there are nearly 200 other countries in the world where we can set up our own personal safe havens. We can certainly hope the Crisis of the 21st Century ends with voters coming together and electing a responsible government. But in the meantime, there are countless steps that anyone can take to improve their own lives which don’t require any politician to save the day. Rather, all that’s needed is a little bit of education, and the will to take action."
“Close to the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and surrounded by the stars of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici), this celestial wonder was discovered in 1781 by the metric French astronomer Pierre Mechain. Later, it was added to the catalog of his friend and colleague Charles Messier as M106. Modern deep telescopic views reveal it to be an island universe - a spiral galaxy around 30 thousand light-years across located only about 21 million light-years beyond the stars of the Milky Way.
Along with a bright central core, this stunning galaxy portrait, a composite of image data from amateur and professional telescopes, highlights youthful blue star clusters and reddish stellar nurseries tracing the galaxy's spiral arms. It also shows off remarkable reddish jets of glowing hydrogen gas. In addition to small companion galaxy NGC 4248 at bottom right, background galaxies can be found scattered throughout the frame. M106, also known as NGC 4258, is a nearby example of the Seyfert class of active galaxies, seen across the spectrum from radio to X-rays. Active galaxies are powered by matter falling into a massive central black hole.”
"There is a four-line poem by Yeats, called "Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors":
"What they undertook to do They brought to pass; All things hang like a drop of dew Upon a blade of grass."
Like so many of the short poems of Yeats, it is hard to know what the poet had in mind, who exactly were the unknown instructors, and if unknown how could they instruct. But as I opened my volume of "The Poems" this morning, at random, as in the old days people opened the Bible and pointed a finger at a random passage seeking advice or instruction, this is the poem that presented itself. Unsuperstitious person that I am, it seemed somehow apropos, since outside the window, in a thick Irish mist, every blade of grass has its hanging drop.
Those pendant drops, the bejeweled porches of the spider webs, the rose petals cupping their glistening dew - all of that seems terribly important here, now, in the silent mist. There is not much good to say about getting old, but certainly one advantage of the gathering years is the falling away of ego and ambition, the felt need to be always busy, the exhausting practice of accumulation. Who were the instructors who tried to teach me the practice of simplicity when I was young - the poets and the saints, the buddhas who were content to sit beneath the bo tree while the rest of us scurried here and there? I scurried, and I'm not sorry I did, but I must have tucked their lessons into the back of my mind, a cache of wisdom to be opened at my leisure.
Whatever it was they sought to teach has come to pass. All things hang like a drop of dew upon a blade of grass."
"In ordinary times we get along surprisingly well, on the whole, without ever discovering what our faith really is. If, now and again, this remote and academic problem is so unmannerly as to thrust its way into our minds, there are plenty of things we can do to drive the intruder away. We can get the car out or go to a party or to the cinema or read a detective story or have a row with a district council or write a letter to the papers about the habits of the nightjar or Shakespeare's use of nautical metaphor. Thus we build up a defense mechanism against self-questioning because, to tell the truth, we are very much afraid of ourselves."
"How can we live the American Dream when the deck is stacked against us? For decades, our politicians stood idly by as millions of good-paying jobs were shipped overseas, our economic infrastructure was completely dismantled and multitudes of businesses were choked to death, leaving our population mostly with low-paid positions, a shrinking purchasing power, and rising living expenses. Today, we are definitely reaping the consequences. According to a new survey, almost 1 in 2 Americans are struggling financially right now, which means that about half the country is flat broke, and things are set to get even more precarious for working families as we enter the last few months of the year.
Working families in America are being destroyed by this crazy economy. Households are getting squeezed by a giant pile of expensive bills that only get higher and higher, and wages are not keeping pace with rising prices. People are seeing the value of their money go down while the cost of living continues to go up. That is why the levels of economic suffering are simply off the charts at this point, with almost 1 in 2 Americans saying that they’re having major difficulties making ends meet financially amid soaring food and gas bills, new research from Monmouth University shows.
More than 42% of the nation’s workers admitted they are under financial pressure, pointing to inflation as their biggest concern, the survey found. The figure is the highest recorded by the university since it started polling people five years ago. At the same time, over half of the nation – or 51 percent of all American workers - make less than $30,000 a year. With so many expenses adding up and so little money, most people don’t have a financial safety net to rely on. In fact, a new YouGov survey says that 49 percent of all Americans could not afford an unexpected $400 emergency expense without borrowing the money from somewhere or selling something.
Considering all of these factors, there’s no wonder why so many hard-working families are facing such great financial hardship. Despite working harder than ever, Americans’ sense of financial security is diminishing. Given that we have to spend a larger share of our salaries each month, it is getting harder to save money and build a financial cushion to fall back on. Having emergency savings is key to avoiding taking on more debt. But unfortunately, roughly 40% of consumers cannot put any money at all into savings, according to a recent analysis of household financial health and readiness by the American Consumer Credit Counseling, while about 19% said they had to reduce their savings rate.
Sadly, this is about as good as things are going to get. A new economic downturn is on our doorsteps, and layoff announcements at major firms are running 24 percent higher this year than they were last year. The America that most of us grew up in is dying, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning of its collapse. Our leaders will continue with business as usual. They will just keep doing the same things over and over again, and foolishly expecting different results. Whatever they are doing to “fix” things is not going to work, and that’s crystal clear to everyone by now.
We must start valuing working families again, and that means giving them opportunities to improve their financial situations and encouraging the creation of good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, we have already entered the early stages of the next great economic crisis, and so things are going to get a whole lot worse for the working class before there is any chance of them getting better."
As The Cost Of Living Pushes More People Into Poverty"
by Michael Snyder
""The food lines are back, and they are starting to get really long. But this wasn’t supposed to happen. We are being told that unemployment is very low, even though that is not actually true. And we are also being told that the inflation rate is still only in the single digits, and of course that is not exactly true either. All over the country, middle class Americans are watching their lifestyles be absolutely eviscerated by the cost of living crisis, and an increasing number of them are turning to food banks. So we are seeing very long lines at food banks in major cities from coast to coast, and we are also seeing very long lines in rural locations such as northwest Montana…"Across the Flathead, food pantries are facing emptier shelves and scarcer donations as demand for their services grows. “Our numbers have definitely been increasing,” Ann Bohmer, co-manager of the Columbia Falls Food Bank, said. “[There’s been an] influx of people and a shortage of supplies.”
The Columbia Falls Food Bank is now “overwhelmed” by the level of demand that it is experiencing, and unfortunately the same thing can be said for countless other food banks across the nation…"The problem of overwhelmed and understocked food banks is not unique to northwest Montana. Food and gas prices are skyrocketing across the country, forcing Americans to pinch pennies and limit purchases. As of last month, grocery store prices were up 10.8% from the same time last year. While supermarket tabs are getting higher, lines at food pantries are getting longer, as Americans struggle to put meals on the table."
You should never, ever look down on those that need to use local food banks. Because the truth is that with a few bad breaks you could soon need to use one yourself.
Prior to this new economic crisis, a woman in the Phoenix area named Tomasina John had never visited a food bank before, but now her local food bank is an indispensable lifeline for her family…"Tomasina John was among hundreds of families lined up in several lanes of cars that went around the block one recent day outside St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix. John said her family had never visited a food bank before because her husband had easily supported her and their four children with his construction work. “But it’s really impossible to get by now without some help,” said John, who traveled with a neighbor to share gas costs as they idled under a scorching desert sun. “The prices are way too high.”
Sadly, economic conditions have forced dozens of food banks all over the country to either shut down or reduce services at a time when they are needed more than ever. Elsewhere in the United States, rising prices have forced dozens of charitable nonprofits to shutter, temporarily close, or reduce services. This spring, Nashville’s Little Pantry closed down after five years of operation. New Jersey’s Angels Community Outreach announced a temporary closure due to supply shortages. And Utah’s Tooele Food Pantry canceled an important food drive because of staffing and logistical issues. Among the food banks that remain open, some are putting limitations on how often people can visit and how much food they can get.
If our food banks are under this much financial stress already, what will things be like a year from now? That is something to think about.
Across the Atlantic, they are dealing with similar problems in the UK…"Food banks are running out of supplies amid an “overwhelming” surge of new people falling into hardship during the cost of living crisis, with some charities forced to turn away families in need."
As I discussed yesterday, an unprecedented energy crisis has much of Europe on the verge of a full-blown economic collapse. Energy bills have soared to unprecedented heights, and the cost of living has become extremely oppressive. As a result, many in the UK are now skipping meals on a regular basis…"Four out of 10 Universal Credit claimants have admitted to missing meals over the summer in order to keep up with rising costs, research shows. Some 41% of people on benefits admitted to skipping meals over the past three months, with a further 38% claiming to have had just one meal or gone a whole day without eating because they couldn’t afford to buy enough food. The research was conducted by The Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest food bank charity, which surveyed 1,846 UK adults claiming benefits between August 10 and 31 via YouGov."
So why aren’t more people getting prepared? Top government officials all over the planet are openly telling us that there will be food shortages in 2023, but the vast majority of the people out there seem to assume that everything is going to work out just fine somehow. Just because we have always had plenty of food in the past does not mean that we will have enough food in the future.
According to the World Food Program, 828 million people all over the world go to bed hungry each night, vast numbers of people in Europe are already being forced to skip meals because of rising food costs, and children are literally starving to death in Africa right now. But here in the United States we will be immune from the global food crisis because we are so special, right? If you want to stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything is just fine, go ahead and do so. Meanwhile, the food lines are getting longer and longer, and crops are failing all over the planet."