Saturday, April 20, 2024

Jeremiah Babe, "America Will Not Escape The Debt Abyss, No Way Out"

Jeremiah Babe, 4/20/24
"America Will Not Escape The Debt Abyss, No Way Out"
"The U.S. is spending so much money while homelessness, debt, education, infrastructure and small businesses collapse and we wonder why inflation isn't going away."
Comments here:

Musical Interlude: "Remember Now"; "We Meet Again"

Full screen recommended.
2002, "Remember Now"
"The inspiration for this song was a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode called "The Offspring". Data (an android) creates a "child" for himself which he names Lal (in the Hindi language, Lal means "Beloved"). Lal eventually dies in Data's arms, remembering and retelling the precious moments she has lived. Data transferred Lal's thoughts into his own neural net, so that she would not be forgotten."
Full screen recommended.
2002, "We Meet Again"

Musical Interlude: Mecano, "Hijo de la Luna"

Mecano, "Hijo de la Luna"

"A Look to the Heavens..."

"Where do the dark streams of dust in the Orion Nebula originate? This part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, M43, is the often imaged but rarely mentioned neighbor of the more famous M42. M42, seen in part to the upper right, includes many bright stars from the Trapezium star cluster. 
Click image for larger size.
M43 is itself a star forming region that displays intricately-laced streams of dark dust - although it is really composed mostly of glowing hydrogen gas. The entire Orion field is located about 1600 light years away. Opaque to visible light, the picturesque dark dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by strong outer winds of protons and electrons."

"Our Natural Condition..."

"The eternal silence of infinite spaces frightens me. Why now rather than then? Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time have been ascribed to me? We travel in a vast sphere, always drifting in the uncertain, pulled from one side to another. Whenever we find a fixed point to attach and to fasten ourselves, it shifts and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desires to find solid ground and an ultimate and solid foundation for building a tower reaching to the Infinite. But always these bases crack, and the earth obstinately opens up into abysses. We are infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, since the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden from us in an encapsulated secret; we are equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which we were made, and the Infinite in which we are swallowed up."
- Blaise Pascal

The Poet: Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”

“The Peace of Wild Things”

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free…”

- Wendell Berry

"Life's Impermanence..."

"Life's impermanence, I realized, is what makes every
single day so precious. It's what shapes our time here.
It's what makes it so important that not a single moment be wasted."
- Wes Moore

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity, In the World and in Ourselves"

"Feeling Fed Up with Humanity,
 In the World and in Ourselves"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and knowing this allows us to find compassion. From time to time, we may all feel fed up with humanity, whether it’s from learning about what’s going on around the world, or what’s going on next door. There are always situations that leave us feeling as if people are simply not capable of behaving in a way that is coming from a place of awareness. Often it seems as if people are actually geared to handle things in the worst possible way, repeatedly. At the same time, none of us wants to linger in a judgmental mood about our own species. As a result, we might tend to repress the feelings coming up as we take in the news from the world and the neighborhood.

It is natural to feel let down and disappointed when we see our fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into despondency. As with any emotional response, we honor our feelings by feeling them fully, without judging or acting on them. Once we’ve done that—and we may need to do it every day, as part of our daily self-care—we can begin to consider ways that we might help the situation in which humanity finds itself.

As always, we start with ourselves, utilizing our awareness of the failings of others to renew our own commitment to be more conscious human beings. We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and remembering this keeps us in check, as well as allowing us to find compassion for others. We may find ourselves feeling compelled to serve people who are suffering injustices at the hands of other people, or we may begin to speak out when we see something that we don’t think is right. Whatever the case, the only thing we can do is pledge to serve the best, rather than the worst, of what humanity has to offer, both in the world, and in ourselves."
"What can we know? What are we all?
Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite,
with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts."
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"It's Extraordinary..."

“It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome.”
– Joseph Conrad, “Lord Jim”

"Prof. Michael Hudson: The Truth About the Destruction of Gaza"

"Prof. Michael Hudson: 
The Truth About the Destruction of Gaza"
Transcript here:

The Daily "Near You?"

Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Something Like Reverence.."

"When I see the blind and wretched state of men, when I survey the whole universe in its deadness, and man left to himself with no light, as though lost in this corner of the universe without knowing who put him there, what he has to do, or what will become of him when he dies, incapable of knowing anything, I am moved to terror, like a man transported in his sleep to some terrifying desert island, who wakes up quite lost, with no means of escape. Then I marvel that so wretched a state does not drive people to despair." 
- Blaise Pascal
Ahh, but it does...
“When the pain of leaving behind what we know outweighs the pain of embracing it, or when the power we face is overwhelming and neither flight nor fight will save us, there may be salvation in sitting still. And if salvation is impossible, then at least before perishing we may gain a clearer vision of where we are. By sitting still I do not mean the paralysis of dread, like that of a rabbit frozen beneath the dive of a hawk. I mean something like reverence, a respectful waiting, a deep attentiveness to forces much greater than our own.”
- Scott Russell Sanders

Folks, I fear our time for such reverence is here...
God help us, God help us all...

"U.S. Cities Fall Into A “Doom Loop” As The CRE Crisis Absolutely Explodes"

"U.S. Cities Fall Into A “Doom Loop” 
As The CRE Crisis Absolutely Explodes"
by Michael Snyder

"In the entire history of the United States, we have never witnessed an urban collapse of this magnitude. During the pandemic, millions of Americans started working from home, and many of them have never returned to the office. Meanwhile, rapidly rising levels of crime, homelessness and migration have transformed many of our inner cities into extremely dangerous places. As a result, thousands upon thousands of businesses have left our core urban areas in search of greener pastures. So now there is lots and lots of commercial real estate space that is sitting empty, and commercial real estate prices have absolutely plummeted.

At this moment, we are in the midst of a meltdown that I believe will eventually be regarded as the worst commercial real estate collapse that America has ever seen. In fact, we just learned that the number of commercial real estate foreclosures in March was 117 percent higher than it was during the same month in 2023…"The commercial real estate market is starting to buckle under the weight of higher interest rates and remote work. There were 625 commercial real estate foreclosures in March, up 6% from February and 117% from the same time last year, according to a new report published by real estate data provider ATTOM."

Things are particularly bad on the west coast. The struggles of San Francisco and Los Angeles are well documented, and so it is not much of a surprise that last month commercial real estate foreclosures in the state of California were up 405 percent compared to the same month last year…"California had the highest number of commercial foreclosures in March, with 187 properties. While that marked an 8% decrease from the previous month, it is a stunning 405% jump from the previous year. “California began experiencing a notable rise in commercial foreclosures in November 2023, surpassing 100 cases and continuing to escalate thereafter,” the report said."

But it isn’t just the west coast that is facing a nightmare. This is what St. Louis looked like at the time of the World Fair in 1904…

I know this may be hard to believe, but at that time it was a glorious city. But now it looks like a hellhole. Recently, a vacant office building in the downtown area sold for 98 percent less than it did in 2006…"A vacant office building in downtown St. Louis just sold for $3.6 million — a nearly 98% discount from its 2006 sales price, signaling a concerning course for the Midwestern city’s downtown area. The former One AT&T Center, which at 44 stories is the third-tallest building in St. Louis, sold for $205 million in 2006 and recently sold for $3.6 million to the Goldman Group, a real-estate investment firm, according to CoStar News."

Very few people want to live or work in downtown St. Louis these days, because it has become “a very dangerous place”…"The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published a story on the “real estate nightmare” and detailed stories of boarded-up properties and occasional raids by police and firefighters searching for squatters and missing people. “It’s a very dangerous place,” St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson told the paper."

As things continue to get worse, more people want to leave. At this point, just about everyone acknowledges that St. Louis is trapped in an “urban doom loop”…"The cycle is often called the “urban doom loop,” which the Atlantic describes as the cycle of people moving away from city as things get worse, then things getting worse because more people moved away.

Business Insider’s Eliza Relman described the doom loop afflicting Midwestern cities: “Commercial property taxes make up a large chunk of many city budgets, so as office vacancies rise, the decreased revenue could force leaders to curtail municipal services or make cuts to key programs. Declining services and quality of life in turn pushes residents out, leading to a self-reinforcing exodus. Without serious changes, these midsize cities in the middle of the country could be quietly sliding into oblivion.”

Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would still want to be in St. Louis. Violence is a constant threat, and it has experienced the largest decline in foot traffic of any major U.S. city…"Locals said they are often depressed and scared by the sight of empty shops and restaurants, according to the WSJ. Sidewalks are left barren as fewer people choose to commute into the downtown area, and recently installed signs urge visitors to “park in well-lit areas.”

According to the University of Toronto’s School of Cities, the business district of St. Louis experienced the greatest drop in foot traffic of 66 major U.S. cities between the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the summer of 2023." Sadly, this is the road that almost all of our major cities are now going down.

New York was once one of the finest cities on the entire planet, but now the streets are littered with open air markets that are selling stolen goods, drugs and sex services…"Roosevelt Avenue near 91st Street is littered daily with migrant vendors hawking goods they ripped off from shopkeepers just steps away, while prostitutes proposition passersby at all hours — and frustrated merchants and residents say they’re helpless to do anything about it.

“It’s relentless,” said Milton Reyes, who manages Mi Farmacia pharmacy on the avenue. “You should see it on Saturdays. It’s so heavy, you can’t even step onto the sidewalk. There are a lot of doctors’ offices right around here and my customers don’t even want to get dropped off."

What a nightmare. The police do patrol the streets, but as soon as they are out of sight the open air markets resume business as usual…"In Jackson Heights, the hookers now share the landscape with shoplifting migrants who mob and ransack local retailers, then brazenly sell their stolen merchandise for 20% or 30% less just steps from the stores, retailers said. “They are stealing,” Francisco O’Porta, a security guard at Lot-Less, told The Post. “They rip it out of the box, but it’s ours. You can see. It is brand new, but they are selling it as used. It’s our stuff.

“They have been training people,” said O’Porta, 55, of Long Island City. “They have lookouts, you know, people to yell so they can pick up and leave when police come. I am catching a lot, a lot of them stealing. I caught 20 people last week. Twenty in one week. They are hurting business.”

If New York authorities cannot get crime under control, the mass exodus out of the Big Apple will get even worse. According to the video that I have posted below, the city now has “a $4.4 billion shoplifting economy”
This is what societal collapse looks like. And you definitely do not want to be in an environment like that when things really start hitting the fan. The moral character of our country really matters. Sadly, it has been declining for decades, and now we have a complete and utter horror show on our hands."
Meanwhile, in a sane and civilized society...
Full screen recommended.
Travelling with Russell, 3/10/24
"Russian Typical Shopping Mall 
After 700 Days of Sanctions"
"Join me on a tour of a Russian Shopping mall in Moscow, Russia. How does it look inside, how does it feel, after 700 days of extreme sanctions imposed on Russia?"
Comments here:

Look around where you are, Good American, just like 
where you live, right? RIGHT? Yeah... 
Now look at these people, what do you see? What don't you see?

"America’s 'Bougie Broke'”

"America’s 'Bougie Broke'”
by Brian Maher

"Is the United States economy a “bougie” economy? Bougie: “High-class, fancy, materialistic, snobby. Mistaken for prosperity.”

Mr. E.J. Antoni is an economist with the Heritage Foundation. From whom: "Despite inflation-adjusted incomes falling dramatically since January 2021, Americans are buying more than ever. That may sound like a contradiction, but it’s perfectly possible, at least in the short run. Americans today, especially the young, are just “bougie broke.” That’s a fancy way of saying people have given up on saving, investing and planning for their future, so they spend every last dime in hedonistic pleasure-seeking. Ironically, the sky-high cost of living is what drives people to spend frivolously.

Thus an expanding gross domestic product does not indicate economic progress - but economic regression. It confuses motion for direction, activity for energy. It confuses desperation for contentment, resignation for purpose, anxiety for bliss. It is, in brief, an economy that lives for today. It lacks all concern for the morrow."

Americans Can’t Keep Up: Mr. Antoni: "Americans have raided their savings and gone deeply into debt to try and maintain their standard of living. Credit card debt is at an all-time high, costing families over $240 billion a year just in finance charges, while hardship withdrawals from retirement plans are also setting records. Unable to make ends meet without going into debt, many Americans have simply stopped saving altogether. Three-quarters don’t even have an emergency fund. The reasoning is sad but simple: Why save for retirement if you’ll never have enough to retire?

Why indeed? A racer is miles and miles behind the finishing tape, steamless, as the pitiless clock conspires against him. He simply throws up the sponge… and quits. He is a man vanquished. He will never finish. He therefore concludes he may as well dedicate his remaining wealth to his personal pleasure. Off to the restaurant he goes. Off to the tavern he goes. Off to the airport he goes. Eat, drink and be merry he tells himself… for tomorrow I die. Die he will. Not by natural causes will he die - but by slow suicide.

Slow Death: Each filet mignon he munches, each Champagne bottle he guzzles, each vacation adventure he undertakes - all accelerate his progress to the grave. To the outward observer he appears a bon vivant on a high spree. He is instead a broken man in a deep hole. Thus the live-for-today economy is an economy of slow suicide. It is an economy that fails to save and fails to invest. It only spends.

It is a wastrel economics. Antoni: "One survey found 60% of Gen Z choose to buy “experiences” (spend profligately) instead of saving for retirement. They often record those experiences and flaunt them on social media, as if these occasional luxuries are a status symbol. Of course, many Americans cannot afford what they’re buying; they can barely make the interest payments to finance their purchases with 60% of them living paycheck to paycheck."

More: "All the while, the shift from saving and investing toward consumption is hamstringing long-run economic growth. The savings rate today is less than half its pre-pandemic level and has absolutely plummeted since January 2021, dropping by more than four-fifths. Less savings also means less investment, which translates into a lower capital stock. That’s bad news since capital is where we get machines and tools that increase worker productivity."

Immemorial Proverbial Wisdom: “From time immemorial proverbial wisdom has taught the virtues of saving,” wrote Henry Hazlitt 75 years ago, “and warned against the consequences of prodigality and waste.” Many Americans - evidently - have heaved this immemorial proverbial wisdom into the bonfire of their vanities. et shriek the economists: “If everybody saved, the economy would collapse.” Sales would plummet, warehouses would bulge with unpurchased wares, the virtuous cycle of spending would bang into reverse.

Thus we confront the paradox of thrift, so-called. It is the theory that: An increase in autonomous saving leads to a decrease in aggregate demand and thus a decrease in gross output which will in turn lower total saving. Yet the old dead economists argued there is no paradox whatsoever…

What Paradox? What applies to the individual applies to society at large, they insist. What is society but a collection of individuals - after all? When society saves it is not canceling consumption. It is merely delaying consumption. The demand that is supposedly lost is not lost at all… but shifted toward the future. Today’s savings are therefore tomorrow’s spending, tomorrow’s consumption.

By lowering consumption today, society can consume more tomorrow. Hazlitt: “‘Saving,’ in short, in the modern world, is only another form of spending.” Thus today’s “bougie” anti-savers condemn themselves to a lean future. Yet is the blame entirely theirs? Or are they merely victims of the economic system they inhabit?

The Real Culprit: We return to Mr. E.J. Antoni: "The culprit is actually excessive government spending. Over the last several years, Congress and the president spent trillions of dollars we didn’t have, and the Federal Reserve created the money to finance those deficits. That created 40-year-high inflation and caused the cost of living to skyrocket.

What followed were steep interest rate hikes, which in turn greatly increased borrowing costs for the American people. Those who already possessed large stores of wealth, like equities and housing, saw their portfolios appreciate in price, while those who only had some cash in the bank saw the value of that cash drop by more than a fifth in four years.

Thus, a two-tiered society quickly developed where many families now view retirement and homeownership as fantasies enjoyed only by a wealthy elite, not the average American whose financial situation is still deteriorating."

We find vast justice in this statement. Many are hopeless and helpless cogs in a lunatic economic machine. Its easy money has yielded them hard times. This machine was designed by lunatics, staffed by lunatics, supervised by lunatics. What is worse, these lunatics confuse their lunacy for genius. And there exists no greater menace than the lunatic who believes himself genius. This is the bedlamite who presently has us all in siege.

Consolation for the “Bougie”: Perhaps, on some distant tomorrow, the United States will recall the immemorial proverbial wisdom of saving. As its debt careens, it may face little choice. Concludes Antoni: "If the excessive government spending that caused this problem isn’t rolled back, today’s “bougie broke” phenomenon will soon be “basic broke.”

Basic broke is dead broke. “Being broke is not a disgrace,” argued a certain Rex Stout - “it is only a catastrophe.” Take solace, profligate Americans. You do not confront disgrace. You merely confront catastrophe…"

"How It Really Is"


Dan, I Allegedly, "It’s All Smoke and Mirrors"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, I Allegedly, 4/20/24
"It’s All Smoke and Mirrors"
"It’s funny how we keep getting employment numbers that are exactly the same each week. The unemployment numbers don’t go up and they don’t go down. Plus supposed to believe that the economy is thriving and that people are not having a difficult time at all."
Comments here:

“I’m Jewish, and I’ve Covered Wars. I Know War Crimes When I See Them”

Democracy Now! 4/20/24
“I’m Jewish, and I’ve Covered Wars.
 I Know War Crimes When I See Them”

"We speak with veteran journalist Peter Maass about the Israeli war on Gaza and his new opinion piece for The Washington Post headlined “I’m Jewish, and I’ve covered wars. I know war crimes when I see them.” Maass, who was a senior editor at The Intercept until earlier this year, has spent decades covering wars, including the Bosnian genocide in the 1990s that killed about 100,000 people over nearly four years. He says many of the same war crimes he reported then are part of Israel’s current assault, including sniper attacks on civilians, bombing of civilian infrastructure, attacks on bread lines and besieging whole populations by preventing food and other aid from entering. “What seems to be unfolding in Gaza is even worse than what I saw in Bosnia,” says Maass."
Comments here:
35,000 old people, men, women and 15,000 CHILDREN killed, 8,000 more buried under the rubble and unrecovered. Starvation, no electricity or water, hospitals bombed into rubble. This is GENOCIDE, and after Israel is crushed in the coming war, and it will be, there must be Nuremberg-style war crime trials for the psychopathic monsters responsible, with the same penalties inflicted on the Nazis...
Hang your heads in eternal shame and disgrace, Americans, 
YOU allowed and supported this horror, and paid for every bomb and bullet. 
The bloods on YOUR hands too... - CP

"Wars And Rumors Of Wars: The Middle East Crisis""

Dialogue Works, 4/20/24
"Larry C. Johnson: Iran Has Destroyed All the 
US and Israel's Calculations in the Middle East"
"Larry C. Johnson is a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism. He is the founder and managing partner of BERG Associates, which was established in 1998. Larry provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations community for 24 years. He has been vilified by the right and the left, which means he must be doing something right."
Comments here:
Full screen recommended.
OpenmindedThinker Show, 4/20/24
"Scott Ritter: Forecasts Next War Between Israel and Iran; 
Massive Escalation In Few Days!"
Comments here:

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 4/19/24"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 4/19/24"
"Israel Attacks Iran, Iran Widens War, Economy Tanks"
by Greg Hunter’s

"A deadly, out-of-control war in the Middle East became a reality this week. Israel attacked Iran. Iran released a massive counter-attack on Israel. And now, Israel has attacked multiple Iranian targets, including Iran’s nuclear facilities in the center of the country. Where will it stop? Now, Iran is vowing to attack Israel’s nuke sites. Many have been warning for months about a conflict that could bring on World War III. Is this it? It sure looks like it.

The markets are tanking on war news between Iran and Israel. This is at a time when interest rates are rising. The Fed talked about lowering rates three times this year. This week, they say no rate cuts are coming in 2024 because of high and persistent inflation. Of course, war is a huge driver of inflation, and we are just getting started. Gold and silver look like they have a long way to go on the upside, and stocks and bonds have a long way to go on the downside. Many people will be calling their broker and getting a busy signal–that’s if the markets are not completely shut down. Many will be caught on the wrong side of this economy because there is no fear to downside risk. The sheeple are going to be getting a huge lesson on managing risk. There is no telling where this will go, but a crashing economy is definitely on the table, if war does not kick the table completely over. There is more in the 39-minute newscast."

Join Greg Hunter on Rumble as he talks about 
these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Judge Napolitano, "Intel Roundtable: Weekly Intel Wrap-up w/ Johnson & McGovern"

Judge Napolitano - Judging Freedom, 4/19/24
"Intel Roundtable: 
Weekly Intel Wrap-up w/ Johnson & McGovern"
Comments here:

Canadian Prepper, "A Warning From A Wise Old Man, 'The Trigger Event For WW3' Is This..."

Full screen recommended.
Canadian Prepper, 4/19/24
"A Warning From A Wise Old Man,
 'The Trigger Event For WW3' Is This..."
Comments here:

Adventures With Danno, "Shopping For Bargains At Walmart! Awesome Prices!"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures With Danno, PM 4/19/24
"Shopping For Bargains At Walmart! Awesome Prices!"
"I take you along with me for breakfast at Dunkin' 
and my shopping trip to Walmart to find some good bargains!"
Comments here:

Jeremiah Babe, "Car Auction Disaster - Shocking Reality!"

Full screen recommended.
Jeremiah Babe, 4/19/24
"Car Auction Disaster - Shocking Reality!
People Are Losing Their Cars; Carmax Stock Crushed"
Comments here:

"Meet Joe Black"

“Death twitches my ear; 'Live,' he says...
'I am coming.” - Virgil

"Meet Joe Black"
Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) enters his office and begins speaking to a voice that materializes into a person by the name of Death (Brad Pitt). Death knows Bill is struggling with his mortality, so Death offers Bill time in exchange for acting as his tour guide.
Full screen recommended for all.
1. "Bill Meets Joe"

2. "Death Meets with Cancer Patient in Hospital"
3. "Enough Pictures?"

4. The final speech from Anthony Hopkins, 
“65 years, don’t they go by in a blink?!"
5. "'That Next Place', Final scene."

Food for thought...

Musical Interlude: Kevin Kern, "Another Realm"

Kevin Kern, "Another Realm"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Messier's famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. Assembled from 51 exposures recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 20th and 21st centuries, with additional data from ground based telescopes, this mosaic spans about 40,000 light-years across the central region of M101 in one of the highest definition spiral galaxy portraits ever released from Hubble. 
The sharp image shows stunning features of the galaxy's face-on disk of stars and dust along with background galaxies, some visible right through M101 itself. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 25 million light-years away.”

Chet Raymo, “Living In The Little World”

“Living In The Little World” 
by Chet Raymo

"My wisdom is simple," begins Gustav Adolph Ekdahl, at the final celebratory family gathering of Ingmar Bergman's crowning epic “Fanny and Alexander.” I saw the movie in the early 1980s when it had its U.S. theater release. Now I have just watched the five-hour-long original version made for Swedish television. Whew!

But back to that speech by the gaily philandering Gustav, now the patriarch of the Ekdahl clan and uncle to Fanny and Alexander. The family has gathered for the double christening of Fanny and Alexander's new half-sister and Gustav's child by his mistress Maj. A dark chapter of family history has come to an end, involving a clash between two world views, one - the Ekdahl's- focussed on the pleasures of the here and now, and the other - that of Lutheran Bishop Edvard Vergerus, Fanny and Alexander's stepfather - a stern and joyless anticipation of the hereafter. It is not the habit of Ekdahls to concern themselves with matters of grand consequence, Gustav tells the assembled guests. "We must live in the little world. We will be content with that and cultivate it and make the best of it."

The little world. I love that phrase. This world, here, now. This world of family and friends and newborn infants and trees and flowers and rainstorms and- oh yes, cognac and stolen kisses and tumbles in the hay. The Ekdahl's are a theatrical family; we will leave it to the actors and actresses to give us our supernatural shivers, says Gustav. "So it shall be," he says. "Let us be kind, and generous, affectionate and good. It is necessary and not at all shameful to take pleasure in the little world."


"That life. This life. It looks as if you can have both. I mean, they're both right there, one on top of the other, and it looks as if they'll blend. But they never will. So, you take this thing. You take this thing you want, and you put it in a box and you close the lid. You can let your fingers trace the cracks, the places where the light gets in, the dark gets out, but the lid stays on. You don't look inside. You don't look at this thing you want so much, because you Can. Not. Have. It. So there's this box, you know, with the thing inside, and you could throw it away or shoot it into space; you could set it on fire and watch it burn to ashes, but really, none of that would make a difference, because you cannot destroy what you want. It only makes you want it more. So. You take this thing you want and you put it in a box and you close the lid. And you hold the box close to your heart, which is where it wants to go, and you pretend it doesn't kill you every time you feel yourself breathe."
- Megan Hart

The Poet: Grace Schulman, “Blessed Is The Light”

“Blessed Is The Light”

“Blessed is the light that turns to fire, and blessed the flames 
that fire makes of what is burns.
Blessed the inexhaustible sun, for it feeds the moon that 
shines but does not burn.
Praised be hot vapors in earth's crust, for they force up
mountains that explode as molten rock and cool like
love remembered.

Holy is the sun that strikes sea, for surely as water burns
life and death are one. Holy the sun, maker of change,
for it melts ice into water that bruises mountains, honing 
peaks and carving gullies.

Sacred is the mountain that promises permanence but
changes, planed by rockslides, cut by avalanche,
crushed, eroded, leeched for minerals. 

Sacred the rock that spins for centuries before it shines,
governed by gravity, burning into sight near earth's
orbit, for it rises falling, surviving night.

Behold the arcs your eyes make when you speak. Behold 
the hands, white fire. Branches of pine, holding votive
candles, they command, disturbed by wind, 
the fire that sings in me.

Blessed is whatever alters, turns, revolves, just as the gods
move when the mind moves them.
Praised be the body, our bodies, that lie down and open 
and rise, falling in flame.”

~ Grace Schulman

"I Wish You Enough"

"I Wish You Enough"
by Bob Perks

"I never really thought that I'd spend as much time in airports as I do. I don't know why. I always wanted to be famous and that would mean lots of travel. But I'm not famous, yet I do see more than my share of airports. I love them and I hate them. I love them because of the people I get to watch. But they are also the same reason why I hate airports. It all comes down to "hello" and "goodbye." I must have mentioned this a few times while writing my stories for you.

I have great difficulties with saying goodbye. Even as I write this I am experiencing that pounding sensation in my heart. If I am watching such a scene in a movie I am affected so much that I need to sit up and take a few deep breaths. So when faced with a challenge in my life I have been known to go to our local airport and watch people say goodbye. I figure nothing that is happening to me at the time could be as bad as having to say goodbye. Watching people cling to each other, crying, and holding each other in that last embrace makes me appreciate what I have even more. Seeing them finally pull apart, extending their arms until the tips of their fingers are the last to let go, is an image that stays forefront in my mind throughout the day.

On one of my recent business trips, when I arrived at the counter to check in, the woman said, "How are you today?" I replied, "I am missing my wife already and I haven't even said goodbye." She then looked at my ticket and began to ask, "How long will you... Oh, my God. You will only be gone three days!" We all laughed. My problem was I still had to say goodbye. But I learn from goodbye moments, too.

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, "I love you. I wish you enough." She in turn said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing.

"Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?" I asked. "I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral," he said. "When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?" He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory...

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

He then began to sob and walked away. My friends, I wish you enough!"

"The Daily "Near You?"

Columbia, Tennessee, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”

“Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test”
Robert Fulghum  

“In the summer of 1959, at the Feather River Inn near the town of Blairsden in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. A resort environment. And I, just out of college, have a job that combines being the night desk clerk in the lodge and helping out with the horse-wrangling at the stables. The owner/manager is Italian-Swiss, with European notions about conditions of employment. He and I do not get along. I think he’s a fascist who wants pleasant employees who know their place, and he thinks I’m a good example of how democracy can be carried too far. I’m twenty-two and pretty free with my opinions, and he’s fifty-two and has a few opinions of his own. One week the employees had been served the same thing for lunch every single day. Two wieners, a mound of sauerkraut, and stale rolls. To compound insult with injury, the cost of meals was deducted from our check. I was outraged.

 On Friday night of that awful week, I was at my desk job around 11:00 P.M., and the night auditor had just come on duty. I went into the kitchen to get a bite to eat and saw notes to the chef to the effect that wieners and sauerkraut are on the employee menu for two more days.

That tears it. I quit! For lack of a better audience, I unloaded on the night auditor, Sigmund Wollman.

I declared that I have had it up to here; that I am going to get a plate of wieners and sauerkraut and go and wake up the owner and throw it on him.

I am sick and tired of this crap and insulted and nobody is going to make me eat wieners and sauerkraut for a whole week and make me pay for it and who does he think he is anyhow and how can life be sustained on wieners and sauerkraut and this is un-American and I don’t like wieners and sauerkraut enough to eat it one day for God’s sake and the whole hotel stinks anyhow and the horses are all nags and the guests are all idiots and I’m packing my bags and heading for Montana where they never even heard of wieners and sauerkraut and wouldn’t feed that stuff to the pigs. Something like that. I’m still mad about it.

I raved on this way for twenty minutes, and needn’t repeat it all here. You get the drift. My monologue was delivered at the top of my lungs, punctuated by blows on the front desk with a fly-swatter, the kicking of chairs, and much profanity. A call to arms, freedom, unions, uprisings, and the breaking of chains for the working masses.

As I pitched my fit, Sigmund Wollman, the night auditor, sat quietly on his stool, smoking a cigarette, watching me with sorrowful eyes. Put a bloodhound in a suit and tie and you have Sigmund Wollman. He’s got good reason to look sorrowful. Survivor of Auschwitz. Three years. German Jew. Thin, coughed a lot. He liked being alone at the night job – gave him intellectual space, gave him peace and quiet, and, even more, he could go into the kitchen and have a snack whenever he wanted to – all the wieners and sauerkraut he wanted. To him, a feast. More than that, there’s nobody around at night to tell him what to do. In Auschwitz he dreamed of such a time. The only person he sees at work is me, the nightly disturber of his dream. Our shifts overlap for an hour. And here I am again. A one-man war party at full cry.

“Fulchum, are you finished?”
“No. Why?”
Lissen, Fulchum. Lissen me, lissen me. You know what’s wrong with you? It’s not wieners and kraut and it’s not the boss and it’s not the chef and it’s not this job.”
“So what’s wrong with me?”

“Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night.” In a gesture combining dismissal and blessing, he waved me off to bed.

Seldom in my life have I been hit between the eyes with a truth so hard. Years later I heard a Japanese Zen Buddhist priest describe what the moment of enlightenment was like and I knew exactly what he meant. There in that late-night darkness of the Feather River Inn, Sigmund Wollman simultaneously kicked my butt and opened a window in my mind.

For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks: “Fulchum. Problem or inconvenience?”

I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. Good night, Sig.”

"The Most Frightening Thing..."

“Murderers are not monsters, they're men.
And that's the most frightening thing about them.”
- Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones"
“Do you believe,’ said Candide, ‘that men have always massacred each other as they do today, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?”
“Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?”
- Voltaire