Saturday, October 22, 2022

"People Are Not Paying Their Bills"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly, 10/22/22:
"People Are Not Paying Their Bills"
"Credit card delinquencies are only going to get worse. Banks are building war chests to combat the delinquencies. Banks are putting up unusual holds on accounts and real estate is still going through the roof."
Comments here:

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Greater Than The Sum"

Full screen recommended.
2002, "Greater Than The Sum"
In Ancient Greece, philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
wrote “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“How many arches can you count in the below image? If you count both spans of the Double Arch in the Arches National Park in Utah, USA, then two. But since the below image was taken during a clear dark night, it caught a photogenic third arch far in the distance- that of the overreaching Milky Way Galaxy. Because we are situated in the midst of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy, the band of the central disk appears all around us.
The sandstone arches of the Double Arch were formed from the erosion of falling water. The larger arch rises over 30 meters above the surrounding salt bed and spans close to 50 meters across. The dark silhouettes across the image bottom are sandstone monoliths left over from silt-filled crevices in an evaporated 300 million year old salty sea. A dim flow created by light pollution from Moab, Utah can also be seen in the distance.”


"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in 
heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through
 and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."
~ An Eskimo saying.

"And It Was Pointless..."

“And it was pointless… to think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and for the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell… for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you were. All your grief hasn’t changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is to go on or not. But if you go on, it’s knowing you carry your scars with you.”
- Charles Frazier

“The Immutable Laws of Nature, and Murphy’s Other 15 Laws”

“The Immutable Laws of Nature, and Murphy’s Other 15 Laws”
by Peter McKenzie-Brown

“The Immutable Laws of Nature”

•Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you’ll have to pee.
•Law of Gravity: Any tool, nut, bolt, screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible place.
•Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
•Law of Random Numbers: If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal; someone always answers.
•Law of Variable Motion: If you change traffic lanes or checkout queues, the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now.
•Law of the Bath: When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone will ring.
•Law of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases exponentially when you are alongside someone you don’t want to be seen with.
•Law of the Damned Thing: When you try to prove to someone that a machine or device won’t work, it will.
•Law of Biomechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
•Law of the Spectator: At any theatrical, musical or sporting event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle always arrive last. They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, for beer, or to the toilet and who leave before the end of the performance or game. Those who occupy the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay seated beyond the end of the performance. The aisle people also are very surly folk.
•Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your partner will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
•Murphy’s Law of Lockers: When only 2 people are in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.
•Law of Plane Surfaces: The chance that a slice of marmalade toast will land face down on a floor is directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet or rug.
•Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible when you don’t know what you are talking about.
•Law of Physical Appearance: If clothes fit, they’re ugly.
•Law of Public Speaking: A closed mouth gathers no feet
•Law of Commercial Marketing: As soon as you find a product that you really like, it will cease production or the store will stop selling it.
•Law of Psychosomatic Medicine: If you don’t feel well, make an appointment to see to the doctor and by  the time you get there, you’ll feel better. If you don’t make an appointment you’ll stay sick.

“Murphy’s Other 15 Laws”

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
3. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.
5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.
7. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.
9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them.
10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
11. The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.
12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.
13. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.
14. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.
15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.”

Chet Raymo, “Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright…”

“Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright…”
by Chet Raymo

“Divinity is not playful. The universe was not made in jest but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet.” You may recall these words from Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.” There is nothing intrinsically cheerful about the world, she says. To live is to die; it’s all part of the bargain. Stars destroy themselves to make the atoms of our bodies. Every creature lives to eat and be eaten. And into this incomprehensible, unfathomable, apparently stochastic melee stumbles… You and I. With qualities that we have - so far - seen nowhere else. Hope. Humor. A sense of justice. A sense of beauty. Gratitude. But also: Anger. Hurt. Despair. Strangers in a strange land.

Galaxies by the billions turn like St. Catherine Wheels, throwing off sparks of exploding stars. Atoms eddy and flow, blowing hot and cold, groping and promiscuous. A wind of neutrinos gusts through our bodies, Energy billows and swells. A myriad of microorganisms nibble at our flesh.

We have a sense that something purposeful is going on, something that involves us. Something secret, holy and fleet. But we haven’t a clue what it is. We make up stories. Stories in which we are the point of it all. We tell the stories over and over. To our children. To ourselves. And the stories fill up the space of our ignorance. Until they don’t. And then the great yawning spaces open again. And time clangs down on our heads like a pummeling rain, like the collapsing ceiling of the sky. Dazed, stunned, we stagger like giddy topers towards our own swift dissolution. Inexplicably praising. Admiring. Wondering. Giving thanks.”
“The Tyger”

“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”

- William Blake

The Daily "Near You?"

Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Putin’s Winter Offensive"

"Putin’s Winter Offensive"
 by Mike Whitney

“Every dead Russian and Ukrainian in this war, every family anywhere in the world that suffers the consequences of this war, every business that shuts down because of the economic damage this war is causing and the increased risk of nuclear annihilation, it’s all US Govt made.” Twitter @KimDotcom

"Proxy War (def)– a war instigated by a major power which does not itself become involved."

"Ukrainian gains on the battlefield have been met by a widely-anticipated Russian escalation. On September 21, in a rare national address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of 300,000 reservists who would be called to serve in the war in Ukraine. In recent weeks, the Russian army has suffered a number of setbacks due to its lack of sufficient manpower in the battlespace. Simply put, the Russians did not have enough combat troops to carry out their mission or to defend the vast area that has recently been annexed by Moscow. Russia’s Special Military Operation was never designed to seize and occupy great swaths of Ukrainian territory. In essence, the SMO was a police operation aimed at locating and eliminating the Ukrainian forces that had been bombarding and killing ethnic Russians living in east Ukraine. After numerous clashes with advancing NATO-trained battalions, it’s clear that Russia needs significant reinforcements to roll back Ukrainian forces and impose a security buffer around its new provinces. Russia’s critics see the under-staffing as an indication of military incompetence but, in fact, Moscow is merely adapting to a fluid situation in which both parties continue to raise the stakes. Here is an excerpt from a post by Big Serge at Substack that helps to clarify what’s going on:

"Of all the phantasmagorical claims that have been made about the Russo-Ukrainian War, few are as difficult to believe as the claim that Russia intended to conquer Ukraine with fewer than 200,000 men. Indeed, a central truth of the war that observers simply must come to grasp with is the fact that the Russian army has been badly outnumbered from day one. On paper, Russia has committed an expeditionary force of less than 200,000 men, though of course that full amount has not been on the frontline in active combat lately.

The light force deployment is related to Russia’s rather unique service model, which has combined “contract soldiers” – the professional core of the army – with a reservist pool that is generated with an annual conscription wave. The transition from a Soviet mobilization scheme to a smaller, leaner, professional ready force was part and parcel of Russia’s neoliberal austerity regime throughout much of the Putin years.

This Russian contract force can still accomplish a great deal, militarily speaking – it can destroy Ukrainian military installations, wreak havoc with artillery, bash its way into urban agglomerations in the Donbas, and destroy much of Ukraine’s indigenous war-making potential. It cannot, however, wage a multi-year continental war against an enemy which outnumbers it by at least four to one, and which is sustained with intelligence, command and control, and material which are beyond its immediate reach…

More force deployment is needed. Russia must transcend the neoliberal austerity army. It has the material capacity to mobilize the needed forces – it has many millions in its reservist pool, enormous inventories of equipment, and indigenous production capacity undergirded by the natural resources and production potential of the Eurasian bloc that has closed ranks around it. But remember – military mobilization is also political mobilization.” (“Politics By Other Means; Putin and Clausewitz”, Big Serge Thoughts, Substack)

Russia’s critics, of course, will dismiss this explanation as nonsense, even so, the calling up of 300,000 reservists shows that Putin’s generals realize they cannot achieve their strategic objectives with merely an “expeditionary force” but must adjust to changes on the ground. And that is precisely what they are doing; they are beefing up their forces at a time when Putin’s public approval rating is at an eye-watering 77%. So, while an earlier mobilization would have undoubtedly been met with widespread condemnation and rejection, the great majority of Russians now fully support the policy. Simply put, Putin has won the hearts and minds of the Russian people. He has convinced them that their country, traditions, culture and lives face an unprecedented existential threat. Here’s more from Big Serge: "Putin and those around him conceived of the Russo-Ukrainian War in existential terms from the very beginning. It is unlikely, however, that most Russians understood this….

What has happened in the months since February 24 is rather remarkable. The existential war for the Russian nation has been incarnated and made real for Russian citizens. Sanctions and anti-Russian propaganda – demonizing the entire nation as “orcs” – has rallied even initially skeptical Russians behind the war, and Putin’s approval rating has soared. A core western assumption, that Russians would turn on the government, has reversed. Videos showing the torture of Russian POWs by frothing Ukrainians, of Ukrainian soldiers calling Russian mothers to mockingly tell them their sons are dead, of Russian children killed by shelling in Donetsk, have served to validate Putin’s implicit claim that Ukraine is a demon possessed state that must be exorcised with high explosives… The government of Ukraine (in now deleted tweets) publicly claimed that Russians are prone to barbarism because they are a mongrel race with Asiatic blood mixing.” (Big Serge, Substack)

In short, the establishment media and political class have made Putin’s job easier for him by persuading even left-leaning Russians that the western nations – led by the US – despise all-things Russian and are determined to destroy their country and subjugate their people. Here’s Putin: "I want to underscore again that their insatiability and determination to preserve their unfettered dominance are the real causes of the hybrid war that the collective West is waging against Russia. They do not want us to be free; they want us to be a colony. They do not want equal cooperation; they want to loot. They do not want to see us a free society, but a mass of soulless slaves….I would like to remind you that in the past, ambitions of world domination have repeatedly shattered against the courage and resilience of our people. Russia will always be Russia. We will continue to defend our values and our Motherland.

We have never agreed to and will never agree to such political nationalism and racism. What else, if not racism, is the Russophobia being spread around the world? What, if not racism, is the West’s dogmatic conviction that its civilization and neoliberal culture is an indisputable model for the entire world to follow?

Today, we are fighting so that it would never occur to anyone that Russia, our people, our language, or our culture can be erased from history. Today, we need a united society, and this unification can only be based on sovereignty, freedom, creation, and justice. Our values ​​are humanity, mercy and compassion.” (Speech on the Accession of the New Regions to Russia, Vladimir Putin, Unz Review)

According to Putin, the collective west wants to plunder Russia, enslave its people, and create a colony whose wealth can be siphoned off by tyrannical bigots and foreign profiteers. The media’s relentless attack on Russian athletes, scholars, scientists, musicians and even businessmen has only reinforced the view among ordinary Russians that they have entered the crosshairs of a violent and out-of-control western coalition that intends to deliver the same lethal death-blow to Russia that they did to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and countless other nations. Putin’s soaring public approval ratings underscore the fact that most Russians think the threat is real and that the battle must be joined. Here’s more from Big Serge:

“Putin has … achieved his project of formal annexation of Ukraine’s old eastern rim. This has also legally transformed the war into an existential struggle. Further Ukrainian advances in the east are now, in the eyes of the Russian state, an assault on sovereign Russian territory and an attempt to destroy the integrity of the Russian state. Recent polling shows that a supermajority of Russians support defending these new territories at any cost.” (Substack)

The speed at which Putin annexed the four regions in Ukraine suggests that the real purpose of the action goes far beyond the expansion of Russia’s western border. The real reason Putin rushed through the measure was to fundamentally change the rules of engagement. Needless to say, a Special Military Operation is worlds apart from the defense of one’s own sovereign territory. In other words, the real purpose of the referendum was to indicate that “the gloves are off” and that Russia is going to respond to Ukraine’s attacks with unexpected ferocity. Here’s Serge again:

A political consensus for higher mobilization and greater intensity has been achieved. Now all that remains is the implementation of this consensus in the material world of fist and boot, bullet and shell, blood and iron.”

Russia is massing for a winter escalation and offensive, and is currently engaged in a calculated trade wherein they give up space in exchange for time and Ukrainian casualties. Russia continues to retreat where positions are either operationally compromised or faced with overwhelming Ukrainian numbers, but they are very careful to extract forces out of operational danger…

Russia will likely continue to pull back over the coming weeks, withdrawing units intact under their artillery and air umbrella, grinding down Ukrainian heavy equipment stocks and wearing away their manpower. Meanwhile, new equipment continues to congregate in Belgorod, Zaporizhia, and Crimea. My expectation remains the same: episodic Russian withdrawal until the front stabilizes roughly at the end of October, followed by an operational pause until the ground freezes, followed by escalation and a winter offensive by Russia once they have finished amassing sufficient units.

There is an eerie calm radiating from the Kremlin…The disconnect between the Kremlin’s stoicism and the deterioration of the front are striking. Perhaps Putin and the entire Russian general staff really are criminally incompetent – perhaps the Russian reserves really are nothing but a bunch of drunks. Perhaps there is no plan.

Or perhaps, Russia’s sons will answer the call of the motherland again, as they did in 1709, in 1812, and in 1941. "As the wolves once more prowl at the door, the old bear rises again to fight.” (Big Serge, Substack)

Bottom line: Russia has now laid the groundwork for a broader and more violent conflict. 300,000 reservists have been called up, vast amounts of military hardware are being shipped to the front, and public opinion overwhelmingly supports the war-effort. All the signs point to a significant escalation in the fighting that will leave much of Ukraine in ruins while pushing Washington and Moscow closer to a direct confrontation.

Mearsheimer’s Chilling Prediction: “The Russians are going to turn Ukraine into rubble.” John Mearsheimer called it right in 2015 and he called it right again 7 months ago. Maybe the US Govt should hire him as a fire alarm: 2 minute video:
- Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) October 12, 2022

The Middle Class Is Dying! 50 Percent Of All American Workers Made Less Than $3,133 A Month Last Year

The Middle Class Is Dying! 50 Percent Of All American
 Workers Made Less Than $3,133 A Month Last Year
by Michael Snyder

"Inflation is systematically destroying our standard of living, and the middle class is shrinking a little bit more with each passing day. The Social Security Administration just released wage statistics for 2021, and the numbers that they have given us are quite stunning. As you will see below, half of all American workers made less than $3,133 a month last year. Once upon a time, you could live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle on $3,133 a month. But thanks to inflation, such a wage now puts you just barely above the poverty level. The decisions that our leaders have been making are absolutely eviscerating the middle class, and that should deeply trouble all of us.

You can find the new Social Security Administration wage report right here. The following are some statistics that I pulled out of the report…
-More than 30 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-More than 41 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-More than 52 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-More than 62 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

These numbers tell us that most Americans are just barely scraping by, but our leaders want us to buy into the illusion that most people are “doing well” these days. Of course that isn’t even close to the truth. According to the Social Security Administration, the median wage for 2021 was just $37,586.03…"By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $37,586.03 for 2021."

If we were still living in 1980, that would be fine. But we aren’t in 1980 anymore. In 2022, the poverty level for a household of five in the United States is $31,040. That means that a worker in the United States making the median wage would be earning just enough to lift a family of five above the poverty line. If you divide $37,586.03 by 12, that gives you a median monthly wage of $3,132.17. For purposes of this article, I will round up and call it $3,133.

Half of all American workers make more than that per month, and half of all American workers make less than that per month. And it is important to remember that this figure is before taxes are taken out. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to spiral out of control. Recently, the average rent on a single family home in the United States reached $2,495 a month…"Rent prices for single family homes swelled during the first half of 2022, hitting a national average of $2,495 a month - a 13.4% increase compared to the same period in 2021, according to a new report from national real estate brokerage HouseCanary."

If you are only earning $3,133 a month and you have to spend $2,495 a month for rent, that leaves you next to nothing for everything else. For example, all of us have to eat. But these days a single shopping cart full of food will easily run you more than 300 dollars. And that is if you are trying to be really frugal.

Gasoline has also become extremely expensive. All the way back in 1960, a gallon of gas cost just 31 cents. Today, gas is approaching 7 dollars a gallon in some parts of California.

I could go on and on with more examples of the rapidly rising cost of living. Heating bills are expected to soar this winter, health insurance has gotten absurdly expensive, and new vehicles cost so much that most Americans can no longer afford them.

If things are this bad already, what will conditions be like for the middle class as the economy deteriorates in 2023 and beyond? The worst housing crash since 2008 has now started, the financial markets are on pace for their worst year since 1969, and big companies all over America are starting to lay off people in large numbers. Alarmingly, some of the biggest layoffs are actually being conducted by the big tech companies. In fact, we just learned that Microsoft will be laying off approximately 1,000 workers…"Microsoft will lay off about 1,000 employees, the company confirmed Tuesday. Although it is not confirmed if the layoffs are isolated in gaming divisions, employees who work for Xbox and other Microsoft-owned studios said they were being laid off, the Washington Post reported. Axios first reported the layoffs Monday evening."

At this point, almost everyone can see that a recession is coming. (What?! "Recession'? This will be the greatest Depression in the history of the world, Michael, and you know it. Folks, he's being overly kind here. - CP) Even Jeff Bezos, who is usually extraordinarily optimistic, is warning people to “batten down the hatches”…"Amazon founder Jeff Bezos warned America’s to ‘batten down the hatches’ as he shared a tweet warning of a likely impending recession. Bezos – who is the world’s second-richest man – tweeted a video of Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon saying there was a ‘good chance’ of a downturn. The Amazon founder – who has a $137 billion fortune – signaled his agreement by captioning the tweet: ‘Yep, the probabilities in this economy tell you to batten down the hatches.’"

When Jeff Bezos starts sounding like The Economic Collapse Blog, you know that the hour is late.
Yep, the probabilities in this economy tell you to batten down the hatches.
- Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 18, 2022

These days, our impending economic downturn has even become a very hot topic among Hollywood celebrities…Even non-billionaire-but-still-rich person Gwyneth Paltrow is losing sleep over it. “The economy sucks,” she told the Hollywood Reporter this week. “I’m just worried about next year and how bad the recession’s gonna be.” Other celebrities are weighing in, too. Last month, rapper Cardi B ranted about inflation and interest rates. “How are people surviving? I want to know.”

If the middle class is steadily eroding during relatively stable times, what is going to happen once the economy really begins to unravel? There is so much anger all over the United States right now, and the vast majority of the population is simply not prepared for what is ahead.

I have been writing about the demise of the middle class for more than a decade, and the condition of the middle class has never been worse than it is right now. At one time America had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, and that was a wonderful thing. But now very dark times for the middle class are here, and there doesn’t appear to be much hope on the horizon."

"Kroger Marketplace, Stock Up Now! What's Next?"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 10/22/22:
"Kroger Marketplace, Stock Up Now! What's Next?"
"In today's vlog we are at Kroger Marketplace, and are noticing massive price increases. We are finding lots of sales that we point out that are some great options to stock up on for the future."
Comments here:

"How It Really Is"


The Poet: Henry Austin Dobson, “The Paradox Of Time”

“The Paradox Of Time”

“Time goes, you say? Ah no! 
Alas, Time stays, we go; 
Or else, were this not so, 
What need to chain the hours, 
For Youth were always ours? 

Time goes, you say? – ah no! 
Ours is the eyes’ deceit 
Of men whose flying feet 
Lead through some landscape low; 
We pass, and think we see 
The earth’s fixed surface flee - 
Alas, Time stays, – we go! 

Once in the days of old, 
Your locks were curling gold, 
And mine had shamed the crow. 
Now, in the self-same stage, 
We’ve reached the silver age; 
Time goes, you say? – ah no! 

Once, when my voice was strong, 
I filled the woods with song 
To praise your ‘rose’ and ‘snow’; 
My bird, that sang, is dead; 
Where are your roses fled? 
Alas, Time stays, – we go! 

See, in what traversed ways, 
What backward Fate delays 
The hopes we used to know; 
Where are our old desires? 
Ah, where those vanished fires? 
Time goes, you say? – ah no! 

How far, how far, O Sweet, 
The past behind our feet 
Lies in the even-glow! 
Now, on the forward way, 
Let us fold hands, and pray; 
Alas, Time stays, – we go!”

- Henry Austin Dobson
“Time passes in moments. Moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen? To consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed? But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?”
- Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, “The X-Files”
Full screen recommended.
Hans Zimmer, "Time"

"Its True Object..."

"The summit is believed to be the object of the climb. But its true object - the joy of living - is not in the peak itself, but in the adversities encountered on the way up. There are valleys, cliffs, streams, precipices, and slides, and as he walks these steep paths, the climber may think he cannot go any farther, or even that dying would be better than going on. But then he resumes fighting the difficulties directly in front of him, and when he is finally able to turn and look back at what he has overcome, he finds he has truly experienced the joy of living while on life's very road."
- Eiji Yoshikawa


"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."
- Edward Abbey

Musical Interlude: Peder B. Helland, "Sunny Mornings", Full album.

Full screen recommended.
Peder B. Helland, "Sunny Mornings", Full album.
Tracks from "Sunny Mornings":
1. My Rose
2. Thoughtful
3. Sunny Mornings
4. Sunny Days
5. Early in the Morning
6. Warm Light
7. Morning Whisper
8. Peaceful Day
9. Happy Times
Be kind to yourself, forget all the troubles and horrors 
for a little while, and savor this beautiful album.

Friday, October 21, 2022

"25 Retailers Are Dying Right In Front Of Our Eyes"

Full screen recommended.
"25 Retailers Are Dying Right In Front Of Our Eyes"
by Epic Economist

"Even the most loved, the most popular, and some of the biggest store chains in America aren't immune to the avalanche that is bringing countless retailers to the ground in the past few years. The decay of the retail industry is one of the most devastating events the U.S. economy has been facing in the past decade. Each store closure means that thousands of jobs can disappear overnight and also suggest that even the nation's most well-established companies can literally die before our eyes from one moment to the other.

For example, Fry’s Electronics is amongst the ones saying their last goodbyes. After almost 36 years in business, Fry’s Electronics tried everything to survive the retail carnage and even launched an online store. The company was founded in Silicon Valley in 1985 and offered software, hardware and electronics, toys, cosmetics, and home appliances. After a rocky couple of years, changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by supply chain disruptions, Fry’s Electronics decided to shut down its online store completely, and it is now closing its remaining 31 stores across nine states.

Similarly, Family Video stores are seeing their last days. Last year, it had already closed almost half of its stores, and in July 2022, it announced that it would shut down all of its remaining locations. The chain noted in a press release that it couldn’t compete with the convenience streaming services provided, especially at a time when the cost of living is going through the roof and it’s become harder to justify getting in the car to pick up a couple of Blu-Rays - not to mention the drive back. “While we have faced digital competition from Netflix and others for years, nothing has been as devastating to our business as the ongoing economic downturn,” the CEO of the company stated. Now, Family Video is in the process of closing its last 125 open locations around the country.

The downfall of all of these celebrated brands has one underlying common reason: an exhausted economy that is failing to support the growth of its businesses and give them the conditions to thrive. At this point, U.S. consumers are extremely overwhelmed with the highest prices they've seen in decades. Their wages cannot support consumption. In fact, people can barely afford to pay for their most basic necessities, which means that the pain these companies have felt so far is merely a fraction of what's coming over the next few quarters. Put it simply, as our purchasing power collapses, so do our businesses. And retailers' mass extiction has only just begun.

The pace at which everything is taking place is truly alarming, and the truth is that no one can tell with 100% certainty whether or not the next time we visit our local store is going to be the last."

"FED Performs Another Market Miracle; Inflation Insanity About To Hyper"

Jeremiah Babe, 10/21/22:
"FED Performs Another Market Miracle; 
Inflation Insanity About To Hyper"
Comments here:

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, "Laguna Indigo"

Full screen mode recommended.
Liquid Mind, "Laguna Indigo"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Here is one of the largest objects that anyone will ever see on the sky. Each of these fuzzy blobs is a galaxy, together making up the Perseus Cluster, one of the closest clusters of galaxies. The cluster is seen through a foreground of faint stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Near the cluster center, roughly 250 million light-years away, is the cluster's dominant galaxy NGC 1275, seen above as a large galaxy on the image left. A prodigious source of x-rays and radio emission, NGC 1275 accretes matter as gas and galaxies fall into it. The Perseus Cluster of Galaxies, also cataloged as Abell 426, is part of the Pisces-Perseus supercluster spanning over 15 degrees and containing over 1,000 galaxies. At the distance of NGC 1275, this view covers about 15 million light-years.”

The Poet: Robert Bly, "Things to Think"

"Things to Think"

"Think in ways you've never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you've ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he's carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you've never seen.

When someone knocks on the door,
Think that he's about
To give you something large: tell you you're forgiven,
Or that it's not necessary to work all the time,
Or that it's been decided that if you lie down no one will die."

- Robert Bly, “Morning Poems”

"Asking For Trouble..."

“We’ve all heard the warnings and we’ve ignored them. We push our luck. We roll the dice. It’s human nature. When we’re told not to touch something we usually do even if we know better. Maybe because deep down, we’re just asking for trouble.”
- “Meredith Grey”, “Gray’s Anatomy”

Jim Kunstler, "The Authorities Are Our Enemies"

"The Authorities Are Our Enemies"
The people who run things in this country don’t deserve 
your respect or allegiance. They are at war with you. 
They want you and your children dead.
by Jim Kunstler

"Welcome to the New Age, where authority has no authority and does not deserve to act with any authority, but will act as if it does, anyway, and then lie to you about it. Nowhere is this quandary more vivid than in the racketeering operation formerly known as medicine. As if there has not already been enough official f**kery over the lab-birthed Covid-19 virus, the CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee voted on Thursday to add Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA shots to its childhood vaccine schedule. The vote was 15 to 0 - a final supreme gesture of contempt for the people of this land.

Had none of the committee members seen reports of mRNA-vaccinated children dropping dead from myocarditis induced by the vaccines? Or read about the effect of the vaxxes on the reproductive organs? Or the enhanced incidence of cancer? Or heard about the damage that the shots instigate in human immune systems? If not, that would be astounding. The news is all over the place (if not in the mainstream news media). Was any of this discussed in their deliberations? I don’t think so, but we may never know.

Adding the mRNA shots to the official vaccine schedule will make permanent the liability shield their makers enjoy under the current emergency use authorization (EUA). Pfizer and Moderna are now off-the-hook for any responsibility, unless fraud over the vaxxes is proven in a court of law. Given the vast evidence of harms done by these products, will that be a difficult thing to do? Consider: cases for fraud can be brought in any jurisdiction of the USA, not just in the notoriously corrupt DC federal district court, which does not recognize crime for what it is (crime).

This is the first time that a pharmaceutical under an EUA has been admitted to the childhood vaccine schedule. The Vaccine Advisory Committee said it was okay because it consulted with the Department of Justice’s Office of General Counsel, and the lawyers there said it was okay. One might ask: is it within the purview of the DOJ’s Office of General Counsel to review the medical criteria for such a decision? The answer must be no. How are they qualified? You may be certain they did not parse the drug trial data on the mRNA products, or study the official reports of deaths and injuries. In short, they know nothing. Their authority in the matter is vacated.

Since many states and localities go by the CDC’s vaccine guidelines, as well as pediatricians, then millions of children will be required to get the shots to attend school. So, the CDC has not only put an as-yet-untold number of kids on the road to disability, infertility, and death, but it may have coincidentally destroyed public schooling in America.

The so-called “uptake” on mRNA shots for children has been paltry. Parents do not want their kids to get the shots. Do you know why? I’ll tell you: Because, unlike the experts who sit on the CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, many parents have actually read about the serious adverse reactions in young people who get the shots. And many more have heard enough horrifying rumors - despite the criminal delinquency of the major news media in ignoring any negative news about the vaxxes - prompting these parents to steer clear of vaxxing their children. Other countries have officially and altogether discontinued mRNA vaxxes for children. Do you think that’s for no reason?

If the schools require mRNA shots, then many parents will not send their kids to these schools. Parents have plenty of other reasons to want to withdraw their kids from public schools, not least the pervasive race-and-gender hustle that is replacing actual pedagogy in this country. The schools are now hostage to Marxist lunatics, launched from colleges and universities that are likewise captured by Marxist lunatics. They seek to overturn Western Civilization and its long train of accomplishments in discovering how the world works. They seek to replace all that with a set of wishful fairy tales that don’t comport with reality. Why would any sane parent subject their child to such a wicked regime? Might this not provoke a rebellion against paying the exorbitant school taxes all across America?

Beneath all of this lies the subterranean flow of enormous sums of money to the Pharma companies that virtually own the US public health bureaucracy. Anthony Fauci’s minions, dispersed among the various agencies under the US Department of Health and Human Services, plus those in the ancillary CDC, have been pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in royalties from patents associated with the mRNA products. And they’ve continued to haul in that schwag during the three-year fracas over the bad faith origins of Covid 19 and the deceitful introduction of these so-called “vaccines” - which do not stop the transmission of the disease and present manifold dangers to those who take them.

Everything the authorities tell you about all this is a lie. They are turning desperate because the time is at hand when they will actually have to answer for their crimes against the people of this country. They don’t deserve your respect and they surely can’t command your compliance."
"Put simply, it means the vaccines were designed
 to contain the very element that’s killing people."

The Daily "Near You?"

Amherst, Virginia, USA. Thanks for stopping by!


“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?”
- Chuck Palahniuk

"One Day..."


"Forward… Into The Past"

"Forward… Into The Past"
The fuel crisis deepens, food shortages loom 
and the lights are about to go... out.
by Bill Bonner and Joel Bowman

Delray Beach, Florida - "A news item from Tuesday. reports: "Diesel Crisis Deepens As Inventories Fall To Dangerous Levels." "U.S. buyers are snapping up diesel cargos originally planned for Europe as the crisis deepens. Reuters reported earlier this month that at least three tankers carrying diesel from the Middle East had changed their course mid-journey and were now traveling to the United States. And this new competition is about to intensify.

Europe is in for a major diesel supply shock because of low inventories and strong demand. And the level of inventories had a lot to do with the unplanned outages at European refineries before maintenance season, including the four-week drop in French fuel output amid the workers’ strike."

Why are supplies running short? Because of America’s proxy war against Russia? Because virtual-signaling investors have taken their money out of the energy sector? Because oil and gas companies are not investing in new refineries, new wells, or new pipelines? Because governments are declaring war on fossil fuels, and pledging to exterminate them? Because inflation has made long term investing (the kind you need in the energy sector) too uncertain and too risky for most investors?

Of course, it is all of those things. A real ‘cluster,’ says a friend. This is not the first ‘cluster’ for mankind. Many have come and gone. But this threatens to be the biggest ‘cluster’ ever seen.

One Giant Step Backward: Perhaps it will turn out like China’s Great Leap Forward… a giant step backward for those involved. But this time, the disaster won’t be confined to a single country; it will be worldwide. Of course, Mao probably didn’t intend to kill 30 – 50 million people. It was an “accident,” said some historians (others regard it as cold-blooded murder). “Collateral damage,” might be a better description.

Mao and his henchmen were right. In 1961, China needed to industrialize. But after a few years of Mao’s policies, Deng Tsaio Ping, who had barely avoided torture and execution, realized that instead of catching up with Japan and the West, China was falling further behind. He saw the secret, too – that real wealth cannot be created by politicians and bureaucrats… and real prosperity cannot be led by central planners and central bankers. It has to arise, naturally, from the bottom up. A real, successful economy is vernacular, in other words. Not anti-vernacular.

A prosperous economy only needs the government to allow it to exist, by recognizing and protecting private property (including savings and capital wealth) and by giving people the freedom to innovate and do deals with each other. Otherwise, it should stay out of the way. “To get rich is glorious,” said Deng in 1979. Thereafter, a lot of Chinese did get rich. It was the largest, fastest build-up of wealth the world had ever seen.

No one was tortured to make it happen. No one was killed. No one starved to death. No decrees from the government told people to make steel or to build skyscrapers. Businesses were created. They paid wages. People from the countryside moved to the city for jobs and income. Chinese earnings soared. Average wages went from almost zero in 1979 to over 100,000 Chinese yuan per year (about $14,000). That’s the difference between an organic, bottom-up economy… and one where the people in charge make the important decisions. The first works; the latter doesn’t.

Theory vs. Practice: Which brings us to the point of this series. The idea of the Green Revolution is to move us quickly into the future – at least as some people see it – whether we want to go there or not. And the people behind it have their ‘scientific’ studies, their theories, and their Ph.Ds. to prove that it is the way to go. Whether they are throwing virgins into a volcano, outlawing alcohol, or invading Iraq, the know-it-all busybodies are always on board. Each time, they are wrong. And each time, there is collateral damage. And this time, we risk collateral damage on an epic scale.

China’s Great Leap Forward gives us an idea of what could happen. Trying to move the country, by force, into a new kind of economy, things soon got out of hand. “Mistakes were made,” said the communists later. But that is the story of all major government crusades. They attempt to replace something that works in practice, with something that only works in theory.

Today, Europe is leading the way. Germany has put up windmills and solar panels all over the place. It has also decommissioned its nuclear power generators. This left the country dependent on Russian energy. Then, it joined America’s proxy war against Russia in the Ukraine, hitting Russians with ‘sanctions’ designed to cripple the economy and force Russian troops out of the Russian-speaking areas of the Ukraine. That might work in theory too; but not in practice. The Conversation: "Sanctions on Russia are increasing, not decreasing, its revenue. The European Union has just approved new sanctions against Russia, including a price cap on oil sales, following the United States’ Sept. 30 announcement of new economic sanctions. Both announcements are in response to Russia’s annexation of four regions of Ukraine."

But there are still countries willing to purchase Russia’s petroleum products, sanctions are increasing Russia’s revenue, not decreasing it. Worse yet, the sanctions are driving up global oil and natural gas prices, causing spikes in inflation worldwide and, ironically, reducing the world’s access to the metals and minerals necessary for the transition away from oil and natural gas.

Virtue Shivering: In Europe, already, streetlights have already been turned off. Thermostats have been turned down. People have been urged to bathe in cold water. Supplies of firewood are running low. This is just the beginning. To the hearty Teuton householder, so far, it is little more than a nuisance… or even an adventure in virtue. Germans can feel good about themselves; they are ‘saving the planet’ even as they shiver. In America, too, rising energy prices have yet to cause a crisis. But diesel fuel is already running low.

Energy is food; Food is energy. When you eat, you are eating energy. The sun’s energy produces fruits, grains and vegetables. These are fed to animals to produce meat. But even before a single sprout appears in a field, energy has already contributed to the production. Soil has been tilled, usually by giant diesel-fed tractors… it has been raked… it has often also been treated with herbicide, insecticide, and fertilizer, made, delivered, and applied using oil and gas.

In today’s news is the following headline: "A Bill Gates fund invested $50 million in a startup that's building a massive refinery to turn alcohol into jet fuel." Where do they get the alcohol? From corn and sugarcane, produced and distributed by diesel fuel. But what a feeling of satisfaction it must give Bill Gates. Now, he can fly over the heads of millions of desperately poor people, with great peace of mind. His jet will not be powered by evil fossil fuels – but by the food of the hungry people beneath him.

Without fossil fuels, crop yields collapse. In 1850, in the UK, harvests of oats, barley and wheat averaged about 2 tons per acre. Now, they are three times as much. Corn yields per acre in the US have increased, too, by about two bushels per acre since the 1950s. And since the 1960s, yields for sugar-beets and potatoes have approximately doubled.

There’s no need for complicated math. Today’s harvests, at today’s prices, achieved with all of today’s fossil fuel inputs, feed 8 billion people. Take away any of the inputs – fertilizer, herbicide, fuel for tractors and delivery trucks, refrigeration – and food output will go down. How much? We don’t know. But since output and consumption now match up, when you reduce yields, someone is going to go hungry.

In Germany, one of the most prosperous countries in the world, there are now 3 million children living in poverty. In Italy, shopkeepers put their gas and electricity bills in their windows, to let customers know how much they pay to keep the lights on. In France, fights are breaking out in long lines of people waiting to buy gasoline. People in Prague are demonstrating to force the government to subsidize their energy bills. And the Poles are loading ‘brown’ coal in the trunks of their cars… building up a stock for the winter ahead.

The world burns about 100 million barrels of oil per day. That’s what powers our economy… puts food on the table… and electricity in our sockets. Could it be reduced? Of course, it could. But at what price? And who will pay it?

Forward… into the past: In 1973, war broke out between Israel, Syria and Egypt. The US took the Israeli side. The Arabs were the Russians back then, and they cut back on oil production by 5%. The Nixon Administration nevertheless authorized $2.2 billion in aid to Israel. This further annoyed the Arabs who retaliated with a total embargo of oil exports to the US. Prices soared. The US economy went into recession.

We recall those days. The gas stations would run out of fuel in the morning. The only way to make sure you could fill your tank was to line up in front of the pumps early. We got up at 4am, hoping to be the first in line when the station opened at 7. But there was already a long line. What else could we do? We got into line, curled up on the seat and went back to sleep. The embargo was lifted in March 1974.

It was this experience that led to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 1975. We pumped huge quantities of oil into vast salt caverns, where it would be available in case of emergency. It was into that reserve that Joe Biden dipped his straw earlier this year. Biden feared that high gas prices would cause his approval ratings to sink even lower, and Democratic candidates would suffer losses in the November midterm elections.

Even without a real emergency, in other words, our reserves have been depleted of about 300 million barrels – or nearly half the total. And what will happen in a real emergency? If oil production were suddenly halted altogether, our SPR would last about 2 and a half weeks. That’s why the production of new oil is essential.

But the US government is systematically strangling the industry that makes our standards of living possible. Spending in the old and gas sector dropped more than 60% from 2010 to 2020. Investment in the shale sector fell by more than 70%. The total cutback in capital spending was more than $1 trillion.

Why? The answer is another question: would you want to invest your money in an industry the government wants to put out of business? And not just your government – almost all governments are gunning for it. Globally, oil and gas investment has been cut in half since the 2014 peak.

Meanwhile, existing wells run dry – at the rate of about 8% of output per year. Since the US uses 18 million barrels per day, that means it needs to find an additional 525 million barrels of oil each year. If not… we’ll soon be sleeping in our cars waiting for gas stations to open. In other words, the elite in Europe and America are preparing another Great Leap Forward. They will stifle the vernacular, energy-based economy and replace it with their own centrally-controlled system. Europe has already made clear that it intends to “correct market mechanisms.”

Yes, they will correct the choices made by millions of their citizens with choices of their own. What will that mean? Hang on… we’ll come to that next week.
Joel’s Note: "Some good news to end the week on, dear reader… Sure, investment portfolios are suffering their worst performance in living memory (and then some)… inflation remains stubbornly non-transitory, at 40yr highs… the US housing market is beginning to teeter, with sharp monthly price, sales and listing declines, coupled with decade-low homebuilder sentiment… and an energy shock the likes of which we haven’t seen in (at least) half a century looms large on the horizon… with widespread food shortages just around the corner…

BUT… Bill Gates is here to assuage your unfounded concerns. Essentially, reckons he, you’re looking at this all wrong. We need to see this as an opportunity… not to learn from our mistakes, per se, but to double down on them. Answering the tough questions on CNBC earlier this week, Mr. Gates praised BlackRock and the firm’s founder Larry Fink, in particular, as “great examples of private sector leadership” when it comes to dismantling what Bill Bonner has been calling the “vernacular economy” and ushering in a decidedly non-vernacular, top down, green economy.

Said Gates: “Anyone who says that climate shouldn’t be a factor in how you evaluate the future of a company, that’s not capitalism, because companies that have emissions are going to be subject to border adjustment tariffs or taxes.”

But wait, isn’t heavy-handed government meddling in the market - in the form of taxes, tariffs and subsidies to insider cronies - a step away from win-win capitalism? Don’t we call that cronyism? (Shhh!) According to Mr. Gates, instead of re-investing in the exploration and production of the fuel that brought 8 billion people to the standard of living that they so blithely take for granted, it’s time to hasten the renewable transition that has left them facing a winter without heat or light.

Viewed from this angle, that whole skirmish over in the Ukraine is really a net positive for hungry, shivering Europeans… and a valuable lesson for the rest of us. Although the lack of Russian natural gas over on the continent constitutes something of a “setback,” according to Mr. Gates, “It’s good for the long run, because people don’t want to be dependent on Russian natural gas, so they’ll move to these new [renewable] approaches, more rapidly.”

So buck up, Germany! Walk it off, France! Stiffen that upper lip, Britain! War… hypothermia… starvation… consider these the “teachable moments” of the coming Winter Catastrophe Celebration!"