"Some spiral galaxies are seen nearly sideways. Most bright stars in spiral galaxies swirl around the center in a disk, and seen from the side, this disk can appear quite thin. Some spiral galaxies appear even thinner than NGC 3717, which is actually seen tilted just a bit. Spiral galaxies form disks because the original gas collided with itself and cooled as it fell inward. Planets may orbit in disks for similar reasons.
The featured image by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a light-colored central bulge composed of older stars beyond filaments of orbiting dark brown dust. NGC 3717 spans about 100,000 light years and lies about 60 million light years away toward the constellation of the Water Snake (Hydra)."
“Who is this woman? Her name is on the prow of her boat: The Lady of Shalott. Yes, it’s Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott,” from the poem of 1842, here illustrated by John William Waterhouse in 1888. By some unspecified curse this lovely maiden was confined to a tower…
“Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river”
…near Camelot, where, forbidden to look out the window, she observed the world in a mirror and wove what she saw into a tapestry. So what is she doing in the boat, with her hand-stitched creation? One day, Sir Lancelot rode by her tower alone. She saw him in the mirror and – “half sick of shadows” – couldn’t resist turning to see him unreflected.
“His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode…”
The mirror cracked. She left her loom, descended from the tower, found a boat, inscribed her name on the prow, and…
“Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right -
The leaves upon her falling light -
Thro’ the noises of the night”
…cast off to drift downstream to Camelot – and to Lancelot. But curses are not to be foiled.
“For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.”
We are all of us in a way the Lady of Shalott, all of us who seek to create an image of the world, artists, poets, scientists. We perceive the world through the filter of our limited senses, our biologically evolved brains, our nurtured preconceptions. We weave our tapestries, knowing that our creations are a reflection removed from reality. Our “curse” is to be in love with the real, yet never able to embrace it except in the cold glass of conceptualization. Our legacy? To be found in a boat lodged among the reeds, our tapestry draped across the thwart, with Camelot yet somewhere further down the stream, glistening, beckoning, inescapably out of reach. But, ah, there’s that gorgeous tapestry.
There is another curse, self made, and that is to mistake the mirrorworld for the world outside the window, to fail to recognize the contingency of our conceptualizations, to forego an honest seeking for the falsely found, and – most ominously – to want to impose our own mirrorworld on others.”
"William Irvine, an author and philosophy professor I’m a big fan of, often tries to point people towards a little-discussed fact of human life: "You always know when you’re doing something for the first time, and you almost never know when you’re doing something for the last time."
There was, or will be, a last time for everything you do, from climbing a tree to changing a diaper, and living with a practiced awareness of that fact can make even the most routine day feel like it’s bursting with blessings. Of all the lasting takeaways from my periodic dives into Stoicism, this is the one that has enhanced my life the most. I’ve touched on it before in my Stoicism experiment log and in a Patreon post, and I intend to write about it many more times in the future (but who can say?)
To explain why someone might want to start thinking seriously about last times, Bill Irvine asks us to imagine a rare but relatable event: going to your favorite restaurant one last time, knowing it’s about to close up for good.
Predictably, dining on this last-ever night makes for a much richer experience than almost all the other times you’ve eaten at that restaurant, but it’s not because the food, decor, or service is any different than usual. It’s better because you know it’s the last time, so you’re apt to savor everything you can about it, right down to the worn menus and tacky napkin rings. You’re unlikely to let any mistakes or imperfections bother you, and in fact you might find them endearing.
It becomes clearer than ever, in other words, how great it was while it lasted, and how little the petty stuff mattered. On that last dinner, you can set aside minor issues with ease, and appreciate even the most mundane details. Anything else would seem foolish, because you’re here now, and this is it. It might even occur to you that there’s no reason you couldn’t have enjoyed it this much every time you dined here – except that all the other times, you knew there would be more times, so you didn’t have to be so intentional about appreciating it.
That’s an exceptionally rare situation though. Almost always, we do things for the last time without knowing it’s the last time. There was a last time – on an actual calendar date – when you drew a picture with crayons purely for your own pleasure. A last time you excitedly popped a Blockbuster rental into your VCR. A last time you played fetch with a certain dog. Whenever the last time happened, it was “now” at the time.
You’ve certainly heard the heart-wrenching insight that there’s always a last time a parent picks up their child. By a certain age the child is too big, which means there’s always an ordinary day when the parent picks up and puts down their child as they have a thousand times before, with no awareness that it was the last time they would do it.
Ultimately there will be as many last times as there were first times. There will be last time you do laundry. A last time you eat pie. A last time you visit a favorite neighborhood, city, or country. For every single friend you’ve ever had, there will be a last time you talk, or maybe there already has been.
For ninety-nine percent of these last times, you will have no idea that that’s what it is. It will seem like another of the many middle times, with a lot more to come. If you knew it was the last-ever time you spoke to a certain person or did a certain activity, you’d probably make a point of appreciating it, like a planned last visit to Salvatore’s Pizzeria. You wouldn’t spend it thinking about something else, or let minor annoyances spoil it.
Many last times are still a long way in the future, of course. The trouble is you don’t know which ones. The solution, Irvine suggests, is to frequently imagine that this is the last time, even when it’s probably not. A few times a day, whatever you’re doing, you assume you’re doing that thing for the last time. There will be a last time you sip coffee, like you’re doing now. What if this sip was it? There will be a last time you walk into the office and say hi to Sally. If this was it, you might be a little more genuine, a little more present.
The point isn’t to make life into a series of desperate goodbyes. You can go ahead and do the thing more or less normally. You might find, though, that when you frame it as a potential last time, you pay more attention to it, and you appreciate it for what it is in a way you normally don’t. It turns out that ordinary days are full of experiences you expect will keep happening forever, and of course none of them will.
It doesn’t matter if the activity is something you particularly love doing. Walking into a 7-11 or weeding the garden is just as worthy of last-time practice as hugging a loved one. Even stapling the corner of some pages together can generate a sense of appreciation, if you saw it as your final act of stapling in a life that’s contained a surprising amount of stapling.
Irvine uses mowing the lawn as an example, a task he doesn’t love doing. If you imagine that this is the last time you’ll mow the lawn, rather than consider it a good riddance, you might realize that there will be a time when you’ve mown your last lawn, and that there were a lot of great things about living in your lawn-mowing, bungalow-maintaining heyday. A few seconds later, it dawns on you that you still are.
You can get very specific with the experiences you do this with. The last time you roll cookie dough between your palms. The last time you get rained on. The last time you sidestep down a crowded cinema aisle. The last time your jeans smell like campfire smoke. The last time your daughter says “swannich” instead of “sandwich.” Virtually everything is a worthy candidate for this reflection.
It always brings perspective to your life as it is now, and it never gets old. It’s an immensely rewarding exercise, but it not a laborious one. It takes only two or three seconds - allowing yourself “a flickering thought,” as Irvine put it - to notice what you’re doing right now, and consider the possibility that this is indeed the last escalator ride at Fairfield Mall, the last time you put on a Beatles record, the last time you encounter a squirrel, or the last time you parallel park in front of Aunt Rita’s building."
“Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance, and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. They were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic, you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.” – "V" speech to London
"International Man: "The economic, political, social, and cultural situation seems to have become increasingly volatile in the United States and more broadly in the West. Is this a unique situation or part of a recurring historical cycle? Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe introduced a popular theory in their book, "The Fourth Turning," outlining the recurring generational cycles that have occurred throughout American history. What are your thoughts?
Doug Casey: I read Strauss and Howe’s first book, "Generations," when it came out back in 1992. I thought it was brilliant. Let me start off by recommending both "Generations" and "The Fourth Turning" to everybody. Both books offer quite a scholarly, readable, and prescient view of the cyclicality of history. And offer a very plausible forecast for the 2020s.
History’s best seen as cyclical, rather than a straight-line progress to some preordained end the way both the Marxists and the Abrahamic religions see it. But then, Ecclesiastes has its famous quote that there’s nothing new under the sun. Plato in the Republic talks about how the younger generation - and we’re talking fourth century BC - can’t stand up to the moral values of their forefathers.
Older people have always thought that the younger generation wouldn’t quite measure up. In recent American history, you’ll recall, the younger generation were the beatniks in the ’50s, the hippies in the ’60s, and the yuppies in the ’80s - so it’s a passing parade. Older people have a tendency to think the world is going downhill. Nothing new there. But there’s always a rebirth.
Niccolò Machiavelli, in his "Florentine Histories", said: "Virtue gives birth to tranquility, tranquility to leisure, leisure to disorder, disorder to ruin… and similarly from ruin, order is born, from order virtue, from virtue, glory and good fortune."
The bottom line is that societies arise from poverty through moral strength - and that brings them prosperity. But that prosperity brings on arrogance, and the arrogance brings on laziness, which brings on weakness and moral decline. Then they’re reduced to a condition of slavery and poverty again. Change is the only constant - except in human nature.
As I look at the United States, it seems to me the peak of American culture was the time just before Teddy Roosevelt came into office. Teddy is certainly among the top five worst presidents. And there’s plenty of competition for that title. He was the first real “progressive” president; he wanted the government actively involved in all areas of life. Now, that’s not to say that Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t have been a really great drinking pal, a wonderful guy to go camping with, a fun guy to have an intellectual conversation with. He had a lot of admirable personal values. But he was a nationalist, a statist, and a warmonger. That’s why I say he was a horrible president.
The long-term trend of US overseas imperialism started with the Spanish–American War and the building of an overseas American empire in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii - followed by World War I. The US has gone from being noninterventionist to now having many hundreds of bases around the world and trying to give orders to every other country in the world. That kind of arrogance always ends badly.
As a civilization - a culture - the US has been on an accelerating path downhill for about 120 years now. That’s true even while science and technology have greatly increased the general standard of living. It’s a mistake to conflate a higher standard of living with higher moral values - that’s what Machiavelli was talking about.
I question whether that trend will change - at least until we have a genuine crisis. Why not? Because a lot of the way a society acts comes from the way kids are brought up - the values that are inculcated in them when they’re young. And increasingly, kids are taught what I would call the wrong values.
Saint Ignatius said this in the 17th century, and Lenin repeated it in the 20th century. They both said that if you indoctrinate someone in his youth, chances are you’ve directed his worldview for the rest of his life. Cultural Marxists are now totally in control of the US educational system, and have been for a couple of generations. That’s absolutely the case in the colleges and universities but also in the high schools and even in the grade schools. Kids are being taught to be socialists, ecowarriors, social justice warriors, and “woke” from an early age. It’s really serious.
And it’s not a cyclical phenomenon. This is one of the few areas in which I take some issue with "The Fourth Turning." The trend towards collectivism and statism seems to be a secular long-term trend that’s still accelerating.
There are a few bright spots. Libertarians, for instance, are somewhat more prominent than in the past. But the fact that libertarians believe in personal freedom, in the face of a societal trend in the opposite direction, makes me tend to believe they’re actually genetic mutants. They’re just a small percentage of the population, whose nature has resisted the prevailing nurture.
I say that, only partially because of my own experience. I grew up in what could - jokingly - be called a cannibalistic death cult and was imbued with all kinds of strange notions by nuns and priests at the schools that I went to. I rejected them intuitively and intellectually, but they still stick to you like tar. It can take years to wash off the effects of early indoctrination.
I’m more of a maverick than most people are, however. Most just continue to believe what they’re taught as kids, reflexively and automatically - right or wrong. So I don’t think there’s really much hope of a serious change in the direction of American culture. At least until a major crisis - and the outcome of that is in doubt.
International Man: OK. That’s the long-term trend. Where are we in the generational cycle now? Are we moving into the fourth turning and headed for a crisis?
Doug Casey: Strauss and Howe take a cyclical point of view over the course of roughly 80 years, four generations. To very briefly summarize their theory, there are four “turnings”: a “high,” an “awakening,” an “unraveling,” and a “crisis.”
Over the last couple of decades, we’ve been undergoing the unraveling, where old values fall apart. Next, Strauss and Howe predicted a crisis, starting about 2015, which tests the very existence of the society. Or at least the way it’s run. They go beyond seeing generations as being simply “liberal” or “conservative.” According to Strauss and Howe, there are four generational archetypes that last over a cycle of 80 years - 20 years per generation - corresponding to the “turnings.”
Without going into all the details, they see the baby boomers as being a “Prophet” Generation. The authors are ideologically oriented - fire and brimstone types - very much like Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right. Kind of biblically apocalyptic by nature.
They were quite correct in defining the Generation X types as the so-called “Nomad” Generation. These are kids who learned to take care of themselves - and are not so ideological in the way they think.
The Millennials are who are relevant at the moment. They correspond, in Strauss and Howe’s view, to the World War II generation. They’d be the frontline soldiers in the coming crisis and conflicts.
International Man: What happens after a crisis? Is there a positive way forward?
Doug Casey: Historically, the answer is, “Almost never” - in the short run. The best recent example is the French Revolution. It got worse with Robespierre - a Bernie Sanders of the era - followed by Napoleon. Or take the case of the Russian revolution. As necessary as it was to get rid of Nicholas II, it got worse with Lenin, and then it got even worse with Stalin. But even in those cases, France and Russia recovered.
If it all comes unglued in the US over the next decade, those two revolutions could be templates. Look at the way leading Democrats think, and listen to what they’re saying. They’re echoing Robespierre and Lenin. The Republicans aren’t much better, because although they sometimes talk the talk of peace and personal freedom, they almost never walk the walk. The two major US parties - and people in the Red counties and the Blue counties - seem to really hate each other. It’s quite ugly sociologically. There are irreconcilable differences. They’re exacerbated by the fact we’re headed for a financial blow up. There’s no doubt about that.
Some years ago, there was a poll taken among Generation X types. It turned out that more of them believed that space aliens were going to invade than that they were ever going to collect Social Security. People have very little faith in “the system” anymore, the society, or the government.
If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century, the country really wasn’t very political at all. People worried about their own lives, their own families, and their own local communities. Americans shared a common culture, beliefs, and values - that’s no longer true. Now the country has become very politicized - everybody has a loud voice and they use votes as weapons against their neighbors. It’s become a nation of nasty busybodies.
That makes me think the next upset will be something like a revolution. It’s likely to be really ugly, because we’re looking, simultaneously, at an economic catastrophe, political chaos, and a social and demographic upset - and probably a military situation as well. Government often sees war as a way to unite the country.
So, what’s going to happen? I’ll hazard a guess that 50 years from now, the United States and, for that matter, most countries are not going to exist in anything like their present form. The best solution is a peaceful break up into smaller political subdivisions. As opposed to a civil war - which is a contest between one or more groups for the control of a central government."
"What is the military tactic in Ukraine that the media won't explain to us? Don't worry, we've got former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter on the show to explain how Ukraine is on the ropes, no matter what Ukraine or NATO does."
“What will become of these galaxies? Spiral galaxies NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are passing dangerously close to each other, but each is likely to survive this collision. Typically when galaxies collide, a large galaxy eats a much smaller galaxy. In this case, however, the two galaxies are quite similar, each being a sprawling spiral with expansive arms and a compact core. As the galaxies advance over the next tens of millions of years, their component stars are unlikely to collide, although new stars will form in the bunching of gas caused by gravitational tides.
Close inspection of the above image taken by the 8-meter Gemini-South Telescope in Chile shows a bridge of material momentarily connecting the two giants. Known collectively as Arp 271, the interacting pair spans about 130,000 light years and lies about 90 million light-years away toward the constellation of Virgo. Recent predictions hold that our Milky Way Galaxy will undergo a similar collision with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy in a few billion years."
"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."
"The cost of living in the United States has skyrocketed over the past few decades, putting a strain on the wallets of many Americans. Middle-class Americans, in particular, have been hard hit by stagnant wages, rising everyday expenses, as well as soaring health care and education costs. Many services that used to be a part of middle-class life are no longer affordable for our population, and many things that used to make our life easier and more enjoyable are now out of our reach.
For example, middle-class Americans would occasionally hire babysitters or housekeepers. In that way, they could enjoy their family time without being overwhelmed by household chores. But over the years, these services became way too expensive for this group, and that can be mainly attributed to stagnant wages. According to data from Care.com, the average cost of hiring a full-time nanny in the United States in 2022 was $16.50 per hour, and the average cost of hiring a full-time housekeeper was $18.50 per hour. At the same time, the median hourly wage of a middle-income worker is $23. In some states, that sum can go up $28.42, but still, with rising costs for housing, energy, food, gas, and pretty much everything we consume on a daily basis, they don't have much money left after paying their bills every month so that they can spend on the little things that make their lives a little bit easier.
Do you remember when our parents and grandparents would give us a few dollars to do the lawn? Those times don't come back. In the 2000s, middle-class families would spend about $20 on gardening and lawn care services. In 2023, however, homeowners are paying around $150 per visit. This cost typically includes mowing, edging, and trimming, as well as debris removal and basic fertilization and weed control. Additional services, such as aeration, seeding, and pest control, cost some extra. Almost a century ago, having a garden was something that saved our ancestors during the Great Depression, but that has become a luxury for the vast majority of us, not only because of the price to maintain it but also because of our lack of time to take care of it.
Eating healthy and consuming organic foods can be extremely beneficial for our bodies given that these products contain higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants, which can help boost the immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. However, organic produce tends to be more expensive than conventionally grown produce, with some studies suggesting that organic produce can cost up to 50% more. Simultaneously, over 47% of middle-class Americans say they are struggling to keep up with rising prices of conventional foods, according to Pew Research Center data. So purchasing pesticide and chemicals-free foods is getting harder and harder for our average workers.
Life for middle-class Americans is turning increasingly gray as we lose access to the things that enable us to live fully and comfortably. Our burdens are getting bigger and our quality of life is getting lower. That’s what a broken society looks like. We are the ones who make this country run, and we surely deserve to be treated better. In today's video, we compiled products and services that have gotten way too expensive over time."
"What the Bud Light Fiasco Reveals About the Ruling Class"
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
"What were they thinking? How did someone believe that making “trans woman” Dylan Mulvaney the icon of a Bud Light ad campaign, complete with a beer can with Mulvaney’s image on it, would be good for sales? With an ad featuring this person vamping around in the most preposterously possible way.
Dylan, who had previously been interviewed on trans issues by President Biden himself, was celebrating “365 Days of Girlhood” with a grotesquely misogynistic caricature that would disgust just about the whole market for this beer. Indeed, this person’s cosplay might as well be designed to discredit the entire political agenda of gender dysphoriacs.
Sure enough, because we don’t have mandates on what beers you must buy, sales of the beer plummeted. The parent company Anheuser-Busch’s stock lost $5 billion or 4 percent in value since the ad campaign rollout. Sales have fallen 50-70 percent. Now there is worry within the company of a widening boycott to all their brands. A local Missouri distributor of the product canceled an appearance by Budweiser Clydesdale horses due to public anger.
Ads are supposed to sell products, not prompt a massive public backlash that results in billions in losses. This mistake could be for the ages, marking a distinct departure from corporate deference to wackadoodle ideas from the academy and a push for more connection to on-the-ground realities.
The person who made the miscalculation is Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid, Vice President in charge of marketing for Bud Light. She explained that her intention was to make the beer King of ‘Woke’ Beers. She wanted to shift away from the “out of touch” frat party image to one of “inclusivity.” By all accounts, she actually believed this. More likely, she was rationalizing actions that would earn her bragging rights within her social circle.
Digging through her personal biography, we find all the predictable signs of tremendous detachment from regular life: elite boarding school (Groton, $65K a year), Harvard, Wharton School, coveted internship at General Foods, and straight to top VP at the biggest beverage company in the world.
Somehow through all that, nothing entered her brain apart from elite opinion on how the world should work with theories never actually tested by real-world marketing demands. Would that she had worked at Chick-Fil-A at some point in her teen years, perhaps even preserving some friend relationships ever since. It might have protected her from this disastrous error.
She is a perfect symbol of a problem that afflicts high-end corporate and government culture: a shocking blindness toward the mainstream of American life, including working classes and other people less privileged. They are invisible to this crowd. And her type is pervasive in corporate America with its huge layers of management developed over 20 years of loose credit and push for token representation at the highest levels.
We’ve seen this manifest over three years and ruling-class types imposed lockdowns, masks, and vaccine mandates on the whole population without regard to the consequences and with full expectation that the food will continue to be delivered to their doorsteps no matter how many days, months, or years they stay at home and stay safe.
The working classes, meanwhile, were shoved out in front of the pathogen to make their assigned contribution to herd immunity so that the rich and privileged could preserve their clean state of being, making TikTok videos and issuing edicts from their safe spaces for two or even three years.
In the late 19th century, the blindness of class detachment was a problem that so consumed Karl Marx that he became possessed with the desire to overthrow class distinctions between labor and capital. He kicked off a new age of the classless society under the leadership of the vanguard of the proletarian classes. In every country where his dreams became a reality, however, a protected elite took over and secured themselves from the consequences of their deluded dreams.
The people who in recent decades have drunk so deeply from the well of the Marxian tradition seem to be repeating that experience with complete disinterest in the lower classes, while pushing a deepening chasm that only became worse in the lockdown years in which they have controlled the levers of power.
It was startling to watch, and I could hardly believe what was happening. Then one day the incredibly obvious dawned on me. All official opinion in this country and even the whole world – government, media, corporations, technology – emanated from the same upper echelons of the class structure. It was people with elite educations and who had the time to shape public opinion. They are the ones on Twitter, in the newsrooms, fussing with the codes, and enjoying the laptop life of a permanent bureaucrat.
Their social circles were the same. They knew no one who cut trees, butchered cows, drove trucks, fixed cars, and met payroll in a small restaurant. The “workers and peasants” are people the elites so otherized that they became nothing more than non-playing characters who make stuff work but are not worthy of their attention or time.
The result was a massive transfer of wealth upwards in the social ladder as digital brands, technology, and Peloton thrived, while everyone else faced a barrage of ill health, debt, and inflation. As classes have grown more stratified – and, yes, there is a reason to worry about the gap between the rich and the poor when malleability is restricted – the intellectual producers of policy and opinion have constructed their own bubble to protect themselves from by being soiled by contrary points of view.
They want the whole world to be their own safe space regardless of the victims. Would lockdowns have happened in any other kind of world? Not likely. And it would not have happened if the overlords did not have the technology to carry on their lives as normal while pretending that no one was really suffering from their scheme.
The Bud Light case is especially startling because the advent of commercial society in the high Middle Ages and through the Industrial Revolution was supposed to mitigate against this sort of myopic stratification. And this has always been the most compelling critique of Marx: he was raging against a system that was gradually winnowing away the very demarcations in classes that he decried.
Joseph Schumpeter in 1919 wrote an essay on this topic in his book "Imperialism and Social Classes." He highlighted how the commercial ethos dramatically changed the class system. “The warlord was automatically the leader of his people in virtually every respect,” he wrote. “The modern industrialist is anything but such a leader. And this explains a great deal about the stability of the former’s position and the instability of the latter’s.”
But what happens when the corporate elites, working together with government, themselves become the warlords? The foundations of market capitalism begin to erode. The workers become ever more alienated from final consumption of the product they have made possible.
It’s been typical of people like me – pro-market libertarians – to ignore the issue of class and its impact on social and political structures. We inherited the view of Frederic Bastiat that the good society is about cooperation between everyone and not class conflict, much less class war. We’ve been suspicious of people who rage against wealth inequality and social stratification. And yet we do not live in such market conditions. The social and economic systems of the West are increasingly bureaucratized, hobbled by credentialism, and regulated, and this has severely impacted class mobility. Indeed, for many of these structures, exclusion of the unwashed is the whole point.
And the ruling class themselves have ever more the mindset as described by Thorstein Veblen: only the ignorable do actual work while the truly successful indulge in leisure and conspicuous consumption as much as their means allow. One supposes that this doesn’t hurt anyone…until it does.
And this certainly happened in very recent history as the conspicuous consumers harnessed the power of states all over the world to serve their interests exclusively. The result was calamity for rights and liberties won over a thousand years of struggle.
The emergent fissures between the classes – and the diffusions of our ruling class into many sectors public and private – suggest an urgency for a new consciousness of the real meaning of the common good, which is inseparable from liberty. The marketing director of Bud Light talked a good line about “inclusivity” but she plotted to impose everything but that. Her plan was designed for the one percent and to the exclusion of all the people who actually consume the product, to say nothing for the workers who actually make and deliver the product she was charged with promoting.
That the markets have so brutally punished the brand and company for this profound error points the way to the future. People should have the right to their own choices about the kind of life they want to live and the products and services they want to consume. The dystopia of lockdowns and woke hegemony of public opinion – complete with censorship – have become the policy to overturn if the workers are ever to throw off the chains that bind them. The boycotts of Bud Light are but a beginning."
“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”
"We’re frequently told “don’t be that guy,” often with good reason. Drunk and stupid at a party? Don’t be that guy. Park in a spot someone else shoveled out of the snow? Don’t be that guy. Chow thief at Ranger School? Definitely don’t be that guy. But sometimes situations arise where you DO need to be that guy.
Sometimes going along with the crowd is the absolute wrong thing to do. It takes guts to swim against the current, and sometimes it might cost you more than you intended. I was reminded of this when I saw a picture of a 1930s-era Nazi rally contained in a Buzzfeed article I read recently. All of the men and women of the crowd were enthusiastically giving the Nazi salute… except for “that guy.” One lone man stood, arms folded, with a look of contempt on his face. He alone was willing to buck the system and not acquiesce to something he knew was deeply flawed.
Unfortunately, as happens in many similar cases, the lone dissenter paid the price. Already on the outs with the Nazi Party for committing the cardinal sin of daring to love a Jewish woman, August Landmesser was later jailed and eventually sent to a military penal battalion, and was reportedly killed in action. Landmesser joined the Nazi Party in 1931 in hopes of gaining employment and was a member until 1935, when he was expelled for marrying a Jewish woman named Irma Eckler. Landmesser had two daughters with Eckler and it cost him jail time for Rassenschande (dishonoring the race). Landmesser is believed to have served prison time from 1938–1941, after which he was discharged to serve in the military. Landmesser, however, quickly went missing and was presumed dead. His wife, Irma, suffered a similar fate. She was jailed by the Gestapo and died during the war. The children of Irma and Landmesser were separated.
While many of us won’t face death for our beliefs, there are often negative consequences for doing or saying the right thing. We might face social ostracization, the loss of friends or even a job. We might get attacked physically, verbally, or virtually. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stand up for what’s right. You can read the original Buzzfeed article for yourself here. Sometimes all it takes is a spark to ignite a revolution. Do you have what it takes to “be that guy?”
"Life is painful and messed up. It gets complicated at the worst of times, and sometimes you have no idea where to go or what to do. Lots of times people just let themselves get lost, dropping into a wide open, huge abyss. But that's why we have to keep trying. We have to push through all that hurts us, work past all our memories that are haunting us. Sometimes the things that hurt us are the things that make us strongest. A life without experience, in my opinion, is no life at all. And that's why I tell everyone that, even when it hurts, never stop yourself from living."
- Alysha Speer
"The joke was thinking you were ever really in charge of your life. You pressed your oar down into the water to direct the canoe, but it was the current that shot you through the rapids. You just hung on and hoped not to hit a rock or a whirlpool."
- Scott Turow
"Life's funny, chucklehead. You only get one and you don't want to throw it away. But you can't really live it at all unless you're willing to give it up for the things you love. If you're not at least willing to die for something - something that really matters - in the end you die for nothing."
steamy airport trysts and a history of cooperation...
by Bill Bonner
Buenos Aires, Argentina - "Today, we pause for comic relief. We are sitting in the waiting lounge for KLM in Buenos Aires. Across from us is a pair of love birds. In what is called an “autumn romance,” the couple seem to be in their 50s. He is bald. Paunchy. She, bleached blond…with skin that has gotten wrinkly, perhaps from too much tanning. It is probably the second go-around for both of them.
Are they on their way to Europe for…a honeymoon? We don’t know, but they can’t keep their hands off each other. After exchanging tender kisses…longing glances…and caresses, finally, they both sat in a single chair, so they would be closer together. And now, oh my…she has put her leopard leotarded leg over his. They are cuddling.
This is going on in the Business Class lounge…and why not? It’s the oldest business on the planet. So, now we turn to what a strange business it is. Independent News reports: "University “professor” claims there is no BIOLOGICAL gender." We watched the short video. Sure enough, a person claiming to be a professor – an expert! – at West Virginia University denied a biological basis for sex. “It’s a social construct,” she(?) insisted.
Blind Designers: If you close your eyes and hold your breath long enough you can believe almost anything. No one doubts that there is a lot of social constructing going on…but there is something more, too. No human architect designed man and woman.
Caught in the web of clickbait that passes for news, we watched another short video. This one took place at Portland State University, where professors were trying to hold a discussion on the subject. What is the difference between men and women, they asked. But when a female professor dared to reveal that “men are generally taller than women” the students staged a noisy walkout. Another professor appealed to reason, vainly trying to find common ground with the students: “This is a university, if we can’t talk about this here…where can we talk about it?”
No matter. The young folks didn’t walk to talk about it at all. They were appalled. Tallness doesn’t seem like a ‘social construct.’ But why bring it up? They had no need to notice anything, because they had already found the True Religion. In their state of exalted piety, the ‘science was settled.’ They knew that there was no intrinsic difference between men and women…and nothing that couldn’t be fixed with ‘hormones and surgery.’ That’s the one unassailable tenet of the new faith. And heretics will be canceled, de-platformed, de-funded…and burned at the stake.
Words of Wisdom: “You know, Don Bill,” began Elizabeth with the playful wisdom of the distaff side of the family, “A niece has announced that she is gay. She has a girlfriend she refers to as ‘they.’ And she takes it very seriously. If you want to know how her girlfriend is doing, you’re supposed to say: “How is they?” Of course, you don’t want to say anything so ridiculous, so you don’t ask.”
“What happened to her?” “I don’t know. She seemed perfectly normal until recently. But then she had a friend who announced that she was a lesbian. And then it just seemed to become the latest thing…all the girls wanted to be lesbian. I think she’s doing it to be cool.
In this case, lesbianism may really be a ‘social construct’…a kind of fashion statement, I guess. And it saves her the trouble of trying to get along with a man. I just hope she’ll be happy. But the thing is, if she doesn’t form a bond with a man when she is young…she may never be able to. Or it may be too late to have children. Time is not a social construct. Neither is having children.
Nothing wrong with choosing not to have children….a lot of women don’t have children and they’re perfectly happy. But it will be sad if she turns 45 and realizes she’s missed something important. She may feel like she’s been chasing a mirage…that she’s been the victim of a lot of faddish thinking.
She wouldn’t be the first. I remember, growing up in the ‘70s, we had plenty of opportunities to ruin our lives. We went to parties in New York where they handed out cocaine. We were expected to have casual sex in college. And then, educated women were encouraged to act like men; we were the Hillary Clinton Generation. We were supposed to put our careers first…become judges and scientists, not ‘stay home and bake cookies,’ as Hillary put it.
This idea that men and women should do the same things is obvious nonsense. We get together because we are different, not because we are the same. I’ll remember the grandchildren’s birthdays, as you put it; you remember Boog Powell’s batting average from 1966. It’s not always easy; we’re always making compromises. But that’s the world we live in. And maybe these young people really can create a better world, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”
Like they do on the Discovery Channel: Chasing mirages is what we all do. Wealth, power, status – the usual. Then, getting older, both desire and capacity fade. No more fast cars. No more conspicuous wealth. No more muscle shirts or bikinis. Instead, we give away our wealth and power, and end up dying in a nursing home in Florida, penniless, dressed in a pair of slippers, khaki pants, a plaid shirt and a gray cardigan. On the wall behind us is a photo of us with the family when we were still compos mentis. Something to look forward to!
In the meantime, we have mirages to chase. As we’ve described in these pages, most of our vanities – if not all them – come from an innate drive to procreate. That’s not a social construct either. It’s why we exist. Almost everything we do – from writing books to breast augmentation – is meant to show what good mates we would be. That’s why we want to be ‘cool.’ But what a strange world it is. Women used to check themselves into convents. Some groups – such as the Shakers – swore off sex altogether. Now, young women “come out as gay.” They do these things because they think they are ‘cool.’ But what a way to procreate!
When it comes to gender bending, Newsweek Magazine must be the coolest…or dumbest…of all. There have been two mass shootings lately. In one, a ‘trans’ person – a ‘they’ – shot up a school, killing 6 people. This was a real man-bites-dog story. ‘Trans’ people are a tiny segment of the population; so, this single incident marked them, statistically, as one of the most dangerous sub-groups in the country. In another incident, a ‘man’ shot up a bank. On the first incident, the press seemed reluctant to linger. It didn’t suit the favored narrative. But as to the second, Newsweek went nuts. Here is the once-respectable pillar of the US media establishment: "Louisville Shooter Connor Sturgeon's Pronouns Spark Outrage."
"The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Connor Sturgeon, a former employee at the Old National Bank, where the shooting occurred, Louisville Metro Police Department officials said Monday. The shooting left at least four people dead and nine injured and comes just a few weeks after the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, that killed six, including three children. Before his identification by police, social media users shared screenshots of a LinkedIn profile associated with Sturgeon that showed the use of the pronouns he/him, which has brought some criticism online."
Selective Outrage: The outrage that Newsweek reports comes from the fact the accused referred to himself in the generally-accepted way. In English, a man is described as “he” or “him,” depending on how it is used in a sentence. But using ‘he/him’ as personal pronouns should have tipped off the authorities (Newsweek implies)…that the man was a mass murderer: "Sebastian Gorka, a conservative commentator and ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump, wrote on Twitter that Sturgeon was "proudly displaying his "pronouns" online" and called this a "#RedFlag." Gunther Eagleman wrote, "Pronouns kill... Louisville bank mass shooter Connor Sturgeon self identified as a He/Him."
What to make of it? We don’t know…but with so much BS in the popular press, all we can say is ‘good luck’ to the happy couple in the waiting lounge. It may not be the first time around the track for either of them. But maybe this time, they’ll reach the finish line."