Monday, October 19, 2020

"What We Owe To Ourselves..."

“That we can never know,” answered the wolf angrily. “That’s for the future. But what we can know is the importance of what we owe to the present. Here and now, and nowhere else. For nothing else exists, except in our minds. What we owe to ourselves, and to those we’re bound to. And we can at least hope to make a better future, for everything.”
- David Clement Davies

"The Law of Unintended Consequences"

"The Law of Unintended Consequences"
by Mark Manson

"Each week, I send you three potentially life-changing ideas to help you be a slightly less awful human being. This week, we’re talking about 1) the law of unintended consequences, 2) meta-feelings and being ashamed of shame 3) a 2020 mental health update.  Let’s get into it. 

1. The Law of Unintended Consequences – Long-time MFM readers will remember that when I kicked this newsletter off last year, one of the first things I wrote about was something I called “The Nuclear Power Effect.” I described it as a situation where the “solution” to something really scary is subtly more damaging than the scary thing itself. In the case of nuclear power, it turns out that shutting down reactors increases reliance on fossil fuels which actually harms and kills far more people than any nuclear meltdown ever would (not to mention, it destroys the environment). 

Back in those halcyon days of the newsletter (ah, we were so young and innocent then, weren’t we?) I asked readers for more examples of this “effect.” Lots of great ideas popped up - counterterrorism, driving instead of flying, shark attacks, etc. 

In honor of the newsletter’s first birthday, I decided to whip up an article about this “nuclear power effect” - situations where the apparent solution screws everything up way worse than the original problem. 

This is often referred to as “The Law of Unintended Consequences” - situations where the solution ends up being far worse than the original problem. I came across tons of examples of how this can happen in our daily lives - in our careers, finances, relationships, etc. The piece ended up being one of my favorite articles I’ve written in a long time. Check it out: "The Law of Unintended Consequences" (or read it on the iOS app)

2. Meta-Feelings (or Being Ashamed of Being Ashamed)Last week, I published an article challenging the conventional self-help notions about shame. I argued that shame, while it has the potential to royally screw us up emotionally, exists for pro-social reasons and is probably impossible to completely eradicate within ourselves. 

Unsurprisingly, a number of readers pushed back against that, most with an argument about the differentiation between shame and guilt. Shame is hating who you are. Guilt is hating what you’ve done. All feelings of shame should therefore instead be interpreted as guilt and then the feelings of guilt can be resolved through some combination of corrected action, forgiveness, compassion, etc. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, this sounds wonderful in theory. But I’ve come to believe that it’s simply not possible in practice. A few issues:

• Not all sources of shame are actions. I can be ashamed of my family members, my socio-economic status, my propensity to eat when I’m nervous, or the way my legs strangely curve outward even when I’m standing entirely straight. 

• Not all shame is rational or even conscious. In fact, most of it is not. It’s hard to uproot what is so abstract that you hardly even realize it’s there. 

• Like all emotions, shame adheres to the Backwards Law - i.e., the desire to rid yourself of shame is itself a subtle form of shame. The idea that you should possess no shame and come to accept yourself fully and completely is itself a failure to accept yourself fully and completely.

Years ago, I wrote an article where I discussed something I called “meta-feelings.” If you feel happy, that’s a feeling. If you feel bad about feeling happy, that is a meta-feeling. Generally, we can never change our feelings. What we can change is our meta-feelings.

So here’s the real issue with shame: some of it simply doesn’t go away no matter what you do. This is particularly true of survivors of sexual trauma or child abuse. The traumatic event physically alters the brain in such a way that these feelings of inferiority or undeservedness are “baked into” our psyche to a certain extent.

Therefore, the solution is not to remove the feeling (hint: the solution is pretty much never to remove the feeling, no matter what it is), but rather to master the meta-feeling. So, don’t try to remove the shame. Rather, master the way you judge and interpret the shame. That’s where the healing is. 

A beautiful example of this recently occurred on Tim Ferriss’ hugely popular podcast. Tim’s work has traditionally focused on optimizing external, material achievement. But a few weeks ago, he recorded an episode with author and sexual abuse survivor, Debbie Millman. It was there that he then revealed for the first time publicly, that he, too, was a sexual abuse survivor. 

What ensued was an incredibly honest and powerful conversation about shame and trauma, the limits of therapy, and various attempts to cope and heal. It’s a powerful listen. Yet, what stands out in both of their stories is their understanding that this doesn’t go away. That as long as you’re fighting or fleeing the feelings, the feelings will always win. 

It’s only on the battlefield of the meta-feelings - determining the meaning of the feelings; the feelings about the feelings - that you have some chance of liberation.

So, I stand by the shame article. There are things about myself of which I am ashamed. I do not expect those feelings to go away for the simple reason that I have little control over them. But what I do control is my ability to accept and appreciate my own shame as I’ve come to accept and appreciate the other parts of myself. And that’s what I strive to do. 

3. Mental health in a pandemic world - Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s lighten things up a little bit and talk about suicide. We’ve now been living with the pandemic long enough to get some useful data on how the state of the world is affecting people’s mental health and the results are, uh… not good. 

The CDC did a survey over the summer asking 5,400 Americans if they had considered suicide in the past month. Nearly twice as many people said “yes” as did in 2018. Particularly horrifying is the fact that a quarter of respondents between the ages of 18-24 reported suicidal thoughts. 

Another new paper, based on an older data-set from the Spring, says that suicidal ideation is up, particularly among low-income individuals and people who lost their jobs this year. This is no surprise since one of the strongest predictors of suicide is economic loss and financial insecurity. Interestingly, though, this paper is the only one I know of that mentions loneliness as a significant factor, as well. 

Another paper, based on the same data-set as above, looks at self-reported feelings of depression. It concludes that feelings of depression are three times higher than in previous years. Once again, financial insecurity was the top factor. 

Despite being incredibly sad, I suppose none of this should be that surprising. Generally, under any economic downturn/recession, you see spikes in suicide, depression and mental health issues. That is, unfortunately, nothing new. We know losing your job and your savings takes people to a dark place. But what’s more interesting to me is how much of this is borne out of social isolation, lack of mobility or autonomy, and just straight-up boredom. But that’s hard to know. 

Regardless, I invite you to challenge yourself this week to reach out to someone, particularly if they are struggling. Check in on them. See how they’re doing. Listen. You never know, it could make a difference. 

Until next week, stay healthy. And stay sane. "

"How It Really Is"


"American Gothic Horror"

"American Gothic Horror"
by Jim Kunstler

"That something wicked we spoke of coming our way…? Well, it came. Now we know why Nancy Pelosi has been running around in a fright mask with her hair on fire, and it’s not just a ghoulish anticipation of Halloween. Her Democratic Party is in extremis. It is shot through with the cancer of falsehood and the wormholes of crime, acquired through decades of playing fast and loose with the machinery of government. Nancy has been informed and she remains stuck in the rage stage of the grief cycle. Somebody sent her a copy of that hard-drive. The thing she feared would not end well is actually turning out worse than she thought.

I have a theory about Joe Biden: He didn’t want to run for president. Not one eensy-weensy bit. He wanted a nice, quiet retirement with his fat government pension plus sundry millions that had somehow found its way into his bank account over the years. He had a fabulous $16-million gentleman’s estate to gambol upon with his beloved grandchildren. The developing brain-fog was actually a comfort, allowing him to forget the rigors of public service and all the tedious gathering of… honoraria, shall we say. But then they came for him!

The Party called. Rather specifically, his old Kemosabe, Barack Obama, called him in for that ominous sit-down and gave him the bad news: Joe, you’ve gotta run. Bernie, Liz, and the rest of those bozos, they won’t keep a lid on it. You’re in this thing as deep as we are and it’s getting a little hairy. You’ve got to do it for the sake of the party, and all our… friends…

And so, Joe Biden was shanghaied into running for president. He was given a bodyguard of news media, including those crucial new additions, the social media, Twitter and Facebook, where, increasingly, information was hubbed for transmission among the voters. They would protect him infallibly from any damaging narratives. In fact, they would generate powerful counter-narratives to keep their adversaries off-balance. If Joe could just roll with it until November 3rd, they could lay all their… problems… to rest, bury all that annoying insinuendo about the hobgoblin Deep State (ha!), and finally breathe easy.

And so, trailing rather pathetically in the primary elections after being dubbed an old racist by his opponents, and drubbed in Iowa and New Hampshire, Joe somehow managed to sweep the table on Super Tuesday - apparently due to the single, magical endorsement of one congressman James Clyburn (SC, 6th District), a narrative that was swallowed like a May River oyster by the credulous all over the land. And thus anointed, Joe retreated to his fabled basement for the whole election season, venturing intermittently into empty parking lots and airplane hangars to offer proof-of-life while a polling disinfo campaign by his media bodyguard vouchsafed his inevitable victory. Looked like a sure thing in September… pack up all my cares and woe… and so forth…

And then, something broke. Well, some news, actually, a wonder considering the Democratic tank that The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest had jumped in. Long about mid 2019, some jamoke in the jamoke state of Delaware got possession of some laptop computers brought in for servicing on account of water damage - like, what? They fell into a hot tub??? Anyway, the customer, one R. Hunter Biden, never retrieved (or paid for) the computers which, under Delaware law and the service agreement of the computer repair shop, became the property of said repair shop and its jamoke proprietor, one John Paul Mac Issac. Mr. Mac Issac had a peek inside one of them that still worked - now legally his property - and, lo and behold, he noticed some familiar names among the emails along with an impressive video of the laptop’s owner using drugs while cavorting with a naked woman.

Mr. Mac Issac contacted the FBI. At first, they brushed him off, but then, weeks later, showed up with a subpoena for the computer and seized it. Impeachment season was upon us! CIA agent Eric Ciaramella, advised by fellow NSC member Col. Alexander Vindman, had cooked up a “whistleblower” complaint for crusading congressman and RussiaGate impressario Adam Schiff (D-CA), and the game was on! Mr. Mac Issac apparently followed the impeachment soap opera on the airwaves. The proceedings included no mention of the laptop and the information, or, shall we say, the evidence, it contained. He began to grok the significance of the material dumped in his lap by this wayward customer, R. Hunter Biden, and began to wonder how come the FBI was just sitting on all that. You’d think the FBI would have turned it over to the president’s lawyers since it amounted to what might be construed as exculpatory evidence of a high order. Or that FBI Director Christopher Wray might have apprised Attorney General William Barr of the laptop’s existence. In any event, the President’s lawyers made their case against impeachment without it. Weird, a little bit

So, more time went by and Mr. Mac Issac, grew a little suspicious, a little impatient. The FBI would not deign to return his phone calls. A fastidious fellow, he had made a copy of the laptop’s hard-drive. So, he up and handed another copy over to Rudy Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor of some renown, and one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers. Mr. Giuliani easily recognized what was in there: a detailed map of the Biden family’s world-wide grifting operations, plus graphic evidence of R. Hunter Biden’s moral depravity. Which brings us up to date… almost.

The bodyguard of news media protection was breaking under the weight of all that bad faith, perfidy, hypocrisy, lying, money-grubbing, and depravity. The story of the Biden family’s gothic doings was loose in the land despite every strenuous effort to suppress it, and now the suppressers were starting to look really bad… so bad that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was about to be hauled into the Senate Judiciary Committee for some ‘splainin’ - that is, a gentle reminder that he is not the Master of the Universe he bethinks himself to be, but rather a member of a society based on rules, traditions, and a consensual understanding of decent behavior

That’s only the beginning of where all this goes. Other leaks are springing in the great Democratic dike, and they are short of Little Dutch boy volunteers who can plug the holes holding back a cold sea of infamy. There is, for instance, the fabled Anthony Weiner laptop, yes, the one that was seized in 2016 as part of the Hillary Clinton email probe. It somehow ended up in the possession of the New York City Police Department. Turns out it contains 340,000 emails between Hillary and her top aide of twenty years, Huma Abedin, wife of disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner. Trouble is, Mr. Weiner had no security clearance and it was, after all, his laptop. Rumor is that Ms. Abedin is now talking to prosecutors. Will that be consequential?

Also turns out one Bevan Cooney, a former business associate of R. Hunter Biden, who is cooling his heels in a federal slammer for a securities fraud conspiracy, was pissed-off enough at being left holding the bag that he gave his email account and password to investigative reporter Peter Schweizer, author of "Clinton Cash" and "Profiles in Corruption", who is now poring over the 26,000 emails exchanged between various the business partners. Wait for it…

Also turns out that Devon Archer, another R. Hunter Biden partner, and fellow Burisma Board member, just had his conviction re-instated in the same securities fraud case that Mr. Cooney was convicted in, and Mr. Archer faces up to ten years’ time on his charges — an incentive, perhaps, to make a deal for information about his storied career with R. Hunter Biden in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The Biden campaign announced on Sunday that it was “putting a lid” on the candidate’s activities for the week so that he can study up for the final “debate” with President Trump. I suspect there’s a whole lot more than that going on in the basement, namely, discussions of how Mr. Biden might still gracefully withdraw from the race. Let’s face it, he’s barely been going through the motions for the past three months. Joe Biden is a dead man walking. If he stays in, the Democratic party is finished. Nancy Pelosi can stop worrying about getting her hair done. It will be burnt off entirely."

"The Moral Principle..."

"The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself. There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."
- Ayn Rand

"Market Fantasy Updates 10/17/20"

"Market Fantasy Updates 10/19/20"
Down the rabbit hole of psychopathic greed and insanity...
Only the consequences are real - to you!
"The more I see of the monied classes, 
the better I understand the guillotine."
George Bernard Shaw
Gregory Mannarino,
AM Oct 19, 2020: 
"Important Updates, Debt 'Reset'"
And now. The End game...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Musical Interlude: Afshin, "Prayer of Change"


Afshin, "Prayer of Change"
Full screen mode recommended.

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 10/18/20"


by Remy Tumin

"Exhaustion and impatience are creating new risks as coronavirus cases soar in parts of the world. Nearly 40 million people have been infected globally.

The U.S. surpassed eight million known cases this past week, and reported more than 70,000 new infections on Friday, the most in a single day since July. Eighteen states added more new infections during the past week than in any other during the pandemic.

In Europe, cases are rising and hospitalizations are up. Britain is imposing new restrictions, and France has placed cities on “maximum alert.” Germany (Munich, pictured above) and Italy set records for the most new daily cases. This is the state of the virus around the world.

The virus has taken different paths through these countries as leaders have implemented a range of restrictions. But a common sentiment emerged: a public weariness of the coronavirus and a growing tendency to risk its dangers, out of desire or necessity. One New Yorker summed it up: “I am so tired of everything. Is it going to be over? I want it to be over.”

Oct 18, 2020, 2:11 PM ET:
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 39,833,800 
people, according to official counts, including 8,173,154 Americans.

      Oct 18, 2020 2:11 PM ET: 
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Updated 10/18/20, 11:24 AM ET
Click image for larger size.
A highly recommended "must read":

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Large galaxies and faint nebulae highlight this deep image of the M81 Group of galaxies. First and foremost in the wide-angle 12-hour exposure is the grand design spiral galaxy M81, the largest galaxy visible in the image. M81 is gravitationally interacting with M82 just below it, a big galaxy with an unusual halo of filamentary red-glowing gas. 

Around the image many other galaxies from the M81 Group of galaxies can be seen. Together with other galaxy congregates including our Local Group of galaxies and the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, the M81 Group is part of the expansive Virgo Supercluster of Galaxies. This whole galaxy menagerie is seen through the faint glow of an Integrated Flux Nebula, a little studied complex of diffuse gas and dust clouds in our Milky Way Galaxy."

"My Desire..."


"Humanity Today..."

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

Chet Raymo, "Lessons"

by Chet Raymo

"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 Daily "Near You?"

Riverton, Wyoming, USA. Thanks for stopping by!



Gregory Mannarino, "Markets, A Look Ahead: Expect A BIG Week, BE READY!"

Gregory Mannarino,
"Markets, A Look Ahead: Expect A BIG Week, BE READY!" 

"The Great Thing About The Internet..."

"The great thing about the internet is that you get to meet people you
would otherwise only meet if you were committed to the same asylum."
- Robert Brault

"Harper’s Provides a Chilling Account of Secret Presidential Powers"

"Harper’s Provides a Chilling Account of Secret Presidential Powers"
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

"Andrew Cockburn has a stunning report in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine on secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs) that “implement extraordinary presidential authority in response to extraordinary situations.” Cockburn notes that these sweeping powers have been “Compiled without any authorization from Congress” and were not on the public’s radar “until Donald Trump started to brag about them.” In March, Trump made this statement:

“Well, we have things that I can do. We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act. And we are - we have it - I mean, I have it memorized, practically, as to the powers in that act. And if I need to do something, I’ll do it. I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.”

Cockburn walks us through how Presidents throughout history have used (and abused) PEADs and declarations of national emergency. He expresses the hope that the next Congress will “move aggressively to assert the Constitution and close all the secret loopholes.”

If you read nothing else this week, you really need to read this article:

"The Enemies Briefcase:
Secret Powers and the Presidency"
By Andrew Cockburn

"A few hours before the inauguration ceremony, the prospective president receives an elaborate and highly classified briefing on the means and procedures for blowing up the world with a nuclear attack, a rite of passage that a former official described as “a sobering moment.” Secret though it may be, we are at least aware that this introduction to apocalypse takes place. At some point in the first term, however, experts surmise that an even more secret briefing occurs, one that has never been publicly acknowledged. In it, the new president learns how to blow up the Constitution.

The session introduces “presidential emergency action documents,” or PEADs, orders that authorize a broad range of mortal assaults on our civil liberties. In the words of a rare declassified official description, the documents outline how to “implement extraordinary presidential authority in response to extraordinary situations” - by imposing martial law, suspending habeas corpus, seizing control of the internet, imposing censorship, and incarcerating so-called subversives, among other repressive measures. “We know about the nuclear briefcase that carries the launch codes,” Joel McCleary, a White House official in the Carter Administration, told me. “But over at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department there’s a list of all the so-called enemies of the state who would be rounded up in an emergency. I’ve heard it called the ‘enemies briefcase.’”
Please view this complete article here:

"The Illusion Is Failing"

"The Illusion Is Failing"
by Chris Martenson 

"Sometimes the magic fails. The secret to the trick is accidentally revealed. The woman was always in the box. The eye is no longer deceived. And there’s no getting the audience’s sense of awe back. Just like a bungled illusion, once trust is broken, it’s gone.

For many during 2020, the loss of their jobs and businesses - in many cases due to incompetent government management of the pandemic - has been both a blessing and a curse. Of course nobody likes being laid off or losing a business they’d carefully built up over the years. But for a significant number of those people, however, they’ve now been given time (against their will, admittedly) to reflect and realize how much they hated their work in the first place. For them, the illusion has been broken. They won’t go back to pretending their former lives were acceptable or tolerable, and they’re actively looking for employment that better fits their values. Time for something new.

Others have realized how much they really disliked what air travel had devolved into. With its demeaning theater of faux displays of ‘safety’- being groped by TSA agents and having to perform a striptease to get personal items through the security scanners. I’m one of these folks. I’ll be traveling a lot less in the future, no matter what happens with the SARS-2 virus. I’ll be content to stay local and conduct my business via Zoom calls as much as can possibly be done. I won’t miss the pat-downs, delays, crowded seats, and cancelled flights.

Similarly, social media has now been revealed to be run by petulant sociopaths whose goal is for you to see exactly what content they want you to see, because that fits their profit incentive. But they do so under the guise of “protecting” us from uninteresting or inappropriate material. Their contradictions couldn’t be any more gaping. They’re pushing a “diversity” that requires uniformity of thought.

Living on the internet this year while researching and publishing over 100 updates about covid, I’ve seen innumerable examples of this on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - such as their promotion of the W.H.O.’s inconsistent and blatantly Big Pharma-conflicted messages while suppressing front-line doctors armed with positive real-world results.

The list goes on and on. None of it makes any sense. At least, not once you lift your head up and shake off the consumer lifestyle blinders. The world is literally and figuratively on fire. We are now seeing the most profound ice loss ever in the arctic. We’re seeing more destructive wildfires in the US than ever before. And so many storms in the Atlantic basin that they’ve run blown through “Z” and are now working their way through the Greek alphabet.

Protests. Riots. Political and social divisions so volatile that suddenly you can read credible opinion pieces on how civil war could be ‘a thing’ in our future. But none of this has to be this way.

There’s another path. One that begins by taking stock of the fact that the ways in which we’ve been living and running our society no longer work. The more we continue to pursue the status quo in the hopes that somehow this will all magically turns itself around, the more we waste valuable time and resources.

To change, we must first start by declaring “Not this!” That’s what millions of people are currently doing on some level. Somewhere deep inside, they’re realizing that their old lives aren’t coming back. And good riddance too! The illusion is broken. There’s no more fun in the show. Time to wander out of the theater and find something actually worth our time.

The illusion is broken. Our top health authorities have shown that they care more about creating the next massively profitable drug than they do about actually saving lives. Once you’ve see that, you can’t ‘unsee’ it.

Both major political parties reacted to covid by hastily shoveling trillions of dollars to Wall Street and mega corporations while only giving poorly-delivered scraps to ordinary people. Which is why the current candidates’ campaign promises aren’t believed.

“None of the above” would win in a landslide here in the USA in 2020. The illusion is broken. If the first necessary step is to withdraw our consent, what’s the second step? Become as resilient as you can. Control what you can and let the rest unfold as it will.

Many of our largest systems are in the process of breaking down. Not only is there nothing you can do to stop that, but nothing should be done here. Those unsustainable and deeply unfair systems are failing for a reason. They’re not worth preserving. Any efforts spent trying to prop them up simply delay our opportunity to replace them with better new models. Sometimes it’s just best to admit that a building has lived out its full useful lifespan, tear it down, and build anew. Honor it for how it’s served us, nod once, and tear it down.

Intelligent regenerative action is what the world needs now. And even if they prove to be insufficient, they are inarguably necessary. Some of these efforts, such as planting pear trees, are being planted for whomever comes after us. We do this because it’s the right thing to do. In a world that has gone mad, and lacks a coherent story, the need to make sense and become the author of our own story grows exponentially. If we don’t heed the lessons of the past, and attempt to build on and improve them as best we can, our remaining prosperity will vanish as quickly as the unfortunate illusionist’s act.

So what’s next for you? Where do you go from here?"

“Welcome to Life. There Are Only Hard Facts and Harder Decisions”

“Welcome to Life. 
There Are Only Hard Facts and Harder Decisions”
by Ryan Holiday

“One thing this pandemic has shown is that people have a problem facing facts. I don’t mean facts in the sense of the scientific data, although that’s clearly a problem as well judging by the litany of conspiracy theories that have become acceptable even in polite company. I mean “facts” in the more colloquial sense – of coming to terms with reality and accepting it on reality’s terms. Just look at COVID-19.

We’ve taken a merciless, apolitical, indifferent but pretty well-understood virus, scientifically speaking, and turned it into a divisive, partisan argument. Every molecule seems subject to debate, because we have somehow come to believe that what we think about it, or our own personal needs in relation to it, have some relevance to its airborne spread from person to person, and its ability to kill with ruthlessness and painful efficiency.

Perhaps nothing captures this impotent rage better than a tweet I saw from Laura Ingraham:
OK, Karen, would you like to speak to COVID-19’s manager? 

Back here in reality where the rest of us live, it is an inescapable truth of human existence that there are some crises and problems so bad that they force those affected by them to live with the uncertainty that the crises create. They force us to stop doing things we’d like to do. They cost us things we really can’t afford. But, alas, there is no degree of forcefulness to an opinion nor staggering amount of need that can change those facts.

Imagine someone living in America in 1942. No one could have told them when they’d be able to travel to Europe to see their aging parents again. No one could have told them when the rationing would stop. No one would have been able to say when their son would be released from the Army. No one could promise them that they were safe in their homes and would ultimately survive. The world war was a fact, and everybody had to deal with it. Like it or not.

Life is like this. It’s uncertain. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t really care whether we really want or need something. It doesn’t care about us at all, really, it just is.

Many years ago, I wrote a piece about our tendency to think that we could “vote on reality,” and how the internet was designed to encourage this impulse. From Twitter to Facebook to blogging, the platforms of social media are designed around the insidious idea that your opinion about things changes what they unflinchingly are. I think this is what Foster the People is singing about in their song, “The Truth”:

“Well an absolute measure won’t change with opinion
no matter how hard you try
It’s an immovable thing…”

We are seduced by the idea that not liking some element of reality is powerful enough to will it to be different. That a simple objection is more powerful than objectivity. Of course, the Stoics had no time for this. Facts are facts, they say. Fate or Fortune or death have no care for your opinion. They were like Civil War historian James McPherson who, responding to Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 claim that European allies seemed to care more about tiny Northern defeats than his major victories, said simply: “Unreasonable it may have been, but it was a reality.”

When we talk about facing facts, we are in part talking about making the hard choices that life demands – which usually means doing the harder thing. “At the top,” Secretary of State Dean Acheson once observed about the presidency, “there are no easy choices. All are between evils, the consequences of which are hard to judge.” He meant that all the simple, easy stuff gets handled by people lower down on the chain. The obvious stuff never makes it to the Oval Office. And so it is with life, too – the easy stuff is never much of an issue. There’s never any uncertainty about the things that don’t require any sacrifice and pain.

I think he also means that it’s not the choices that are hard. In fact, the right thing is often obvious. It’s the consequences and the costs of that choice that are hard. It’s the complicated, difficult, unpleasant stuff that we adults end up having to wrestle with on the other side of our decisions that make the decisions seem so difficult.

In reality, when it comes to a pandemic or a bankruptcy or a failing marriage, the choices are easy to the extent that they are simple and clear. It’s this or this. It’s A or B or C. The difficulty comes with the hard facts that must be swallowed as a consequence of picking one of those easy choices. Don’t you dare think that Acheson, when he said the consequences were hard to judge, was excusing leaders who preferred their own fantasies or wishful thinking to the hard realities of geopolitics.

I see this with some of my friends, now considering whether to send their kids back to school. Even though most of the advice is against it; even though they regularly go overboard protecting their families from all sorts of much less dangerous things than a pandemic; even though they are otherwise good people who care about how their actions affect others - here they are saying something to the effect of “Well, it’s just so hard to know what the right thing is.” Or my favorite: “How much longer can this go on?” Truth goes on as long as it’s true!

What we’re saying when we throw up our hands at something like reopening the schools is, “I have a sense that I’m not making the right decision, but if I act bewildered, it excuses me from the consequences.” Or they are saying, “I get that generally this is a really bad idea, but my specific circumstances should be exempt from the otherwise unfavorable facts because it hasn’t been a problem in my town yet and the consequences of the other choice are more difficult than I’m comfortable with.” No!

How has the track record for not listening to expert opinion gone in the United States over the last 10 months? Oh, right, it’s created one of the worst coronavirus breakouts in the world. Over 200,000 dead! 67 9/11s. Four Vietnams. Eight times more than the American Revolution. (And the fact that lots of people also die of heart disease is not a response. They are dying of that too.) The country that, for a century, was called to rescue other countries from natural disasters is now the unlikely recipient of pity from New Zealand, Italy and Denmark. People love to talk about American exceptionalism – well, we are being exceptionally stupid.

I am reminded of a conversation between Col. Harry G. Summers and a North Vietnamese colonel after the Vietnam War. Summers pointed out that the US was never beaten on the battlefield. The man replied, “That is true. It is also irrelevant.”

We need a lot of things. My kids certainly do. But the facts come first, so we’re staying home. Not because we want to, but because, in truth, there is no choice. It’s why my businesses remain closed too.

There is not much upside in a pandemic – not one that has killed over 200,000 Americans and over a million people worldwide. But there is a lesson in it. It’s a lesson that we have done our best not to learn, that we have fought for some time now. That lesson is this: Life is hard. It is filled with hard facts and hard decisions. You cannot flee it. You can only defer the consequences for so long or, perhaps, if you are content to be an assh*le, shirk them onto some other innocent person.

Facts don’t care how hard they are. Just because you can’t bear something doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be borne. Just because you have an opinion – or a need – doesn’t mean it’s relevant. “There is a truth,” it says in the song I mentioned earlier, “I can promise you that.”

It’s time to wake up, put on our big boy pants, and accept that we are living through a period of great discomfort and frightening uncertainty, and what you think or feel about that fact has precisely zero impact on the truth of our new reality We have to face the truth. Do the hard thing.”

“The Stench of Political and Financial Corruption”

“The Stench of Political and Financial Corruption”
By Jesse

“Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid. It was an experience for which the captains of industry were not entirely prepared; they had forgotten the public. It was like some great convulsion of nature, which made mockery of all the powers of men, and left the beholder dazed and terrified. In Wall Street men stood as if in a valley, and saw far above them the starting of an avalanche; they stood fascinated with horror, and watched it gathering headway; saw the clouds of dust rising up, and heard the roar of it swelling, and realized it was only a matter of time before it swept them to their destruction. But it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it."
- Upton Sinclair, "The Moneychangers"

"You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the grace of the eternal God, I will rout you out." - Andrew Jackson

"It was discovered that in all that blizzard of corruption, and the paper that covered it up, that the very basis of the value of things had been 'mislaid.' And then the deluge came. If you listen to the reasoning of 'free market' types, and their paid mouthpieces and demagogues, this kind of thing could not happen, because companies, being rational and focused on the long term, would not allow tainted meat with their name on it to be sold into the markets. 

They would not risk the lawsuits, and damage to their reputations. It is a similar argument that holds that financial markets need only light regulations because people will manage their own behavior for the ultimate good, with almost perfect rational and altruistic self-constraint. 

But alas, we know this is not true, as anyone who ever travels on a major highway can tell you. People and their tendencies to greed and careless stupidity require a certain association of people in a society for their common good, to take on not only large tasks with common and broad benefits to the pubic, but also in order for the majority to protect themselves from criminals, cheats, sociopaths, and plain old ignorant selfishness. This is why we establish police and fire departments, and have health laws, for example.

Government is never perfect. But its occasional flaws and corruption are no reason to do away with it. The power of government must be held in balance, but so must the power of private wickedness.

If you bother to look into the history of certain types of laws, especially those designed to protect the public, and the often long progressive efforts of many dedicated souls to achieve them, from civil rights to basic food safety to voting rights to consumer protections against financial fraud, you can see what they have accomplished, and how their effectiveness must be upheld and occasionally renewed, since the corrupting power of easy money respects few if any boundaries.

Goodness may occasionally falter, but evil never sleeps. And as many are now discovering, telling the truth becomes a subversive act, in times of general deceit. Notice the patterns of smears and dehumanization of certain types of people. This is how it begins.

And so it seems that every other generation forgets the lessons learned by their grandparents, and casts off their protections in fits of foolishness fuelled by the sweet words and slogans of the pampered princes of easy money, and their puppets, who will say and do anything for power and position. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, and this is surely the story of the last forty years, especially in the area of financial regulation, and the political standards of oaths and stewardship.”